Windows 10 On Arm Devices Like Surface Pro X Gain x64 App Support In Latest Insider Build
Microsoft first announced that this support would be arriving back in October, and true to its word, the company is now delivering. When Arm64 devices first landed on the market, they could run native Arm64 code and traditional x32 applications through emulation. However, x64 apps have been off limits, which is a big bummer if one of your critical apps is x64-only (were looking at you, Adobe). This has been especially frustrating for these early adopters given that the software industry is increasingly moving towards 64-bit apps.
With x64 emulation now enabled, Arm64 devices should be able to run any number of x64 apps that are available from the Microsoft Store or directly from the app developer if you're so inclined. That should put Arm64 devices on a level playing field with traditional x64 systems (i.e., AMD or Intel) with regards to app compatibility. We'll address how x64 emulation on Arm64 devices shakes out in a future article.
"You can try key x64-only productivity apps like Autodesk Sketchbook, as well as games like Rocket League," writes Hari Pulapaka, Partner Group Program Manager for Windows. "Other apps, like Chrome, which run today on ARM64 as 32-bit apps, can run as 64-bit using the new x64 emulation capability. These apps may benefit from having more memory when run as 64-bit emulated apps."
While emulation is great for the existing crop of x64 apps, Microsoft is encouraging developers to recompile their apps with native Arm64 support on processors like Snapdragon 8cx, which would deliver the best performance. We’ve seen Adobe go this native Arm64 app route with a beta version of Photoshop and the latest public release of Lightroom CC. But for the time being, the enabling of x64 emulation is the outcome that we've all been hoping for since the initial Qualcomm-Microsoft partnership was announced back in late 2016.
This new x64 emulation is available right now with Windows 10 Build 21277, which is available in the Windows Insider Dev Channel. Microsoft is also suggesting that you download the latest Qualcomm Adreno graphics driver, which can be obtained by visiting Microsoft’s blog.