Introducing x64 emulation in preview for Windows 10 on ARM PCs to the Windows Insider Program
Updated 11/16/2021: x64 emulation for Windows is now generally available in Windows 11. For those interested in experiencing this, a PC running Windows 11 on Arm is required.
Today, we’re releasing the first preview of x64 emulation for ARM64 devices to Windows Insiders in the Dev Channel starting with the Build 21277. It can be installed on Windows 10 on ARM PCs by following the instructions as explained in this blog post.
When we first launched Windows 10 on ARM in late 2017, the long tail of apps customers needed were dominated by 32-bit-only x86 applications, so we focused our efforts on building an x86 emulator that could run the broad ecosystem of Windows apps seamlessly and transparently. Over time, the ecosystem has moved more toward 64-bit-only x64 apps and we’ve heard the feedback that customers would like to see those x64 apps running on ARM64. That’s why we are working on expanding the capability of our emulation to include x64 applications and sharing this first preview to gather feedback.
While we’re expanding the capabilities of our emulator, for the best possible experience we recommend developers support their apps natively on ARM64. ARM64 apps are fully supported in our Windows SDK and Visual Studio 2017 onwards, and we encourage our developers to recompile their apps for ARM64.
In this preview, you can install x64 apps from the Microsoft Store or from any other location of your choosing. You can try key x64-only productivity apps like Autodesk Sketchbook, as well as games like Rocket League. 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.
In the spirit of the Dev Channel, this capability is still in development and will continue to improve in both compatibility and performance over time, so some of the apps you try running in emulation may not work initially. As you test and try the build, share your feedback with us on the experience in Windows Feedback Hub by using the subcategory x64 Apps on ARM. Your feedback will play a key role in ensuring we are aware of the scenarios most important to you so we can focus on refining them as we provide updates in the coming months.
For the best app performance, please install a preview version of the Qualcomm Adreno graphics driver from the following locations:
- Samsung Galaxy Book S: https://aka.ms/x64previewdriver
- Lenovo Flex 5G: https://aka.ms/x64previewdriver
- Surface Pro X: https://aka.ms/x64previewdriverprox
Additionally, to support running both ARM64 and x64 C++ applications at the same time, please install a preview version of the ARM64 C++ redistributable from https://aka.ms/arm64previewredist. These steps will not be required in future Insider Preview builds.
With developers increasingly supporting ARM64 apps natively, emulating x64 apps is an important step in our journey with Windows 10 on ARM. Through working with Qualcomm Technologies, Windows 10 on ARM PCs continue to deliver incredible battery life, connectivity capabilities with 4G LTE and 5G, and immersive experiences with AI acceleration, pen and touch capabilities – all features we believe to be more essential as we work, learn, and connect from home and other remote locations.
From the unveiling of new Windows 10 on ARM devices like the Acer Spin 7, the Lenovo Flex 5G and the new Surface Pro X, to the announcement of compatibility on ARM through App Assure, the releases of ARM64-native Microsoft Teams, a fully optimized browsing experience with native Microsoft Edge, to the OpenGL/OpenCL compatibility layer, and the beta version of ARM64-native Photoshop as well as ARM64-native Adobe Lightroom that was released this week – we are committed to listening to customer feedback to ensure Windows 10 on ARM provides a great customer experience.
We look forward to the feedback from our Windows Insider community. If you’d like to try the emulation preview and are not yet part of the Windows Insider Program you can join here.