ARM-powered Windows devices like the Surface Pro X are pretty neat because they offer better power efficiency (i.e., longer battery life) and always-on, LTE connectivity, but there’s a major problem: they can only run x86 (32-bit) apps. That means users can’t run some of the world’s more popular applications, such as Adobe Photoshop and Premire Pro, which switched to a 64-bit codebase over a decade ago.
Luckily, Microsoft is remedying that issue. In a blog post regarding the role of Windows PCs, Chief Product Officer Panos Panay confirmed that x64 emulation on ARM is just around the corner, paving the way for running 64-bit apps on ARM-powered Windows 10 devices.
“We are excited about the momentum we are seeing from app partners embracing Windows 10 on ARM, taking advantage of the power and performance benefits of Qualcomm Snapdragon processors,” Panay wrote. “We heard your feedback and are making Microsoft Edge faster while using less battery, and announced that we will soon release a native Microsoft Teams client optimized for Windows 10 on ARM.”
“We will also expand support for running x64 apps, with x64 emulation starting to roll out to the Windows Insider Program in November. Because developers asked, Visual Studio Code has also been updated and optimized for Windows 10 on ARM. For organizations, we’re committed to helping them ensure their apps work with Windows 10 and Microsoft 365 Apps on ARM64 devices with App Assure. We are working closely with Acer, HP, Lenovo, Samsung and Surface to bring these Windows 10 on ARM innovations and products to our shared customers.”
While the performance of ARM-based Windows PCs generally lag far behind their x86 counterparts, this is great news for casual users who are more concerned about battery life/connectivity and are looking to make the jump into the Windows on ARM ecosystem.
The Surface Pro X is Microsoft’s flagship Windows on ARM product. Released almost exactly one year ago (October 2, 2019), the $999.99 hybrid features two ARM-based chips: the Microsoft SQ 1 and SQ 2, which leverage Adreno 685 and Adreno 690 graphics, respectively. Strangely, reviewers have noted that its battery life isn’t much better than its Core-powered siblings, such as the Surface Pro 6.