Microsoft Brings Windows to ARM For Real
Samuel Wan / 4 years ago
Ever since mobile became a thing, Microsoft has been trying to break into that market. Generally, the company has not been met with great success. One of the major impediments is that mobile devices tend to use ARM chips and not x86. Robbed of their dominance over the x86 market, Microsoft’s attempts like Windows RT have largely fizzled out. This may soon change with the new Windows for ARM release.
Last month, we first found out that Microsoft was redoubling their efforts to get x86 emulation on ARM. That report suggested 2017 for launch but it appears Microsoft is ready now to unveil their new emulation project. Windows for ARM will be a fully ARM-based 64bit OS running on Qualcomm Snapdragon SoCs. To allow the full Windows ecosystem to be brought to bear, the new OS features full emulation for 32 bit x86 Windows applications.
With built-in emulation, this means Windows on ARM is no longer at an app disadvantage. All of those good old Windows applications you’re used to will now work without issue on the new Windows for ARM devices. While there are performance concerns over emulation, they likely won’t be serious. As only application code is emulated, the only real extra work is converting the apps Win32 API calls into ARM ones. The other issue is the performance of ARM-based processors but they should largely be comparable to the mid-range Intel Atoms or AMD Pumas.
Given the previously announced timeframe, I suspect we will be seeing our first Windows on ARM devices next year. I doubt many current devices will work given that the requirement for 64bit ARM processors that generally only grace flagships. It will be interesting to see where how this experiment away from Intel will end up. I for one am looking forward to Microsoft’s Surface device for Windows on ARM