Microsoft has added support for 64-bit x86 emulation on ARM processors in the latest Insider Preview of Windows 10. This allows laptops with ARM CPUs to theoretically run all Windows software.

Microsoft has been working on x86 emulation on ARM processors for some time, but until now the company only managed to get it working on 32-bit applications. Due to this limitation, a number of bigger programs did not work on laptops with ARM processors.

Performance

Emulating x86 on ARM also takes some computing power, so currently the performance of x86 applications on the already not that fast ARM processors is less than stellar. In its blog post on x86-64 emulation, Microsoft did not mention anything about the current performance. However, the company does promise that compatibility and performance will improve in the future.

Build 21277

Support for 64-bit x86 applications is part of Build 21277. Emoji from Unicode 12.1 and 13.0 were also added and Microsoft made improvements to the new screenshot feature in Windows 10. Further changes include:

  • Changes to window animations;
  • Support for a split keyboard in portrait orientation;
  • The ability to uninstall the old Snipping Tool;
  • Modifications in Task Manager and Registry Editor;
  • Folders in the start menu with only one underlying application are replaced by a direct link to the program itself.

Apple

Apple is also working hard on x86 emulation on ARM processors. The new MacBook Pro, MacBook Air and Mac mini are equipped with Apple Silicon M1 processors based on the ARM architecture. However, they can run all x86 applications using the Rosetta 2 emulator with a relatively minor performance hit.

Tip: Windows 10 may get support for Android apps