3 min Devices

Uncertainty about which apps and programs will work on Copilot+ PCs

Uncertainty about which apps and programs will work on Copilot+ PCs

One Copilot+ PC after another is now hitting the market, but there is still some ambiguity about the ability to run programs and apps built for x86 architecture for which there is no Arm version. Nothing to worry about, says Microsoft, which promises to simply run such apps via the built-in Prism emulator. Better beware, says Copilot+ PC maker Samsung.

Users of Copilot+ PCs can only go to two places to check whether the software they are using actually has an Arm variant. Those sites are WorksoWOA.com (only for games) and Armrepo.ver.it.

Qualcomm, the maker of the Arm-based Snapdragon chipset that the Copilot+ PCs are equipped with, referred The Register to these sites when quizzed about the topic. However, both sites are unofficial and by no means complete. Earlier, electronics giant Samsung sounded the alarm by warning that some apps and games are not suitable for the Arm architecture. Samsung is one of the companies that launched a Copilot+ PC. In Samsung’s case, the GalaxyBook Edge 4.

Prism emulator

Although quite a bit of software exists in an Arm architecture-capable variant, this does not always involve officially supported software. When an Arm-capable version is missing, Microsoft provides an emulator called Prism, which can run x86 programs on an Arm PC without too much loss of speed. In the blog post announcing Microsoft’s Copilot+ PC, the company writes that with Prism, any app will run great whether native or emulated.

Samsung’s reservation may have to do with the Windows version that people in South Korea get. Microsoft lost an antitrust case there and had to remove some components from Windows that it is still allowed to bundle as normal elsewhere. Perhaps that is the reason for Samsung’s warning. The company also makes the announcement only on its Korean site.

Commentary is sparse

Most other providers of Copilot+ PCs (Lenovo, HP, Dell, Acer and ASUS) referred to Qualcomm’s compatibility list or to the same sites Qalcomm already came up with.

Only ASUS mentioned a Microsoft Learn blog (which Microsoft itself did not seem to refer to) with more explanation about emulation on Arm. It states that x86 or x64 programs do not know they are running on Arm architecture unless they query specific APIs about the device they are running on. The app then gets info about the emulated virtual processor instead of the actual chipset.

Also read: These major computer brands have already announced their own Copilot+ pc’s