Microsoft Demos Windows 10 on ARM Hardware Running Existing Win32 Apps
We’ve known that Microsoft has been dedicated to getting Windows 10 running the way it should be on ARM hardware. Back in December of last year, we were told that the next generation Qualcomm Snapdragon chips would officially support Windows 10. We weren’t given a solid date for when this type of hardware would be made available to consumers, but they did project it would happen in the second half of 2017. At the Microsoft Windows Hardware Engineering Community (WinHEC) event, they even went as far as to show this in action.
Now, it looks like Microsoft has made great strides in bringing full blown Windows 10 to ARM devices given how things are turned out at the recent Microsoft Build 2017 developer event. One session showed some new hardware and software running Universal Windows Platform apps, Win32 applications from the Windows Store, and even existing Win32 programs.
Along with showing off first-party applications such as Edge during the demo, Microsoft’s lead program manager Hari Pulapaka also downloaded, installed, and ran an x86 version of 7zip. This is possible thanks to an optimized emulation layer from within Windows 10. Since it is emulation, there will be some degradation when it comes to performance. However, Mr. Pulapaka states the company is aiming for and mostly achieved “very close to native” performance.
The emulation used to enable this to work so well is actually based off of the same Windows on Windows (WOW) layer that is used to run x86 apps on 64-bit processors. However, the real work under the hood is from the Compiled Hybrid Portable Executable files that are generated from ARM64 code. The goal from Microsoft and Qualcomm is to have this all working so seamless that most people will likely not even notice a difference in hardware.