Windows on ARM can finally emulate x64 apps in latest preview

You'll have access to more software, even if it's not native.

Cherlynn Low/Engadget

ARM-based Windows 10 PCs like the Surface Pro X have been limited to running non-native apps with 32-bit code — frustrating when many apps are either 64-bit only or are more capable using the newer technology. You won’t be quite so limited if you’re willing to experiment, at least. Microsoft has enabled x64 emulation on ARM64 devices for the first time through its latest Dev Channel preview for Windows Insiders. The feature lets you run x64 apps from anywhere (not just on the Microsoft Store), including games like Rocket League and the 64-bit native versions of apps like Chrome.

The update also gives all users the latest emoji, smoother window transitions and other tweaks.

It’s a rough-around-the-edges release, to put it mildly. Microsoft warns that some x64 apps might not run at this stage, and you’re encouraged to install both updated graphics drivers as well as a preview redistributable that lets 64-bit ARM and x64 C++ apps run at the same time. You won’t want to use this Windows 10 preview on a mission-critical machine.

Microsoft is adding x64 emulation at a critical moment. Apple recently released the first Macs based on its in-house ARM silicon, and they already run non-native 64-bit apps with relative ease. That’s a significant advantage for anyone who wants the efficiency benefits of ARM without giving up 64-bit apps they might need. It will be a while before x64 emulation is polished enough to be widely available on Windows 10, but it could make the case for sticking with Microsoft’s platform if you’re comfortable with less-than-ideal performance for some programs.