Microsoft has announced it is working on x86 64-bit emulation for Windows 10 on ARM-based systems.
This is according to a blog post from Windows and Devices Chief Product Officer Panos Panay, who offered several updates on the state of the Windows PC ecosystem.
According to Panay, the capability will start to roll out to the Windows Insider Program in November.
The development means Windows devices powered by ARM processors – like Microsoft’s Surface Pro X laptop – could soon be able to run 64-bit Windows applications.
The Surface Pro X is Microsoft’s first computer to use its own custom-designed ARM-based processor.
ARM processors are known to provide solid power efficiency, which makes them ideal for use in compact portable devices with little space for processing power and batteries.
The company collaborated with Qualcomm to develop the SQ1 chip, which is based on Snapdragon and an AI accelerator.
While the device has been praised for its performance in comparison with previous attempts at ARM-based Windows computers, one of the biggest issues with the platform at the moment is its lacking app selection.
Despite the fact that the SQ1 is a 64-bit processor, Windows only has an emulation layer which lets x86 32-bit apps run on its ARM-based system.
So unless an app has been specifically designed for native ARM support, it runs on the 32-bit emulation layer, which makes it very slow.
Additionally, many modern apps – including Adobe’s Creative Suite – are now 64-bit.
New Surface Pro X coming
The news of 64-bit emulation comes as reports point to the imminent launch of an updated ARM-based Surface Pro X.
According to Windows Central, the 2020 version will feature Microsoft’s SQ2 processor, which is expected to be based on Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 8cx Gen 2 5G chip.
This means it could possibly be the first Microsoft device to support 5G connectivity. 5G is already supported on a range of Windows 10 devices, including the Lenovo Yoga 5G, which is powered by an ARM-based Qualcomm Snapdragon chip.
The biggest change in terms of design will be the option of a platinum colour, which has been available on other Surface Pro laptops, like the Surface Pro 3.