Depending on who you ask, Microsoft’s and Qualcomm’s Windows 10 on ARM, specifically on Snapdragon, is either a dream come true or a deja vu. The first compatible devices have almost delivered on the core promises but falls flat on its face in terms of performance and software selection. The latter, however, might soon finally have a solution in the next few months. Windows 10 on ARM will finally be gaining support for 64-bit apps, which could at least increase the number of compatible apps you can use.
The software support story for Windows 10 on ARM is a bit of a mess. Despite running on a 64-bit processor, it doesn’t support 64-bit apps. Except Microsoft’s own, of course. Part of that is due to the lack of an ARM64 SDK, that is, the tools that would allow developers to build their 64-bit apps for Windows 10 on ARM.
Speaking to Engadget, Microsoft General Manager for Windows Erin Chappie said that the ARM64 SDK is coming and will actually be announced at the Build Developers Conference next month. While that announcement is mostly aimed at developers, it has changes that will trickle down to users as well. At the very least, it will mean that there will be more compatible apps available on Windows 10 on ARM.
It’s not a panacea that’s going to magically make the new platform great, though. It doesn’t, for example, address the dismal performance of emulated x86 apps. The SDK will supposedly be available for both Windows Store apps as well as desktop apps, but makes no mention yet of 64-bit emulation. Hopefully, this paves the way for that.
Windows 10 on ARM has so far been a puzzle that consumers asking who it is really for. It dangles the promise of longer battery life and always-on connectivity but disappoints when it comes to performance of software outside of Microsoft’s blessed Store apps. It seems to be targeted at users who use nothing but those kinds of apps, which greatly limits its usefulness and makes the premium price tag harder to swallow.