Windows 10’s Continuum is a big feature for some of the recent Windows 10 Mobile devices. Continuum allows users to get a desktop-like experience on Universal Windows Apps by connecting their phone to an external display, keyboard and mouse. While Microsoft is working on adding some major new features to Continuum with the Windows 10 Creators Update (codenamed “Redstone 2”), the feature still can’t run full-fledged x86 apps. However, that could change pretty soon.
Microsoft is apparently working on bringing x86 emulation for ARM64 with the Windows 10 Redstone 3 release. With this feature, users could potentially be able to run x86 apps on ARM64-based devices just like how the Windows on Windows emulator allows 32-bit apps to work on 64-bit Windows.
Recently, Microsoft enthusiast WalkingCat tweeted that “Windows’ hybrid x86-on-ARM64 tech” had a new name “CPHE”. And according to ZDNet, the “C” in CHPE could stand for “Cobalt” which is the codename for x86 emulation on ARM64. Additionally, the “HP” in CHPE likely stands for HP — which has been working closely with Microsoft on its Elite x3 device. And lastly, the “E” in CHPE possibly stands for “emulation”.
This may sound a bit confusing at the moment, but it might make a lot of sense in the long-term. For one, HP is likely working with Microsoft on bringing x86 emulation to ARM64 devices as the company’s Elite x3 device focuses immensely on the Continuum feature. The company is working on a second Windows 10 Mobile device which will also support Continuum for phones, but HP obviously wants users to be able to run x86 apps on their devices. This isn’t possible with Continuum, but Cobalt (aka x86 emulation for ARM64) might enable this.
Secondly, Cobalt might also be a huge feature for Microsoft’s own “Surface Phone”. The company’s Terry Myerson recently stated the ARM processors in Windows Mobile are one of the “unique” things about the platform and that the ARM processors “have a role in the technical landscape of the future”. Microsoft obviously wants to create a new category of devices, and Cobalt will likely be a huge player in the company’s strategy. Sources familiar with the matter told me that the software giant is also investing highly on another project internally that’s related to x86 and ARM and that could potentially help it make a new category of devices as well.
Cobalt will possibly arrive with Windows 10 Redstone 3 in Fall 2017.