Microsoft’s Surface Pro X is off to bad start due application compatability issues, in part due to imperfect Win32 emulation on Windows 10 on ARM, but even more due to the complete inability to run x64 apps on Windows 10 on ARM, meaning many high-performance applications and most high-performance games are not available on the platform.
Win32 emulation on Windows 10 on ARM is very elegant, simply utilizing the already existing Windows on Windows emulation layer which allows Win32 applications to run on x64 Windows.
This meant that it was generally believed x64 apps would never be available on Windows 10 on ARM, but now Microsoft is hinting that this is about to change.
On slides from the recent Ignite conference (posted by WalkingCat), Microsoft confirmed that “X64 applications can not be emulated at this time”, but confirmed, “this story is expected to change.”
Another slide confirms that Microsoft expects that this solution is not expected to be used by a large number of applications.
Microsoft notes that this emulation solution will be for a “very small population of apps.”
Neowin had heard the same rumour at Ignite, and reports that the x64 emulation is expected to be slower than win32 emulation, meaning while it may be possible to run the apps they would still be less desirable than a proper ARM64 app.
We do not know when this shim which would allow x64 apps on Surface Pro X will arrive, but we do know that if Microsoft does not overcome these issues the Windows 10 on ARM platform is unlikely to ever reach mainstream acceptance.