One of the challenges Microsoft faced when bringing Windows to computers with ARM processors was that many Windows applications were designed for x86 chips like the ones Intel and AMD product. So Windows on ARM has an emulation feature that uses software to get x86 apps to run on ARM.

When Windows 10 on ARM first launched, emulation was limited to 32-bit x86 apps, but almost a year ago Microsoft began rolling out test builds of Windows 10 on ARM with support for 64-bit emulation. Now the company is announcing that x64 emulation has graduated from beta and it’s generally available for Windows 11 on ARM. But it will no longer be an option at all for Windows 10.

Microsoft Surface Pro X

It’s unclear why Microsoft decided to make x64 emulation a Windows 11-only feature, especially since the company has promised to continue supporting Window 10 through 2025.

But, to be fair, it’s not like Microsoft is removing a feature that had been widely available to Windows 10 users. Up until now x64 emulation was only available to members of the Windows Insider program who were running preview builds of Windows 10 and not to the general public running stable builds of the operating system.

The good news is that almost every Windows 10 laptop, tablet, or desktop computer with a Qualcomm Snapdragon processor released to date should be eligible for a free upgrade to Windows 11. The bad news is that means folks who aren’t happy with some of the changes in Windows 11 (the taskbar, start menu, and right-click context menus seem to have turned off many folks) may not want to upgrade… but may have to if they want to be able to continue running 64-bit apps that weren’t compiled specifically for computers with ARM-based processors.

via The Verge

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  1. Microsoft is going back to its old antics, now we just need a nag asking you to upgrade, even if your PC can’t get upgraded (it could ask you to buy a new PC in that case, OEM partners would be happy).

  2. I anticipated that they wouldn’t be supporting x64 emulation on Windows 10, so no big deal to me that it’s not coming to Windows 10.

    Some of the initial results of x64 emulation seem impressive. It will be nice to see someone put together some data and compare the performance a few ways. Maybe a side-by-side of a top-tier Snapdragon benchmarking against an i5, emulation vs native.