Windows 10 will soon run on devices with ARM-based processors. How soon? Very.

Microsoft has already said that Windows 10 will gain ARM support by the end of the 2017, and now folks have started to find some ARM64 packages on Microsoft’s servers. These packages are for the latest Insider Preview version of the Windows 10 Fall Creators Update, which is build 16281.

In other words, it’s starting to look like ARM support could launch alongside the Fall Creators Update on October 17th.

Does that mean you’ll be able to download and install Windows 10 on your smartphone or tablet? I wouldn’t bet on it. But don’t be surprised if we start to see new Windows 10 laptops, tablets, and convertibles with Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 chips soon.

The ARM chips should bring smartphone-like features to Windows devices, including low power consumption (especially in standby) and always-connected WiFi and/or mobile broadband support. Of course, Intel offers its own low-power chips with support for Connected Standby these days, but it’ll be interesting to see a bit more competition in the thin, light, and occasionally fanless PC space.

While this isn’t the first time Microsoft has offered a version of Windows that supports ARM-based processors, we’re not talking about Windows RT or Windows Phone this time. Thanks to x86 emulation, you should be able to run legacy Windows applications on a Windows 10 device with a Snapdragon 835 processor. You’re not limited to Windows Store apps (although obviously Microsoft would love it if more developers would jump on the Windows Store/Universal Windows Platform app bandwagon).

If you believe Microsoft and Qualcomm’s claims, there’s a chance users won’t even really notice the difference between a Windows computer with an ARM chip and one with an x86 chip, since there’ll only be a slight performance hit when running apps that weren’t originally designed to support chips with ARM architecture.

Maybe we’ll find out just how believable those claims are in a little over a month.

via WinFuture, My Digital Life Forums, and @AndItsTito

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7 replies on “Windows 10 ARM packages spotted on Microsoft servers, suggesting ARM support is on track”

  1. I’m really looking forward to seeing a device with Windows on ARM. It will be interesting to see if it really will be like Windows and to what extent. Will we be able to run Visual Studio on it? Will WSL work on it as well? Will IIS, SQL Server, Postgres and Oracle run on it? Java?

    I’m also interested in seeing what kind of editions Windows 10 ARM will come in. S? Home? Pro? Enterprise? Something else?

  2. In your average desktop app the emulation will probably do just fine but on something that needs better performance I’d be surprised if the emulation can deliver.

    Particularly games I suspect will be a problem, don’t expect much even if the GPU in the SD835 is at least on par with the Nvidia GPU in the Nintendo Switch from comparing NV-Tegra/SD835 tablet benchmarks.

    UWP based apps can deliver native Arm performance but I doubt even the Xbox PC games on the Windows Store have been compiled with an Arm version.

    1. This is Windows, not Android. Windows supports discrete GPUs. Whether we will see them in ARM devices is still in question, but I would bet “yes” if NVIDIA decides to make a Windows 10 device.

      1. I would bet “no”.
        Name one device out there that has an ARM CPU and uses a user accessible/replaceable GPU.

        1. When drachemitch says “discrete,” he means the GPU has a separate die and package, not a user accessible slot or socket. This has been done before. It was done in the late Windows Mobile era and early Windows Phone era in several pocket PCs. Discrete, low-power GPUs also were quite common on many laptops until the integrated GPU was added to the Core line.

          1. EDIT: Discrete, low-power GPUS also came standard on many laptops and desktops until the integrated to the Intel Core processor.

    2. If you’re looking for a gaming laptop, this isn’t for you. But for more regular tasks, I’d like an ultra portable 2-in-1 with long battery – currently the choices are either Atom (no longer updated and getting increasingly outdated) or expensive devices. It’d be nice to have something in between.

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