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The Surface Pro X can finally run all Windows apps

Starting today, select Windows Insider beta testers can enjoy 64-bit app emulation on Windows 10 on ARM-based devices like the Surface Pro X. The new ability expands the capability of ARM-based laptops and PCs, opening up compatibility for both traditional 32-bit x86 apps, as well as modern 64-bit x64 apps like Autodesk.

Coming as part of the build 21277 release from the Windows Insider Dev channel, this now helps ARM-based PCs support a border range of apps.

According to Microsoft, when Windows 10 on ARM first launched in 2017, the majority of apps were 32-bit and x86. As a result, Windows 10 on ARM only supported these types of apps. However, now, the ecosystem of Windows apps has expanded to include 64-bit and x64 apps, too — which are preferred by most developers.

Image used with permission by copyright holder

“With developers increasingly supporting ARM64 apps natively, emulating x64 apps is an important step in our journey with Windows 10 on ARM. That’s why we are working on expanding the capability of our emulation to include x64 applications and sharing this first preview to gather feedback,” said Microsoft.

For those who own Windows 10 on ARM devices like the Surface Pro X, Samsung Galaxy Book S, or Lenovo Flex 5G, this means app compatibility problems that plagued these devices at launch will no longer be an issue. You can now install engineering apps like Autodesk, or games like Rocket League, which are 64-bit and x64 only. Basically, this means all modern Windows apps now work on these devices, as long as they are enrolled in the Windows Insider program.

The performance of other apps such as Google Chrome can also improve, too, thanks to this emulation. Microsoft says that these apps will be able to run as 64-bit through 64-bit app-emulation, and will benefit from having more memory.

It is important to note that this is still in preview. There are likely to be bugs, which is why Microsoft is seeking feedback from Windows Insider beta testers first.

You can see instructions on how to get started from Microsoft. The process involves enrolling a device into the Windows Insider program and installing new Qualcomm Adreno drivers as well. Microsoft also suggests installing a preview version of the ARM64 C++ redistributable, too, in this initial release.

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Arif Bacchus
Arif Bacchus is a native New Yorker and a fan of all things technology. Arif works as a freelance writer at Digital Trends…
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