Microsoft’s Always-Connected PCs gets more powerful with 64-bit app support

qualcomm-always-connected-laptop

More powerful apps, games, and programs will be headed to Microsoft’s Windows or ARM project in the near future. Microsoft announced that it is now giving the tools needed for developers to easily create 64-bit ARM, otherwise known as ARM64, apps. The company also announced that it is now starting to accept ARM64 apps for developers.

This is a major milestone for the platform, as Microsoft’s previous efforts on bringing Windows to Qualcomm’s ARM-based Snapdragon processor was limited to 32-bit apps. With the announcement, developers can now use Microsoft Visual Studio 15.9 to compile ARM64 apps, and those apps will be ready for systems that presently ship with Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 850 silicon.

The Windows on ARM project, also known as the Always-Connected PC, began as a way for Microsoft to develop lightweight computers with the power and stamina to compete against the rise of Google’s Chromebooks and Apple’s iPad Pro. The platform’s long battery life and built-in 4G LTE modem means that users could still get an always-on, always-connected computing experience with all-day battery life, even when they’re away from a Wi-Fi hotspot.

The platform did encounter a big early hiccup because of Microsoft’s delayed launch of the October 2018 Update for Windows 10. The October 2018 Update is technically the first version of Microsoft’s Windows 10 platform to support running Windows 10 on ARM processors, and the delayed launch due to some glitches meant that hardware manufacturers — like Lenovo and Samsung — who wanted to deliver their devices in time for the holiday shopping season had to ship Windows on ARM systems with an older, unsupported version of Windows 10.

Fortunately, though, Microsoft has since corrected early issues with the Windows 10 Update, and the company has resumed the software update process. Early adopters of Lenovo’s and Samsung’s Windows on ARM systems can update to the October 2018 Update to get the best experience.

Unlike the now-defunct Windows RT platform, which debuted when Microsoft introduced its Surface RT hardware, Windows 10 on ARM supports a broader array of apps. While Windows RT only supported apps officially downloaded from Microsoft’s Windows Store, which itself has a very limited catalog compared to what is available on iOS and Android, Windows on ARM users can run .exe installers, similar to a traditional PC. Adding 64-bit support will make the platform compatible with even more apps currently available to PC users, though we’ll likely to see what, if any, performance hits exist compared to running 64-bit apps on processors from Intel and AMD.

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