Windows 10 now runs on ARM chips with support for desktop apps

Microsoft is building a new version of Windows 10 that runs on low-powered mobile processors, and it'll include an emulator to run desktop apps.

Windows 10 running on ARM

Microsoft is working to bring the full version of Windows 10 to ARM chips from Qualcomm, adding a new category of cellular-connected mobile devices.

In addition, and perhaps the biggest news, is that Microsoft is also adding a new emulation layer to the version of Windows 10 running on ARM, which will enable users to run desktop (Win32/x86) applications, such as Photoshop, iTunes, and Google Chrome.

And for those wondering, Microsoft is using its Cobalt emulator technology, which heard recently.

Windows 10 running on ARM demo

The company officially made the announcement at its WinHec hardware event in China. At the event, Microsoft also made a full demo presentation of Windows 10 running on a PC featuring a Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 chip.

Although, this is a big news, it’s not the first time the company tries to bring its operating system to ARM-based devices. Several years back, Microsoft created Windows RT for its Surface RT tablet, but it didn’t go mainstream due to the lack of traditional desktop applications support and missing features.

Currently, there is a variant of Windows 10 that runs on phones using Qualcomm processors, which we know as Windows 10 Mobile, but it doesn’t include support for Win32 applications.

Windows 10 for mobile devices

Windows 10 running on ARM is a totally new take meant for mobile devices, and it’ll not only run Windows Store apps, but Win32 apps as well, and users will have access to the desktop and all the features found on the desktop version of the operating system.

However, it’s worth pointing out that this new version won’t be replacing Windows 10 Mobile, which will continue to be developed to run on phones. In addition, the company says that the emulator coming to Windows 10 on ARM hasn’t been designed to run on phones.

Microsoft is planning to offer Windows 10 on ARM to PC makers for devices with screen sizes between 6- to 14-inch.

The company isn’t sharing specific details on the release date, but we can expect Windows 10 for Qualcomm processors sometime in 2017.

About the author

Mauro Huculak is a Windows How-To Expert who started Pureinfotech in 2010 as an independent online publication. He has also been a Windows Central contributor for nearly a decade. Mauro has over 14 years of experience writing comprehensive guides and creating professional videos about Windows and software, including Android and Linux. Before becoming a technology writer, he was an IT administrator for seven years. In total, Mauro has over 20 years of combined experience in technology. Throughout his career, he achieved different professional certifications from Microsoft (MSCA), Cisco (CCNP), VMware (VCP), and CompTIA (A+ and Network+), and he has been recognized as a Microsoft MVP for many years. You can follow him on X (Twitter), YouTube, LinkedIn and Email him at [email protected].