Windows 10 on ARM apps, drivers, experience limitations

Microsoft reveals lists of the limitations users can expect on Windows 10 running on ARM-based devices.

Microsoft Edge on ARM (source: Microsoft)
Microsoft Edge on ARM (source: Microsoft)

Windows 10 running on ARM chips from Qualcomm has been in the works for a long time, and while we’ve thought that this mobile OS was going to be the same as the version running on x86 chips architecture, it seems that ARM devices will have some limitations.

According to a documentation page from Microsoft (spotted by details a complete list of the limitations with the version of Windows 10 for ARM-based devices.

However, it appears that the list was published by accident, because Microsoft quickly removed the page, and there’s now only a cached copy of the list.

Windows 10 on ARM limitations

  • Only ARM64 drivers are supported — While ARM OS has the capabilities to emulate x86 user-mode apps, drivers implemented for other architectures (such as x64 or x86) are not currently emulated and thus not supported on this platform. Any app that works with its own custom driver would need to be ported to ARM64. In limited scenarios, the app may run as x86 under emulation but the driver portion of the app must be ported to ARM64.

  • x64 apps are not supported — Windows 10 on ARM does not support emulation of x64 apps.

  • Certain games don’t work — Games and apps that use a version of OpenGL later than 1.1 or that require hardware-accelerated OpenGL don’t work. In addition, games that rely on “anti-cheat” drivers are not supported on this platform.

  • Apps that customize the Windows experience may not work correctly — Native OS components cannot load non-native components. For example, apps that commonly do this include some input method editors (IMEs), assistive technologies, and cloud storage apps.

  • Apps that assume that all ARM-based devices are running a mobile version of Windows may not work correctly — Apps that make this assumption may appear in the wrong orientation, present unexpected UI layout or rendering, or failing to start altogether when they attempt to invoke mobile-only APIs without first testing the contract availability.

  • The Windows Hypervisor Platform is not supported on ARM — Running any virtual machines using Hyper-V on an ARM device will not work.

Although some of the limitations were expected, it appears that regular users won’t have much problems running apps as usual, including the ability to download and install most 32-bit classic desktop applications on ARM. However, if you’re planning to get these devices for a work environment, you’ll need to make sure the applications you intend to run are indeed compatible.

Will these limitations affect your decision on the purchase of a Windows 10 devices using an ARM processor? Tell us in the comments. 

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].