Microsoft outlines the limitations of Windows 10 on ARM devices

Are you absolutely stoked for the launch of Windows 10 on ARM devices? We first heard about the project more than a year ago, and in May of last year Microsoft explained a little about how regular old Win32 x86 apps would run on the systems. In the meantime, Asus and others have announced upcoming laptops built on the technology. Even with all that talk around the platform, there were still some questions left unanswered, like whether we'd be able to run 64-bit apps or use Hyper-V. Microsoft put out a document last week that provided some answers.

The original document at the Microsoft site was titled "Limitations of apps and experiences on ARM," but the company replaced it with another page intended to help developers troubleshoot their x86 apps on ARM clients. Both pages have more or less the same information, though the new version presents it in a more neutral way. The limitations of Windows 10 on ARM are probably not going to be a surprise to savvy gerbils who are familiar with emulation. Obviously, existing x86 and x86-64 drivers aren't going to work, although perhaps less obviously, x86-64 applications in general are also not compatible.

Microsoft goes on to say "apps that customize the Windows experience" are not likely to work. That includes certain assistive technologies, "cloud storage apps," and input method extensions. More generally, anything that requires a shell extension is not likely to work because the emulation layer simply doesn't extend to system elements. That distinction is a bit curious because the x86-on-ARM emulation layer appears to be based on the Windows on Windows (WOW) system that is used to run x86 apps on x86-64 (or "x64" in Microsoft parlance) machines. Developers will have to create ARM-compatible versions of their shell extensions.

In what will surely be a disappointment to folks who want to virtualize everything, Hyper-V is not supported on Windows 10 on ARM. Microsoft notes that "certain games don't work," as well. That includes games which require drivers for their anti-cheat functionality as well as games using versions of DirectX older than 9.0, or OpenGL. That's right: hardware-accelerated OpenGL is not supported in any fashion on Windows 10 for ARM. That could make porting games over more difficult for Android and iOS developers who typically develop for OpenGL or Apple's Metal API.

The Qualcomm hardware that the first Windows 10 on ARM devices will use already has a functional (if not great) OpenGL driver for other operating systems, so this could be an intentional choice from Microsoft. The Redmond company and OpenGL have had a prickly relationship from the start, but even John Carmack (who once called Direct3D "horribly broken") has come around to say that DirectX is the better API. Microsoft's API is certainly used by more games, but disallowing OpenGL on the Windows 10 for ARM platform entirely seems like a petty decision regardless.

Windows 10 on ARM devices were supposed to launch in time for the holidays last year, but obviously that date has slipped. We can't locate any information about what's happened to them, but it seems like Asus, HP, and Lenovo still have Qualcomm-powered machines on the way running Windows 10. We'll keep you posted when we hear more.

Comments closed
    • End User
    • 2 years ago

    HP ENVY x2 now available for preorder! It’s a steal at $999 US. 😛

    Ships by 3/09/18

    [url<]http://store.hp.com/us/en/pdp/hp-envy-x2-12-e011nr?source=aw&aid=7169&jumpid=af_6mrc7uxaeb&utm_source=affiliate&awc=7169_1519401435_ed366446534977d87dcbd658a8c4e295&AOID=35252&pbid=78888&siteid=Skimlinks[/url<]

      • Pancake
      • 2 years ago

      Stupidly large. Do not want.

        • End User
        • 2 years ago

        lol

    • Rza79
    • 2 years ago

    [quote<]The Qualcomm hardware that the first Windows 10 on ARM devices will use already has a functional (if not great) OpenGL driver for other operating systems, so this could be an intentional choice from Microsoft.[/quote<] OpenGL ES ≠ OpenGL Adreno doesn't support OpenGL.

      • BobbinThreadbare
      • 2 years ago

      Some do in their 500 series [url<]https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adreno[/url<]

        • Rza79
        • 2 years ago

        According to Wikipedia the 500 series supports OpenGL 3.2.
        It makes sense that most Adreno HW is limited to OGL 3.1 (freedreno) since it took OGL ES 3.2 to get all the needed functions to be able to support OGL 3.2 (like geometry shaders).
        But to be honest, I think that’s just a typo/mistake on Wikipedia since supporting OGL 3.2 wouldn’t make any sense. I don’t see a single official doc mentioning OpenGL. It’s just that some websites don’t understand the difference between OGL and ES.

    • strangerguy
    • 2 years ago

    Good, yet another “what’s the point again?” product I wouldn’t have to spend a dime on.

    I do give props on MS at least they weren’t describing it as world-changing or other sickening hyper-duper-superlative overhyping adjective.

    • windwalker
    • 2 years ago

    These limitations are not a big deal.
    x86 support is for custom corporate junkware and other assorted abandonware, so supporting 32 bit only makes perfect sense. I’d bet it’s also what makes the emulation of x86 on an ARM core a feasible scenario.

    Software that’s available for 64 bit x86 is almost certainly still being maintained and can be compiled for native 64 bit ARM as a whole, not just the shell extension.
    As for OpenGL, that’s also a minor issue as most games don’t target an API but one of the popular engines.

      • Pancake
      • 2 years ago

      Not sure why you got downvoted. You are absolutely on point with all your points. Here’s a point…

      I’d also add not just custom junkware but various productivity apps that I don’t particularly want to shell out thousands for upgrades to.

      Yeah, who cares about OpenGL? Having written more than enough code using it in an earlier life I want it to die burning in a fire. Hideous thing.

        • cygnus1
        • 2 years ago

        Intel shareholders in the comments here, downvoting anyone showing positivity for ARM CPU usage I guess.

          • Pancake
          • 2 years ago

          I would say immature fanboys given the childish behaviour and low-grade thinking.

            • cygnus1
            • 2 years ago

            Yeah, that sounds about right. Was just trying to give people the benefit of the doubt and assume they had an economic self interest in bashing anything non-Intel instead of just being morons. This IS the internet though, so clearly I was being delusional 😉

            • End User
            • 2 years ago

            Microsoft keeps dropping the ball when it comes to mobile.

          • End User
          • 2 years ago

          It’s not me.

          I’m a firm believer in ARM SoC. I’m typing this on my 2017 12.9” iPad Pro. It’s fantastic.

      • End User
      • 2 years ago

      Why is anyone mentioning gaming?

    • End User
    • 2 years ago

    32-bit Windows 10 on ARM is an abomination and it should never see the light of day. Talk about moving backwards. The only game in town for Windows 10 is x64.

    Snapdragon 835 based devices are going to be a waste of money whenever they appear (they were announced back in December!). Snapdragon 845 based devices won’t see the light of day until Q3/4. Don’t bother waiting. Do yourself a favour and buy an x64 based Windows 10 laptop.

      • windwalker
      • 2 years ago

      There will be no such thing as 32 bit Windows 10 on ARM.
      It’s 64 bit ARM Windows with support for 32 bit x86 and 64 bit ARM applications.

        • End User
        • 2 years ago

        What a mess.

      • Pancake
      • 2 years ago

      Well, I just spent 1443 dollaroos on a HP Envy 13.3″ with one of them new-fangled quad-core i5-8250U CPUs and it’s a beautiful thing. Small, thin and light with amazing battery life and ridonkulous speed. Beautiful design and craftsmanship.

      But if a smaller, thinner, lighter Snappy 835 laptop/2-in-1 appeared with even more amazing battery life I’d pick it up in a heartbeat even if it was half the speed.

      • cygnus1
      • 2 years ago

      Stop it with the trolling FUD. You either show a very poor understanding of what Windows on ARM is or can do, or you’re doing it intentionally. Either way, just stop it. Windows 10 on ARM is a 64 bit OS. Binaries it can run include 64 bit ARM, 32 bit ARM, and thanks to emulation also 32 bit x86. MS has previously mentioned that sometime down the road the emulation will get x64 support (AKA x86-64, AMD64, etc). Me personally, I put that in the maybe it’ll come column, we’ll see. But it can run a lot of software as it is right now as most all UWP software on the Windows Store will already run on it, and developers can recompile/port their current x64 code to ARM64 and it will run on Windows 10 ARM. It’s not entirely DOA, it’s niche right now sure, but it definitely has a purpose/place.

      edit: wait, are you an Intel shareholder maybe?

        • End User
        • 2 years ago

        Thanks for the feedback.

        Windows 10 on Arm emulation support for x86 only applications is an abomination and should be ignored by consumers at all costs.

        Where are the review units? They are holding back because performance is crap.

        I have no love for Intel. Intel let this sh*tshow happen when they failed to create a competitive product for the mobile market.

        I just built two AMD based systems (Ryzen/Threadripper). I’m a fan of x64.

        • End User
        • 2 years ago

        Win32 x86 app performance under Windows 10 ARM on a Snapdragon 835 is horrid:

        [url<]https://www.notebookcheck.net/Asus-NovaGo-Windows-Laptop-with-Snapdragon-835-Review-Repetition-of-the-Netbook-Dilemma.271884.0.html[/url<] [quote<]What we can already tell based on the available results: The pure CPU performance of the Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 SoC/CPU appears to be clearly behind recent chips of the Intel Core Y-series[/quote<] The Intel Y-series features 64-bit goodness.

          • cygnus1
          • 2 years ago

          Is anyone buying a laptop with a low single digit Watt CPU to run anything CPU intensive? The idea of this is just to make it work, not have this be the ultimate computer that replaces all other computers. Most old line of business apps (the kinds of things that are still 32 bit, and not going to ever going to be updated again, let alone be compiled for 64 bit of any architecture) is all they’re probably worried about. And most of those are not CPU intensive. So it’s FINE… It does exactly what it’s intended to do with an acceptable level of performance for the people that do those things but excelling at more modern things like being able to be away from a power outlet all day but still actually get used…

            • End User
            • 2 years ago

            You are missing the point. Microsoft already screwed the pooch with UWP apps. Now they are muddying the waters with a backwards push to 32-bit apps. What a mess.

            • cygnus1
            • 2 years ago

            They’re not pushing 32 bit. They’re just including the tech to allow it to run for backward compatibility sake. The two are not the same. Supposedly x86-64 compatibility is coming later, but at least right now you can run almost anything out of the Windows Store plus you’re old business apps.

            • End User
            • 2 years ago

            Just go out and buy a x64 based laptop and call it a day.

            • cygnus1
            • 2 years ago

            Unfortunately it’s ludicrously difficult to find an x86 laptop that will actually last 18+ hours of actual use. That’s the point of these, they’re supposed to have crazy high battery life and like 30+ days of connected standby time. And all of that with a much lower price tag than an x86 laptop. If that comes even remotely close to true, I plan to buy 1 for sure. I will certainly hold out for those reviews whenever a trustworthy site (like TR) gets a review sample.

            • End User
            • 2 years ago

            “Certain classes of apps will not run. Utilities that modify the Windows user interface—like shell extensions, input method editors (IMEs), assistive technologies, and [b<]cloud storage apps[/b<]—[b<]will not work in Windows 10 on ARM[/b<]. " "[b<]It cannot use x86 drivers[/b<]. While Windows 10 on ARM can run x86 Windows applications, it cannot utilize x86 drivers. Instead, [b<]it will require native ARM64 drivers instead[/b<]." [url<]https://www.thurrott.com/windows/windows-10/152501/microsoft-finally-documents-limitations-windows-10-arm[/url<] I'm [b<]really[/b<] looking forward to the reviews. The first Windows 10 on ARM PCs will hit store shelves by the end of March

            • Pancake
            • 2 years ago

            Why would you look forward to the reviews? You already have a very strong negative opinion based on… nothing substantial. And you’re an iPad end user consumer. This class of device is not for you.

            Me? I’m having a bit of third day regret with my new HP Envy 13.3″ i5-8250U laptop. It’s undeniably a beautiful thing and works great for software development when I’m away from home. But. It’s. GINORMOUS! Annoyingly huge, even. But there’s literally nothing else on the market smaller and with that class of hardware.

            I’ll throw my money at the first manufacturer of a premium 10-11″ size laptop/2-in-1 with 20hr battery life. Thin bezels and carved out of a chunk of aluminium or magnesium alloy please. Snappy 835 or 845 performance would be more than acceptable for light web browsing, emails, coding etc. I don’t care how much it costs.

            • End User
            • 2 years ago

            You are regretting the purchase of a HP Envy 13.3″ because it’s “GINORMOUS” and “annoyingly huge” !?! lol

            At the moment Windows 10 ARM devices are in the 12.3″ to 13.3” range.

            I’m in the market for a Windows laptop. Hence my interest in this “class of device”. At the moment I’m leaning towards the absolutely annoyingly huge and ginormous Lenovo T480.

            • Pancake
            • 2 years ago

            Don’t do it, man. Unless you’ve got sausages for fingers or are visually impaired just don’t do it. You will regret it.

            • End User
            • 2 years ago

            Wut? Because a quad core laptop with a Nvidia MX150 requires fat fingers? GTFOH.

            • Pancake
            • 2 years ago

            If you get a monster 14″ laptop you’re FOREVER going to regret it when you look at the smaller 13″ models you could have bought but didn’t.

            • End User
            • 2 years ago

            Good thing I have a fracking awesome 13″ MacBook Pro.

            • End User
            • 2 years ago

            My guess is that these Windows 10 835/845 devices are going to have less than acceptable performance for even the most basic tasks.

        • End User
        • 2 years ago

        To quote a developer friend of mine:

        [quote<]32-bit is so far in my rear view mirror, it’s in black and white[/quote<]

          • cygnus1
          • 2 years ago

          Yeah, that’s fine. He doesn’t need to look at 32 bit anything. Just needs to look at compiling his app for ARM64 if he cares about it running on this variant of Windows.

            • End User
            • 2 years ago

            You think devs are going to run to ARM64? Let the success of UWP apps be your guide.

    • yeeeeman
    • 2 years ago

    Useless. With Windows RT, probably Microsoft wanted to push it. Now Quallcomm came to Microsoft and said, hey, lets emulate stuff, maybe it catches on this time.
    Unfortunately, until everything works, there is no point in buying a device which is slower, has marginally better battery life and has basic support.

    • Chrispy_
    • 2 years ago

    Windows RT 2: Return of the bad idea

    I like what they’re trying to do but it all comes back to the problem that devices running ARM aren’t typically using a display/interface format works with Windows 10.

    It’s not as if there’s a shortage of ultra-cheap x86 processors either. There are W10 tablets for $100 with an intel x86 processor, 2GB RAM, 32GB storage and an IPS screen – oh, and a Windows license as well!

    ARM aren’t competing on desktop/laptop and Windows isn’t wanted on a tablet unless it’s specifically to act as a desktop/laptop anyway. iOS and Android are just [i<]vastly[/i<] superior as pure tablet interfaces in so many ways that I'm not even going to try counting.

      • Pancake
      • 2 years ago

      You are kidding, right? I thoroughly hate iOS on my iPad – hideous clunky piece of crappage. My Nexus Android tablet is the only device I’ve smashed to pieces to considerable satisfaction. That piece of junk just had to die. My Nokia Windows Phone? Best mobile device I’ve ever owned or used.

      I’m not interested in cheap crap Chinese W10 tablets. But something high quality, thin and light, reasonably performant with 8GB RAM and 256GB of fast-ish storage? 20+ hrs battery life? Sign me up baby.

        • Chrispy_
        • 2 years ago

        Windows phone was actually pretty good; Shame it’s dead.

        The touch-first interface of Android and iOS is what makes them successful, and although I can see where you’re coming from with hating them, they’re still better than Windows 10 on a touchscreen device by a significant margin. Nearly the entirety of the press and customers disagree with you, based on market share and sales too.

      • End User
      • 2 years ago

      Amen

    • tipoo
    • 2 years ago

    With regard to ISA compatibility, I imagine they want any high performance needing application recompilled for ARMv8 anyways, if something needs 64 bit I imagine there’s a high chance you don’t want it in an x86 emulator anyways.

    So x86 32 bit only seems kinda fine from that perspective, to cover the low performance apps while the higher performance needs are natively tailored to it.

    No OpenGL hurts more though. And I see no mention of Vulkan, I’m guessing a pure DX tie-in, which sucks.

    • wingless
    • 2 years ago

    I hope it does better than Windows 8 on ARM. I’d like to see more ARM mainstream devices that actually are functional and powerful. We need more options than just x86.

    • just brew it!
    • 2 years ago

    Sounds like this has all the makings of a product that all but disappears from the market within a year or two (assuming it even makes it to official launch).

      • cpucrust
      • 2 years ago

      Microsoft EEE strategy: Embrace, Extend, and Extinguish

      “Delivering what MS thinks customers want”

      • oldog
      • 2 years ago

      Useless… or not.

      I suspect this was not a huge R&D investment for MS and they are likely hedging their bets with Intel much in the same way that Apple has.

        • cygnus1
        • 2 years ago

        Much of the ARM work was already done for Windows Mobile. This really just finished out the desktop OS components successfully compiling for ARM which is really just an extension of the general updates they’re doing for those components in Windows 10 and making them hardware agnostic (aka .net). The x86 emulation was also an existing old product tweaked to support ARM64.

    • Usacomp2k3
    • 2 years ago

    Why? There are 64-bit ARM chips out there, aren’t there? Like the iPhone CPU.

      • chuckula
      • 2 years ago

      That’s not the point.

      In fact, the [b<]ONLY[/b<] ARM products that actually support this Windows emulation are already 64 bit to begin with.

        • LocalCitizen
        • 2 years ago

        that’s right, the drivers has to be ARM64 (ie 64 bit) but the apps are only 32 bit

      • tipoo
      • 2 years ago

      Need 64 bit – use ARMv8 on this
      x86 32 bit compatibility covers the older apps that won’t get a new recompile I guess. If you have an app that needs 64 bit, it probably doesn’t want to run in emulation anyways.

      • cygnus1
      • 2 years ago

      It is a 64 bit ARM chip and it can run 64 bit ARM Windows code, just not 64 bit x86 Windows code. The x86 emulation is not a hardware feature, it is software. But a very old piece of software that MS pulled off a back shelf and stuck in there tweaked to run on ARM64. They haven’t finished the new version of that particular product that supports x86-64 but have hinted in the past that it’s a work in progress.

    • DancinJack
    • 2 years ago

    [quote<]That's right: hardware-accelerated OpenGL is not supported in any fashion on Windows 10 for ARM.[/quote<] Oh yeah, totally makes sense.

      • jarder
      • 2 years ago

      “makes sense for microsoft” you mean. They are always going to grab every opportunity then can to lock you into their own proprietary API.

        • Anonymous Coward
        • 2 years ago

        I’m not seeing how a niche product with a high chance of failing on the market can be part of a lock-in strategy. Rather, I’ll go with MS cutting development costs.

        • cygnus1
        • 2 years ago

        This has nothing to do with MS. “Windows” on all platforms does not support hardware accelerated OpenGL. AMD, nVidia, and Intel video drivers add that support. Blame Qualcomm for not writing full featured video drivers, it’s not something MS has done, ever, as far as I know.

          • BobbinThreadbare
          • 2 years ago

          As Zak wrote, it’s not clear who to blame. Microsoft could have prevented their OpenGL driver from working, or maybe it didn’t meet quality control standards.

    • derFunkenstein
    • 2 years ago

    Oh, good. Just when 32-bit seemed like it was going to go away forever, Microsoft does something like this and sucks it back in.

      • chuckula
      • 2 years ago

      Never let it be said that Microsoft [url=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zo-YVqV0v4Q<]isn't inspired by the classics[/url<].

        • derFunkenstein
        • 2 years ago

        I was kind of going for a [url=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UPw-3e_pzqU<]different classic[/url<] but didn't phrase it correctly. :-/

          • chuckula
          • 2 years ago

          While I like Al Pacino, his impersonation of Bill Gates leaves much to be desired.

          I mean, the sweater is OK but he needs to actually wear the oversized glasses.

      • Ummagumma
      • 2 years ago

      I agree. Just say “NO” to stupid stuff like this Micro$haft mis-invention….

      • End User
      • 2 years ago

      Exactly

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