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Saturday, January 16, 2021

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x64 emulation has come to Windows on ARM

Microsoft is finally releasing x64 emulation on Windows for ARM to testers today, after announcing that the feature was coming back in September. The feature, available to Windows Insiders in the Dev Channel, will allow users to run 64-bit apps that haven’t yet been compiled for their ARM-powered devices. This means that if you just got one of the new Surface Pro Xs (and are willing to jump through some hoops and install a Windows update long before it’s ready for public release), Microsoft says you should be able to play games like Rocket League, or run productivity apps like AutoDesk’s Sketchbook.

Whether they’ll run well is a different question. Windows on ARM’s emulation has been pretty rough in the past, but even running an app poorly is better than not being able to run it at all. Just don’t expect to see the same emulation performance that your ARM Mac brethren have been seeing.

Microsoft hasn’t yet said when the emulation will be coming to the main builds of Windows, but says that it “look[s] forward to the feedback from our Windows Insider community”. Again, this is a pre-beta OS, so it’s not a great idea to install it on a computer you absolutely need to work. But if you simply can’t wait to run 64-bit apps on your ARM-powered Windows device, you can join the Windows Insider program and follow these instructions to get emulation working. Let’s face it, if you’re running Windows on ARM, you’re probably okay with the cutting-edge lifestyle.

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