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Microsoft’s x86 on ARM64 emulation: a Fall 2017 feature

Since January 2016 (and maybe before), there’s been talk that Microsoft was working on bringing x86 emulation to ARM processors. Sources of mine are now saying that this capability is coming to Windows 10, though not until “Redstone 3” in the Fall of 2017.

Here’s why this matters: Microsoft officials continue to claim that Continuum — the capability that will allow Windows 10 Mobile devices to connect to external displays and keyboards — is going to be a key for the company, its partners and its customers. There’s been one very big limitation to Continuum so far, however: It only allows users to run Universal Windows Platform (UWP), and not full-fledged x86 apps.

What if an ARM64-based device could run x86 apps via emulation, the same way that the WOW (Windows on Windows) emulator allowed 32-bit apps to run on 64-bit Windows? That would make Windows 10 Mobile, which as of now, continues to support ARM only, and Continuum a lot more interesting, especially to business users who need certain Win32/line-of-business apps.

Quite compelling, to say the least. I’ve always considered the smartphone that turns into a full-fledged desktop when docked the holy grail of the mobile computing world, and I’m excited that Microsoft is still working on it.

They’ll get it right eventually. Infinite monkeys and all that.

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