Microsoft accidentally reveals Windows 10 on ARM limitations

Microsoft launched ARM-powered Windows 10 PCs with “all-day” battery life back in December. While HP, Asus, and Lenovo’s devices aren’t on sale just yet, we’re still waiting to hear more about the limitations of Windows 10 running on these new PCs. Microsoft published a full list of limitations last week, spotted first by Thurrott, that details what to expect from Windows 10 on ARM. This list must have been published by accident, as the software giant removed it over the weekend so only cached copies of the information are available.

  • Only ARM64 drivers are supported. Windows 10 on ARM can run x86 apps, but it can’t use x86 drivers. That shouldn’t be a problem for most hardware, but if you have some older peripherals then it’s likely that driver support won’t be available. Windows 10 on ARM driver support will be more limited, and similar to what Windows 10 S provides.
  • x64 apps are not supported. This is something we’ve known, but Windows 10 on ARM does not support emulation of x64 apps. Microsoft is planning to support these in the future at some point, though.
  • Certain games and apps don’t work. Microsoft says that games and apps that use a version of OpenGL later than 1.1 or that require hardware-accelerated OpenGL won’t work on Windows 10 on ARM. Games that use anticheat technologies also won’t run on Windows 10 on ARM.
  • Apps that customize the Windows experience may not work correctly. Apps like assistitive technologies or input method editors won’t work properly on Windows 10 on ARM. Also, apps that include shell extensions (icons and right-click menus in File Explorer) like Dropbox may fail. These apps will need to be compiled natively for ARM.
  • Apps that assume that all ARM-based devices are running a mobile version of Windows may not work correctly. Some apps that have been coded for Windows Phone won’t work correctly and could appear in the wrong orientation or have UI layout problems. This won’t be a huge amount of apps, though.
  • The Windows Hypervisor Platform is not supported on ARM. You won’t be able to run virtual machines using Hyper-V with Windows 10 on ARM.

It seems that for most Windows users, Windows 10 on ARM will support common apps and scenarios. Microsoft’s emulation work allows you to download most 32-bit exe files from the web and install them on ARM-powered laptops. There are clearly some limitations, outlined above, but the majority of apps should run. We’re still waiting to test an ARM-powered Windows 10 laptop to see if the battery life is what has been promised, and whether performance for desktop apps is reasonable enough.