Microsoft has released new documentation for Windows 10 systems on the newly announced ARM-based always-connected PC. The documentation offers a lot of discussions because the title reads: “Limitations of apps and (user) experience with ARM.”
Microsoft’s new Always Connected strategy, which was introduced only in early December last year, is based on energy-efficient ARM processors from Qualcomm and a correspondingly ported Windows 10. The company only publishes details of this gradually. Now Microsoft has provided a whole set of information, with documentation addressed to developers. In it, some of the known facts are highlighted, but also confirmed rumors.
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First devices were announced by Asus, HP, and Lenovo. The computers with ARM architecture are delivered with Windows 10 S and of course, already take over the limitations of the operating system. In addition to this listing, there are even more specific details for developers with more detailed instructions on how to implement individual specifications. The documentation also contains an FAQ for error handling. According to the documentation, the following additional points apply:
- Only ARM64 drivers are supported. As with all architectures, kernel-mode drivers, user-mode driver framework (UMDF) drivers, and printer drivers must be compiled according to the architecture of the operating system. While ARM has the ability to emulate x86 application modes, drivers implemented for other architectures (such as x64 or x86) are currently not emulated and therefore not supported on this platform. Any application that uses 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 applications are not supported. Windows 10 on ARM does not support emulation of x64 applications.
- Certain games do not work. Games and applications that use a version of OpenGL later than 1.1 or that require hardware-accelerated OpenGL do not work. In addition, games that rely on “anti-cheat” drivers are not supported on this platform.
- Applications that customize the Windows experience may not work correctly. Native OS components cannot load non-native components. Examples of applications that often do this include some input method editors (IMEs), assistive technologies, and cloud storage applications. Cloud storage applications often use shell extensions (such as icons in Explorer and right-click menu additions); their shell extensions may fail, and if the error is not handled correctly, the application itself may not work at all.
- Applications that expect ARM-based devices to automatically run Windows 10 Mobile may not work correctly. Apps that make this assumption may appear misaligned, present unexpected UI layout or rendering, or fail to launch if they attempt to invoke only mobile APIs without first testing contract availability.
- The Windows Hypervisor platform is not supported by ARM. Running virtual machines that use Hyper-V on an ARM device does not work.
When first devices with the Qualcomm ARM processors will officially be available in other countries is not yet known. They were already announced for the first quarter of 2018.