At the Arm DevSummit this week, the chipmaker dropped some major news. While looking ahead to future products, the company said will stop supporting 32-bit applications on its ARM CPUs. While the decision puts pressure on Microsoft’s Windows 10 on ARM movement, the company is already moving behind 64-bit.
Arm says the support for 32-bit apps will end during 2022. The news come as many of the company’s partners are increasingly pushing forward with 64-bit. Apple is getting behind ARM CPUs with the company’s first ARM-based MacBooks launching this year.
In fact, Cupertino stopped support for 32-bit in 2017 for devices that support 64-bit apps. Google is taking a similar path, with a requirement all new apps and updates for the Play Store are 64-bit.
Is Microsoft Affected?
Microsoft is in a little more of an awkward position. Because of the continued use of 32-bit programs on Windows 10, the company needs to take a different approach. For Windows 10 on ARM, the company is going to tread a path of supporting both 32-bit and 64-bit apps.
We have been following the company’s struggles to get 64-bit app support on Windows 10 on ARM. Windows needs to support 32-bit apps to allow users to access classic desktop programs. To add 64-bit app support, the company is developing an emulator that will run these apps.
It is not ideal, but it looks like this will be necessary. It is unclear how Arm’s decision to end 32-bit app support will affect Microsoft’s plans. That said, it is worth noting Microsoft works with Qualcomm as its chip partner for Windows 10 on ARM. However, it seems reasonable to presume the company’s emulator will become even more important in the coming years.
Arm says the change will happen on high-end CPUs in 2022, while consumer devices will see it in 2023.