Microsoft wants to emulate x86 apps on Windows 10 Mobile for Redstone 3

The Windows 10 Creators Update – codenamed Redstone 2 – is coming sometime in early 2017; the work on Redstone 3 has already begun – one of the features planned for it, is the ability to emulate x86 applications on the ARM64 architecture.

If the terms we are using here look like gibberish – refer to our explanation of the whole thing, where we hold your hands through the insane world of computing; hopefully, that will be helpful.

Office Excel on Continuum

The news comes from two sources – WalkingCat on Twitter, and Mary Jo Foley of ZDNet; both sources claim that Microsoft plans on emulating desktop x86 applications on ARM64 processors, with the Redstone 3 update for Windows 10 and Windows 10 Mobile.

The feature would allow phones to run desktop applications with Continuum – making the recently-launched HP Workspace a redundant product.

The project is referred to as Cobalt, according to the sources, and is often referenced as ‘CHPE’ – hinting that Microsoft might be working with HP, for the project.

Foley cites her source claiming that the ‘C’ stands for Cobalt, then speculates that the ‘HP’ might stand for Hewlett-Packard – the company, and ‘E’ could be for Emulation.

The Workspace

Windows 10 has been focusing on building a single core for all devices that run Windows 10 – running desktop-class apps via Continuum, on the phone, is the holy grail of this goal.

However, emulation is a very expensive process, and the ARM64 processors often fail to emulate x86 architecture with reasonable performance.

HP got around this problem by running x86 applications in a virtualized environment on the cloud – the application is then streamed to the mobile device, and put in a container, so It appears to be running natively.

The service is quite expensive and requires a stable and constant internet connection – but it works.

The Unified Future

The Windows 10 Redstone 3 update is planned for a Fall 2017 release – it is a project only in its initial stages, and anything could change over the next year.

It is no guarantee that we will see x86 applications emulated on ARM processors with Redstone 3 – or ever, for that matter – but the fact that Microsoft is working on it shows that it is determined to build a unified future where the divide between mobile and PC is negligible if exist at all.

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