Thinking of buying a Surface Pro X? Make sure to check these Windows 10 on ARM limitations first

  Surface Pro X

Microsoft's new Surface Pro X is an impressive looking device, but if you've been considering pre-ordering one, there are some important points to keep in mind before continuing. In fact, the device works with a custom SoC based on Microsoft SQ1 ARM, which means it will face some limitations when using Windows 10 in ARM.

Yesterday, Microsoft published a new support page that explains some of the compatibility issues with Windows 10 in ARM. The document mentions some problems with drivers, printers, games and more. Of particular interest is the drivers and hardware section, which indicates that games and applications will only work if they are designed for Windows 10 ARM PCs. Here is the explicit warning from Microsoft.

"Peripherals and devices only work if the drivers they depend on are integrated into Windows 10, or if the hardware developer has released ARM64 drivers for the device."

In addition, Microsoft points out the important limit with respect to Win32 64-bit (x64) applications, which will not work in Windows 10 in ARM unless developers recompile their applications for the ARM architecture (ARM64). However, Windows 10 in ARM can run legacy 32-bit applications through emulation, although the cost of performance with this new ARM based SQ1 SoC is still unknown.

There is also the complication that some games may not work if they use OpenGL greater than 1.1, or anti-cheat drivers that will not work with Windows 10 on PC ARM. The company recommends that you check with a game editor to see if a game will work first. Listed below are other important Windows 10 limits in ARM:

  • Applications that customize the Windows experience may have problems. This includes some input method editors (IME), assistive technologies and cloud storage applications. The organization that develops the application determines if your application will work on a PC with Windows 10 ARM.
  • No third-party antivirus software can be installed. You cannot install any third-party antivirus software on a Windows 10 ARM PC. However, Windows Security will help you stay safe for the life of your Windows 10 device.
  • Windows Fax and Scan is not available. This feature is not available on a Windows 10-based ARM PC.

As we said in 2018 when Windows 10 was first launched on ARM Always Connected PCs, some of these limits could drive some consumers away. While you can emulate some 32-bit applications in Windows 10 in ARM, the problems that Microsoft mentioned earlier remain. Will this prevent you from buying Surface Pro X? Let us know in the comments below.

Additional readings: Surface Pro X, Windows 10, Windows 10 in ARM

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