Microsoft Now Supports Windows 10 on ARM Devices

After releasing a preview version in May, Visual Studio 15.9 now includes support and an SDK for building Windows 10 apps on ARM.

Windows 10

Developers who want to build Windows 10 apps on ARM architecture now have access to an officially supported software development kit and tools from Microsoft, six months after a preview version first brought the possibilities to eager developers.

The Microsoft-supported SDK for building 64-bit ARM apps was announced by Marc Sweetgall, senior program manager for the Windows kernel team, in a Nov. 15 post on the Windows Blogs.

"With the official release of Visual Studio 15.9, developers now have the officially supported SDK and tools for creating 64-bit ARM (ARM64) apps," wrote Sweetgall. "In addition, the Microsoft Store is now officially accepting submissions for apps built for the ARM64 architecture."

For developers, the timing is good, according to Sweetgall, because Microsoft partner companies Lenovo and Samsung are now offering ARM devices that are running Windows 10 with Qualcomm Snapdragon 850 chips.

"These second-generation ARM64 devices provide even more computing power for developers to tap into while continuing to deliver the beyond-all-day battery life customers expect from Windows 10 on ARM," he wrote. "Like the first-generation ARM64 devices, they are also thin, light, fast, and designed with instant-on 4G LTE connectivity in mind, while able to run the wide ecosystem of Windows applications thanks to an x86 emulation layer."

To create apps for the devices, developers can use Visual Studio 15.9 to recompile apps using UWP and C++ Win32 to run natively on Windows 10 on ARM devices.

"Running natively allows applications to take full advantage of the processing power and capabilities of Windows 10 on ARM devices, resulting in the best possible experience for users," wrote Sweetgall.

The process was introduced in May when Microsoft created preview tools to build such apps, he explained. The process is now much easier using the supported tools in Visual Studio 15.9, he continued.

Developers who want to use the new SDK and tools must update their Visual Studio environment to Version 15.9. In addition, developers who plan to build ARM64 C++ Win32 apps must also install the required Visual C++ compilers and libraries for ARM64.

To debug their apps, developers can use remote debugging, which is fully supported on ARM64. Users can also create a package for sideloading or directly copy binaries over to a Windows 10 on ARM device to run an app.

To offer the completed apps to users, developers can submit them to the Microsoft Store as ARM64 UWP apps, both C++ and .NET Native. Alternatively, they can use the Desktop Bridge to wrap ARM64 binaries into a package that can be submitted to the store. Another option is to host dedicated ARM64 versions of Win32 apps on a website or integrate ARM64 into existing multi-architecture installers, wrote Sweetgall.

"With new Windows 10 on ARM devices sporting more powerful processors, the ARM64 platform continues to mature and improve," he wrote. "The release of Visual Studio 15.9 continues that evolution, and we can't wait to see what amazing experiences developers can produce using these tools."

For more information and help, developers can peruse Microsoft's Windows 10 on ARM development page.