Although ARM-based PCs are now available, apps that utilize native 64-bit architectures on Microsoft’s Windows 10 on ARM have been relegated to legacy support for 32-bit apps. Microsoft introduced the proper frameworks for 64-bit apps at its recent BUILD conference, allowing developers to port their apps and begin native app integration. After a small wait, apps are starting to appear; VLC – the swiss army knife of multimedia players – is one of the first to launch a dedicated ARM64 app.
I’m obviously not going to cover every single major Windows application that gets ported from x86 over to ARM, but I do find there’s something fascinating about seeing the first few applications getting the ARM treatment. It makes me think of the very early days of Windows NT, when it was available for not only x86, but also for Alpha, MIPS, PowerPC, Clipper, and SPARC (although those last two were never actually released).
I wonder if they would be willing to release these unreleased ports (sparc, alpha 64bit etc) for historical and research purposes? They can’t have any commercial value, but would be very interesting to play around with.
Same goes for other niche or unreleased systems like Solaris/PPC – i actually have it, and a machine to run it on, but i can’t find a copy of the compiler (mainline gcc never supported it, one guy ported a specific version but i cannot contact him or find binaries and obviously can’t compile the src).
VLC is already on non-x86/x86-64 architectures on other platforms. So it was a relatively easy port; probably just a recompile and test verification.
Most Windows applications, however, are only designed for x86/x86-64 and wont’ be easily ported by merely a recompile; they’ve probably got a lot of various uses that mean hard work for porting (bitmasks, pointers, etc – especially in the Win32 APIs).