Microsoft Edge Version 80 Brings ARM64 Support to Stable Channel

Microsoft made the new version of its Edge browser, which is based on Chromium, generally available in the middle of January after around a year of testing. The stable channel, which is supposed to see updates roughly every 6 weeks, saw an update February 7th, moving from version 79 to version 80.

ARM64 support for Edge Chromium

In an announcement on the @MSEdgeDev twitter feed, Microsoft said that ARM64 support is now live in the latest stable channel version of Edge. This is significant for those using ARM-based Windows devices because the until now, it was either required to use a version of Edge Chromium from one of the development channels – Beta, Dev, and Canary – to get native ARM64 support, or run the x86 version using the integrated emulator. While emulation works fine in ARM versions of Windows, there is a performance hit. Browsers are especially difficult to run under emulation because of the way they generate code in real time.

ARM64 support first came to Edge Chromium in November last year on the Canary channel. What’s also interesting is that Microsoft has beat Google to making a Chromium-based browser available for ARM64 Windows devices. Mozilla added ARM64 support for its Firefox browser at the tail end of last year. And now Edge Chromium can be added to the list. But Google is still working on providing Windows ARM64 support for its popular Chrome browser.

Edge Chromium for the Surface X Pro

It’s not known exactly when Google will make Chrome available for Windows on ARM64 hardware but it’s likely to be sooner rather than later. Some people are predicting that it could be later this month. This latest push by Microsoft is connected to the ARM-based Surface X Pro that was revealed at a hardware event in November 2019.

Microsoft knows that its legacy Edge browser isn’t popular, and it has its fair share of compatibility issues. While the Chromium-based version of Edge got ARM64 support in a preview build around the same time that the Surface X Pro was announced, the browser wasn’t ready for the big time. Microsoft will gradually replace the legacy Edge browser in Windows on ARM with version 80 of Edge Chromium using Windows Update.

Version 80 is an important release for Edge Chromium. But Windows on ARM hardware still has plenty of potential problems for unsuspecting users. The main one being that ARM64 devices can only emulate x86 apps. x64 apps, or AMD64 as they are sometimes known, won’t run on Windows for ARM. And as far as I know, Microsoft isn’t planning to add support for x64. Just to confuse matters even further, Windows for ARM currently only supports ARM32 apps, even though it is a 64-bit operating system. But Microsoft is apparently planning to add ARM64-app support at some point.

Despite the release of Edge Chromium ARM64, the application landscape in Windows on ARM is still a bit of a mess. But that’s not to say that it won’t be beneficial in some scenarios. If you want to try the new version of Edge Chromium in the stable channel, it is available to download now from Microsoft’s website.