Microsoft starts offering advice in how to code for Arm

In 2027 a quarter of PCs won’t use x86, and Redmond wants its ecosystem ready

Microsoft has announced an “Arm Advisory Service for developers” that it hopes will help coders to develop native software for the version of Windows written for the processor architecture.

Citing research from analyst firm Counterpoint that finds Arm-powered PCs will enjoy 25 percent market share by 2027, up from 14 percent today, Microsoft’s corporate veep for customer experience engineering Mike Adams, proclaimed “app compatibility for Windows on Arm is essential to the continued viability of your apps!”

And essential to the viability of Windows on Arm, which will be less attractive if buyers perceive it can’t handle their favourite programs. Microsoft therefore needs to make sure Arm-powered PCs don’t miss out, or hardware manufacturers will also eschew the platform, meaning the software giant misses out on Windows license revenue and the chance for further subscription loot as users sign up for its 365 suites.

Adams’ post states that most software written for Windows “just work under emulation”, but also advises “developers can port their apps to run natively with minimal effort”, leaving it unclear if the purpose of this program is to have developers convert their x86 code to Arm-native apps or just ensure their existing code runs under emulation. The post, for what it’s worth, describes the experience of working with Microsoft to develop native apps.

Adams’s post described Arm devices as “lightweight, have lightning-fast connectivity, offer extended battery life, and have advanced camera and audio capabilities in addition to many other benefits.” Those benefits, he argues, “can drive increased customer adoption of Arm devices which is driving more ISVs to develop Arm-optimized versions of their applications.”

The Arm Advisory Service is an extension of Microsoft’s existing App Assure program that helps developers move apps from Windows 7 to Windows 10 or 11.

Adams’s post mentions technical workshops, suggestions on “platform features to enhance the Arm application experience”, plus code samples and reviews to help with Arm development as some of the service’s inclusions. The veep also mentions “Break-fix assistance with issues that arise when porting or building Arm apps” and an “escalation path to Microsoft engineers to assist with software development and provide product feedback.” in the US Eastern Daylight Time zone (UTC -4).

Those restrictions may be annoying. But the mere fact that Microsoft feels this program is needed us surely significant. ®

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