Redstone 3 update for Phones to bring x86 desktop program emulation
Project Cobalt to make Windows 10 Mobile and Continuum much more powerful
Microsoft is planning exciting new features for ARM devices in late 2017. The company is working on a project called ‘Cobalt’ to enable x86 on ARM64 emulation for Windows 10 Mobile, according to Mary Jo Foley. The report claims that Redmond will build a native x86 emulator into the ARM devices, which means a Continuum-capable phone would be able to run real Desktop apps when connected to a monitor /TV/laptop shell.
The current version of Windows 10 Mobile doesn’t support ARM64, which limits the RAM usage by high-end mobile devices like the Alcatel Idol 4S, Lumia 950 and HP Elite x3 to 3.5GB. But we heard in April that Microsoft is working on 64-bit support for Windows Mobile, something that could arrive with the Redstone 3 update and the above-mentioned improvements for Continuum.
A new generation of phones by Microsoft or/and hardware partner is also expected to arrive with the Redstone 3 update in late 2017, and these phones could have up to 8GB of RAM once the ARM64 support is ready.
Such a device would keep the benefits of ARM in terms of battery life and speed, but it could open the door to classic desktop apps via native emulation and Continuum. Currently, phones like the Lumia 950/950 XL, HP Elite x3, Idol 4s and some others, can run only UWP apps in Continuum mode and the experience is far from perfect. But Microsoft is planning new Continuum features and improvements with the Creators Update (Redstone 2) in early 2017, in a preparation for the much bigger Redstone 3 update.
According to Jo Foley, Microsoft will initially position the Cobalt x86 emulation as a business / power-user feature, but the possibilities are endless. Future low-cost laptops and tablets could also run on Windows 10 Mobile to offer long battery life, fast performance and Desktop apps via native emulation.
One thing is sure. Microsoft has not abandoned Mobile and the company has huge plans to resurrect the Windows Phone as a niche, productive device. We are excited to see what’s next for Windows 10 Mobile in 2017.