One of the problems with Arm-based Windows laptops has been a lack of app support, but there’s big news this week as Google Chrome has unexpectedly debuted its first Windows on Arm build.
Most Windows machines available today are using CPUs based on the x86 architecture. Slowly, though, Microsoft and others are pushing for Windows to better support Arm CPUs that offer better battery life and fan-less designs. Laptops using Arm CPUs have been available for a few years now, but they’ve largely been a niche product due to limited app support and relatively weak power. However, in the face of Apple’s wild success in Arm-based M-series chips for MacBooks, it’s been an increasingly important venture.
This week, as first spotted by Pedro Justo on Twitter/X, Google has released its first Chrome build for “Windows 11 ARM.” The build is available now through Chrome Canary, putting it in its early days.
Google Chrome is not exactly a complete stranger to Arm, with ChromeOS often running on Arm-based chips from MediaTek and Qualcomm. This is the first sign of Google looking to support Arm-based Windows machines, though. The Verge was able to test out this new build on an Arm machine, confirming it’s ARM64 native.
The timing couldn’t be better, either, as there’s a big milestone for Windows on Arm just around the corner. Qualcomm last year showed off its new Snapdragon X Elite chip for Windows laptops, with performance similar to Apple’s M2 chips. No laptops have been announced with this chip thus far, but Qualcomm said they’d start arriving towards the middle of 2024. Microsoft is expected to debut new Surface laptops with this new generation of Qualcomm chips in March.
Notably, the Chromium-based Microsoft Edge has supported Arm for a while, but it’s a big deal to see Google Chrome adding support. As the world’s biggest browser, having native support is a huge boon to Windows on Arm.
It’s unclear when a stable version of Chrome with Windows on Arm support will launch, but the foundation is finally set.
More on Google Chrome:
- Chrome 121 adding gen AI-powered Tab Organizer and theme maker
- Google rolling out Android, Chrome, & Search changes to comply with Europe’s DMA
- Chrome for Android is getting its own ‘Listen to this page’ TTS
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