Software Support for the Microsoft Surface Pro X

by Volker Weber

SurfaceProX

On February, 24 I asked Microsoft about software support on the ARM-powered Surface Pro X.

I have been using Surface Pro X for three weeks now and I am really pleased with the device. However, given Microsoft's history with non-Intel versions of Windows, I am reluctant to recommend it. Even currently, software support is quite a mixed bag. Examples:

- Edge on Chromium runs in AA64 native mode
- Office 365 apps run in Win32 emulation mode
- Authenticator does not run at all

Three questions as kind of a depth probe:

1. Does Microsoft plan to support all their software on AA64?
2. Is there a timeline for Office 365?
3. Are you working with Adobe to bring Creative Suite to the platform?

Microsoft PR took my questions and forwarded them to the people in charge. Every two weeks I received a heads up that the answers were still pending. Today I received them.

- There is truly a Surface for everyone based on how they work and what they want to accomplish. We have grown from two devices to a full portfolio to address the broad set of requirements across our customers. With our Surface Pro line, we have consistently pushed to deliver more performance and versatility in thinner, lighter, and more mobile devices. Surface Pro X is designed for people on the go who want a modern, always connected device. We invested in the custom Microsoft SQ1 processor with Qualcomm to deliver an amazing customer experience and we are committed to working closely with them and with partners across the industry to help bring more apps to ARM over time.

- The Surface Pro X supports ARM64, ARM32 native apps, and Win32 emulated apps. Furthermore, the ecosystem continues to grow with full-featured apps from the Windows Store, including Microsoft Office, Spotify, Netflix, Pandora, Amazon Music, Hulu, Vudu and more. 

- Since the launch of Surface Pro X Microsoft has released an ARM64 version of the new Edge Browser and will continue to develop apps for ARM.

- We are committed to connecting people with the right device and have training for Microsoft Stores and 3rd Party Retail Sales Associates to help guide customers to Surface Pro X or Surface Pro 7 depending on their needs.  We also have a “Help Me Choose” tool to help customers select the right Surface computer https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/surface/devices/help-me-choose

Let me translate that for you. These are the answers to my three questions:

1. No
2. No
3. No

Although Surface Pro X is currently my favorite computer, I would advise to no bet on it for the time being.

Comments

That's a shame: I think they nailed the form factor. I look at the new iPad Pro, and while I like the iMac-like silhouette, I wish it was adjustable (and cheaper!), and I wish the pen management was as good as the Surface X. Oh, well: I had a Surface 3 for a year and found it disappointing (not enough RAM, not enough compute).

Richard Albury, 2020-04-03

Wow, Marketing 101 - fewer words polish turds
After the second sentence I knew its no, absolutely not and no expletive way.

Martin Hiegl, 2020-04-03

Actually I stopped reading / skipped after 'everyone' in the first sentence.
I hate this kind of marketing language by now and it really puts me off. Whatever you do is what you do, please stay honest about it and do not tell me how stupid you think I am by using such 'answers'.

Hubert Stettner, 2020-04-03

Regarding point 2:

https://www.reddit.com/r/Surface/comments/duexp9/x86_on_arm_chpe_information_why_no_native_arm/

Office is not running in an emulation mode. Please have a look at the links. If you need more details please let me know.

Martin Imbeck, 2020-04-03

Thank you, Martin. I don't think you can tell me WTH Microsoft was unable to tell me.

Volker Weber, 2020-04-03

Der Marketing-Sprech vermittelt einem schon das Gefühl, nur sehr bedingt ernst genommen zu werden. Ich könnte ja sogar mit einem nicht reinen Arm64-Office leben, wenn mir nicht ständig Teams mitten im Meeting abstürzen würde. In einem Online-Training ist mir das innerhalb der ersten halben Stunde fünf mal passiert.

Markus Mews, 2020-04-03

Die Antwort als potentieller Kunde kann nur lauten:

Ihr(Microsoft) könnt wieder kommen, wenn Ihr ein fertiges Produkt habt.

Ansonsten: Ein nettes Demo.

Jens Wagner, 2020-04-03

Same as Hubert: I did not have to read any further than "There is truly a Surface for everyone ..." to understand this means No.

So, the bottom line seems to be that the Pro X looks beautiful, one just wishes it had an Intel chip inside. Or the other way around: If only the Surface Pro 7 had the body of the Surface Pro X. As its design has not changed from Pro 4 through 7, here is to hoping that the Pro 8 will come with the Pro X's body design and an Intel chip inside. That would be my successor to the Pro 4.

Jochen Kattoll, 2020-04-03

It's a bit more complicated. The X is not a beautiful design missing an Intel CPU. You could not even put a 15 W Ultrabook Intel CPU into this body, because there is no way to get rid of the heat that would produce. Even the much weaker CPUs in the MacBook Air would be too much to handle. The X is more like an iPad Pro, with an ARM architecture and an LTE modem.

The solution is in the software, and frankly, my questions did not reach the people who know the plan. You don't start partnering on silicon without one. My feeling is that all this clears up once Microsoft starts communicating about Windows 10X.

Volker Weber, 2020-04-03

Thanks, Volker.

Pity, I was hoping this was as simple as it looked like and I had actually understood something. Well, that's why I am just a user and not a tech guru ... :)

Jochen Kattoll, 2020-04-04

Thanks Volker, I bought my SPX last week and today I ended up here looking for more information about the uncertain future of ARM native software. I must say that your short and well written post and the comments here, took me for a wild ride that lasted hours and now I'm much more clear about the big picture. Thanks again.

Gustavo Carvajal, 2020-05-10

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