Windows 10 is catching up with all the other operating systems by offering better support for ARM processors, but this means third-party developers will also need to work on making their apps faster in the new ecosystem. Google now seems to have begun work on Google Chrome for Windows 10 on ARM, with a little help from an unexpected ally.

With Microsoft’s new Windows 10 on ARM initiative, the company is seeking to bring devices with ARM processors into the fold without punishing them as Windows RT did by being entirely incompatible with all existing Windows applications. This is possible by letting the ARM devices emulate the x86 processor necessary for the overwhelming majority of Windows applications.

However, this emulation, of course, comes at the cost of a major slowdown, especially by comparison to a native ARM application. Currently, Windows 10 on ARM users are essentially forced to use the included ARM-compatible Microsoft Edge browser instead of a third-party browser like Chrome.

Last month, a senior director at Qualcomm told Android Authority that they were themselves working on a Windows 10 on ARM port of Google Chrome. This work seems to have already begun, according to a couple dozen commits found in Chromium’s Gerrit source code management.

Many had initially speculated that the port of Chrome to Windows 10 on ARM was a competitive move on Google’s part, in an attempt to undercut Microsoft Edge, but this seems to not be the case. A significant number of the relevant commits have been contributed by a pair of Microsoft developers. It has not yet been officially announced that Microsoft would be contributing to the development of Chrome for Windows 10 on ARM.

For Microsoft’s part, the move is a wise one, as many modern applications rely upon Google Chrome in one way or another. This includes Electron-based apps, like Slack and even Microsoft’s own Visual Studio Code, and Node.js which is built upon Chrome’s V8 JavaScript engine.

The new partnership still may not lead to Chrome’s placement in the Microsoft Store, given the store’s current requirements in regards to browser engines.

This isn’t the only time in recent memory that Google and Microsoft have been together in the same breath, as Google has recently been trying to bring Windows 10 dual-boot support to the Pixelbook (and possibly the Pixel Slate) with the “Campfire” project.

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About the Author

Kyle Bradshaw

Kyle is an author and researcher for 9to5Google, with special interests in Made by Google products, Fuchsia, and Stadia.

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