One of those moments that some of us didn’t understand is that Microsoft offered Windows 10 ARM and yet the quintessential office suite was not a native app. Mainly because with Windows RT we had the Office suite on ARM. Now, it looks like with Windows 11, the waters are back on track and Microsoft Office will run as a native 64-bit app.
Things as they are, when we got to test the Surface Pro X, the results were spectacular with the Office apps. If we asked for more, the device suffered, but it worked very well. However, with this new update, Office will be virtually native.
Office upgrades to ARM64 with Windows 11
We Insiders can now test the first preview version of Windows 11. Now we can test another key piece of Microsoft’s strategy, the 64-bit Office Compiler for ARM. The application has been recompiled for the ARM architecture, improving performance and with greater efficiency reducing memory consumption. Microsoft announced the ARM-optimized version of Office last week, but it’s now starting to hit users.
Microsoft says the new version of Office should look better overall and handle large documents better on devices like Surface Pro X, but it will now also work with 64-bit add-ins compared to the emulated version of Office.
The big secret is that Microsoft is leading by example using the new ARM64EC technology, which stands for ARM64 Emulation Compatible. As previously discussed, this technology allows developers to mix and match code that was natively compiled for ARM64 with code that is running in emulation. Therefore, applications with dependencies that do not natively support ARM64 may run partly as native applications and partly as emulation.
As you know, Office has x64 code and legacy add-ins that are not designed for Windows 11 on ARM. With ARM64EC, Microsoft can rebuild large parts of the application to run natively on ARM devices, while older components run in emulation.