Google Chrome has begun testing a native version for Windows on Arm, according to reports, bringing the world’s most popular browser to one of the world’s niche operating systems — which may gain in importance in 2024.
Twitter/X user Pedro Justo confirmed that Google is offering Windows on Arm builds as part of its nightly Canary Channel, the latest Chrome beta. Other sources, including The Verge, have confirmed that the browser runs natively on Windows on Arm machines.
As commenters to Justo’s post noted, while this is a first for Chrome, this is not a first for Chromium — the open-sourced underpinnings of the Chrome browser. Microsoft Edge, which runs natively on Arm PCs, is built upon Chromium, and Chrome builds for Chromebooks are built on Chromium as well. Chrome, however, is integrated with Google’s apps and services, while Chromium is not. Chrome will run on existing Windows on Arm devices, but via emulation, which introduces a performance penalty and generally has made Microsoft Edge the preferred browser for Arm PCs.
Google’s release of Chrome as a nightly Canary build probably means that it will be released within the stable version of Chrome in a couple of months.
That would put Chrome support on roughly the same timetable as the development and release of the Qualcomm Snapdragon X Elite, the platform upon which Windows on Arm hopes ride. The Snapdragon X Elite platform, launched last fall, holds significant promise as early test chips seem to offer similar levels of performance to Intel’s 13th-generation Core chips. For the last several years Qualcomm has launched Arm chips for Windows PCs that have offered great battery life but poor performance, comparatively. The Snapdragon X Elite hopes to change all that.
We don’t know how the final versions will compare to Intel’s 14th-gen Core Ultra (Meteor Lake), Intel’s latest Core HX chips, and the AMD Ryzen 8000 laptop CPUs, however. Eliminating any performance penalty via emulation will make the Snapdragon X Elite experience that much more competitive, once it arrives.