The transition to ARM CPUs on the Windows side of the pond has not been as successful as Apple’s own transition. While Apple managed to get things running well from the get go, partly thanks to the performance of the compnany’s Rosetta 2 compatibility later, Windows has struggled. Many Windows apps are still x86 only, and Microsoft’s solution to translate x86 instructions to ARM doesn’t work as well as Rosetta 2. Now, though, Chrome is making it to ARM Windows computers at long last.
Google Chrome has quietly gone ARM-native on Windows, as Canary builds for Chrome have popped up in a previously-unseen win_arm64 flavor. That means that if you have a Windows ARM PC, like the 5G Surface Pro 9, you can now install Chrome on it if you’re willing to play around with the canary-grade builds. The open-source Chromium browser codebase that Chrome is based on has worked on ARM Windows for a while, and the Chromium-based Microsoft Edge has been native on ARM Windows for years, but not regular Google Chrome.
Chrome was a significant holdout to ARM Windows until now, and the browser had already gone ARM-native on Mac, so it was really just a matter of time before it happened on Windows as well. Qualcomm said that 2024 would finally be the year that Windows laptops will be worth buying, and between this and the launch of Qualcomm’s own Snapdragon X range of laptop chips, it’s certainly looking like that might just become true.
It’s worth reiterating that ARM-native Windows Chrome is, at the moment, only available in the Canary branch. That’s on version 123 right now, which is scheduled to land for Stable users on March 19th, so in about two months time, we should see a stable version of Chrome land for Windows stable users. In the meantime, you can play around with the Canary version. Just be mindful that it’s unstable more often than not, and that you should expect lots of crashes and bugs—especially so given that it’s the first build publicly released for a brand new platform.
If you want to check out the new Chrome build, it’s now available on the Chrome download website. Just be mindful of the warning, or otherwise, wait a couple of months just to be sure.