Windows 11 on ARM gets a major browser – another hint of Microsoft’s big plans for AI PCs

Vivaldi has produced a native version of its popular browser for Arm-based PCs, those who run Windows 11 on Arm will doubtless be pleased to hear.

As is usual for a first step, the initial incarnation of Vivaldi for Arm silicon is in preview, and there are some caveats attached.

More so than usual, because while we can expect a fair bit of flakiness with any pre-release software, in this case, Vivaldi for Arm is an early test version. As Windows Central reports, the developer tells us: “These builds are not yet part of our automated test system and have only been lightly tested on one piece of hardware. Serious issues may exist and should be expected.”

In short, anyone running the Chromium-based browser on an Arm PC at this point is likely to have a wonky experience. But the point is Vivaldi is incoming for Windows on Arm, and shouldn’t be too far off.

That’s good news for its wider availability, bearing in mind that Vivaldi is ranked as one of our best web browsers. It was chosen due to its excellent customization options, being ideal for those who love tinkering with and personalizing their browser.

Analysis: Preparing the ground

It seems that Microsoft is very much preparing the ground for Windows on Arm, to become a real force in the near future. We’ve seen a great deal of hype being built around the incoming Snapdragon X Elite chip (and rumored Plus variants), and for good reason – it’s a CPU that can seemingly make Windows running on Arm a truly viable proposition.

To the point where we’ve already experienced Qualcomm’s reference laptops running Baldur’s Gate 3 at a stable 30 fps with reasonable graphics settings – and remember, this is a game running under emulation (it’s not coded for Arm CPUs).

Neither is the Vivaldi browser currently coded for Arm chips, but this is what the incoming new version of the browser is all about. It’s another hint that Microsoft is getting behind developers to nudge them (and maybe incentivize them somehow) to make native Arm clients, which will run faster than emulation (of course, as they remove the processing overhead involved in emulating an app).

With Vivaldi having deployed an early preview now, we can guess that the final version might be ready for the release of Snapdragon X Elite laptops in June – or certainly a working beta will be. This is when Microsoft’s Surface Pro 10 and Surface Laptop 6 will be emerging – the consumer versions, that is, which may be ARM-only devices from what we’re hearing on the rumor mill (there may not be any alternatives with Intel CPUs, in other words).

Moreover, other leaks suggest that Windows 11’s big incoming feature, AI Explorer – which is going to be key for AI PCs – might be for Windows on Arm only, at least to begin with. All of this just shows how much Microsoft is getting behind the Arm spin on its desktop OS, so we may see more high-profile pieces of software getting ports going forward, too. Perhaps it's finally time for Windows on Arm to shine?

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