Russian startup Elbrus Technologies announced today that they’ve developed an x86 emulator that runs on ARM systems. Your phone, tablet, and potential Windows RT system (like Surface) runs on ARM, so this emulator opens a door for massive amounts of legacy software to be run on modern computers. However, there’s a catch: the emulator apparently only offers 40% native ARM performance for x86 applications, and if you ever wanted to get this emulator on a Windows RT device (the most likely use-case) you’d have to patch the OS, and that’s probably not happening. Also, a Surface running Microsoft Windows 7 at 40% performance would most likely be unbearable to use.
Still, this opens up a world of legacy software, and it’s an important tool for software makers to port and finish software for newer computers. For instance, earlier today we published a rumor that Apple was eyeing a move to ARM processors for OS X. When Apple moved from PowerPC to Intel (x86), they kept a legacy emulator called Rosetta in the OS until very recently.