Microsoft: We want to bring VS Code to Apple's Mac-on-Arm silicon

Visual Studio Code is a cross-platform code editor and so it will be available for Apple silicon.
Written by Liam Tung, Contributing Writer

Microsoft says it will bring its popular cross-platform code editor Visual Studio Code (VS Code) to Apple's Arm-based silicon for future Macs. 

Ahead of the consumer release of Arm-based Macs later this year, Apple has released a developer kit in a Mac mini enclosure with a A12X processor, 16GB of RAM and 512GB of storage. CPU benchmarks indicate that the developer kit already outperforms Microsoft's Surface Pro X, which runs on Qualcomm's SQ1 processor

Ex-Windows boss Steve Sinofsky has already said that Apple's new Arm-based Mac will be the "ultimate developer PC", especially since Apple is planning on shipping new Macs with a more powerful A14 chip, which is two generations newer than the A12X. 

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"In two years, there is only Arm hardware and in four Intel will be ancient memory. The ecosystem will have rolled over. And Mac will be the ultimate developer PC. iPad will be used for more and more 'work'," wrote Sinofsky

There's a catch: VS Code, which is used by 11 million developers, currently doesn't work on Apple silicon. However, the developers of Electron, which VS Code is built on along with Chromium, are working on supporting Apple silicon and macOS 11 Big Sur

Electron 7's support for Windows on Arm64 was a key prerequisite for Microsoft to bring VS Code to Windows on Arm, which it did this week after a six month preview with VS Code insiders. 

Being a cross-platform code editor, it's no surprise that Microsoft would like to bring VS Code to Arm-based Macs, too. 

"We're definitely looking at adding support for Mac/ARM in VS Code. We don't have a timeline yet but our team is looking into it. A large number of VS Code users are on macOS so we're committed to support them on the new hardware too," a Microsoft spokesperson told ZDNet. 

Microsoft is working to support Arm chips for Windows, Linux and macOS, as evidenced by its new support for Windows on Arm. There are also requests to bring official VS Code support to the Raspberry Pi 4 and Debian-based Raspberry Pi OS. 

SEE: Will you be buying an Arm CPU Mac?

But, according to Microsoft, bringing VS Code support to a new architecture also means validating that all VS Code extensions work on it, too.  

"Supporting a new architecture requires also ensuring that VS Code extensions work on that chip," the spokesperson said. 

"Most of the extensions in the VS Code Marketplace are written in portable languages such as JavaScript or TypeScript, but some have dependencies on native binaries. We've identified the most popular extensions with native dependencies and we're working with their maintainers to ensure that they are updated to run on ARM too, for all operating systems."

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