When talking about operating systems you can port to different kinds of hardware, most tech-savvy people will probably think of Linux. Few will probably expect Windows’ name to be dropped in that context at all. Yet, lo and behold, Windows 10 has actually been going around to a lesser extent on devices it was never meant to run on. The latest example is Windows 10 on ARM running on a slightly recent Galaxy S8, though one shouldn’t get too excited yet at its current state.
Microsoft has indeed been trying to get Windows 10 running on as many kinds of devices, whether in a console form like the Xbox or for small boards like the Raspberry Pi under the guise of Windows IoT. One of its higher-profile attempts, however, was to get Windows running on ARM devices but mostly on new “always on, always connected” PCs.
Those aren’t the only ARM devices publicly available, of course, and so a few dedicated hackers and modders have been working on doing what Microsoft would not. They have been porting Windows 10 on ARM to existing phones, including Microsoft’s own abandoned Windows 10 Mobile device, the Lumia 950 and Lumia 950 XL.
Those same developers have brought Windows 10 on ARM to a slightly newer phone, the 2017 Galaxy S8. This Samsung handset runs on a newer Snapdragon 835 and the biggest obstacle these modders encountered was a bug that gobbled up RAM and led to the notorious Blue Screen of Death or BSOD on a smartphone. With that fixed, others have also successfully tried to install Windows 10 on ARM on other Snapdragon 835 phones like the Xiaomi Mi 6.
It’s just the beginning, however, and far from anything usable. The developers disclosed that not even touch input works, though Windows 10 is fortunately built for keyboard and mouse. Although the usefulness of the endeavor isn’t yet clear, it’s still an impressive milestone using an operating system that is traditionally seen as an extremely closed platform.