If Google is notorious for making dozens of throwaway moonshot projects, Microsoft is perhaps infamous for breaking hearts and crushing dreams. From the Courier digital notebook to the Windows 10 Mobile, Microsoft has given fans glimpses of heaven only to unceremoniously snatch it away. Some, however, have finally had enough and have either migrated to other mobile platforms or, in this instance, scratched their own itch. It was a Herculean task but developer Ben imbushuo, @imbushuo, has successfully made Windows 10 on ARM run almost completely on a Lumia 950 XL and has even provided steps on how to follow on his adventure.
It’s almost ironic that it was Microsoft itself that opened the doors to this unofficial port of the rather new Windows 10 on ARM Edition. It released a version of is WP Internals tool last year that enabled unlocking the bootloader of certain Windows Phones. While Microsoft probably never envisioned it to be used as such, it has, at least, not closed the doors just yet.
Ben has, since then, tried to make Windows 10 on ARM work on various devices, including the RX-130 prototype that never came to be as well as an off the shelf Lumia 950 XL. The latter is almost fitting considering it was the device that was supposed to be the phone that can replace your PC. That was until Microsoft killed off Windows 10 Mobile’s future as well as Continuum for Phones.
That might soon be water under the bridge if this ports fully takes off. Right now wireless networking is still not working but most of the important bits are, including the touch screen. There’s also the question of which apps will work without a hitch but some have been able to run Chrome and even Visual Studio. If Microsoft’s Universal Windows Platform is truly what it’s meant to be, that shouldn’t be much of a problem.
Ben has also shared the steps to install Windows 10 on ARM on the Lumia 950 XL but, suffice it to say, it’s not for the faint of heart. It also raises the question of how many others will be able to take advantage of this mod, considering how few Lumia 950 XLs were sold and how they’re no longer available today. Hopefully, Ben’s success would spur others to try the same for other capable Windows Phones.