#DesktopOnLumia: A tale of community efforts to port Windows 10 on Lumia phones

Microsoft is now recommending existing Windows Mobile users to shift to iOS or Android, as the Redmond giant is planning to cut the lifeline completely on and from December 10th, 2019. The choice of smartphone operating systems is never very vast compared to PC, and another ship is now going to sink.

The announcement is nothing abrupt though, because Microsoft is planning to abandon the platform since October 2017. Microsoft’s Joe Belfiore pointed towards the long-discussed third party app shortage and lack of eco-system integration as primary reasons behind such action.

On the other hand, the regular Windows on PC is getting ARM support. This is never a secret as such references were all over the place (example).

Together with official ARM64 bringup, open sourcing WPinternals and the leak of prototype ‘Hapanero’ device from China have opened a floodgate of aftermarket development on older Windows Mobile devices.

Rene Lergner’s Windows Phone Internals (WPinternals) tool by default supports unlocking the bootloader of Microsoft Lumia devices. In a recent development, the Secure Boot can be bypassed literally on every Windows Phone devices, thus development is possible on phones like HP Elite x3.

Now these developers have started releasing standalone driverpacks for Qualcomm MSM8992 (Snapdragon 808) and MSM8994 (Snapdragon 810) platforms, running Windows NT ARM64.

A huge level of reverse engineering, driver development and community support is needed to achieve this goal. While only Lumia 950 (codename: Talkman) and 950 XL (codename: Cityman) are the commercially available Windows Phones that can be supported for now, the possibilities are unlimited!

Running full fledged Windows 10 on these capable but abandoned devices is a great way to fight with planned obsolescence. You can run full desktop apps, even Linux apps (via WSL) – thanks to built-in x86 emulation.

https://twitter.com/never_released/status/1086913718888398849

https://twitter.com/never_released/status/1086920500721451008

https://twitter.com/never_released/status/1087065115751518208

Noted, the methods are not mature enough yet to be used by masses. Tons of components such as camera, vibration motors, sensors etc. are needed to be fixed or polished. Heck you can’t even use them for calling anymore.

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Image source: Raeeshawrites

Credit goes to these developers for writing elaborate guides, open sourcing the codebase and especially @never_released for assisting me. We are planning to come up with more in-depth articles on this topic, so stay tuned!

Are you planning to lock your Lumia inside drawer and switch to Android/iOS? Or planning to put your hacker mask on?

Feature image credits: Twitter user @imbushuo.

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Kingshuk De

I came from a mixed background of Statistics and Computer Science. My research domains included embedded computer systems, mobile computing and delay tolerant networks in post-disaster scenarios. Apart from tinkering with gadgets or building hackintosh, I like to hop on various subreddits and forums like MyDigitalLife and XDA.