Microsoft is holding an event on June 24 to unveil the future of Windows… but the future is already here for some folks thanks to a leaked Windows 11 build that’s been floating around the internet for the past few days.

Some folks have already installed it on PCs or in virtual machines. But at least one person has Windows 11 up and running on something a little more unusual – a Microsoft Lumia 950 XL smartphone.

Gustave Monce

The Lumia 950 XL is a smartphone that was released in 2015, and it was one of the last phones to ship with Windows 10 Mobile, an operating system which has since been discontinued. But the phone isn’t limited to running the software that came pre-installed.

Since Microsoft now offers versions of Windows 10 that are compatible with devices with ARM processors, a group of independent developers has been maintaining an unofficial Lumia Windows on ARM (Lumia WOA) project for the past few years.

Earlier this month, developer Gustave Monce shared an image on Twitter that appeared to show a leaked pre-released build of Windows 11 running on the Lumia 950 XL, but it was actually running through a remote desktop client, which means the operating system was loaded on a different computer and Monce was just checking to see how it would scale to the smartphone-sized display.

But now that Microsoft has released the first Windows Insider Preview builds of Windows 11, Monce has actually installed Microsoft’s new operating system on the company’s old phone.

Basic features seem to be supported. The Windows 11 Start menu, taskbar, and notifications/quick settings panels all work. But that doesn’t necessarily mean they run well on a small-screen device with a 6-year-old smartphone processor.

There’s a bit of lag when launching applications. App icons and menus appear to be rather small, which could make navigation difficult. And automatic screen rotation works, but it takes a very long time change from portrait to landscape mode or vice versa.

Still, it’s Windows 11. On a phone. So there you go.

There’s not a lot of reason you’d want to run Windows 11 on a Lumia 950 XL in 2021. While the phone’s 5.7 inch, 2560 x 1440 pixel display has aged reasonably well, other specs like its Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 processor, 3GB of RAM, and 32GB of storage have not.

It also just goes to show that hardware hackers will keep loading modern software on old devices. I wonder if anyone plans to bring Windows 11 to the HTC HD2?

This article was originally published June 17, 2021 and last updated June 29, 2021. 

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  1. This means that the leaked version of Windows11 is arm compatible.
    I have installed it on my laptop and did not realise, it was a dual binary.
    The name of the leaked doesn’t give it away. If this trend continues, it will become a lot easier to find WindowsOnArm going forward. This is good news.

    1. Yeah, I thought it was weird that the leaked .iso was apparently dual binary when it was as big as the last windows 10 .iso I downloaded.
      But I guess now we’ve got some clarification. There are in fact separate amd64 and arm64 .isos.