It’s been a few years since Microsoft stopped developing Windows-based operating systems for smartphones and ended support for existing devices that shipped with Windows 10 Mobile. But if you want to run Windows on a Microsoft-made smartphone, now you can. You just can’t do much with it yet.
The Microsoft Surface Duo is a dual-screen smartphone that runs a suite of Microsoft apps on top of Google’s Android operating system. But developer Gustave Monce revealed earlier this year that he was porting Windows 11 to run on the device, and now he’s released instructions and software that anyone can use to run Microsoft’s desktop operating system on Microsoft’s mobile device.
Windows 11 on the Surface Duo is the latest achievement of the WOA Project, which has previously ported Microsoft’s desktop operating systems to run on phones like the long-discontinued Microsoft Lumia 950XL.
This is possible because while Windows used to be an operating system that required an x86 processor, Microsoft now makes builds for ARM processors as well. Most people who want a Windows on ARM device will have to buy a laptop or tablet with a Qualcomm processor that ships with Windows pre-installed, but the folks behind the WOA project have been hacking together their own Windows on ARM (WOA) devices.
That said, it’s still early days for Windows on the Surface Duo. Monce says the software is “an early preview” at this point, and that hardly anything works. CPU frequency, USB, side buttons, and opening and closing the device to put it to sleep and wake it up work. But very little else does.
In fact, so far it seems like only one of the Duo’s two screens works with Windows – I guess you could call it the Surface Uno?
Also, in order to install Windows on the Surface Duo, you’ll have to wipe all of your Android data. So make sure to back up anything important before starting.
And the install process has only been tested on first-gen Microsoft Duo devices with 128GB of storage. Have a 256GB model? There’s no guarantee it’ll work. And if you have a newer Surface Duo 2, then you definitely should not try installing Windows 11 on its using the WOA Project guide.
— Gustave Monce (@gus33000) February 8, 2022
With that out of the way, here’s everything you need to replace Android with Windows 11 on the original Surface Duo:
- Install Guide
- UEFI boot image
- A Windows 10 or Windows 11 ARM64 build (you can use UUP Media Creator to download updates from Microsoft and create an ISO image)
- Hardware drivers
Not a fan of Windows, but intrigued by the possibilities of running something other than Android on the Surface Duo? Monce notes that the UEFI firmware can also be used to boot mainline Linux on the phone.
— Simone Franco (@Simizfo) March 10, 2022