Windows 10 on Windows RT tablets?

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LeonardoIannelliRETRIEVES
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Windows 10 on Windows RT tablets?

Post by LeonardoIannelliRETRIEVES »

I have an old Microsoft Surface 2 tablet from around 2014. The tablet has an ARM-based CPU, and therefore runs Windows RT, the sibling of Windows 8 that prevents Win32 applications from being executed.

One of Microsoft’s current Surface tablet models is the Surface Pro X. It has a Microsoft-designed ARM CPU, yet it can still run 32-bit Win32 apps via emulation. The Surface Pro X runs Windows 10, so I think that the basis for running it on Surface RTs and Surface 2s is there.

I’d like it if the version of Windows 10 that runs on the Surface Pro X could be modified to run on the Surface RT, Surface 2, and other Windows RT tablets. All it would probably require is the correct driver support, which should be able to be ported over from Windows RT 8.1, considering that Windows 10 is based on Windows 8.1, and Windows 8.1 and its RT counterpart share the same code base. The same could go for other tablets that run Windows RT.

This would be even cooler if you could upgrade from Windows RT to Windows 10 without doing a clean install, as if you were installing a Windows 10 feature update.

Anyway, I have an idea for a utility that has this purpose and how it would work. Basically, it would take a Surface Pro X version of Windows 10 (from recovery media created for one, unless you’re a pirate), and replace the Surface Pro X drivers with those of a Windows RT tablet of your choosing.

If you have any comments on this idea or think of a way it could be done, I would love to hear about it, so be sure to reply to this thread in that case.
~Leonardo I.

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johndoe123
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Re: Windows 10 on Windows RT tablets?

Post by johndoe123 »

No, it won't work. The Surface Pro X uses arm64 Windows and the Surface RT uses arm32 Windows. If you want to run win32 apps, you can try jailbreaking.
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BetaNewbie
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Re: Windows 10 on Windows RT tablets?

Post by BetaNewbie »

There is Windows 10 build 15035 compiled for ARM32 architecture, with a Enterprise SKU.

It works on Surface RT, and usable in some ways. You might want to have a try, check the BetaWiki page for some notes on drivers.

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Re: Windows 10 on Windows RT tablets?

Post by johndoe123 »

On a side note, has anyone tried installing 15035 on a Surface RT yet?
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jwa4
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Re: Windows 10 on Windows RT tablets?

Post by jwa4 »

johndoe123 wrote:On a side note, has anyone tried installing 15035 on a Surface RT yet?
I never got the chance to run it on my Surface RT, sadly it had an unfortunate encounter with a concrete floor. I do however run it on my Surface 2 still and it's quite reasonable all things considered. On the Surface 2 with Windows 10 15035 there are no driver issues and battery life is at least equal to what it was under Windows RT 8.1, from what I have seen on various forum threads the same is true on the Surface RT.

When first installed the OS is pretty bare with limited preinstalled apps - see Windows 10 build 15035 at BetaWiki. There are a couple of application packages floating around to flesh it out and make it a more complete experience - see Windows 10 on ARM for Surface RT at XDA-Developers. Once some of the missing apps that normally come with Windows 10 are there and Office 2013 RT is installed its starts to feel right.

The only bug I really have to keep an eye out for is the automatic shutdown when the battery is about to die. For some reason the tablet can detect low/critical battery levels and provide the visual warning but the auto shutdown on critical level does not happen, I haven't really looked at this though and it might be fixable. Edit: I retested this issue and its gone away for the moment :?

There are some other bugs here and there, I think event viewer will cause a BSOD but I can't remember what the error is.

Windows Update works to update Office 2013 RT and it looks like it also updates Windows Defender definitions, Defender seems to work and does scans in the background but the UI is broken. Obviously no actual updates for Windows will be available.

There is no x86 emulation in the build but Win86emu does seem to work so you can get some very limited support via that route and also most of the old stuff that was recompiled for Windows RT 8.1 will run just fine too.

tl;dr... 3.6 out of 5 - not great, not terrible.

Quick edit with some pics below, the just for fun winfile.exe is native and was ported by black_blob from XDA-Developers.

Image

Image
Last edited by jwa4 on Fri May 29, 2020 4:07 pm, edited 4 times in total.

LeonardoIannelliRETRIEVES
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Re: Windows 10 on Windows RT tablets?

Post by LeonardoIannelliRETRIEVES »

johndoe123 wrote:No, it won't work. The Surface Pro X uses arm64 Windows and the Surface RT uses arm32 Windows. If you want to run win32 apps, you can try jailbreaking.
So, if there are 64-bit Windows RT tablets out there (I have an inkling there might be), it should be pretty easy to port the Surface Pro X version of Windows 10 over to them.
BetaNewbie wrote:There is Windows 10 build 15035 compiled for ARM32 architecture, with a Enterprise SKU.

It works on Surface RT, and usable in some ways. You might want to have a try, check the BetaWiki page for some notes on drivers.
So, theoretically, you could take components from that (like the kernel) and add them to later versions of Windows 10 to make them ARM32-capable? It would probably require a rewrite of what got changed between the versions, but it would be cool for it to at least partially work or even be able to be updated to later feature updates (as long as you make some required modifications).
~Leonardo I.

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jwa4
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Re: Windows 10 on Windows RT tablets?

Post by jwa4 »

LeonardoIannelliRETRIEVES wrote:
johndoe123 wrote:No, it won't work. The Surface Pro X uses arm64 Windows and the Surface RT uses arm32 Windows. If you want to run win32 apps, you can try jailbreaking.
So, if there are 64-bit Windows RT tablets out there (I have an inkling there might be), it should be pretty easy to port the Surface Pro X version of Windows 10 over to them.
No device that shipped with Windows RT ever had an ARMv8 processor.
LeonardoIannelliRETRIEVES wrote:
BetaNewbie wrote:There is Windows 10 build 15035 compiled for ARM32 architecture, with a Enterprise SKU.

It works on Surface RT, and usable in some ways. You might want to have a try, check the BetaWiki page for some notes on drivers.
So, theoretically, you could take components from that (like the kernel) and add them to later versions of Windows 10 to make them ARM32-capable? It would probably require a rewrite of what got changed between the versions, but it would be cool for it to at least partially work or even be able to be updated to later feature updates (as long as you make some required modifications).
No chance.

I know Microsoft still build Windows PE for ARMv7 because its available for download to anyone who wants it but I don't know if they still make the full desktop version for ARMv7 and even if they did they won't acknowledge it or release it. If newer desktop versions do exist for ARMv7 they might leak one day but by the time they did they will likely be just as old as 15035 is now. It's curious why a desktop version of Windows 10 15035 for ARMv7 even exists, why bother if the platform was a dead end? Surface RT / Surface 2 hardware is a dead end, the remaining useable life of a 2012 / 2013 device is extremely limited I'm afraid. I sort of expected Linux or an Android port at some point but if its not happened by now it never will.

If you want to play with Windows PE for ARMv7 you can grab it from Microsoft - see Download WinPE (Windows PE)

LeonardoIannelliRETRIEVES
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Re: Windows 10 on Windows RT tablets?

Post by LeonardoIannelliRETRIEVES »

jwa4 wrote:I know Microsoft still build Windows PE for ARMv7 because its available for download to anyone who wants it but I don't know if they still make the full desktop version for ARMv7 and even if they did they won't acknowledge it or release it.
If that’s the case, maybe it could be the basis for an updated Windows 10 ARM32 version? Just take the WinPE and add its kernel and what not into Windows 10 build 15035.

If you want to get extra risky, maybe the ARMv7 processor in a Windows RT tablet could be swapped out with an ARMv8 one to make it compatible with the latest Windows 10 versions. I’ve heard of people swapping out the CPUs in old PowerPC Macs, so it could be possible as long as the SoC isn’t impossible to remove from the motherboard and there’s enough driver support for it to actually be usable.
~Leonardo I.

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jwa4
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Re: Windows 10 on Windows RT tablets?

Post by jwa4 »

LeonardoIannelliRETRIEVES wrote:
jwa4 wrote:I know Microsoft still build Windows PE for ARMv7 because its available for download to anyone who wants it but I don't know if they still make the full desktop version for ARMv7 and even if they did they won't acknowledge it or release it.
If that’s the case, maybe it could be the basis for an updated Windows 10 ARM32 version? Just take the WinPE and add its kernel and what not into an updated version of Windows 10 build 15035.
Maybe but as far as I know Windows PE does not include the things that would make such an upgrade useful like Edge for example. There would still be very limited ARMv7 app support and even if Microsoft dropped a fully up to date Windows 10 for ARMv7 today it would not be able to run x86 apps.
LeonardoIannelliRETRIEVES wrote:If you want to get extra risky, maybe the ARMv7 processor in a Windows RT tablet could be swapped out with an ARMv8 one to make it compatible with the latest Windows 10 versions. I’ve heard of people swapping out the CPUs in old PowerPC Macs, so it could be possible as long as the SoC isn’t permanently attached to the motherboard and there’s enough driver support for it to actually be usable.
That one is super impossible I'm afraid. There is a higher chance of winning the lottery every day of the year than making that happen.

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Re: Windows 10 on Windows RT tablets?

Post by yourepicfailure »

LeonardoIannelliRETRIEVES wrote:If you want to get extra risky, maybe the ARMv7 processor in a Windows RT tablet could be swapped out with an ARMv8 one to make it compatible with the latest Windows 10 versions. I’ve heard of people swapping out the CPUs in old PowerPC Macs, so it could be possible as long as the SoC isn’t impossible to remove from the motherboard and there’s enough driver support for it to actually be usable.
The SOC design is what the board is based off of. An ARMv8 SOC would be completely different, not to mention the BGA layout and pin purposes.
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jwa4
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Re: Windows 10 on Windows RT tablets?

Post by jwa4 »

yourepicfailure wrote:The SOC design is what the board is based off of. An ARMv8 SOC would be completely different, not to mention the BGA layout and pin purposes.
Yep.

Its worth keeping on eye on the FTP, if they exist a newer ARMv7 build could leak in theory but I wouldn't count on it. As sad as it is to see good kit go to waste it looks like Windows 10 15035 is about as useful as Surface RT/2 is ever going to get.... compared to RT 8.1 anyway.

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