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Windows 11 on a Lumia 950 XL? These students somehow pulled it off

Sometimes, what’s old and abandoned can become new again — if you’re skilled enough to do it. That’s just what one engineering student managed to accomplish by tweaking an old Lumia 950 XL Windows Phone to run Microsoft’s new Windows 11 operating system.

A (very) quick (and rushed) look at Windows 11 running on a Lumia 950 XL after a day of work

As seen in the clip above, the engineering student showcases how well Windows 11 runs on the Lumia. Though it looks quite small on a mobile display, you can see that touch, the new Windows 11 gestures and new File Explorer, and even Widgets work just fine. Surprisingly, even the ability to rotate the device works, with the Lumia adapting to the change in orientation. We also see the new Start Menu and the Action Center.

But this isn’t something that was quite easy to do. In an interview with The Verge, Gustave Monce, the engineering student behind the video and project, says that it takes a lot of reverse engineering to get the drivers working right. It took Monce and another group of 15 other people over four years to get to where they are now. That involved previous support for running Windows 10X and Windows 10, making Windows 11 a “natural path.”

There’s a dedicated website created by the team where you can follow along with guides to try out the project on your own (though we advise against it because it’s quite technical.) As of right now, a lot of Windows elements seem to work just fine, with the exception of the camera, Windows Hello face unlock, and the GPU. Work-in-progress features include the ability to boot from SD Cards.

There are even forums for discussions, and a Telegram group and channel where folks actively talk about the project. Of course, if you happen to try things out for yourself, you might find that battery and performance aren’t the same on the device.

We probably don’t need to remind you, but Microsoft abandoned the Lumia 950XL in 2017 when it discontinued the active development of Windows 10 Mobile. It’s people like Monce that keep Windows Phone alive, showing off the true potential and the under-the-hood power of the hardware that Microsoft left in the dust.

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