Cell, Wi-Fi can work for Windows 11 on Surface Duo

Windows Phone is dead, long live Windows on a Phone

More progress is being made in the effort to get Windows 11 running on Microsoft's Surface Duo smartphone.

We noted the efforts of tinkerer Gustave Monce in May, when the engineer managed to get both screens of Microsoft's unloved first-generation foldable up and running with Windows 11 on Arm. Since then Monce has added support for many of the device's sensors (including accelerometers and orientation) and generally polished things to sate the desires of Windows followers that still mourn the passing of the Windows Phone.

Getting code working in unexpected places has long been a sport among the engineering community. Witness the "will it run Doom?" phenomenon, for example.

Similarly, Windows has also turned up on platforms in guises not supported by Microsoft. The Arm-based incarnation has turned up on the diminutive Raspberry Pi and arguably runs faster on Apple silicon than several authorized alternatives. With Windows Phone no longer a thing, it is therefore doubly a delight to find Windows 11 turning up on Microsoft's foray into the Android market, not least because the device quite definitely does not confirm to the company's hardware requirements.

Monce's latest release, available from GitHub, has taken some huge strides in moving the project from neat curiosity to something useable. Though the camera remains disabled in this release, Wi-Fi and cellular data is apparently now functional.

While using the phone to actually make calls remains a couple of weeks away, the arrival of 2.5Ghz/5Ghz WiFi and cellular data (LTEA, LTE, HSDPA+, HSDPA, EDGE, GPRS) is impressive. Cellular texts work and GPS is functional. eSIM support is also enabled.

The driver set is still a work in progress and there is no shortage of stuff that doesn't work. As well as the camera and calls, there are issues with graphical rendering and the displays are unlikely to react to being folded over. USB-C billboard devices don't work, nor does audio, and an external power supply for USB devices intended for attachment would probably be a good idea as well.

However, touch and pen support (on the left screen for the latter) is present, as is support for the vibration motor. Even closing and opening the device will put Windows 11 to sleep and wake it up respectively.

Sadly, we do not have a Surface Duo 1 at Vulture Central to take Monce's opus out for a spin, although prices for the hardware on various tat bazaars continue to tumble. Caution should therefore be exercised should you want some Windows 11 action on the Duo (and this writer knows of at least one Duo hopelessly bricked after some possibly overenthusiastic fiddling by its owner).

We look forward to further updates from Monce as, we're sure, do the many Windows Phone fans looking at the engineer's work and pondering what might have been. ®

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