You Can Now Run x86 Legacy Windows Apps On Surface / Windows RT

Microsoft’s Surface RT is a thing of beauty, and that comes from personal experience. The tablet is solidly built, with amazing externals and powerful hardware inside. The display on the Surface RT tablet, too, is stellar, and puts to shame many in the competing arena. That said, the only proper limitation that comes packaged with the tablet, is its inherent ability to run only ARM applications. In other words, you can forget all your legacy x86 apps and remain stuck with only those that Microsoft has approved, and is selling through, the Windows Store. This restriction is not limited only to the Surface RT tablet, either; all Windows RT tablets suffer the same dilemma, and for those users that are looking for an alternative solution, the choice lies in opting for either the much-pricier Surface Pro, or any other Windows 8 Pro-based tablet.

The beauty of a platform as popular as Windows – even if it’s the RT version – is the fact that there’s a huge developer community out there to ensure that your experience remains smooth and friendly, not to mention as feature rich as possible. The lack of ability to run legacy x86 apps on Windows RT has been frowned upon by quite a few as a huge limitation of the OS itself, but thanks to the XDA-Developers community, this may not be the case much longer. If you own a Windows RT device and are willing to unlock/jailbreak it (jailbreak Windows RT using this all-in-one tool), you can run legacy Windows apps on your Windows RT tablet using mamaich’s tool!

The application is in very early beta, so you should expect a slightly bumpy road when using it. According to the developer, this tool:

allows running x86 Windows applications on Windows RT (ARM) tablets. The tool emulates x86 instructions and passes Windows API calls to WinRT kernel with necessary modifications.

The development on the utility continues to make it enhanced and deliver a smoother user experience. As of now, it comes with a GUI and installer, but you’ll need to run the app manually each time you wish to fire up an x86 program on your Windows RT device. Also, the list of verified/supported legacy apps is also quite limited, and some basic apps like 7Zip, WinRAR, Heroes of Might & Magic etc., have been tested by the developer. However, a large variety of small programs that are not resource hungry should be fine, and the developer welcomes the user to try them out and leave feedback on how they performed.

A mod like this, which enables running x86 apps on Windows RT, is a huge step forward in making the latter a successful platform. Windows remains the most widely used desktop operating system in the world, and the chances of that changing don’t look so bright anywhere in the near future. In such a scenario, this ability, combined with a tablet’s portability and great battery life, is definitely going to pull a large user base towards the Windows RT ecosystem. The developer, too, is pretty optimistic and ambitious, and is working hard at polishing the code and making it more stable.

Should you want to give this beta project a try on your Windows RT device, head on to the source link below for instructions, technical details and any assistance that you might need.

(Source: XDA-Developers forum thread)

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