win86emu: the greatest thing for Windows RT that Microsoft should have made.

While I’m writing this, I’m listening to Neuromancer via WinAmp & the ancient Speex plugin I had updated about 8 years ago.

x86 node running on Windows RT

I took my Surface, and downgraded it to the North American 8.0 version without updates, added my MS ID, and from there ran the jailbreak and win86emu (sometimes called x86node) and from there I was able to run some simple Win32 exe’s.

Even though I had done a simple cut down QuakeWorld port with the GDI only display, using win86emu it’ll run the 80386 build as well.  while I haven’t thrown much at it, I’m just amazed that so far things are working.

When you think that between the jail-break to unlock the ability to run programs combined with a CPU translator, and Win32 to Win32 thunk / translation program, why on earth did this thing ship without it?  It’s amazing that between trying to launch a platform with no inertial for applications after Android &  Apple were selling millions of hardware units, and billions of software units, and cutting the past applications.  It’s just crazy.

And then Microsoft did their normal thing when something goes wrong, which is basically end it, and destroy all evidence it existed.  There is no Windows 10 upgrade for the Surface, even though Windows 10 IOT has been hacked to run from a USB stick on the Surface, but it’s insanely slow.

I figured since this is kind of hard to find I’ll just mirror it on Source Forge… along with the source.

8 thoughts on “win86emu: the greatest thing for Windows RT that Microsoft should have made.

  1. Wasnt the whole reason behind locked down Windows RT existence ability to tax 30% thru Microsoft Store? Ho would x86emu help with that? maybe if it was also locked to store x86 applications.

    • I guess its talking to the schizophrenia that is Windows 8. It wanted to be a tablet, with the Surface RT I presume, but instead of some ‘Windows powered device’ they instead thought that Windows RT should simply be everywhere. Just as Windows phone was at the time still running on Windows CE, which then resulted in an new environment on CE, then replacing CE all together with so many ecosystem purges it’s no small wonder nobody was basically left.

      It just goes to show just has fragile these software empires are. From the fall of IBM, Digital, HP and now Microsoft, the rise of Google and rebirth of Apple will only eventually result in their demise. It’s always been the death of a platform, from the mainframe, mini computer, and as recently the microcomputer, the mobile phone too one day will be replaced by something more powerful and easier to interface with . Maybe we’ll get Elon’s new solution to bridge the bandwidth gap between people & machines.

  2. The “new” Windows 10 on ARM has a x86 emulator in it for Win32 applications, but it also allows all 3rd party applications once “S” mode is turned off.

    • I’ve been seriously thinking about getting one. I though the RT was a little fun to try ‘Win32/ARM’ now, but then transition to a real one later on.

      If it gets native dev tools that’d be nice, although I’m sure it’ll be yet another one of those ‘do everything in the cloud’ type things.

      But when it comes to apps, Android sure has a renaissance of creativity with all kinds of media production apps, even big named ones with offerings for a fraction of their ‘big brother PC prices’.. Things like Photoshop, FL Studio etc…

      Granted it seems interest in RT dropped off a cliff back in 2013, with some of the stuff I’m finding now is crazy old, but it’s still kind of cool to see Aliens vs Predator GOLD on the surface. I almost wonder if it’d be possible to port it to the DEC Alpha, but I’m currently lacking one.

      Other thing of interest in thie win86emu is that with it being Win32 on Win32, it ought to be possible to replace the 80386 core with another one, say MIPS or PowerPC and run other platform binaries on the x86 processor. Initially it may seem counter productive, but it may be faster than full system emulation ala Qemu. Although in late 2018 I can’t imagine anyone all that interested in Visual C++ 4.0 RISC cross compiling stuff for Windows NT 4.0 of all things.

        • That sounds pretty awesome then! Although I keep reading that the new Surface Go should have been an ARM64 instead of this Intel gold CPU but apparently Intel strong-armed (lol) Microsoft.

          Kind of funny how easily they could throw off IBM, but they just cant shake Intel.

  3. This win86emu reuses some seemingly reuses some ReactOS files. This made me thinking if it’s possible to make Windows 10 IOT reuse ReactOS user-land dll’s to support traditional Win32 desktop apps… how hard can it be? Still ROS haven’t reached kernel stability, 10 IOT Core (there is x86 too) may hold it for a while…

    • I would imagine if IOT has a GDI/USER/KERNEL then it may be possible. I haven’t gotten beyond the boot screen as it didn’t like my USB hub, and the hour+ to boot on the Surface RT really was a killer.

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