Emulator lets Windows RT run x86 apps

Surface RT

Emulator shows potential for desktop apps on ARM-based Windows tablets

A developer has created a way to emulate x86 software on Windows RT, Microsoft's tablet OS designed for machines powered by ARM processors.

According to a post by the converter's creator on the XDA Developers forum, the tool "emulates x86 instructions and passes Windows API calls to the WinRT kernel with necessary modifications".

The tool is only in beta and is of course completely unofficial, requiring the device to be unlocked to allow side-loaded apps, but offers a glimpse into how ARM-based devices such as Microsoft's Surface RT could gain additional software tools originally designed for the desktop.

Speed and the number of the emulated Windows API functions has increased, but it is still very far from being perfect

"The tool has reached the beta version," the developer explained in a post spotted by our sister site Expert Reviews. "Now it has an installer and a GUI launcher. Speed and the number of the emulated Windows API functions has increased, but it is still very far from being perfect."

According to the app's creator, the latest version's core internals are stable and there is a growing number of x86 programs that run on ARM via the emulator, including WinRar, 3D Pinball "Space Cadet" from Windows 95, Heroes of Might and Magic 3, with more programs planned for inclusion in the next build.

The tool is restricted to 32-bit Windows applications and excludes .NET and DOS apps, but once a device is jailbroken to bypass protections to prevent unauthorised software running, the tool proves developers could bring added functions to RT devices.

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