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A friend has an Android tablet, but needs to use a particular app that is Windows-only. Is it at all possible to boot the app from Android or, failing that, to install Windows on the device?

I specified Windows 10 because I personally prefer the operating system, but failing that, he'd be happy to settle with any other modern version.

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in the future, Microsoft will bring Windows 10 to ARM with support of x86 emulation to run any x86 desktop applications on ARM CPUs.

Finally, to deliver on our customers’ growing needs to create on the go, we announced today that Windows 10 is coming to ARM through our partnership with Qualcomm. For the first time ever, our customers will be able to experience the Windows they know with all the apps, peripherals, and enterprise capabilities they require, on a truly mobile, power efficient, always-connected cellular PC. Hardware partners will be able to build a range of new Qualcomm Snapdragon-powered Windows 10 PCs that run x86 Win32 and universal Windows apps, including Adobe Photoshop, Microsoft Office and popular Windows games.

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But this requires high end ARM CPUs from Qualcom.

If your friend uses an Intel Atom based x86 CPU in his tablet, he can install the normal 32Bit Windows 10 fine.

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  • Selected this as the best answer because it mentions the caveat that it's possible with Android tablets that utilise x86-based CPUs. Going to add my own answer to expand on this part a bit more. – Hashim Dec 11 '16 at 20:39
  • Worth pointing out. The only ARM processor that will currently be supported is the Snapdragon 820. The emulation will only support 32-bit x86 applications at first based on my research. – Ramhound Dec 11 '16 at 21:14
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Probably not. Most windows PC are x86, most android boxen are some flavour of arm.

While there's some mutterings about windows 10 on arm/snapdragon being able to run unmodified win32 applications at near native speed, for various reasons, you can't just throw an arbitrary, unmodified OS on an arm device. If its arm, you'd also need to translate x86 applications to ARM, before maybe throwing in some binary translation from windows to android.

lLternatively in theory you could run windows on QEMU (emulating x86) on a android box, but you'd have terrible performance.

So, no, there's no real way to do this.

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Based on the subsequent research I did on the topic since posting the question, and then having that research confirmed for me by magicandre1981's answer, the answer to this question is currently...

Yes, but only if you have an Android device with an x86-based processor

This excellent YouTube tutorial here proves that much by outlining the process of installing Windows 10 on an x86-based Android tablet, and for what it's worth, the installation looks like pretty standard stuff. In that tutorial, he installs the Windows 10 Technical Preview, but on further questioning, he insists that it's possible to get any version of Windows 8 or 10 onto it.

So ultimately, it comes down to whether your Android device's processor architecture is x86-based, which can be checked. I'm not personally sure how common x86-based Android devices are, but it's a good start, I suppose. Now I just need to check whether my mate's tablet is x86-based or not.

And like magicandre1981 pointed out with the MS press release from just a few days ago, in the future we can hopefully look forward to all ARM devices supporting Windows apps natively.

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