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116

Against all odds Windows Phone 8 has been hacked on to the HTC HD2

No, the HTC HD2 will evidently never die. First released in November 2009 with Windows Mobile 6.5, the device has been successfully hacked with every OS including Windows Phone 7, 7.5 and 7.8 in addition to Android.

Now, according to legendary mod team Dark Forces Team (DFT), the HTC HD2 will also brandish Windows Phone 8...

The news comes by way of their official forums and is currently lacking details on how it was accomplished. Only a handful of photos showing what looks to be an earlier build of Windows Phone 8 running on the HD2 is given as evidence. The poster though is 'Cotulla', whose reputation is very well known in the hacker-mod community, meaning we can safely assume this isn’t a hoax.

Still, until we have more details on the project we'll have to go with a 7 on our rum'o'meter.

The project, if successful, is remarkable if only because Windows Phone 8 features some extensive software-hardware security “handshaking” in the form of Bitlocker. That form of security is reportedly tied to a physical chip on the device, something that the HD2 is missing. How such a system is bypassed, as mentioned above, is currently not known.

Hopefully more details will be coming out soon with an actual release because as you have probably figured out, if the HD2 can run Windows Phone 8, there might be a chance for Windows Phone 7 devices too.

Source: DFT; Thanks, talan1314, for the tip!

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Reader comments

Against all odds Windows Phone 8 has been hacked on to the HTC HD2

116 Comments

I'm glad I don't have ti deal with that I have my Lumia 920 still that's a cool thing they got wp8 running on old devices that's just gonna make ppl thing Microsoft could've update old divices ah.

They could have and that's the point... Don't give me kernel crap, its clearly not entirely limiting factor when a WP 6.5 had no knowledge of WP 8 kernel and yet its compatible.

Compatible? Yes. However, the amount of effort it would take to get WP8 compatible with wp7 devices, then have all those devices go through the update process makes it unreasonable. The risk of bricking thousands of devices is not worth the extra features of WP8. Why would Microsoft go through the hassle of developing WP7.8 if they could just port WP8 to old devices?

Microsoft would not have these issues they are the creators of that os, so they can just modify a bit of thier code and it would be just like 7, an update, after all its just another arm version

It's really not that simple. You have to take into account that they have to write new drivers for the old hardware, test it all, take out or stop access from features that won't work on the old hardware. With WP8, they set a new standard. All phones have to have certain features like NFC. None of the older hardware has that on top of a mountain of other things that ALL new hardware has. It's not a simple as pushing an update to the users of what they currently have. It's very time consuming and costly and really isn't worth the effort.

Nah, I owned both, the HD2 was pretty awful with 6.5 (although I rally blame the HTC Sense overlay for its issues) but the HD2 is without equal in terms of original design beauty (at the time) and legacy for hacking.

The HTC HD2 will always be one of my favorite phones. It was an underrated device and it should of received the WP7 upgrade.

If this is true, someone's going to have to explain why WP 7.8 exists. We all heard how it was IMPOSSIBLE for 1.5gen phones to get full WP8 due to kernel'n'stuff. 
 

No one said it was IMPOSSIBLE.  And the "kernal'n'stuff" reason is not accurate.  It may actually run on WP7 devices, but it's unlikely the UX would be pleasant.  

yeah I figured the apologists fallback statement would always be "it won't run well"  Well that remains to be seen and the facts will sort themselves out once XDA has a chance to further development.  WP7 was running just damn fine on the HD2.  There are minute performance differences between WP7 phones due to faster CPUs and such, but the overall smooth fluid UI experience is the same. No different than an iPhone 3G /3GS comparison.

Ever thought of the fact that the new hardware encryption is the reason WP8 will not run on the gen 1 and 1.5 devices? It is clearly stated that they had to bypass the encryption in the OS to get it on the HD2.
Also consider that Microsoft did in fact remove the hardware encyption from WP8 along with some other features that relied on it and called it 7.8? Seriously, Windows Phone 8 running on an HD2 might as well just be WP7.8.

Not true, 7.8 is NOT wp8 minus some features... its a totally different kernal. Stop talking crap. WP8 opens up an whole array of new features which 7.8 will never see (hardware undependent features that is!). This is simply because 7.8 is a stopgap, to brighten up the EOL of the freshly released WP7.5 devices. All it contains is a startscreen, some extra colours and one or two features. THATS IT. It will not be anything remotely close to WP8.

We were flatly told the new kernel was imcompatible with older hardware. Period. And that's clearly not true. 

It is true.  WP8 requires a secure UEFI boot path, which older HW lacks.  It's not compatible with older hardware without hacking half the security out of the OS.  You may not care about that, but I'm pretty sure Microsoft does.

Is there any indication it won't run well? I mean, if anything, this is a gen1 device, and gen1.5 devices running Mango with a 1.4GHz single core shouldn't have too much of a problem.
The only reason that's not bs would be the logistics of getting such an update in the hands of people (Not like they haven't done it before with Mango though, so they likely decided that screwing early adopters was not too bitter of a pill to swallow)

It is technically impossible to directly upgrade from WP7 to WP8.
Even if the hardware can supposedly support WP8, it isn't really possible for Microsoft, OEMs and/or carriers to deliver the WP8 upgrade to existing users. It would involve wiping all data on the WP7 and then having access to some software/possible hardware that could install WP8 in its place.
Considering the small userbase as well it doesn't make any sense for any of the involved parties to provide this as some sort of alternative.

So simple, offer a swap/mail in program. Even offer it for a fee. It would be no different from a warranty replacement program and your device comes back formatted anyways, sometimes even replaced with a new device. You can't restore backups to a new WP7 device today anyways so no liablity there. I know many users who would take them up on it.

Why would anyone bother? For a fee they can sell you a shiny new WP8 instead and go about their day. Your option means months of testing and hundreds of man-hours just so people can save a few bucks. I want WP8 as much as you but any other option is technically, financially & practically unviable.

Simple??
There's nothing simple in logistics of handling upgrades for millions of phones - receiving, reflashing, sending back... the fee would have to be quite big. Not to mention that OEMs would still have to write new drivers, redo all QA testing from scratch, redo all carrier specific tweaks.

lmao, why not just go the extra mile and have them install a new dual-core processor and an NFC chip in everyone's old phones too? Afterall, we're all entitled to have the shiniest new toys for the least amount of money possible! It's so simple!

It isn't that it can't run, or even that it wouldn't run well.  I'm fairly certain that WP8 would run at a very usable level on the gen 1.5 devices and possibly even on gen 1 devices.  The problem was the cost-benefit analysis didn't work out in our favor.  Market share was way too small for Windows Phone 7 to justify the cost of porting Windows Phone 8, specifically the new kernel, back to the older hardware.  It would take a lot of work writing drivers and such for the older hardware and would have generated little to no revenue.  Even if 90% of people with Windows Phone 7 never by another MS product because of not getting WP8 (a scenario I think is highly unlikely), there were so few of us that they were willing to let that go. 

+1 that's the real truth. It WILL run on old hardware, and it WILL run well - the upgrade requires a full flash so it's risky, also developing drivers and testing for old hardware is costly and not worth their while.

Because if they did, they'd have people like on this comment section all over them and not buying another product. You'd also have a ton of people calling them greedy and cheap, when really, that's not the case.

I am more impressed by your reading skills as my keyboard buttons dont work most of the time (MS keyboard, 6 months old only)

You know there's a warranty for that? I had a wireless ms keyboard break on me 3 years after I started using it and they sent me the newest wireless kb+mouse combo for free without having to return the old hardware by conforming the serial number.

They probably had to remove a ton of the security and it also talks about attaching a hardware chip to the phone to be able to run this. The existing phone with the current WP8 OS will not work. They had to modify the OS and the phone hardware to get it to work.

Not sure why those folks waste there time modding this old garbage phone to run windows phone 8. It is not practical for use in anyway and if you want the brand new OS you would get a new phone, not dig out and old dusty POS and browse the web for mods....

lol? why is he a hater technically speaking by todays standards it is a dusty old phone i will not say POS because i hear it was extremely good but it is old none the less and so what if he owns a nokia you dont know the history of the phones he owned or the issues he did or didnt have with them so why would it make him a hater if he is speaking his opinion on the subject?

I find it funny that some ROM cookers can do more with the hardware in a few weeks than Microsoft can do with an update in a few months.  MS should hire a cadre of XDA ROM gods to bring official 7.8 updates out to all devices.

I'm not sure comparing a hacker team who has no rules or obligations to customers/OEMs to a software company who has both is exactly fair or reasonable.

An awful lot of spin for something we were told was not possible. The simple fact is that we were told that there were fundamental differences in the way the software used the hardware such that WP 7.8 was the only option. WP8 clearly was an option, so the question is, why did Microsoft not upgrade the Lumia 900 to WP8, and at what point in the production cycle of the Lumia 900 and WP 8 did they know they wouldn't be upgrading it? 

You're missing my point. My point is, when did Microsoft and Nokia know this to be true? WP8 obviously boots on older hardware, so did they come to this conclusion prior to the release of the Lumia 900?

Yes... They had WP8 running on old hardware. Hardware is not the issue, besides the HW security chip. How hard is it to understand that they don't want to upgrade old devices because it will cost a fortune and the risks to customers is huge? i.e. Not worth doing.

You don't know that they didn't have to strip features out of WP8 to install it on the HD2. It's not as simple as Microsoft making a choice to abandon users. This is a group of hackers, who may be willing to short circuit some security features in the software to force this image on the phone by bypassing the security hardware in the device.

The 900 was a test mule for WP8, so not even that holds up.  They are falling back on the old excuse "well it won't run WELL"  Well let the user decide that!  If the tradeoff of a small performance hit to get access to new types of applications and functionality, I will take that hit. 

Inteller, that is why hackers do what they do, so people like you can take that hit in performance that the majority would not be willing to.

You can take that hit does not mean the market will take that hit. If MS offers this and the experience is not good to the general public, MS will get a shit storm of complaints. MS is running a business not a chop shop. You can now follow the XDA hackers and take that hit yourself if you want to.

@tekhna, Not so much spin as I don't take random people in comments seriously who have no technical abilities on this project.

With all due respect, what are your technical skills that make you qualified to comment on it? I ask with complete sincerity, not knowing your background. 
 

I think the other side of the "it won't run well" aspect is the fact that we are buying into an ecosystem that prizes consistency as well (similar to Apple). Making something work doesn't mean it's feasible for everyday use. From the screenshots provided, it appears they may have hacked a lot out of the OS to make it work. 
After all, people have ported quake and other games to graphing calculators, but I think you'd be kidding yourself if you think thats how you'd prefer to game everyday. 
Also, why is no one complaining that they can't load Android onto their Focus, I mean...it should be possible, it'll run on that HTC after all, so it must be a viable option for all phones. 

They already said that WP8 will scale up AND down i.e. On more powerful & less powerful mobiles. 1st Gen phones are more powerful than some of the budget WP8 models coming out. Upgrading everyone is risky & financially unviable... end of story :P

Microsoft wanted you to splash the cash. They will want you to do the same introducing Windows 9 for Pc's... Next year!!!! It's official now. They don't want you to upgrade, they want you to pay them again, again and again. Will they start selling a new OS every 3 months, claiming they cannot or do not suggest updates using your old hardware? Their politics made me want to support another platform.

nobody - they abandoned me, I'll abandon them and I think there are millions of people who will do the same, considering what MS did to MS Office, DirectX, IE users...

Well, I am awaiting the port into my 2 yr old HTC Trophy. (Very likely as they share the same CPU)

Here is the most powerful counterexample of not able to port the NT kernel into 1st gen WP7 devices, of which M$ said some time ago. Forcing the 1st gen WP7 users change to WP8, and the 2nd gen WP7 users suffered.

If the port came to my Trophy, should I stick on my Trophy w/ 32GB mod instead of getting 8X? Haha........

It won't come to the Trophy. Bootloaders for all WPs are LOCKED except for the Titan, Radar, and a select few Lumia 710s. It took hackers months to unlock the Titan bootloader as well.

It might come as there is a unlock for the Trophy to be able to install custom roms, so the bootloader was hacked by DFT(same group who did this hack). If not, I'll just run the final RTM of 7.8, as the beta verison runs great. If it starts coming down to other devices, dont worry, it will hit the Trophy in time. Even the Verizon Trophy gets a lot of GSM verson)
 
All those lumia users need to wait till an offical hack (900).

I wish this group were involed in Lumia's.  Perhaps they could be the ones to hack the 920, as it seems I dont think anyone else will get it done.

Now WP8 can only boot on HD2, no celluar, no WiFi, no Bluetooth.
 
So, don't blame M$ until DFT gets WP8 fully functional on HD2.

I would like to take this moment and not yell at MS but congratulate the hacker for achieving such a unique milestone...so far we have seen many custom 7.8 ROMs but this is WOW!!.but backward compatibility issue has crippled the wp8, so unless you just want to size and resize those tiles, don't try this at home ;)

I remember when the HD2 came out the 4.3" screen was the largest at the time. T-Mobile even made a commercial about it and included the transformers movie on it.

All of the people upset at this are hilarious. It's like asking to get Android Jellybean to run on your classic T-Mobile HTC G1. Yes, you can probably put it on there. Good luck trying to use it.. it'll run slower than molasses in the Arctic. Not to mention getting all of the different features/hardware to work properly, the cell radio, Bluetooth, WiFi, etc.
 
Buying a phone these days guarantees nothing. Yes, the carriers or OEM's will 'promise' support (we've seen how that goes), but nothing is for sure. Essentially, your phone (any phone) is considered old news within a month of you having it. That's the way technology is these days. I fully get the people being burned by the purchase of the Lumia 900. I honestly do. My girlfriend has a 900, so I get that point of view. However, when the 900 was released, we ALL KNEW that WP8 was on the horizon for this Fall. No one officially said that the 900 would get WP8 aside from the Internet rumors which lit that fire and that fire burned right through the summer.
 
My stance is this... if Microsoft had officially said that the 900 would get WP8, I'd understand the anger and join in with you! They never did, however. Nokia released the phone for what it was... Nokia's first US entry into the WP market and it debuted as a WP7.5 device. It's timing was highly unfortunate, but neither Nokia or Microsoft made any promises that it would support WP8. So why be angry... because they didn't follow what the Internet rumor hopefuls were saying? You have to remember, you chose to purchase the phone knowing that WP8 was on the horizon and that there was no official guarantee that WP8 would be coming to your new device. That was a gamble in itself.
 
Now, months later when a team of amazing hackers strips the new OS onto a much older phone... your anger boils again. I really do get how you feel, but there's nothing that can be done at this point. You can get angry, rant and rave all you'd like. WP8 will never officially get to your 900. It sucks... it really does suck and is very unfortunate, but what can you do? Switch to Android or iOS? That's your call.

Awww, such a cute response... just to hide your anger. Go visit a shrink, make sure it's a female... I'm sure that's the closest you'll get to talk to one.

Iknowsing is exactly right. All these WP7 whiners are so silly. Your phone still works fine, you are still getting support. If you must have WP8 you can upgrade, but there is nothing that has broken WP7. The ultimate problem with today society is entitlement. I'm not talking about financial help for this who need it, I'm talking about completely unreasonable Expectations that companies must do whatever you want regardless of cost or risk because they "owe it to you".

jokeass2100 seems butthurt that everyone has a gf. I hope his phone has crappy service the day he makes his impending call to a suicide prevention hotline.
Anyways.....the old Windows Mobile devices bring back some fun memories. My TouchPro 2 was a beast.(not in the way judas's mom is)

Wow aren't you the bitchy one !!! :D... m sure you do this very often...keep up the good work...see if I give a shit :)

You're welcome nancy. No commence with your whiny posts about what everyone owes you stupid self entitled ass.. you little shit stain. 

Phonegasms never cease to amaze me.  
People hang onto technology out of frugality, personal preference or financial limitations.  Looking at some of the phones I have owned over the years there are more than a fee that I can say I would happily have kept three or more years if I knew I could keep the device "fresh" and maintain its utility.  If the Motorola Q had a better camera and support behind Windows Mobile I would have kept it.  It was a slick looking device.  Nice keyboard.  
The Palm Centro, even with a primitive Palm OS, was one hell of a phone.  Using apps from my previous Pilots was also nice, making for a seamless transition into a smartphone.  The NES emulator I had for it was awesome, and the keyboard layout lent itself towards being a competent gaming system on the go.  Combine that with Rhapsody to Go and I was pleased with myself and my purchase.  Verizon had (has) great coverage in my area so as a phone it rocked.  Lack of GPS stunk.  Google Maps was a joke.  
The Palm Pre, Pre Plus, Franken Pre - I think people on the Pre are more devoted than the HD2 clan.  Turning Palm Pre Plus devices from Verizon into Franken Pres on Sprint is just nuts.  The Pre 3 looked like a nice device, too bad HP bought out Palm and drove the brand into the ground.  WebOS was beautiful.  
The Nexus S 4G felt cheap, but Gingerbread ran buttery smooth.  If other iterations of Android could run just as smoothly without hiccups...man.  Camera wasn't bad either under the right conditions.  
You know what though?  I couldn't imagine these older devices running modern mobile operating systems beyond what they were designed for.  Until devices get developed for the 'long haul' and are meant to be 3-4 phones versus 10 month trade-ins you will always run into the new OS, new phone bottleneck.  

I find it very amusing to see how people are getting worked up about a hackjob where all you see is some photos and we do not have anything to show this actually works. As far as I can see there is no functionality besides the screen so no cellular connection, no WLAN, no USB nothing, For all we know it takes seconds to show the images we see and seeing how these are photos the built in screenshot function does also not work.
So no, this is not proof that WP8 runs on this hardware at all. Not even close.

What good would a built in screenshot do?
 
You are correct in that things like cellular, BT and WLAN are probably not working. But that doesn't mean it isn't running. You obviously aren't very familiar with DFT or the HD2.

And what proof do you have that they are all running fine? And what proof do you have that the WP8 OS is running smooth in it as the OS is meant to run?

Before we get too excited, DFT has supposedly completed their "paravirtualization" for WP7 which we have yet to see a release of.

All wp devices could be updated to WP8... It's the WP7.8 next coming update ;)
And all we need will be on our ils wp7 device.
It will be better to say that the hd2 was updated to wp7.8 os, because all the specifics options for a wp.8 device will never work on a hd2 because of hardware limitations...
By the way, I'm happy to know that hd2 fans could play with the most amazing mobile interface of the decade ;)
Lol

Why am I not surprised that every cheapskate jumped on the "ZOMG they hacked the new OS onto ancient hardware.  MS is nothing but a bunch of lying liars who lyingly lied to us about upgrading our phones" bandwagon?  I am by no means wealthy but I don't get mad just because a company doesn't just hand out new software to me.  New technology today is old tomorrow.  And the point about WP8 being hacked onto old harware but not necessarily running well is completely valid because the same people whining about wanting an upgrade will be the first in line to complain when it runs like crap and is missing vital functions.  To those saying the option needs to be there, you are a minority.  Let me say it one more time, you are a MINORITY!  MS is NOT going to spend time, money, and man-power pleasing a small segment of people who want to hold onto their old phones so that they don't have to pay for the new software and hardware.  You don't get something for nothing.

I agree. Sounds like sour grapes. If you can't afford to play the game, get an iPhone. Apple will gladly support you with iOS for several years. But don't forget, iOS hasn't changed in six years.

I just relisted my HTC HD2 on eBay.  Why?  Because it can't run contemporary versions of Android well, and frankly I have new hobbies.  It does a decent job with WP 7.5 & Gingerbread, but try ICS and it's horribly slow.  I can't imagine the WP8 experience is worthwhile.  Perhaps someone has optimized ICS or Jelly Bean to run better on it now, but generally speaking, the HD 2 is for hacking up for fun, and not daily use.  If they did get WP8 running on it, it will likely be missing several key features that require the secure boot & encryption.  Stil impressive though!

The HD2 is such an awesome device. I still have mine laying around here somewhere, and it was the last truly beautiful device that HTC made before they started turning out plastic junk. 
I do not understand everyone who is getting in a tizzy over the HD2 'running' WP8 and that their Lumia 900 will not be seeing it. Micorsoft, nor any handset manufacturer is obligated update the firmware of a phone past the version that it was shipped with. Personally I can wait for WP8, and I think 7.8 will be a great upgrade until I can get a new device in 2014, and for that I am incredibly greatful. MS could have pulled the plug on the Windows Phone 7 completely. 
I don't think the HD2 will actually 'run' WP8 at an acceptable speed, heck, when I flashed Android on mine it was slow and cumbersome. I think hackers like Cotulla just do it to prove to themselves that it can be done, so I would not expect this to be released to the masses. Embrace your current phone for what it is and use it. I am happy that the Lumia 900 will be my phone for the foreseable future, and you should be too with whatever phone you have. 7.8 will make them new phones all over again.

It probably is a very early build with no secure boot enabled. Booting the device with the OS is one thing, but I doubt it could actually run many apps as it will not have enough ram.

Sorry, forgot to tell what people I was talking to: those telling MS lied. What do you think they should have been telling you? "Do not buy new phones, we will update all your older ones for free"? ;-)

The HD2 is the best phone I've ever owned because it is so great for tinkering and running EVERYTHING. I still have mine in a drawer somewhere. Maybe I'll give this a go if Cotulla (the legend) manages to make the installation process less complex for us non-developers.

If this a actually works to some degree.... I have no words on MSFT's fail. There are so few drivers for the HD2 and still it keeps on ticking, the reasons if this turns out to be even half decent to not update legacy devices is .... WHAT are you doing MSFT! (makes me mad!)

Why on earth would you want to have a phone that only, and to quote you, "works to some degree"?!!!

The only WPs with unlocked bootloaders are the Titan I and Radar. If you do not own one of these devices, it is 99% chance WP8 will never be hacked onto your phone.

not true.. Also Lumia 710/800 have unlocked qualcom bootloader, and all HTC WP7 first generations have HSPL (HD7, 7 Pro, Trophy, Mozart)

I think I might go get the screen fixed on mine just so I can have a pretty decent back up to my 920

HD2 is the best phone made since the N95

Here is a proud owner of HD2, currently running MIUI android. I'm a bit of a flashing freak so I had a go with dozens of differentt roms from 6.5 WinMo to all kinds of Android versions and Windows phone 7 and 7.5. Bottom line, I feel that I am competent to speak about the subject. Yes, HD2 can run all these systems WELL. Other phones that run them have similar specs (1GHz single core and 512 RAM) and there is no reason why it wouldn't run smooth on HD2. What is an issue is true multitasking on a single core phone - thats why WP8 will run but God knows how well. This isn't a question if you can "fly" through the menus because 1 GHz with a dedicated GPU will deal with everyday tasks for years more, HD2 will run WP 9 if we ever see one - it's when you push it to the limit where you will notice the difference in hardware. For example - skype cannot trully run in backgound if you only have one core. Story ends here, thats a fact of life, and Skype is very deeply integrated in WP8. So, in my opinion, MS did "lie" that HD2 cannot run WP7 or higer, its just the question of are they satisfied with the way it performs when pushed to the limit with gaming and multitasking. The last thing MS needed is another so and so product that, yes, runs but not as well as the competition...  Also, DFT didn't hack WP8 on HD2 because its practical, but because they said it cannot be done. NEVER tell a good hacker that something cannot be done :)

Except I don't believe MS ever said wp7 devices can't run wp8. Their words were different if memory serves.

Wow! If Congress were as passionate as some of these posters, we'd have no taxes, no debt and free health care for all. The fact Cotulla ported WP8 onto an old HD2 is about as newsworthy as the Open WebOS port onto the Galaxy Nexus. BUt as the pufferfish said at the end of Finding Nemo, "now what"? I have Tango on my HD2 and while everything works, it's not nearly as zippy as the real deal. GB was painful to run, but it did. If it weren't for the WP7 apps and Internet Sharing, I'd be back on 6.5 in half a heartbeat. Folks, it's a new year, let's give props to Cotulla for his accomplishment. But don't bash Microsoft for refusing to release a product that wouldn't be satisfactory to the end user. We had enough Windows Mobile 5 & 6 phones that froze and required constant reboots to last a lifetime.