Windows Phone Internals update paves way for custom ROMs on any Lumia

Microsoft's own plans for mobile may be on the outs, but enterprising developers are proving there's some life left in Windows phone devices if you're willing to tinker. Driving that point home is an upcoming update to Windows Phone Internals, a tool that was last updated in 2015, which will allow for Root access, and subsequently flashing of custom ROMs, on all Windows Phone 8 and Windows 10 Mobile-based Lumia devices.

The update itself isn't yet available, but its developer, who goes by the handle Heathcliff74, has teased its release with a brief overview of version 2.2. The tool essentially automates a number of processes required to unlock the bootloader on any Lumia device, disabling security features and allowing you to gain Root access. Once Root access has been achieved, the device is completely unlocked, allowing you to do things like flashing custom ROMs, creating full device backups, or even using your Lumia in Mass Storage Mode. Other hacks are also possible, but we'll have to see what developers can conjure up. You can see a demo of the tool in action in the video below:

There's no word on when Windows Phone Internals 2.2 will be available, but it should prove interesting for anyone looking to tinker with their Lumia.

Dan Thorp-Lancaster

Dan Thorp-Lancaster is the former Editor-in-Chief of Windows Central. He began working with Windows Central, Android Central, and iMore as a news writer in 2014 and is obsessed with tech of all sorts. You can follow Dan on Twitter @DthorpL and Instagram @heyitsdtl

  • Reminds me when I first put Windows Phone 7 on my HTC HD2.
  • I remember why they said the HD2 won't get Wp7, it was along the lines of "it doesn't have the three dedicated buttons, so the experience wouldn't be consistent" lol... fast forward and we ended up with OEMs using circle for buttons or android buttons...  lol...
  • Yeah, that wasn't it at all. It didn't have a TPM chip so they couldn't force a signed bootloader which would make the system very insecure.  
  • Yes, but that was how the old OS worked. It never made the phone less-secure
  • I dual booted my HD2, and ran my first and still only Android.
  • I still have my HTC HD2, for a while it was dual booting both android and windows. those were fun days.
  • Sweeeeet! Hopefully this also would enable many of us to debrand as well, can't wait for the updated tool. HeathCliff is a freaking legend!
  • ooooh yeeeeah !!! Can't wait to androidfy my 640!
  • Is it really possible to do that? If it is, would there be problems related to having the correct drivers for buttons, camera, speakers etc? Or would someone need to build a ROM for it?  If it's really possible, I'd love to get ny hands on another 950XL and try that! I'm pretty much uneducated on the topic of flashing phones, and this has leaked my curiosity   
  • you would have to build your own version of Android so that it will work on the Lumia 950XL. There will also need some work on ensuring all the hardware parts will work.
    I'm sure you'd be able to fork a 2-3 year old Android version and then build on that for the Lumia 950 / 950XL.
  • Will be very difficult, while you need the android drivers for the hardware in your 950XL. It is improbable that those drivers are available.
  • MashaAllah MashaAllah
  • yes eat lots of Mash Potatoes!
  • lmao
  • Shame on you
  • Customs ROMs are what made me love Windows phones back when it was Windows Mobile.
  • I'd be interested in what devs do with this.  I hope WC keeps us updated.
  • I hate saying this, but devs will do nothing with this because they're currently doing nothing. It's going to be homebrew software at best. I personally wouldn't trust a custom build on my phone from some stranger on the internet. I do financial tasks with my phone, so I would prefer to stick with the official software for as long as MS supports it. That'll probably be for no longer than 2 more years.
  • But someone bothered to create and update this tool, so maybe a few interesting roms will appear. And there are enthusiast forums and sites out there for providing and also vetting these custom builds. I sure hope someone makes a rom for 1520 😅
  • This isn't uncharted territory.
  • Might be interesting to make my Lumias a portable hard drive.
  • You can do that now by plugging the phone into your computer and then drag/drop files where you want them.
  • Yeah, but have you tried that with a 950? I could make a drop box account from scratch and upload all the files over dialup faster than the USB speeds on a 950.
  • Soon TM? But very nice, i'll bet my 950/950xl will fly for years on end with a nice custom rom. 
  • May I ask you what you expect out of it?
  • Ehhh, that the 950 hardware is still very capable and in some aspects still top tier (camera/mic), and that it would be very usuable again with a custom rom. And the fly part is about practical use, still shocked how much faster android is in basic tasks like browsing with inferior hardware.  Anyhow, a little package wih mini Gapps and something like lineageOS would be very welcome, much better than selling ALL my lumia's for next to nothing. Other uses, security cam, storage, ahwell as the article states. Something like that:P 
  • Might finally be able to update my Lumia 925 to Windows 10 Mobile!!
  • Don't, you lose more than you gain. Glance doesn't work, maps will how street names but not the actual roads, and the whole experience will be sluggish to some degree.
  • I'd love to put Windows 10 on a Blackberry Priv.
  • NO THANKS...Ruin the device with a crappy OS.
  • Crappy for you, interesting for me.
  • I forgot about this tool...Yiha could be fun!
  • ANDROID on 1020....YES PLEASE!!!!!!
  • Anyone else remember PPC Kitchen? :)
  • Oh yea....Lots of trial by error lol.
  • So...the Windows mobile community that's left is being given a tool to potentially maintain the OS themselves? If so, Windows mobile could get the animoji feature by doing what Snapchat does for it's face tracking. SC takes rapid photos and compares them to see where you're moving, and based on that data SC places stuff on your face or distorts it. I don't see why the same couldn't be done to create animojis on windows mobile...for those that really want it. I guess you could just create an app to do this without dealing with custom software.
  • How about a raspberry pi phone.
  • While we're dreaming... You mean a programmable base for a modular mobile device?.... That would be fun.
  • You are great guy, thanks for all your nice work. But generally, the only thing which will make me happy Lumia user again would be Android ROM for my L950XL. I'm done with the Microsoft. And once I get Android phone none of their apps will be on it.
  • 'done with Microsoft' says the tool obviously reading/commenting on a Microsoft centric site. Keep your dramatic hyperbole to yourself.
  • Can I put android on my Lumia 900? It's stuck in the smartphone beta test
  • It would run horribly. The 1020 barely managed WP8... Throwing something as bloated as Android would kill it.
  • WP 10 worked great on my 1020.
  • Really.. My 1020 works super smooth bro..
  • Would be nice if it worked on the 1020. It is a pain to go thru all of the hoops to install WP 10.
  • Ok this is cool though is there really anyone willing to do an android port over to a Lumia 950/XL if this tool can do it?
  • If someone would ever create a perfectly working Android ROM for the 930, I'd have a huge joygasm and have to source another 930 (for the 4th time).
  • Too bad someone couldn't figure out how to get the Android Bridge working on them.
  • This is what I would love to see. Someone dust off the Android bridge and get an "app store" going. Then I could go back to my 640 or even buy a 950.
  • There you go, that should be a goal. Instead of hanging the OS like some are suggesting. Or maybe find a way to allow an available emulator like bluestacks.
  • I really enjoyed this short and sweet demo.. Yay!
  • After unlocking, can I install Android Rom into my Lumia. Or Will it void the warranty period though.
  • Assuming you find a ROM, yes. It will void the warranty.
  • Who has a WP, still under warranty?
  • I do. Got my 950XL in Feb 2017 and so it is in 2 year warranty until Feb 2019.
  • Nah leave me with windows im ok android is ****
  • Same with me.
  • Any chance now of use Android 8? As a way to get more value & support for the old Nokia Lumia devices that MS has dropped.
  • side load android app an possibility ?
  • Would be cool if I could install Windows 10 Mobile on my Lumia 1320 again.
  • Can i use it to:
    1. Install updates on non supported devices?
    2. Enable kids corner?
  • After secureboot mistake now Microsoft can close core layer and share the os as an open os with developers like google do. There is nothing to lose.
  • Excellent!
  • Maybe they will extend this tool to work on the Surface 2 and Surface RT. Id be grateful for that!
  •  Maybe to put sailfish on a lumia for testing but NEVER android. I want no such  crap any more on any of my devices!!!!!!!   ANDROID NEVER EVER
  • Never heard of Sailfish before. I wonder if it's any better than Android. 🤔
  • Sailfish is a handicaped OS which they call [gesture based OS] Tizen is 100 times better than Sailfish in-terms of usability
  • In all the seriousness, why would you want to install Android OS on your Windows Phone device when you can buy a perfectly normal, Android-ready smartphone according to your budget? I'm very rarely despise developers, but I just... can't see the point of this. 🤨
  • Or, I might ask, why would you want to ruin a perfeclty good Windows Phone, by putting Android OS on it?
  • Wonder if you could use it retroactively to rooted Android devices to install Win10 on a Samsung 8 or BB KeyOne etc.. ? That would be epic.   
  • For those who haven't used android's latest editions, word of advice: don't do it. 3000mAh battery Droid vs 2500mAh battery WP , WP will outlast it by a day or so with average usage, android power optimization is bad even in its latest available editons on "STOCK" by this i mean untapped pure bloat free android is still lacking optimization vs windows mobile and its previous systems like 8.1 , so if you haven't used android and windows hand in hand then you don't know what you are sacrificing to gain something so trival in comparison to what you already have, because simply put ignorance is bliss but don't take it to the heart cause we aren't all so educated decision makers just mostly impulsive ones who make more mistakes than making the right choices, so good luck on whatever you want to believe in however my experiences have proven to me that it is otherwise best to remain with what you have.
  • It'd be pretty hilarious if someone got Android to work on W10M. Hilarious because then my 950XL would get Oreo before my Huawei P9 ever would.... Hell, I tried to get the Android version before Oreo on my P9 and the frigging thing is now bricked. Chances are, I'd brick my 950XL too.
  • Why bother ? There is no thrill any more on Windows Phone devices to "ROOT" it. Is there even custom roms any more for these devices ? If there is anything, I would like the full interface on my Samsung Note 8...