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"Open source Windows" ReactOS boots on Lumia, iPhones, requirements are less than Windows 11

ReactOS UEFI booting

ReactOS, which has often casually been referred to as the "Open source Windows", has received a major update this week. In its latest Newsletter, the ReactOS development team has announced that 64-bit (AMD64 and ARM64) UEFI (Unified Extensible Firmware Interface) booting is now available on a lot more devices. These include PCs, Nokia's Lumia, Apple's iPhone, and Valve's Steam Deck.

The images below (click on them to zoom in) show ReactOS and FreeLoader running on such devices. Meanwhile, the top image shows the Windows boot manager on a Framework laptop:

ReactOS UEFI booting

ReactOS FreeLoader on Microsoft (Nokia) Lumia 950XL

ReactOS UEFI booting

FreeLoader on iPhone 5C

ReactOS UEFI booting

ReactOS on Steam Deck

This is part of an effort to improve FreeLoader, which is the default bootloader in ReactOS. In the announcement, the development team writes:

Thanks to the work of Timo Kreuzer (tkreuzer) our AMD64 builds are now capable of booting on an increasing number of hardware. Thanks to Timo’s and Justin’s work, we are working towards supporting modern devices with UEFI class 3 firmware.

Work has been underway since the beginning of the year to transition FreeLoader, our default bootloader for ReactOS, to support UEFI on x86 and AMD64, as well as ARM32 and ARM64. Hermès has been developing a system for passing the UEFI framebuffer information in a fashion that allows Windows XP to run on UEFI systems, while Justin Miller (TheDarkFire) has been developing the UEFI freeloader build.

On top of supporting booting ReactOS, other features are being built such as EFI chainloading and a bootmgfw-compatible build of FreeLoader. These features would add boot management capabilities and allow modern Windows systems to bootstrap our favorite bootloader.

As you may have noticed, devices with UEFI class 3 firmware can run ReactOS which means Secure Boot-capable UEFI should not be a system requirement like it is the case for Windows 11. Hence, you won't have to have a fairly modern system.

For those who may not know, enabling Secure Boot is what constitutes UEFI Class 3+ as it upgrades the firmware security even further compared to Class 3.

Besides this, the ReactOS team has also said that it is slowly working on improving NT6+ application compatibility and support

NT6+ is a terminology that encompasses Windows operating systems such as Vista, 7, 8, 8.1, 10 and 11 that are based on a newer NT architecture design.

As many software developers no longer support older versions of Windows, most of the applications that we use day to day will not work on ReactOS. However, this is going to change.

At the moment it is mainly limited to user mode with kernel mode upgrades planned for later. There is no estimated time of arrival for this.

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