Microsoft Announces Plans For Thunderbolt Support In Windows 10

Microsoft has announced plans to support Thunderbolt on Windows 10>

Microsoft Windows Platform Evangelist Pete Brown has announced plans for Thunderbolt support in Windows 10.

Microsoft will not officially support Thunderbolt 1 & 2 devices on Windows 10, though they may work with vendor support. They are focusing their support on Thunderbolt 3. 

Here’s the text of his announcement, which he made at the Gearslutz forum:

I’m sharing this here because I know there’s a lot of interest in TB in Windows. Normally we wouldn’t make a formal statement about a device interface (they just start appearing on PCs), but Thunderbolt is a special case in MI, and I know you all will appreciate the information.

In November 2015, with the Windows 10 Threshold 2 (TH2) release, Microsoft completed the necessary engineering work to ensure secure and reliable Thunderbolt 3 Audio devices can be built for Windows 10 PCs. This work involved base PCIe work, audio work to respond to rebalancing, and security work for Thunderbolt in general. We didn’t talk much about it, though, because we had a lot of testing, especially security testing, to do.

Since then, we’ve seen a number of in-progress and in-market PCs with Thunderbolt 3 ports on them, many new at CES. These PCs use the supported combination of the Intel Alpine Ridge chipset, Skylake, and the USB-C connector. I myself just built a new PC with an ASUS motherboard that includes Alpine Ridge, Skylake, and Thunderbolt 3.

What is required to use a Thunderbolt 3 audio device on Windows?

To accomplish this, the device manufacturer must create a Windows 10 PCIe driver that implements two new interfaces. The documentation for this is here.

Hardware developers with experience building PCIe drivers on Windows will find the Thunderbolt 3 additions to be an incremental change. The driver requirement is on par with what is required for OSX support of Thunderbolt devices.

What does this mean for existing “legacy” Thunderbolt devices?

The convergence of Thunderbolt 3 + Alpine Ridge + USB-C makes it easier for PC OEMs to create PCs with a known and solid supported Thunderbolt configuration, doing away with the ambiguities and BIOS configuration challenges of the past.

Microsoft is working with Intel to identify the potential compatibility approaches for devices with Thunderbolt 1 & 2 and the Thunderbolt/Mini-DP connector (hubs, adapters, etc.). Although those devices (with appropriate drivers) will continue to work in Windows 10 TH2, because of limitations around resource acquisition and daisy chaining, and the instability they can introduce, Microsoft cannot officially support them on Windows 10. Any support will be up to the PC manufacturers or hardware vendors using those interfaces. We do generally recommend that if you use those Thunderbolt 1 / 2 devices on Windows PCs, you keep the Thunderbolt interface dedicated to your audio use, and not mix in other daisy-chained devices. Recommendations may vary based on device and motherboard, of course.

The Alpine Ridge chipset is relatively new to the market. We are continuing to refine and update our Thunderbolt support in the future with an eye towards continued stability and performance. We’re continuing to work closely with Intel and with PC OEMs to ensure Thunderbolt 3 on Windows 10 is a great experience.

Thunderbolt 3 on USB-C is particularly exciting to us due to the increased bandwidth it offers to our pro audio and musician customers, all with a simplified connector that works across everything from custom-built PCs to thin and light laptops and tablets. Considering the significant uptake from our OEMs, they seem to agree.

I’ve contacted a number of device manufacturers already. If you are a device manufacturer that I haven’t yet reached, and have questions, please contact pete dot brown at Microsoft dot com.

If you are a customer, I ask that you give the audio interface/peripheral manufacturers some time to form their own plan of action on this. I know folks are champing at the bit for Thunderbolt devices on Windows, but the devices will not be available overnight. Feel free to express your interest, of course.


via sonic state

9 thoughts on “Microsoft Announces Plans For Thunderbolt Support In Windows 10

  1. I use OSX or Linux for pretty much anything productive, but I have a low end Windows laptop I keep around for time wasting entertainment…just upgraded it to Windows 10 yesterday. They made the start menu actually good, that was nice. On the other hand basic no brainer things like turn off the audio when you pull the headphones out didn’t work “out of the box”. Also, if you don’t use “custom settings” during the install Microsoft will spy on you more than an Android phone. So the user interface is vastly improved to Windows 8, but all the same suck is still there under the hood, but now with Google-esque spyware built in to everything. You can’t turn a turd into a Mac by adding a Thunderbolt port, sorry.

    1. Thanks for you comment , i m happy to know that your comment are mostly irrelevant cause your laptop won’t be able to get ThunderBolt 3. If you buy cheap stuff don’t except good drivers.”but all the same suck is still there under the hood” <- Yeah i Remember that OSX got ALSR in 2012 while Windows got it in 2007. Thunderbolt is flowed by the way on Mac , remember TunderStrike ?

  2. Thunderbolt is only nice on Mac (I own several) if you are buying VERY high end peripherals. So far it has been useless to this decidedly not high end consumer. I guess I’m happy with anything that makes Apple’s various jack/plug/adapters more universal.

  3. i’ve used Thunderbolt(2) under win 8 (vender supported ) for 2 years
    and Thunderbolt3 works fine on my windows 10 desktop (vender supported )
    i don’t need Microsoft to figure things out….i just stick with ASUS

    1. Except for hot plug/unplug and rebalancing. Also security (Thunderbolt is a DMA tech, so not dealing with security means it was a no-go for government, business, and some consumers). We had to put that all in the box.

      Otherwise, yes, Thunderbolt has worked on PCs for a while. It’s never been a first-class citizen, though. The official support is something many device manufacturers have been waiting on before creating the PCIe drivers for Windows.


  4. Personally, I can’t wait for a new round of high speed TB3 interfaces. I just hope some of the manufacturers will produce high channel count line level AD/DA for those of us using outboard consoles in the studio or for live sound engineers. There are already too many “preamp + a few line in + adat” style interfaces with plug-ins and DSP. We don’t need more.

    I applaud UA and Apogee for making higher channel count interfaces that can connect via a single Thunderbolt 2 cable (Apollo 2 and Symphony MKII), but Mac users have always had better options first. We need interfaces like that for PC with Thunderbolt 3. I would be thrilled to death if someone made a 24 channel line level I/O.

    1. We need to drop this Mac univers and get things windows based. Because Apple milk too much.

      Try compare specs with 2000 € mac vs 2000 € Windows computer… Mac would lose everytime because you pay a good part for the “brand itself”. instead of good hardware

      1. Professionals tend to buy gear that offers them a better value, and across the board, Apple gear generally tends to be highly rated.

        #1 laptop:

        #1 for customer satisfaction:

        When you argue for getting the cheaper computer, vs one that offers an excellent combination of performance, reliability and customer satisfaction, you’re basically saying that your time is not valuable.

        If time matters to you, you get gear that performs and is reliable.

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