Windows 10 Thunderbolt

Microsoft Will Officially Support Thunderbolt In Windows 10

Microsoft Windows Evangelist Pete Brown has just posted online the statement many Pro Audio Windows users have been waiting to hear - Thunderbolt Support!

Here at Pro Tools PC we have provided Thunderbolt connectivity to our machines since day one, even though implementation of its use by 3rd party device manufacturers has been a very rocky road (and not though stability issues either) and it almost seemed like the whole idea was about to die out at a few points along the way mainly because Microsoft seemed totally silent to the idea of native support for thunderbolt within the operating system, this in turn had a knock on effect where manufacturers producing Thunderbolt devices without issue for Apple Mac computers would not support Windows, citing they would have to write an entire new driver set for the devices to work for Windows which they were not prepared to do until Microsoft supported the protocol within the OS natively. The announcement of the C-Type connector for USB3.1 and then the intention for Thunderbolt 3 to be using the very same connector / port made the interest suddenly pick up again as any Windows PC user would know USB has always been a great form of external connectivity for us.
Well Microsoft's Pete Brown has just added another wonderful nugget of information to the situation by announcing Microsoft's full intention to finally officially support Thunderbolt in Windows 10 on the Gearsluts Forum.

Here's: the entire text of the post from the Gearslutz post:

Thunderbolt support in Windows 10

Hi all

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.


Pete Brown - Microsoft
Gearsluts Thunderbolt Windows 10


This is some pretty monumental news for Windows users who especially want to use high bandwidth devices in a mobile situation or who are patiantly waiting for manufacturers such as Universal Audio to bring their Thunderbolt devices to the Windows platform.

You can follow the post thread on Gearslutz here 


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