Security researcher clrokr has exploit Windows RT, and now its possible to run any unsigned ARM based apps in the Windows RT based tablet including Surface RT.

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We all know Windows RT is a port from original Windows 8. Windows Rt is for ARM based processor. To save battery-life and may be for technical reason Microsoft locked Windows RT system, so you cant run any apps other then those available in Windows Marketplace specifically for Windows RT. This is considered as big drawback of Windows RT.


Windows RT Jailbroken

Now Security researcher clrokr did not liked the limitation. As Windows RT is very similar to the Windows 8, so it was easy for him to find the right spot to exploit the system. He finds out how Microsoft signing code in ARM kernel. Actually Windows RT is a clean port of Windows 8. So most of the code base is same, so Microsoft had to artificially put a code signing mechanism for each code run in the core. Which made the system restricted.

But it seems it was not that tough to break into the core system, and researcher clrokr did it. He used a remote debugger to store his small payload, and after some resetting and process Windows RT is unlocked. Now its possible for him to run any apps, but have to be compiled for ARM.

Interesting Facts:

1. This process works in Windows 8 too. So now its possible to enforce the Code Integrity mechanism in Windows 8, may be just to get the feeling of Windows RT. Also this process could lead a way to run any unsigned, means any apps even if they dont exists in Windows Marketplace. This also proves now similar the Windows RT and Windows 8 is.

2. Windows RT specially use UEFI’s Secure Boot, which make it tougher to crack, while Windows 8 does not, so should be easy to hack.

Limitation About This Jailbreak:

1. Microsoft intentionally locks the system, as they claim its for saving battery, so exploiting the system could lead to a shorter battery life.

2. No normal x86 based desktop application will run even after the hack, as all apps needs to be compiled again for ARM processor based system. Its true now there are some process shared by some security researcher and programmer how to compile an x86 application for ARM. But still its not so viable.

3. This process needs to run each time you boot into the system.

4. This is not just and apps or a simple steps to follow for a normal user. So if you just have a Windows RT tablet, it does not mean you could do it. You need to have some programming skill to follow the exploit.

My Thoughts:

When I first seen a 32GB Surface Tablet, I find out it only have about 15GB usable space. Its very annoying and unlikely to any other OS for Mobile or Tablet. Its very likely for a Complete Desktop OS. Windows 7 itself needs about 14-18Gb space to store and run the OS. This thing gave a clear message Microsoft did not built a OS from sketch for Tablet, nor they made anything in middle from Core Windows and Windows Mobile, they just did a port, and its a complete port, its even not a light port, thats what made the system very heavy and unlike any other like iPad or any Android. Here I think Microsoft got the point wrong, as ARM is very limited in capability, nothing close to normal processor, Microsoft should have tried to make it as light possible, may be closer to Windows Mobile would have been better. Even the app ecosystem would have worked better.

Anybody using or tried any Windows RT tablet specially Surface RT, should agree how sluggish it fells, even for just opening My Computer from Desktop.

So with this hack or more to come, it will not make your Windows RT experience better, unless we could use some lighter Operating System into the ARM system. Or maybe Microsoft will learn. Another thing to consider, with the time processor power will increase and overall price will drop, so mat be in next 2-3 year it will not that sluggish anymore.

Source: On the Surface of Security

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  On January 7, 2013(1 year, 10 months ago.)

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