Aside from all this CES 2013 news, there is some interesting news from the world of Microsoft and their latest Windows RT platform which runs their Surface RT tablet. A security researcher called clrokr seems to have discovered a way of sideloading homebrew or third party apps on games onto Windows RT.
clrokr (@clrokr) – 6. Jan 2013
It’s taken longer than expected but it has finally happened: unsigned desktop applications run on Windows RT. Ironically, a vulnerability in the Windows kernel that has existed for some time and got ported to ARM just like the rest of Windows made this possible. MSFT’s artificial incompatibility does not work because Windows RT is not in any way reduced in functionality. It’s a clean port, and a good one. But deep in the kernel, in a hashed and signed data section protected by UEFI’s Secure Boot, lies a byte that represents the minimum signing level.
What does this mean to you and I? Well, it’s very similar to what has been on iOS for years; the ability to add 3rd party apps, tweaks, and games onto what was intended as a closed system. It seems Windows RT has adopted the term Jailbreak also just to make things confusing, but essentially they do the same thing.
Windows RT does not support legacy Windows Apps, and instead requires specially coded Apps made available through the marketplace to run, which is what was said to be the major weakness of Windows RT. While this jailbreak does not exactly fix this issue, it does pave the way for work to take place for it to, and no doubt we’ll see some serious work or at least discussion in this area over the next coming weeks.
This is great news for the Windows RT community given the additional cost of Windows 8 Pro almost being double. If some good homebrew can be designed for Windows RT and is executed in a way that works (think Cydia for iOS), then this is sure an interesting community to be in.