Want to keep the TNW Conference vibe going?? Tickets for TNW2022 are available now >>

The heart of tech

This article was published on January 10, 2013

Windows RT Jailbreak tool released, opening up the door for a Microsoft Surface homebrew community

Windows RT Jailbreak tool released, opening up the door for a Microsoft Surface homebrew community
Emil Protalinski
Story by

Emil Protalinski

Emil was a reporter for The Next Web between 2012 and 2014. Over the years, he has covered the tech industry for multiple publications, incl Emil was a reporter for The Next Web between 2012 and 2014. Over the years, he has covered the tech industry for multiple publications, including Ars Technica, Neowin, TechSpot, ZDNet, and CNET. Stay in touch via Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.

Earlier this week, reports surfaced that the Windows RT operating system had been jailbroken to allow for the execution of unsigned ARM desktop applications. Microsoft quickly issued a statement saying it does not consider the findings to be part of a security vulnerability, and applauded the hacker for his ingenuity. Now, an enthusiast over at XDA Developers by the name of netham45 has released a Windows RT Jailbreak tool.

Update on December 11: Microsoft is investigating Windows RT Jailbreak tool, says ‘will take appropriate action’

The tool is simply a batch file that automates the jailbreak process discovered by the hacker clrokr, who was able to change a setting in the Windows RT kernel after tracking down the right value to open up the types of apps that the OS can run. As we outlined before, the exploit is limited by the fact that the setting needs to be changed each time the PC boots up (it can’t be permanently altered on devices enabled with Secure Boot), and it only works for unsigned ARM desktop apps.

At the time of the discovery, we noted that the hack opens up possibilities for a homebrew scene full of ARM desktop apps for Windows RT and thus the Microsoft Surface. Previously, only very technically-savvy users would be able to reproduce clrokr’s method; now a tool exists that does most of the work.

This still all hinges on the hope that Microsoft doesn’t issue a patch (and its statement was open-ended enough that this may happen). Earlier this week, Microsoft told TNW: “We’ll not guarantee these approaches will be there in future releases.”

Yet even if Microsoft addresses the issue, netham45 has a plan:

Q) Can Microsoft patch this?
A) Yes and no. They can patch it through Windows Update, but since we have the ability to reinstall from recovery partitions we can revert any Windows Updates they release.

We have contacted Microsoft to figure out if the company has changed its stance and whether it will be taking action or letting this fly by. While it looks like a Microsoft Surface homebrew community is already starting to form, whether or not the company does something about it could affect its growth.

After all, the tool in question will only get better, and the number of homebrew apps will accrete accordingly. In fact, there’s already a list.

Update on December 11: Microsoft is investigating Windows RT Jailbreak tool, says ‘will take appropriate action’

Image credit: Nathan Lofland

Also tagged with