Windows RT Hacked to Run Desktop Applications

Microsoft’s lightweight version of Windows 8 for tablets and ultra-low-end PCs, Windows RT, has apparently been hacked to allow desktop applications to run, albeit only those compiled for the ARM platform. An article from CIO reports that a hacker known as “clrokr” has developed a method for circumventing Windows RT’s code signing restrictions. This would allow programs other than those from the Windows Store to be run, even those that use the Windows desktop rather than the new Metro UI.

A blog post by clrokr explains the technical details of the hack. The effect is that Windows RT’s “minimum signing level” is adjusted to allow programs to be run that are not digitally signed by Microsoft (or by anyone). This effect is only temporary; UEFI Secure Boot forces the change to be reverted on every reboot, so the hack would have to be reapplied each time the device is powered on. The main limitation, however, is that only software compiled for the ARM processor architecture will run.