Windows RT Hacked to Run Windows Desktop Apps

Windows RT, the cut down version of Windows 8 used for tablets and lower spec PCs, only allows users to run the new Windows Apps, and Desktop Apps compiled for ARM processors. However, security researcher clrokr has today released details of a claimed hack for Windows RT, enabling it to run any Windows Desktop programs.

The hack works by changing a byte in the kernel (hashed, signed and protected by Secure Boot) which represents the value called minimum signing level. This number dictates which type of apps (or which level of signing) Windows is allowed to run.  The four signing levels which Windows uses are as follows:

  • Unsigned(0)
  • Authenticode(4)
  • Microsoft(8)
  • Windows(12)

A normal Windows (x86) machine may run Unsigned applications, allowing it to run anything downloaded off the internet. Windows RT by default only allows 8 and up, which are Microsoft and Windows apps (Desktop apps made for ARM and all Microsoft-approved Windows 8 apps).

It’s certainly not the easiest of hacks and takes some real digging into the system and expertise knowledge. It’s most likely too impractical to catch on as a commonplace hack, but as experts delve into this more there may be an easier solution released. It also goes to show how similar Windows RT is to Windows 8 Pro, by simply tweaking minor options, rather than a completely rewritten and cut down OS.

Please do check out clrokr‘s blog post for more information on this hack and how it works, as he explains everything and takes you through step by step should you wish to do this.

Image: Microsoft

Henry Cole

I'm an all round tech guy from Colchester, UK. I co-owned Geekily and regularly wrote here under "Geekily UK", but have since left the site to pursue other projects.

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1 Response

  1. illage2 says:

    Wow the RT is even worse than Windows 7 starter and we all know how horrific that was, it wouldn’t even allow you to change the desktop background, but now MS have stopped people from running any and all apps. Bloody stupid if you ask me.

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