Hacker Finds Major Loophole in Windows 8, RT

Dennis Faas's picture

A hacker has figured out how to run Windows 8 software on the Windows RT operating system, installed on Microsoft's Surface and other tablet computers. According to the hacker, any differences between Windows RT and Windows 8 are entirely artificial and for marketing purposes only.

Windows RT is described as similar to Windows 8 but is supposedly designed exclusively for portable devices built around ARM processors. These chips can greatly extend battery life, but are said to lack the computing power needed for a robust operating system like Windows 8.

Users of Windows RT notice one major difference from Windows 8: Windows RT allows them to install only applications obtained through Microsoft's new Windows Store. Users can't download software from a third party or buy software on a disc for conventional installation.

Some Windows RT users have found this limitation very frustrating. Even more upsetting for some Windows RT users: when compared to the Google Play store or Apple's App Store, the Windows Store has very few applications on offer.

Hacker: Windows 8 and Windows RT Identical

Now a Windows RT hacker known as "Clrokr" has figured out a way to get ordinary desktop applications working on a supposedly "limited" Windows RT-based computer.

Clrokr says the restriction on applications isn't a technical limitation at all. Rather, it's an artificial setting intentionally put in place by Microsoft. (Source: wordpress.com)

The hacker was able to use a loophole in the Windows RT code to change this setting. As further proof, he was also able to alter a Windows 8 machine to emulate Windows RT, complete with its block against installing third-party and disk-based applications.

Clrokr has published the details of his hack, but warns that it is too complicated for most users to carry out on their own.

According to Clrokr, Windows RT and Windows 8 "are the same thing and Microsoft enforces [the installation rules] to artificially separate these platforms ... The decision to ban traditional desktop applications was not a technical one, but a bad marketing decision."

Microsoft Applauds Hack, But May Close Loophole

Surprisingly, Microsoft has praised the hacker by saying: "We applaud the ingenuity of the folks who worked this out and the hard work they did to document it."

So far, the software giant hasn't addressed the accusation of an artificial separation between Windows 8 and Windows RT, or its presumed intention in created a limited Windows RT for marketing purposes.

However, Microsoft has indicated that it may close the loophole that allows Clrokr's hack to be successful. (Source: forbes.com)

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