Windows RT Jailbreak tool

It's been quite a while since the Microsoft Surface RT has been released. The commercial success of this tablet has been limited ...

... and this has many reasons. In my opinion the three most significant reasons for the failure of this product are:

  • Confusion about the operating system and the target group. (bad marketing)
  • The release date was shifted prior to the Surface Pro, which made people wait for the Surface Pro. (bad deployment)
  • The operating system can only be loaded with software from Microsoft's store. (bad software)

I do not want to go into details about the first two points, but I want to discuss the third point in this essay. Here we can basically see what's wrong with Microsoft's attitude lately, and where changes should be made in future releases.

Many people (most of them close to Microsoft) argue that the store concept is not new. Anyone who buys an iPad can only obtain software from Apple's store. This is certainly correct, but my opinion is that when company just follow some already crossed paths blindly, they will most probably end up behind.

Additionally it would have been some unique selling proposition. Having a tablet, which can be loaded with external software would be great especially for companies. Just take some existing source code (for Windows) and compile it! It would have worked in most cases without any modifications.

Here one might argue that this will potentially bring malware, lower battery lifetime or other unwanted side-effects. But: This is an optional move and nothing that standard users will care about. What would a company do? Either buy that tablet and have no purpose for it, or buy it, install some custom software and get a little bit lower battery lifetime? I think the answer here is pretty obvious.

So Microsoft failed to use the chance for creating an ARM device that can be supplied with software. In my opinion it would have been very easy to supply everything that is required to do that.

Months ago people reported success in jailbreaking Windows RT. The problem is not, that one does not have an ARMv7 compiler - the problem is that the default setting on Windows RT is to allow only Microsoft signed executables. This eliminates any other software besides the ones from the store or directly from Microsoft (like Office, ...).

The jailbreak has to be applied every time the computer has rebooted, since Windows resets the state of the kernel variable, that determines the minimum level of trust for applications. Nevertheless it works quite nice and provides everything that anyone can use any program that has been compiled for Windows with ARMv7. Right now success is confirmed with Putty, a Gameboy emulator, Notepad++ and VNC.

I would love if Microsoft would consider giving Windows RT another chance, rebranded as Windows 8 for ARM, without having to jailbreak the device in order to make it really useful.

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