You can't run unsigned code, unless you run it through the debugger, in which case you can.
The security mechanism preventing unauthorised software running on ARM-powered Windows RT tablets - such as Microsoft's Surface slabtops - can be easily defeated. The Redmond giant wanted only cryptographically signed executables, ideally those obtained from the official Windows application store, to run on its hardware. But, …
So if there are restrictions on what you can run then that's bad, but also if the restrictions aren't hard to skip then that is also bad is it?
If you look at Android you'll find its protections are also very weak. Google tried to improve them but the change had a bug so they backed it off.
Or would you like to see the tablet locked down massively so that you would need a mod chip to run "homebrew"?
I'd like to see a Windows RT with both desktop and touch mode which can run ARM executables and emulate x86 executables.
The fact that MS have changed a flag to disable your own ARM executables indicates that this is an artificially nobbled operating system, and yes, the fact that you can run a short assembler program to change it back is just shoddy. I'm also pretty sure that deep in the bowels of Redmond they've got a x86 emulator ready for Windows 9 which runs most old x86 executables should Windows 8 prove to be an abysmal failure.
What's the matter? All of the ARM fanboys like to claim how powerful new models of ARM CPUs are.
If ARM is really all that then it certainly can handle a little emulation.
It may not be good enough for T2F or WoW but it should be fine for those legacy office apps.
Sometimes people need to do some work and excuses aren't going to get the job done.
Power is a relatively term though.
ARM CPUs are very powerful and effective running code compiled to run on them, not so much when emulating.
It kind of works the other way to though, running ARM emulation on an x86/x64 CPU can also be rather sluggish.
We're talking about translating two different instruction sets from one to the other here, which creates a surprising amount of overhead. If you want to see an example, try running Windows XP on a PowerPC G5 Mac under Qemu. Sure a 2.6GHz dual core CPU is more than enough to run Windows XP, but the time it takes for the instruction set translation reduces performance massively.
As I like using analogies for everything, it's like saying a University lecturer is crap at teaching because he only speaks English, all his students only speak French and he needs a translator for everything so the students take twice as long to learn everything as English speaking ones would.
I see I'm going to have to spell it out. I'm not expecting Half Life 2 but something like Rosetta implemented on the Mac up to Snow Leopard, i.e. usable emulation for most legacy apps, those which sit in an event loop and do nothing apart from waiting for input events with possibly something strenuous for a short while when you hit the 'Go' button.
> It's the worst of all worlds: a system which inconveniences the legitimate user of the device by preventing him/her from using it in the way they would like, but not actually giving any protection against malware.
The question is where is this effective from. If jailbroken devices could be made to run android, MS can't subsidise RT machines to gain market share because people will just pick them up as cheap android machines.
Also, if sig's aren't checked, can you run RT on a different bit of ARM hardware?
That's actually a part of the process. This technique involves sideloading desktop applications, not Store apps.
In theory, pretty much any WPF+.NET4.x+ based application should run since RT is equipped with full ports of the framework and first-time compile would - naturally - compile to ARM-ILDASM.
Didn't your Mummy teach to you try something new before saying you don't like it.
All kidding aside. I've tried Win8 on a new laptop I bought for my brother as well as a AIO touch screen at the local shops. Win8 does have a learning curve, but if my brother and his wife (not computer savvy) can adapt to the new GUI, then it's just a matter of not whining and throwing ones hands up so quickly.
It's part of human nature to resist change, regardless of the effort needed to adapt. I fully realize/expect most people to whine about the new GUI. My solution is for them to stop bitching/whining about it and just stick with what they like. It's not the end of the world and there are other options. Even MS gives new computer buyers the option of downgrading from Win8 to Win7 if desired.
My suggestion is "Don't worry, Be Happy"
Best wishes for the new year,
"If my Auntie Em can figure it out...."
"People want to resist change...."
Yadda yadda yadda.
Look, all these old chestnuts may well be true, and well may be your own experience as well. I'm happy for you...I really am. However, most of those here on this forum are not causal web surfers and malware downloaders. We are, as the byline suggests, IT and/or software professionals, and I for one have many, many more important things to do than trying to figure where some wet-behind-the-ears Microsoft marketdroid thought it would be oh-so-k3wl to hide this feature here or that feature there this week. And that, much more than resisting change, is where the hue and cry about first the Ribbon, then Metro, is coming from. Microsoft has got to realize that, because they
monopolized...er.. won such a large market share, that people actually use this stuff, and aren't much about oooh'ing and ahhh'ing about the shiny, shiny new interface-du-jour.
Well you can make excuses all you like but when you sit down and clear your mind of herd rage a lot of the changes are pretty minor in most cases. Really not worth all the spleen venting.
It's like all my fave tech forums have been taken over by 14 year olds that have had their Steam accounts suspended or similar.
If only all this anger and outrage could be used against something that really warrants it, like child poverty.
I and the other half dozen I have rolled it out to havent struggled either.
Quite easy once you stop moaning and following the herd rage.
In fact I'm getting asked to supply other Windows 8 machines to those that see the ones I have put out there. They don't have a problem either.
I think most of the issue was in the minds of all the tech journalists. I guess just using a iPad to do your work on for the past three years shrinks and weakens the brain?
It doesn't actually look patchable. Everything you need to perform this hack, you also need to develop software for the device. Patching that ability away would be massively self-harming.
Anyway, this only effects the switch's in-memory value. Every time you reboot, the switch is reset to 8 (from my fallible memory, someone will correct me if I'm wrong) which is the Microsoft level of signage as opposed to 0, which is unsigned. So you're limited to rerunning the hack every time you boot the machine.
It's an interesting curiosity but nothing more.
@dogged: "you're limited to rerunning the hack every time you boot the machine."
Hackers have managed to break much harder protection on some console hardware with purely external dongles. In the unlikely event Surface sells enough units to justify building it, expect a tiny USB powered device able to do just that on sale in your favourite console hacking outlet.
And like my hacked Wii, the Surface hack de jour will stay firmly ahead of Microsoft attempts to patch it ;)
"The hack is unlikely to be something most non-techie users could pull off as it requires knowledge of WinDbg."
FAIL. Once the inevitable tool is released, then the average non-techie user follows the instructions and goes "click-click". It's ignoring history (e.g. cracking smart cards, ripping DVDs) to think otherwise.
And how would they run the unsigned tool, without running the process detailed to allow them to run the unsigned tool, thus making it redundant. I believe the fail is yours.
Also, MS already details how to sideload on their web site, so I'm not entirely sure I can see the point.
You do not have to run your own code on a machine in order to modify memory, typically plugging in a device to the machine is enough.
I note that there are still DMA access to kernel memory over firewire issues in existence today on every operating system. If this is ever patched, there's a whole slew of badly written USB and Bluetooth device drivers left to target, reprogramming a USB/Bluetooth/Firewire client via an automated tool is well within the reach of most people on the street.
Having said that if you can modify kernel memory then all bets are off regards any sort of signed executable protection anyway, so the news that modifying a single byte can turn it off isn't much to shout about.
Buy one with Windows 8 on it. Asus already sell a Vivobook (low end ultrabook) for less than a Surface and it comes with 500GB storage, i3 processor, 4GB ram and touch screen too.
Why hobble yourself with RT regardless of it being (temporarily) rootable or not? It's doubtful RT will be around for long if the apathy about it is anything to go by.
What about the size, weight and battery life?
It's pretty obvious that an ARM device can sit on your lap and not burn you, the same can't be said of an x86 tablet or laptop. They stopped calling them laptops for that reason, "notebook" being the replacement name.
If size, weight and battery life are an issue, why bother with Windows RT at all? There are plenty of other tablets, which have their own office suites which import / export MS Office files.
I just believe Windows RT is gimped, consumers know it, and it has little long term prospect without another overhaul. Also, as Intel goes to 32nm and 22nm this year that most of the concerns over power consumption will be largely redundant and you can have a tablet lasting 6-8 hours that runs genuine x86 code if that's what you want. Or buy some kind of ultrabook with a touchscreen. Either way you get a full Windows experience without resorting to some exploit or hoping RandomApp is ported to ARM and can be exploited.
I remember an Intel guy bragging about how the point of the original ATOM processor was to make sure netbooks were sufficiently poor that they didn't have too much impact on volumes of expensive CPUs. However, with the new Atom Z2760 Clovertrail (when they are available in any quantities) you get ARM-type battery life and decent desktop performance- albeit not for games. That really does make Win RT seem a bit pointless as it runs Win 8 Pro nicely.
Laptops are bigger than notebooks, or at least were when reporters adopted the sexier marketing lingo. I remember that idiot who use to write opposite Dvorak at PC Magazine going on and on and on about how superior notebooks were to laptops and would therefore replace both laptops and desktops.
The RT platform doesn't really have much software, even in its primary 'store'. Getting stuff from elsewhere when its a trickle isn't worth much.
To be blunt, its as dead a platform as there is. No software, and pretty incomptible with previous windows systems. It was born dead. Good luck trying to revive it.
Come on, you have to connect with the kernel debugger and insert code to modify a byte to remove the certificate check? That's really not a practical jailbreak. In order to attach a kernel debugger, you have to boot into a kernel-debugging mode anyway. Microsoft's support threads say that you have to contact your 'ecosystem program manager' to do it on RT - Windows RT is not available to OEMs generally - as you can't modify the boot configuration data to enable kernel debugging. I'd be interested to know how he managed to enable kernel debugging in the first place!
At least you can get commercial software through the Windows/Apple app stores. This is a problem with Linux - there are many pieces of commercial software that I may want to run, but I'm not aware of any pay-for software available for RHEL/Fedora through a repo, it's all custom installer scripts.
Given what generally tends to be in "app stores", that's not much of a tragedy.
RHEL is meant to run kilobuck commercial software with similarly expensive support contracts. They aren't your casual sort of end user thing. Contracts and haggling are involved.
Lack of access to Adware versions of things that are better as user compiled Free Software is not such a tragedy.
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>Now there may actually be some Surface RT sales bought by non-Microsoft partners. Enthusiasts may buy them to wipe Windows 8 and slap on a faster, more secure and useful operating system, Linux.
That won't happen until the fire sales come. Microsoft didn't subsidize the hardware near enough on the supposed software sales to come (smart of Microsoft not to get Sonyed on the Surface fail). Until the surface drops by at least half why put up with a unsupported versions of Android on it? As a Touchpad owner myself I can tell you I would have been real pissed if I would have paid any where near full price for it.
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It's much more secure than Android after boot too. It includes the full Windows kernel and layered security model. Its the exact same secure kernel as Windows 8 just recompliled for Arm. Hence why the US Department of defense are moving most of their users to Windows 8 ASAP....
> It includes the full Windows kernel
FAIL. Keep thinking its more secure than virtually any other major operating system kernel or is unbreakable. Also keep daydreaming that Windows 8 will be adopted by enterprise due to its great security. If what you say is true I wonder what head hancho at DoD has lots of Microsoft stock or has family member recently employed in Redmond.
It is certainly more secure than any other commonly used desktop or tablet OS kernel.
And if the OS get compromised by such as issue as above, the tablet simply wont boot until you have restored the compromised system files from recovery mode. No other OS protects you like that...
>And if the OS get compromised by such as issue as above, the tablet simply wont boot
As the above poster mentioned I would rather actually own my hardware and run whatever software and OS I want.
>No other OS protects you like that...
Hmm I think Sony might disagree with their PS3 which is what 6 years old now? The only reason the Surface won't get owned much easier and quicker than the PS3 is because it may well be discontinued before any hardcore hackers get a hold of it.
The capability to replace the OS with one of your choosing is not evidence of a security flaw. It is evidence that you actually own the hardware you paid for.
On the other hand, the capability of an installed debugger to alter memory to enable execution of arbitrary programs seems to me a severe vulnerability.
>Windows RT has been deliberately locked down - the idea being to maintain performance and security, and blah blah
No that is the excuses Microsoft PR and marketing give. The real reason is to get that fat cut from the devs like Apple does (who also use the same lie) if in the miraculous event WinRT doesn't fall flat on its face which it obviously already has (Ballmer can only channel stuff and hide things for so long). The only difference between both WinRT and the Surface and the Kin is Microsoft is willing to sink a more money into this lost cause to save face.
>the toxins dont eventually effect me in my part of the world.
Have no fear its coming and it may well have been your part of the world that kicked off the whole business model (Industrial Revolution). As bad as China's air quality is I bet England's 120 years ago or so wasn't much better.
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