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Windows 8 Update: Jailbreaking of Surface RT expands

Also: Start Menu really is missed, a Windows 8 Padfone, Meg's onboard

By , Network World
January 22, 2013 10:33 AM ET

Network World - It's more than a week now since a website posted a tool for jailbreaking Windows RT devices, and now it is also posting a list of applications that will run on the broken devices.

The site, xda-developers, lists a set of desktop apps reported to work on jailbroken Windows RT tablets. The jailbreak tool is here.

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The important thing about these apps is that they are traditional Windows desktop apps, not the Modern apps (a.k.a. Windows Store apps) that are designed specifically to run on Windows 8 and that cater to the operating system's touch-centricity.

One of the specs for Windows RT is that the operating system doesn't support desktop apps at all except for the specially crafted Microsoft Office that comes standard with the tablets. Customers are restricted from porting any applications to the devices except those that are sold through the Windows Store.

Some of the applications that will run on the broken devices need no modification; some do, according to the xda-developers discussion thread. Some of those that run unmodified are Keepass Portable (a password storage wallet); MonoTorrent (BitTorrent client); and ShareX (a screen capture and upload utility).

For its part, Microsoft says it's actively investigating the break tool and will take whatever action it deems appropriate.

Start Menu really is missed

Since Windows 8 was first released to developers the overriding complaint has been that Microsoft got rid of the Start Menu, and now there's good evidence this is a widespread sentiment people are doing something about.

Pokki, which makes software that reinstates the Start Menu, says 1.5 million copies of its Pokki Menu have been downloaded. Microsoft claims that it has sold 60 million copies of Windows 8, but that number is probably inflated because Windows 8 purchases may actually be for Windows 8 licenses supporting a Windows 7 install. That means at the very least there's enough Pokki Menus out there for 2.5% of the Windows 8 installed base.

Pokki Menu isn't the only Start Menu restorer on the market, so there are more customers who have reclaimed the Start Menu using other means.

And consider there are other customers who'd like the Start Menu back but haven't sought out Pokki Menu. Perhaps it's time for Microsoft to make the Start Menu an option in some future Windows 8 upgrade.

Windows 8 Padfone?

Asus already makes a Padfone based on Android and according to an interview with The Wall Street Journal is considering one based on Windows 8.

A Padfone is a smartphone with a 4.7-inch screen that snaps into the back of a larger screen to become a tablet.

It's unclear from the story whether Asus is interested in basing a Windows 8 Padfone on Windows Phone 8 with some tweaking or on Windows RT or on full Windows 8 with phone capabilities added.

Microsoft has moved Windows 8 applications to Windows Runtime so they can readily be ported to Windows Phone 8, so blending devices in addition to blending operating system programming architectures makes sense.

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