So by now you've had your Microsoft Surface for a few weeks and your wondering, why can't I just install all of the desktop apps like all of the other Windows devices I have, well that's because Microsoft has made the decision to block out any non Microsoft based software on your Surface (other than metro apps). Well a couple of days ago a clever guy by the name of clrokr managed to find a loophole in this which means you'll now be able to run any non Microsoft app as long as it's been recompiled for ARM devices (I'll talk about this a bit more later).
Unfortunately the method of jail breaking your device was rather difficult and only real hacking experts could do it, that was until today when another clever guy named netham45 created a rather simple tool for jail breaking your Surface. This “How To” article will cover the steps you need to complete in order to jailbreak the Microsoft Surface, as well as where you can get some compatible apps.
Note: This is not a permanent jailbreak you will need to run this set of steps on each reboot of the device.
Step by Step Guide
Download the jailbreak tool, you can download that at the bottom of this post or from the original thread post at XDA.
Extract the files to your desktop, you'll need to keep it there as each time you restart your device you'll need to run the tool again.
Run the runExploit.bat file which came in the zip file, and hit the run button on the security warning, you can also disable ‘Always ask before opening this file' if you don't want to be asked about this again.
After waiting a while you'll be asked if the script is allowed to run you need to hit ‘R' on your keyboard (if you don't have one attached then click the keyboard icon near the clock at the bottom of the screen) and then press enter. You'll need to do this multiple times for each of the scripts.
You'll then be notified that you'll need a Windows RT developer license to continue, hit the I Agree button below and then enter your email address and password you have associated with your device (it'll need to be a Microsoft passport account i.e hotmail or live). This might take a little time but just sit back and wait for the process to finish.
Once you have acquired your developer licence just hit Close on the popup
Now you'll be asked if you want to install a digital certificate, hit Y on the keyboard and then hit enter.
You'll now have a new Metro app installed hit enter once again to continue, you'll see an app open up and flash up the location of a memory address, this is the address which will be needed to be edited by the tool you don't need to worry about this just sit back and wait for the next step.
You'll then be asked to press Volume Down, hit the downard toggle on the left hand side of your device. And that's it your device should now be fully jailbroken, below you can see a copy of Putty running on my Surface device.
Once you've done all that you'll now want to grab some compatible apps, such as Putty or Notepad ++, not all apps will be available to run on the device but as long as the app can be successfully recompiled by the developer into ARM architecture then there's a good chance it will work. Check this forum thread or this repository for a list of currently working and available apps for Windows RT.
Note: When you first open a new ARM app you'll most likely get notified by Windows 8 smart filter that this app might not be safe, in order to run the app just hit
Latest Version: RT_Jailbreak-1.03
Update 11/01/2013 14:47
Added in a link to a repository of all the files currently ported to ARM architecture.
Updated 11/01/2013 21:03
Added a new version of RT Jailbreak that fixes problems with those with spaces in their usernames.