Windows 10 Cloud hacked to run Win32 programs

That did not take long! Windows 10 Cloud has not been revealed officially yet, but someone managed to hack the operating system already to run legacy Win32 programs on it.

Windows 10 Cloud leaked earlier this month, and first impressions revealed that it looked like a revival of Microsoft’s — failed — Windows RT operating system.

Windows RT was released alongside Windows 8 as a low cost solution. Microsoft’s marketing back then did a bad job at highlighting to customers that Windows RT would not run Win32 programs-

Windows 10 Cloud looked to be in the same boat initially when the first ISO of it leaked on the Internet. It was revealed then however that users can upgrade the operating system to Windows 10 Pro, and that Windows 10 Cloud may be free.

Note: Microsoft has not confirmed any of this yet.It is possible that things may change along the way.

The leaked version of Windows 10 Cloud supports Windows Store apps and legacy Win32 programs that Microsoft whitelisted. Any Win32 program not on that list, and there are several that ship with Windows 10 Cloud that don’t, won’t run by default but will throw an error message instead:

The app you’re trying to install isn’t designed for Windows Cloud. Windows Cloud helps protect your PC by running on Windows Store apps.

Still want to install the app? See How.

The last sentence of the notification that users see when they try to run programs that are not whitelisted provides them with an option to upgrade the operating system to Windows 10 Pro.

This highlights one of the major difference to Windows RT, which did not ship with such an option. The upgrade option, and the fact that Windows 10 Cloud runs on x86 processors indicated strongly that Microsoft must have implemented a software restriction that prevents legacy Win32 programs from running on the operating system.

Jürgen Born suspects that Device Guard is used in Windows 10 Cloud to allow or block applications and programs based on signatures.

A Twitter user by the name of Longhorn posted a screenshot yesterday that showed Google Chrome and the Desktop App Converter running on a Windows 10 Cloud machine.

He managed to hack the restrictions of Windows 10 Cloud to run Google Chrome and the Desktop App Converter on a Windows 10 Cloud device.

The user did not reveal how it was done.

Information about the protection and how to circumvent it were published on the user’s blog.

At the end, Windows Cloud is nothing more or less than a Professional variant with UMCI enforced.

At the end, Windows Cloud is nothing more or less than a Professional variant with UMCI enforced.

As such, its compatibility with existing Windows software* is only and solely prevented by having UMCI enabled and active.

While command, powershell, regedit and other core Windows features that give users control over the operating system are blocked, Linux Bash is not apparently. This allowed him to enable test signing of programs, and run a handful of other commands to get the legacy Win32 programs to run on Windows 10 Cloud

Provided that the screenshot is not fake, it shows that the built-in protection is not as protective as Microsoft would hope it to be. Microsoft has not announced Windows Cloud officially yet. Considering that it is still in development, it can be that Bash support will be dropped in future builds.

Since the methods used to get Chrome and the Desktop App Converter to run were not revealed, we don’t know how complex of an operation the hack is.