A tool of questionable ethical value has surfaced, allowing Windows 8 users to transform trial apps into their full-fledged, paid-for counterparts. Wsservice_crk has actually been available for at least a month -- most notably at the MyDigitalLife forums -- but only recently has the cracking tool garnered much attention from online news outlets.

Although developers aren't required to offer trial versions of their apps, Microsoft certainly encourages it and indeed, many developers do. Incidentally, the app cracker not only "upgrades" trial apps to their full glory, but allows users to sideload unsigned (i.e. unofficial) apps. This feature is likely to be useful for distributing homebrew apps, especially ones that would be turned away from the Windows Store due to Microsoft's developer guidelines. Like Apple, there are certain restrictions placed on what Windows apps are allowed to do and the content they contain.

Although wsservice_crk seems to have a number of satisfied customers,  the app does not come without risk. First, there's the obvious issue of having to access the Windows Store -- if you're going to download a trial app yourself, you need a Microsoft or store account. For many users, this opens up the possibility of being personally identified be it through means of email address, IP address or even billing information. 

Additionally, for the crack to work, several Windows system files need to be modified. Of course, this presents its own risks: third-party modified system files pose questions of trust, security and system stability. 

Like Windows Store, Apple's own Mac App Store suffered a similar fate shortly after its debut. The hack only worked on apps which did not implement Apple's recommended security features though -- perhaps the same is true for Windows 8 developers? A Microsoft spokesman told Beta News that the software maker is looking into the matter.