Microsoft Isn't Apple: Redmond OKs Windows Phone 7 Jailbreak Tool

Unapproved code can now be loaded onto Windows Phone 7-Based Devices, With Microsoft' Blessing

The following is a guest blog by freelance editor and self-confessed keyboard geek Marco Chiappetta. A few days ago a new tool hit the scene that’s able to unlock Windows Phone 7 devices — the ChevronWP7 labs unlock client. It costs a mere $9. The developers had released a similar tool when Windows Phone was first released, but Microsoft fought to have it taken down claiming it could be used for piracy. In an unexpected turn of events, Microsoft has now given the ChevronWP7 labs development team the go ahead to release the new tool for unlocking Windows Phone-based devices.

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The ChevronWP7 labs unlock client does not jailbreak phones for use on other carries or unlock bootloaders, but rather allows unsigned code to be run on the device. This allows budding developers or even just curious users (like me) to test out and sideload applications and utilities that are not available on the Windows Phone Marketplace on an actual device, without having to use an emulator. Presumably this is a move that’s intended to spur Windows Phone application development, which isn’t surprising considering the vibrant community of smaller developers that have embraced Google’s Android platform.

Windows Phone 7-Based Devices Can Now Be Unlocked With Microsoft' Blessing

I approve of this change of heart by Microsoft. In the months leading up to the official release of Windows Phone 7, I happened to be entrenched in the custom Windows Mobile ROM scene. At the time, I was still under contract with my wireless provider and wasn’t due for a phone upgrade for about a year. Unfortunately, I had grown weary of my device (an HTC Touch Pro 2 a.k.a. Rhodium) and needed to do something to breathe new life into it, to hold me over until I could upgrade at least. Although I wasn’t too keen on any of the other devices available at the time, even basic Android-based phones could run circles around the Rhodium. Thankfully, I found (and tried) literally dozens of custom ROMs, based on the latest builds of Windows Mobile, and was able to not only speed up my phone, but make it more stable and user friendly, while also adding a myriad of new features.

The development community building these custom Windows Mobile ROMs, apps, and tools was very lively and I found myself experimenting and reading up on a number of related topics. What I found very interesting at the time was a near consensus amongst the devs that the release of Windows Phone 7 would bring an end to much of the fun. Microsoft had been surprisingly lax in its attempts to lock down Windows Mobile, but with Windows Phone, the company planned to be far stricter and somewhat Apple-like in their attempts to better control the entirety of the platform. When the first devices running Windows Phone arrived, there were means of unlocking the OS and doing some homebrew development that worked fairly well, but as updates to Windows Phone have rolled out (along with newer devices), the OS has essentially been locked down to homebrew developers.

Whether or not the move to approve the unlock tool is successful remains to be seen, but with Windows Phone’s lackluster market share, we could see why Microsoft is taking a shot. If Microsoft is able to bring in more developers, generate some more buzz around its mobile OS, and produce some exciting synergy with the upcoming Window 8, the next year or so could be a good one for the Windows Phone platform. Time will tell.

MORE LOVE FOR JAILBREAKERS: Microsoft Welcoming Geohot to Hack Windows Phone 7?

 

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