Devoted Windows smartphone hackers had just one week of blissful operating-system freedom.
That was the length of time that ChevronWP7, the first jailbreak tool to be released for Microsoft’s new mobile operating system, Windows Phone 7, was live before being shut down after the developers had a conversation, they say, with the software giant.
Released on November 25, ChevronWP7 was a piece of software designed to allow developers to load apps onto a Windows Phone 7 device without going through the official Windows Marketplace, Microsoft’s version of Apple’s App Store for iPhones. This meant developers could come up with homebrew solutions for it. (ChevronWP7 developers say they weren’t trying to encourage piracy, a common criticism of jailbreaking tools.) Today, on December 1, ChevronWP7 was discontinued, effective immediately.
According to a blog post by developers Rafael Rivera, Chris Walsh, and Long Zheng, Brandon Watson, who is the director of developer experience for Windows Phone 7, contacted them. Apparently Watson and the gang of three talked about the unlocking tool and came to a “mutual understanding” of the developers’ desire to create homebrew opportunities for the developer community and users at large. They also came to an understanding about the need to shut down the unlocking tool at once.
However, Watson seems to have left the door open for an official version of the sideloading app to be developed further. The ChevronWP7 blog post says: “To pursue these goals [creation of homebrew apps] with Microsoft’s support, Brandon Watson has agreed to engage in further discussions with us about officially facilitating homebrew development on WP7.”
So, this is not the cease-and-desist language that one would expect from a giant corporation—even though we don’t know what was the tone of the discussion that led to the mutual understanding. And Microsoft did condemn the Kinect gaming control hack in early November, saying it does not condone the modification of its products. However, this time it seems like Microsoft is willing to let people tinker with their mobile OS, which is a smart move that may actually encourage more developers to jump on the WP7 bandwagon.
[Photo credit: Andrew Morrell Photography]