Microsoft has responded to the recent news of an unlock tool for Windows Phone 7.
A Windows Phone 7 “unlock” tool was released on Thursday that allows owners to side load home-brew applications. The tool, named ChevronWP7, uses a method to trick the OS into registering itself as a Windows Phone 7 developer device with the application rather than Microsoft directly. Microsoft normally charges $99 a year for the privilege of loading developer applications. Some reports also suggest that the tool will be used by pirates wishing to bypass the Windows Phone Marketplace completely.
It was revealed, earlier this month, that end users could download the source XAP files (the type that all Windows Phone 7 applications are packaged in) from an ATOM XML feed. The ATOM XML feed powers Microsoft’s Zune software and allows would-be thief’s to retrieve applications just by reading the XML. MobileTechWorld suggests that using this method combined with the ChevronWP7 tool will result in a “piracy heaven”. Individual XAP packages are still protected from privacy using a separate solution and hackers have not yet cracked this. Microsoft also restricts the number of side-loaded applications by default to 10 apps but ChevronWP7 developer Rafael Rivera says a future version will disable the limit. Microsoft has responded to the release of the unlock tool by warning users that they may end up with a crippled device. A Microsoft spokesperson issued the following statement to WinRumors:
“We anticipated that people would attempt to unlock the phones and explore the underlying operating system. We encourage people to use their Windows Phone as supplied by the manufacturer to ensure the best possible user experience. Attempting to unlock a device could void the warranty, disable phone functionality, interrupt access to Windows Phone 7 services or render the phone permanently unusable.”
WinRumors has reached out to Microsoft to clarify whether it plans to block access to Windows Live services or device functionality based on unlocked devices. Microsoft has not yet responded.