Microsoft: Using ChevronWP7 unlock could render Windows Phone 7 permanently unusable

By Tom Warren, on 26th Nov 10 2:44 pm with 15 Comments

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.

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  • James Gardiner

    Strategically, piracy has been the friend of the successful platform.
    I wouldn’t be surprised if this was intentinal by Microsoft.
    The onl real people who will pirate are techs and end users that are not the demographic for the device but will promote and hype up the device.
    Piracy would only be good for the Windows 7 environment.

  • Guest

    1. An unnamed Microsoft employee has just threatened consumers using their purchased product to it’s fullest extent. That’s highly disturbing for me as a WP7 consumer, an avid WP7 advocator and a developer on the WP7 platform.

    2. I have to ask as to when did unsourced quotes of supposed Microsoft employees on fairly anonymous tech blogs started being considered as a proper way of communicating with consumers?

    3. From a technical perspective, I have looked intensively into the technique used to achieve this “sideloading unlock” for WP7. It is my opinion, that there is no risk no more risk involved than any other use of a WP7 device. It is my opinion, that unlocking cannot be traced, accounts will not be locked and devices will not be bricked.

    • sejohannsen

      Threatened? Seems to me a relatively matter of fact statement of possibilities. Guess none of those things could ever happen. Good to know you have looked into it, and guarantee they won’t.

    • Calum

      “using their purchased product to it’s fullest extent”
      You’re using their product in a way they didn’t intend. As a developer, I support Microsoft in doing whatever they can to ensure their products are only used as they intended.

    • Alejandro

      Dude, this blog is called “Win RUMORS”, if you are searching for “official Microsoft information” I can assure you that you are in the wrongest place to look for it. As would be every other “consumer” wanting to know if Jailbreaking their phone will damage it or not.

      Even though that statement is a no-brainer: Microsoft is actually only responsible for the product functionality as intended.
      Yes, of course you can use it to its fullest extent and more! it can even fly, just throw it up in the air real hard and it will take into account the gravity and all, realtime.
      But then that’s not Microsoft responsibility. Don’t like it? Don’t buy it, buy a toy plane instead.

      I recommend to take a look at this post and his thoughts on this WP7 “thing”.
      From a developer’s perspective…

    • Long Zheng
    • Owen

      3: Yes, it can be traced. Each device has a cert, the unlocking too modifies that slightly. MSFT can permanently block your live ID + phone from the live services, as well as the market, and even your xbox.

    • Paul Paliath

      Unnamed Microsoft employee? New thing? Microsoft — and many tech companies for that matter — have the press deal through PR channels in which case you ask them a question, and an unnamed ‘spokesperson’ will comment on the companies behalf. That’s the press process, nothing’s new there.

  • Frank Becker
  • Jaxx Mahir

    this is NOT piracyits called using our mobile which we spent or hard earned money to the full extent
    and to the guy who made this write up , first just look at how the original 99 dollar activation works and then compare it

    • Owen

      How is it not piracy?

    • Anonymous

      really,you really need this broken down for you to understand? You get to install applications that Microsoft disallows in its appstore. Its essentially what you’ve been doing all this time on your Windows platform.

  • Lorenzo

    I don’t know US law, but I think that if MS chooses to block or disable parts on a WP7, there will be lawsuits because is legal to modify any contents of a phone. Maybe your warranty gets void, but we are entitled to use of phones anyway we want. We own the phone you know.

  • Charlie D Curry

    I think that this tool wouldn’t have been created in the first place, if the people that have paid the $99 (such as myself) could actually put their own applications on the phone. As it is right now, my phone is locked so I can’t put my own programs on it (even though I have paid the $99), the only way that I can get it unlocked is to submit my (as of yet untested) application to microsoft so that they can validate my submission before allowing me to put my own app on my own phone. It seems to me that they have put the cart before the horse on this one.

  • Sandra Chung

    I know I’m chiming in here a bit late, but Microsoft should loosen that choke hold on users customizing their own phones (example: Optimus 7Q has the WORST ringtones/alert tones I have ever heard) , and stop threatening people for sidestepping their draconian methods. It’s my phone. If I want to change things on it I should be able to.