Microsoft plans on closing a loophole that allowed Windows Phone 7 owners to unlock their devices, says a developer team that created such an unlocking application.
“Although this has been subtly communicated before, we’d like to reiterate Microsoft has informed us the “coding error” used in the ChevronWP7 unlocker will no longer work after the next Windows Phone 7 update (officially announced at CES 2011),” the ChevronWP7 team wrote in a Jan. 12 posting on their official blog.
The team is apparently traveling to Redmond before the end of January to talk with Microsoft’s smartphone people about “the homebrew potentials of Windows Phone 7 and some of the wider community feedback around the platform.”
The application’s creators claim ChevronWP7 is a beneficial (read: non-piracy-enabling) tool, allowing for the creation and enabling of Windows Phone 7 “homebrew” applications that would otherwise never appear on Microsoft’s applications Marketplace. Such applications include those that need to access private or native APIs.
“We’ve taken the pain out of the process involved and put together a super-simple executable that will allow anyone to unlock any WP7 device on the market using a USB cable and just a couple clicks,” they wrote in a Nov. 25 posting on the blog.
Inevitably, Microsoft became very interested in the application’s development, although it seemed to take a more positive approach than the usual “cease and desist” orders. “Earlier today, we were contacted by Brandon Watson, director of developer experience for Windows Phone 7, to discuss the ChevronWP7 unlocking tool,” the developers wrote in a Dec. 1 posting. “Through this discussion, we established a mutual understanding of our intent to enable homebrew opportunities and to open the Windows Phone 7 platform for broader access to developers and users.”
Microsoft is planning a series of Windows Phone 7 updates in order to introduce new features to the platform and tweak it for better performance. In addition to cut-and-paste functionality, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer said during his Jan. 5 keynote at the Consumer Electronics Show that the updates would result in “significant performance improvements when loading and switching between applications.”
Currently available on GSM-based networks such as AT&T, Windows Phone 7 will appear on CDMA (Code Division Multiple Access) networks such as Sprint and Verizon sometime in the first half of 2011. Microsoft claims manufacturers have sold some 1.5 million Windows Phone 7 units to retailers, although it remains reluctant to share how many of those devices have found their way into consumers’ hands.