ChevronWP7: Microsoft, unlocking, and piracy, oh my!

By on November 29, 2010, 12:53 PM
The release of ChevronWP7, which allows you to unlock any retail Windows Phone 7 device for application side-loading without having to pay $99 per year for a WP7 marketplace account, has resulted in a war of words. Microsoft made an official statement about the tool and its three developers, Long Zheng, Rafael Rivera, and Chris Walsh have also made public comments.

"We anticipated that people would attempt to unlock the phones and explore the underlying operating system," a Microsoft spokesperson said in a statement to WinRumors. "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."

The ChevronWP7 developers disagree with Microsoft's statement. "Thanks in part to Tom Warren's sensational story headline, and a boilerplate non-headquarters Microsoft UK response, tech bloggers are reporting that ChevronWP7 can brick your phone," Rivera posted on his blog. "This is patently false as we use the same exact procedure the official Phone Registration tool uses. I recommend you wait for an official response from the real Microsoft Windows Phone 7 guys in Redmond. You know, the ones who actually worked on Windows Phone 7 and know what they're talking about."

Meanwhile, sites like MobileTechWorld claim that the tool will be used by pirates to illegally download Windows Phone 7 apps: "Secondly, couple this new unlocker with the security issue of the current Marketplace (anyone can freely download an app directly from the marketplace by bypassing the Zune software and decompile the code if it was obfuscated by the developer..) and we are now in piracy heaven… Anyway, it's up to you to decide if you want to unlock your device this way at the risk of being blocked by MS (if they decide to take this route) but I won’t be surprised to see a WP7 update in the near future 'fix' this potential security hole."

As a result, the ChevronWP7 team decided to post its stance on piracy and the surrounding issues:

  • We do not condone piracy. We are all app developers ourselves and value the financial incentives of app development.
  • We will not help or support efforts to pirate WP7 applications. Our intention is to enable and create WP7 homebrew applications that cannot be submitted to the Marketplace in the first place.
  • ChevronWP7 is not an enabler for piracy. Our tool only enables functionality inside every Windows Phone 7 device designed and implemented by Microsoft. We do not make any modifications to the operating system.
  • Unlocking and piracy are mutually exclusive All Marketplace application XAP packages are sufficiently protected so that you cannot sideload to run them on any unlocked device (official or with our tool). We have no intentions or knowledge to break that protection. (You can still run legitimately purchased and downloaded applications after unlocking)

The main points to takeaway from all of this is that the trio of developers claims the tool is completely safe, that the unlocking it performs can be reversed on all devices, and that piracy is a big no-no. In the meantime, while different parts of Microsoft may issue statements on the surrounding issues, we have to wait and see how the software giant will actually react to the tool's release. Actions speak louder than words.


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