Last week the first jailbreak tool for Windows Phone 7 handsets made an appearance. ChevronWP7, the brainchild of Rafael Rivera, Long Zheng and Chris Walsh, allowed users to sideload applications onto their WP7 handsets. In other words, users could bypass the whole Windows Marketplace mechanism and install, well, pretty much anything onto their WP7 handsets.
Or they could, because ChevronWP7 has been pulled by its creators at Microsoft's request.
Earlier today, we were contacted by Brandon Watson, Director of Developer Experience for Windows Phone 7, to discuss the ChevronWP7 unlocking tool.
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.
To pursue these goals with Microsoft’s support, Brandon Watson has agreed to engage in futher discussions with us about officially facilitating homebrew development on WP7. To fast-track discussions, we are discontinuing the unlocking tool effective immediately.
Microsoft had previously issued a statement pointing out how the use of ChevronWP7 could result in all sorts of nasty things happening - void the warranty, disable phone functionality, interrupt access to Windows Phone 7 services, render the phone permanently unusable and fiddle with the clock on your VCR (the last one is a joke). But the real reason that Microsoft didn't want people using a jailbreak tool on WP7 handsets was that it would open the way to application piracy. Widespread piracy of apps at this early stage could put developers off from writing for the platform, which in turn has a knock-on effect on adoption of the platform.
But removing ChevronWP7 is a case of closing the stable door after all the horses have bolted and are tiny specs on the horizon. People who want this tool will no doubt already have it, and it's bound to be under intense scrutiny from others who are interested in knowing how it works. In other words, it's too late to do anything about it. Microsoft doesn't seem to have put much effort into building effective safeguards into WP7 to protect developers from being ripped off, and now it seems that those developers who took a leap of faith will be the ones to pay the price.