ChevronWP7 Sold Out - More WP7 Jailbreaks On the Way
Written by Harry Fairhead
Monday, 02 January 2012
The story of ChevronWP7 and the legal jailbreak of WP7 is a mystery to anyone who considers it for a few moments. Why would a company like Microsoft go to the trouble of locking down their phone and then help a separate group of programmers to provide an officially sanctioned jailbreak?
Notice that the very term "officially sanctioned jailbreak" indicates the simple madness of the situation. The team of hackers was offered a deal that they would be given help to implement a system, but only as long as they agreed to a set of terms. Until now the terms seemed entirely to be balanced in the favour of the jailbreak:
You can unlock a phone, but you have to pay $9 and you are still subject to the same restrictions on the number of apps that can be "side loaded". You also had to register with Microsoft so they had a way of keeping track of you.
After some initial teething troubles the system got going and users were unable to unlock their phones - but no longer. It turns out that there was a hidden sting in the tail of the agreement. The unlocker worked by selling unlock tokens, i.e this is what you paid your $9 for, and each token could then be used to unlock a single phone. The catch is that, while Microsoft encouraged ChevronWP7 to setup the service, it also limited the number of tokens availalble to 10,000. That limit was reached with the arrival of the new year and was announced on ChevronWP7's Twitter account:
"ChevronWP7 Labs enters the New Year with 10,000 token sales under our belt."
Microsoft originally stated that the whole project was about allowing access for "homebrew" apps and programmers and
"to open the WP7 platform for broader access"
Well it doesn't look so open now and Microsoft's sentiments seem entirely bogus - for want of a better word.
At the moment the "Sold Out" sign is hung up on the web site. Yet the situation isn't 100% clear. It seems that the ChevronWP7 hasn't actually asked Microsoft for more tokens and they seem to be only at the stage of considering doing so. This doesn't make any sense at all - do they want to allow people to jailbreak their phone or not? Why stop at 10,000?
For the moment if you want to jailbreak WP7 you have no option but to go illegal. There are a number of "proper" jailbreak attempts going on at the moment, but none are a perfect solution in that they are more difficult to use and only work with specific phones. Perhaps the best prospect is the recent advance at the WindowBreak Project:
What is it: It's a project to bring jailbreaking to Windows Phone devices. That is, a dev unlock or interop unlock without needing Chevron Labs, AppHub, or a custom ROM.
It doesn't, however, claim to be a complete unlock and it only works with Samsung phones at the moment. The point is also made that the WindowBreak project isn't really about saving money, i.e. the $99 registration fee, but a point of principle that a phone that you buy shouldn't be locked to stop you from using it in ways that are perfectly reasonable.
If you would like to see the WindowBreak technique in action then see the following video:
The final thought is that Windows Phone 7 might get a lot more support if it was open to developers in the way that Microsoft first suggested when they "sponsored" ChevronWP7.
Techie users really like the freedom that Android promises to allow them to run just about any app they care to. Apple users seem to be willing to give up their freedom to have the iconic phone, but why would any "homebrew" programmer bother to even consider WP7 when it isn't number one and it isn't free to use.
It also raises the question of what the whole ChevronWP7 fiasco was about?
Will Microsoft make the same offer to the next group which manages to jailbreak its phone?