Windows Phone 7 unlocker scrapped after less than a week

The first and only attempt at unlocking the Windows Phone 7 platform appears to have lasted less than a week, with the developers of the ChevronWP7 tool today announcing it has been discontinued.

Writing on the project's official blog, Microsoft enthusiasts Rafael Rivera, Chris Walsh and Long Zheng said they had been contacted by Windows Phone 7 director of developer experience Brandon Watson regarding the ChevronWP7 tool. The tool, released November 26, allowed any user to side load applications that would not be allowed in the official Marketplace, bypassing the need to pay a USD$99 developer fee to Microsoft.

The trio said Mr Watson was interested in establishing ''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,'' they said.

The abrupt change of direction came just hours after the ChevronWP7 team released their first homebrew app for unlocked phones, a WP7 custom ringtone manager. Commenters on the ChevronWP7 blog quickly pointed out that the ringtone manager relies on the unlocker tool, leaving users who loaded custom ringtones using the homebrew app without a way to remove them, though Long Zheng has promised a solution is on the way. Relocking an unlocked phone also appears to be impossible for the time being.

The ChevronWP7 tool is no longer available for download and those who do manage to find a copy will find it does not work, as an online certificate integral to the unlocking process has been taken down. No timeframe has been given as to when the ''official'' homebrew scene will appear.

Despite only being available for a matter of days, the ChevronWP7 project attracted more than its fair share of controversy, sparking a fierce debate over the possible use of the tool for app piracy. Microsoft also weighed in last week, warning users that unlocking a Windows Phone 7 device could void the phone's warranty or even render the device ''permanently unusable''.

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