Just hours after releasing the first ''unlocking'' tool for Windows Phone 7 devices, Microsoft enthusiasts Rafael Rivera, Long Zheng and Chris Walsh have been forced to defend their work against claims it will encourage app piracy.
Blog MobileTechWorld led the charge against the ChevronWP7 tool, which allows users to side load applications that aren’t allowed in the Marketplace due to the use of private APIs. Prior to the release of ChevronWP7, only developers who paid a $99 annual fee to Microsoft were able to side load apps.
MobileTechWorld writer Makran Daou claimed the tool ''looks like the beginning of a big mess'', and said Microsoft is able to detect and permanently ban any Windows Phone 7 unlocked using ChevronWP7.
''Re-locking it afterwards won’t help you if you Device ID is blacklisted,'' he said.
He added that in conjunction with a previously reported loophole that allows any user to download the source code of a range of apps from the Marketplace, ChevronWP7 had created ''piracy heaven''.
''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,'' he said.
Windows Phone 7 developer Michael Crump put his concerns more succinctly, tweeting that ''It sucks that most people will be using the ChevronWP7 for piracy. They could care less about developing apps.''
Long Zheng first hit back in the comments section of a Neowin article earlier today, stating that claims ChevronWP7 would ''cripple'' a user's Marketplace access were ''not true''. In an email to Neowin shortly after, the ChevronWP7 team argued that there was ''no evidence'' to suggest using their tool would result in a ban from the Marketplace or Xbox Live services.
''Our process does not modify any operating system files on the device and only enables functionality that Microsoft designed itself to sideload applications for the purpose of development,'' a team representative said.
The team has also posted a blog entry outlining their stance on piracy. According to the entry, ChevronWP7 was in no way intended to encourage piracy.
''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,'' the site reads.
Both the team representative and the blog post stressed that all Windows Phone 7 applications are protected against piracy and the ChevronWP7 tool does not impact on those protections.
''Unlocking the phone does not affect the ability to purchase, download or run applications through the Marketplace. Furthermore, unlocking doesn't circumvent the inherent piracy protection in applications published to the Marketplace,'' the representative said.
It has also been noted that ChevronWP7 is not an unlocker in the same vein as the ultrasn0w tool for iOS. ChevronWP7 does not allow a Windows Phone to be used on other mobile networks, and only allows for the side loading of apps.