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Microsoft: Unlocking Windows Phone 7 could brick your phone [Update]

Microsoft has wasted little time in weighing in on the newly-released ChevronWP7 unlock tool for Windows Phone 7, warning that unlocking could result in a range of undesirable consequences.

In a statement to WinRumors earlier today, a Microsoft spokesperson said unlocking could ''void the warranty, disable phone functionality, interrupt access to Windows Phone 7 services or render the phone permanently unusable.''

''We anticipated that people would attempt to unlock the phones and explore the underlying operating system. We encourage people to use their Windows Phone as supplied by the manufacturer to ensure the best possible user experience,'' the spokesperson said.

The ChevronWP7 tool, released Thursday by Microsoft enthusiasts Rafael Rivera, Long Zheng and Chris Walsh, allows any user to side load applications that would not be allowed in the official Marketplace, bypassing the need to pay a $99 annual developer fee to Microsoft.

The tool has already sparked fierce debate in the online community, with some claiming ChevronWP7 will result in a jump in app pirating on Microsoft's still-fledgling mobile operating system. On Friday, Xbox Live indie, Windows Phone 7 and Silverlight developer Michael B. McLaughlin unleashed a stinging criticism of the tool and its creators via his company blog.

In the lengthy post, Mr McLaughlin accused the ChevronWP7 team of hastening the arrival of pirated apps on the WP7 platform and dismissed the team's claims, first published by Neowin yesterday, that their tool was not intended to encourage piracy.

''I really don’t care at all what someone’s motives are in developing burglar’s tools. “Jailbreaking” is just a euphemism for “helping criminals steal from developers who depend on the software they write to help pay their rent, feed their kids, buy clothes, and meet the other ordinary expenses one incurs in life”. But calling it “jailbreaking” makes you sound like less of a monster who is making people’s lives worse and more of a freedom fighter (who is aiding criminal organizations, but let’s leave that part off, right?)''

He went on to label one of the ChevronWP7 developers - which is not specified - a ''sociopath without any concern for your fellow human beings'', and expressed a hope that all those responsible are banned from Microsoft's AppHub.

Long Zheng replied hours later on his istartedsomething blog and asserted his position on the tool he helped create.

''Personally I think my motives are pretty important in the context of this issue and that is to help develop a community of Windows Phone 7 homebrew developers and users,'' he said.

He repeated a statement made to Neowin yesterday that ChevronWP7 would not impact on protections already in place for Windows Phone apps on the Marketplace.

''Just to play devil’s advocate, even if the protection is compromised, we would support Microsoft hardening its anti-piracy mechanisms for published applications since it should not have any impact on any homebrew efforts outside of the Marketplace,'' he said.

Mr Zheng argued that the tool was doing nothing more than exposing a supported function of all Windows Phone 7 devices.

''The sole purpose of the tool is also quite simple – to enable anyone to sideload an unpublished application to their Windows Phone 7 device. I must emphasize the ability to sideload and run unpublished applications is a supported functionality of all Windows Phone 7 devices. Although not enabled by default, it’s a behavior embedded into the design of the operating system itself. That’s all ChevronWP7 does''

Neowin has requested further comment from the ChevronWP7 team on the Microsoft statement.

Update: Rafael Rivera has posted on his Within Windows blog that the Microsoft statement came from the company's UK branch and does not represent an official Microsoft view.

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. 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 [empahsis Mr Rivera's] Microsoft guys in Redmond. You know, the ones who actually worked on Windows Phone 7 and know what they’re talking about.

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