The ChevronWP7 team launched the ChevronWP7 Labs site today. This site provides a tool which allows anybody to unlock their Windows Phone so they can load applications which are not in the Windows Phone Marketplace.
If you are not a Windows Phone registered developer, there is no (easy) way for you to sideloadan application. Sideloading is the act of bypassing the Windows Phone Marketplace to load applications on your device. Now enthusiasts and hobbyists can sideload applications like Screencapture v3 on their device without registering as an AppHub developer with Microsoft.
ChevronWP7 is the brainchild of Rafael Rivera, Chris Walsh and Long Zheng, who had earlier released a hack which enabled the same functionality via undocumented APIs. That hack was later pulled by the team, which they said, was based on Microsoft’s direction.
Despite that move, the team’s relationship with Microsoft remained positive. In fact, Microsoft developer relations team invited the ChevronWP7 team to Redmond to talk about the best way to support the enthusiast community without possibly breaking warranty and making the phone unusable. ChevronWP7 Labs is the result of the cooperation.
All you need is a Windows Live ID (for authentication purposes only), $9 and a Windows Phone device. After paying the fee, and downloading the tool, the phone is unlocked so you can deploy any application you want to on your device. If you get to a point where you have an app you would like to publish, it would have to be done with the AppHub, which requires a $99 USD/year fee. ChevronWP7 Labs even has a step on their site, which enables de-activation of the ChevronWP7 lock so you can developer-unlock the device.
Step 1: Paypal
Step 2: Unlock tool
This is a very good move (originally spearheaded by Brandon Watson, Senior Director of Developer Evangelism) by Microsoft to encourage and support enthusiasts in the Windows Phone community. With this tool, and the fact that it is inexpensive, jailbreakingis not necessary on the Windows Phone platform.
Congratulations to the ChevronWP7 team, and a big thank you for doing this, from an enthusiast!
Update: I had a quick chat with Chris Walsh on Twitter about ChevronWP7. Interestingly, they are going to have a place to list homebrew apps, and anyone who has an unlocked device will be able to sideload those apps, not just ChevronWP7-unlocked. More good news!