ChevronWP7 Windows Phone Homebrew Project Discontinued

The infamous developer unlock tool for Windows Phone, ChevronWP7 has come to an end following a mutual decision between the Chevron team and Microsoft. From the start, ChevronWP7 was an experiment with two goals: To attempt to stir up the Windows Phone beginner/hobbyist community by eliminating the cost to enter App Hub, and to convert those developers who played with Windows Phone development into published developers.

While they succeeded with the first goal, the second goal did not work out too well. And on top of this, the volume of support requests was much higher than expected. That being said, purchased tokens will cease to work. To recompense those who bought tokens for this inconvenience, Microsoft will be reimbursing them with a free one year subscription to App Hub.

Back in late 2010, Windows Phone developers Rafael Rivera, Chris Walsh, and Long Zheng embarked on a quest to develop ChevronWP7, which allows anyone to unlock their devices for the purpose of sideloading experimental homebrew applications. Following this, they met with Microsoft to collaborate on a sanctioned unlock tool, and they succeeded. They were granted 10,000 unlock tokens from Microsoft, which they sold for the low cost of $9.

ChevronWP7: Windows Phone Unlocker Now Live

ChevronWP7 Labs

ChevronWP7 Labs

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 1: Paypal

Step 2: Unlock tool

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!