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First custom Windows Phone 8 ROM for Samsung's ATIV S released into the wild

The Samsung ATIV S Windows Phone 8 smartphone is favoured among many, including ourselves. We rated the handset highly in our in-depth review and rightly so - it's a top notch device. If you've been wanting to hop on the custom ROM path with the ATIV S, now's your opportunity with a new solution released over on XDA Developers.

The ROM, authored by WOLF, enables you to unlock the ATIV S, as well as take advantage of some other unique functionality not currently available in the retail version. We haven't loaded up the ROM ourselves, but judging by the response on the ROM thread so far, it's safe to say this is a sound solution. That said, there's always a risk involved when it comes to flashing custom ROMs.

Here are some highlighted features:

  • Unlock / Interop Unlock / Relock prevent
  • Volume limit disabled
  • No pre-pinned tiles of Samsung apps
  • Some of Samsung apps removed
  • Full access to APNs and Internet Sharing
  • Two search providers: Yandex and Google. Both can launch its app from search key (if app is installed). Here're those apps: Yandex, Google.

WOLF's Samsung ROM

WOLF's Samsung ROM

If you're considering the process, we strongly urge you to carefully read through the post by WOLF. It's recommended you perform a hard reset after flashing (which can be loaded with a stock flasher). While the CSC is based on SER (Russian), the default language is indeed English. There are some differences to general flashing, which have been highlighted by the author.

Be sure to head on over to XDA Developers to try out the new custom ROM, as well as get in touch with the author. If you've gone ahead and flashed your ATIV S with WOLF's custom ROM, be sure to shout out in the comments to let us know how you got on. Thanks to everyone who tipped us!

Rich Edmonds
Senior Editor, PC Build

Rich Edmonds is Senior Editor of PC hardware at Windows Central, covering everything related to PC components and NAS. He's been involved in technology for more than a decade and knows a thing or two about the magic inside a PC chassis. You can follow him over on Twitter at @RichEdmonds.

  • Just wow. But, for what? I think wp doesn't need cusrom.
  • free internet sharing
  • You might not, but it doesn't hurt to have it for the few people that do want it. Everybody wins!
  • What about Settings -> Internet Sharing -> On ? Or doesn't that work on the Samsung devices for some reason?
  • I have 1GB plan on AT&T and I can tether through Settings->Internet Sharing
  • I think for most users, no. But some people like to tinker with their gadgets, and if they can get the most out of their device by doing this, good for them.
  • But, i think android is more free for cusrom. Still, i can't see the benefit of "hack" wp system
  • I would love to be able to hack WP to be able to download an app of any size from the store. I have unlimited data and pay an additional fee for tethering, so I don't need it for tethering. What I need is unrestricted use of the data that I pay for.
  • I also like to tinker, however, this rom gives me nothing that I can't do anyway, the only thing additional is change search to google? Which i will never do.
  • Sweet !!
  • Exciting. Can't wait to get some for Nokia devices. Hopefully these custom roms allow for a bit more freedom in customization.
  • WP8 doesn't need custom rom.It looks good as it is.
  • Free internet sharing... Maybe you're not from the US???
  • I'm from the US and have free internet sharing.
  • Before I got my 920 I had a focus flashed full unlock wp7.8 program manager to get data from apps, move to cloud to upload to SkyDrive, file manager, wph tweaks to have unlimited programs running in the background and screenshoots
  • You will probably change your opinion when leaked Roms are available 3 or 4 months before the official releases or when chefs manage to port new builds to devices that in the future will stop receiving support and updates from Microsoft. At that moment you will praise those chefs for a custom rom. Believe me, I've been there.
  • Custom roms for WP don't change looks, they add functionality and you get updates instantly.
  • you dont seem to understand the advantage of interop unlock for developers...more sideloading( was limited to 10 , after inerop -300)..Everything needs customizations because they have their own prefernces...and these roms are not about the wp themes, they add functionalities...they remove lmitations.. i would love to have a custom rom for my lumia!!
  • If a rom comes out with a notification center wake me up.
  • What is this? windroid?
    And who wants to use google when you have bing lel
  • Windroid? You obviously don't know that custom roms on Windows Phones have been around since WinMo
  • WinMo =! WinPhone
  • His point was that Microsoft had custom roms before android existed. The original post implied that custom roms started with android, because he's applying "Droid" to windows, acting like its a mix of them, which for some reason he considers bad.
  • Not entirely true. Windows Phone 7 was based on the same Windows CE kernel as Windows Mobile. It wasn't until WP8 that Microsoft switched to the NT kernel.
  • I do ? 99% of the time when I use Bing, I get bogus results and I end up using Google instead.
    There's also a million other little stuff that would be useful, like orientation lock, a notification center, etc...
  • Is this legal?? Wp is closed and it voiltes the EULA to change the OS Code!
  • Custom roms show interest in a platform. This is very big for WP regardless of legality.
  • if it is closed source - how could he have changed it? it is just pre customized 
  • Actually, it's been ruled as perfectly legal when performed by the owner of the device, but you can't sell them this way. You have to put it back to a licensed state first. Strictly speaking, of course.
  • MS made a statement saying "they won't stop it, but wont support a bricked phone"
  • So just different searches and volume, and removes apps and pins? I can do all those myself. Plus unlock if a developer. Weird
  • What about the free tethering? You're clearly not from the US.
  • Thats it?
  • Like the house internet, you shouldnt be charged to share it with your other devices. Do you only have 1 gadget? No tablet or laptop? Friends with a different mobile carrier? Sometimes, when you're out somewhere, its better to use your tablet or laptop. And sometimes, your friend would have bad reception. It'd be good to share your internet connection. For most people, especially in the US, your cell data is faster than your house internet.
  • I have 25 mobile devices and a 100mbs d/l and gagabit wan. Don't need to tether. My ativ s already has internet sharing.
  • I'm talkin about when you're on the go...
  • This is an Ativ S. They are sold Unlocked in the US. So, you get free tethering.
  • Was not aware of that... But unlock does not = free tether... If it came unlocked and had free tether... That's awesome...
  • Yeah, I guess you do have a point. I couldn't get that with an Unlocked 920. I think it has to do with the fact that AT&T recognizes phones they subsidize. Cause it was also the first phone I got charged for "DATA ON SMARTPHONES." But yes, as for the Ativ, you can do tethering with no issues. Like I said the only phone I had issue doing that with is the Lumia. I have an Omnia 7 also and it works fine on that as well.
  • I'm from the US and have free internet sharing.
  • Even in Europe internet sharing isn't always free. Depends on the carrier and how much you pay for your contract.
  • You can choose Google as your default search engine, but I'm pretty sure you can't make the search button launch Google instead of bing that this Rom allows.
  • Sweet! I might consider getting WP8 now that roms are coming.
  • I would like having an Ativ to do this. I got two Nokias and I know this is going to be hard to be done with the Lumias. Just take the Lumia 900. It's been a long time since its release a no one have been able to install anything custom.
  • Or maybe nobody was interested in investing time into a not so popular os. Now that things are changing, ROM cooking has initiated. This is a breakthrough...literally.
  • What?? WP7 had much more interest on xda with loads of custom Roms for almost all the devices and dozens of homebrew features and apps. WP8 has nearly zero homebrew activity due to no hacking, exploits.
  • Where have you been
  • people need to drop samsung.  theyre the LG of android phones, no one cares about them in our community.  Get a Nokia phone and support the only OEM thats fully dedicated to WP.
  • Plenty in our community "care" about Samsung. And with the G2, LG is making noise again. You can't disregard an OEM just because you don't like them. Btw, always remember, Nokia is fully dedicated to WP because they were paid a boat load of money, not out of the goodness of their heart.
  • Agreed
  • Not everybody likes Nokia's phones.
  • I thought EFI and signed bootloaders were supposed to prevent this...
  • They unlocked the bootloader via a vulnerability in one of Samsung's apps, not WP OS itself.
  • Actually, reading the thread it sounds like the bootloader is still secure, so the OS is still doing a secure boot.
    I.e. the OS files are still all signed and unmodified.
    This is more a custom configuration of a ROM image where the config files have been hacked.
  • I don't understand why people are so negative about this breakthrough. iPhones got jailbroken all the time, Android... well, says enough. even WP7.x got some nice custom roms where you could change a lot. Myself I loved to make my own custom tile colors and load up my own notification sounds (used the Xbox achievement unlock sound, haha). Good old HTC Trophy.
    Dev unlocked my Ativ S and only changed to a custom tile color. I'll keep my eye on the development of this rom.
    And if you don't like the idea of a custom rom, well. Stick to the original. I like to see more custom roms being created @ WP - not because it's mandatory to have, but its always good to see people being able to do so.
  • I had my OG Focus running a custom rom. It was nice playing with some of the homebrew apps, but no one really did anything groundbreaking. That being said though, I'm all for custom roms. If people want to alter their device let them...whats the harm?
  • What about sideload for my "homebrew" apps?? ;)
  • A new opening for piracy...
  • Wolf for HTC Titan x310e as well, please?
  • I have fond memories of the custom ROM scene when I was into Android. I'm happy and glad to see the start of a custom ROM scene for Windows Phone. It shows that people are serious about our OS and if the ROMs developers can make big improvements MS will take more notice of what people want which should lead to a speedier development of the stock OS
  • Who actually has this phone though?lol
  • Like 5 people, with no taste in smartphones at all.
  • While it sounds like you're trolling, you obviously never tried the ativ. I have to admit I bought one only because it got cheaper, and now I would certainly NOT switch for, say, a L920. Maybe for a L925 because of the low light capabilities and lighter design, but that's all.
    And don't tell me about free Nokia exclusives, I have everything I need on my Samsung...
  • Oh look, I found one of those 5 people.
    Give me 2 legit reasons why ativ is better than 920? And don't say 920 is ugly and heavy, cause Samsung makes the ugliest phones ever. And I find 920 quite beautiful, especially the yellow ones.
  • 1) removeable battery
    2) SD card slot
    3) the biggest screen (for now) of any Windows Phone
    4) Samsung is second to Nokia for software support on WinPho (folders, various lenses) I love my 928 but you're just being obnoxious. The Ativ S is a solid phone. Deal with it.
  • It's a solid phone if you can go in the store and buy it. That's all. I blame Samsung.
  • 3) HTC Titan II much?
    4) Yes, but with a little proxy found on the forums you can install those on other WP 8 devices as well.
  • Ativ S = 4.8'
    Titan II = 4.7'
    So yes, it is the biggest screen until Nokia's phablets come out.
  • 1. Why is removable battery better than non removable, can you wirelessly charge removable batteries?
    2. True, but 1520 will have a SD card too.
    3. Any bigger than 4.5' is a deal breaker for me but a lot of people like phablets and I think 625 has the same screen size but I could be wrong. And again, 1520 will beat that in a month.
    4. You said it yourself.
    Bye, I'm busy using my double tap to wake, glance, glance background on an AMOLED display while listening to fm radio and playing mass effect :)
  • Why is a removable battery better than a non-removable battery? Whilst not necessarily needed by everyone, removable batteries are a god send when you're out and about for long periods of time. Keep a few spare and you can last quite a while on any business trip or long day at work.
  • once again someone is turning an informative article into a "nokia vs(insert your oem)argument. really tiresome. that said...some people will really enjoy having the opportunity to play a little. if i were more tech savvy and less protective of my expensive(for me) investment, i would give it a shot.
  • Lol dude relax. I have nothing against the Ativ S. I have a problem with stupid Samsung for not giving me the opportunity to try and enjoy the phone. And while I own a yellow, unlocked Nokia Lumia 920,(T-Mobile) I have a problem with Nokia and this exclusive nonsense. Then we finally get the Lumia 925 and they screw it up(for me) by offering it with only 16gb of memory. I really wanted the Ativ S. So really my issue is with the manufacturers who continue to make obtaining these phones harder than what they need to be. So's Sunday.:)
  • Your comment makes no sense. If you got an unlocked 920, you could have also gotten an Ativ S. Heck, maybe even cheaper. Amazon, ebay, expansys, negrielectronics, etc have them. The only NOKIA app I care about(HERE Drive) I have in my Sammy.
  • Well when the opportunity came up there was no way I was going to get the Ativ S over the 920. The camera is superb, the support from Nokia is unmatched, the exclusives make the experience worth it, and it's yellow. Come on man!lol
  • I don't even own this phone, but man, comments like these are just stupid and childish.
  • Really? A nokia fanboy acting like an android fanboy? I thought we were supposed to be above this around here.
  • Not interested. 
  • You were a little.
  • Not really. Coming from Android, the last thing I want is a custom ROM.
  • touché :)
  • :)
  • But you were interested enough to comment?
  • Samsung surely is not going to change it. Now ATIV S sales will raise a bit.
  • Nope
  • But let me guess, when this gives new insight on getting the other manufaturers phones unlocked and you get to unlock your precious Nokia, you be all "Hallelujah" right? They got a word for that you know.. 
  • Samsung needs to do something revolutionary with their windows phones or their sales will just drop after Nokia's announcement in Abu Dhabi.
  • Yeah, lemme guess, a phone with a gazillion megapixel camera with interchangable 8 feet zoom lenses? Euhm, yeah, just what I was waiting for.. ;) Samsung sales will stay strong since the Ativ S offers a lot for what u pay for. Even most entry level basic WP Nokia's over here in Europe are more expensive then the Sammy, whilst the Sammy is offering more built in memory (16GB vs 4 or 8), removable battery, SD storage, bigger screen and, awesome battery life compared to most entry level Nokia's.. Sure, it doesn't feel sturdy as a brick like some Nokia's do, but it isn't flimsy feeling as you would expect with a shell made of plastic. Also, I actually find the aesthetics more pleasing than it's Android sibling, the SIII. The metallic look makes the Ativ S more "business like"/more "serious". Just enjoy that the community is opening up the platform some more, one step at a time, paving the way for more customisation -if someone would be into that- making it unnesessary to wait for Microsoft to actually get off their butts and work on this operating system some more, adding features it should already have had. 
  • I would gladly list the things that make Nokia better than Samsung but the internet doesn't have enough bytes to contain it.
  • You talking bou the internet, or about the built in non expandable memory of certain Lumia's again?
  • I don't see why expandable memory is necessary if you can only install apps in phone memory. It's not like Samsung can take 41MP photos that take a lot of memory.
    Besides, 1520 will have a SD card slot + 16GB more internal memory than Samsung.
    So your argument will no longer be valid in a month or two.
  • And pictures that will be about 300 megs in size, so it's gonna need it. ;)  But again, different people, different opinions. And i ain't even going to think about the pricetag on that phone at launch over here in Europe. Sheesh.
  • I'm pretty sure 20MP pics don't weigh more than 2-3MBs.
    The only reason why ativ is cheap because its so crappy like every other Asian phone.
    Nokia is more pricy because its superior than ativ s in every way.
    If you want a good WP with cheap price, go for 820, way better and cheaper than ativ s.
  • Lol, i should have known it's hard going into a discussion based on facts with a biased troll..
    But I guess your right, every phone made in Asia must be crappy right? Just make sure you don't get a nokia produced in manufacturing plant: 2, 3, 5, 7 or 8.
    Which happen to be the biggest plants.. Question though.. Do you only dislike/hate Asian electronics, or does the hate goes towards people too? Just curious..
  • You're* and by Asian phones I meant Asian phone companies like Samsung, Huawei etc.
    Why would I dislike Asian people? I was born and have lived my whole life in Asia.
    You wanna know why I think Nokia crushes Samsung? I wouldn't even consider buying a beta OS like WP if it wasn't for Nokia.
    80-90% of windows phones are Nokia lumias and without Nokia, WP would be in a worse state than black berry. I really like the 920's camera and its ability to take awesome shots in low light and capture non shaky video while walking, moving. Also, the Nokia exclusive apps are awesome, especially the camera apps and a lot of awesome games like mass effect which I'm a big fan of is exclusive to nokia. And the Nokia updates (amber, bittersweet shimmer) are usually bigger than the gdr updates. I really like the double tap to wake, glance screen and glance background + fm radio is useful too if you live in a metro city or listen to radio in general. And I would say nokia's built quality is the best and Nokia releases new phones every 2-3 months. And Nokia gives people a chance to try WP who don't wanna risk spending a lot of money in a new OS with its cheap phones like 520. I could go on and on but I just don't think its worth explaining all this to you cause you probably don't give a shit.
  • Well, I care. And it's "you're", off course. Non-native English speaker over here. Did i state i live in Europe yet.. Where the Nokia's are pricey in comparison?  For 20-30 euro's more, we get a high end big screen Samsung phone, compared to a basic model Nokia which featured 4 GB storage not so long ago over here.. So i get that people buy the Samsungs over here, if they want Windows Phone.  Regarding the storage; from what i gather, the general rule of thumb on the interwebz seems to be: If you shoot at 10mp and use minimal compression/high quality, each shot is approximately 4 megabytes in size for a jpeg. That would make 8 MB for a photo. Let's make it 6 for arguments sake. See where i'm going at? You are going to *need* storage on those phones. I do recognise that Nokia is pushing development of WinPho. Other manufacturers don't seem to do that that much, but i'm guessing it's mosly because they don't have to..Oh, and i do enjoy the Nokia exclusives. On my Ativ S that is. Just like a lot of user enjoy Samsung's AppFolders app for example, on their Nokia's, Huawei's and HTC's.
  • I, too, am a non native English speaker.
    All Nokia phones have expandable memory just like Samsung, except the 920 but 920 has 32gb internal storage which is more than enough for most people. Even if you do run out of storage, you can always store all your pics in SkyDrive or your PC every few months.
    And you're wrong about Samsung windows phones being more popular than Nokia, even in Europe. You might wanna check the statics. But i get it, its the best choice for you if you cannot afford any nokia flagship phones but still want a phone with enough storage and enough ram to play all the games.
  • I am not saying that Sammy's are more popular than Nokia's, but overe here, they just offer more value for money. Which is kinda strange to me, since Nokia originates from Europe..
    And it's not that i can't afford a Nokia, i just choose not to buy one because of value for money.. Over here.
  • Eh, jail breaking leads to issues and bricks. Updating the normal way thru MS isn't brick-safe as it is. Why add to it. We have a long way to go before its ready for mods. Lets get a stable OS before we add stuff.
  • Keeping in mind, I LOVE WP. I just have alot of experience with modding general electronics and OS's. Not much to add. Maybe folders... Thats about it. I'm weary of how stable it is as is tho. I need it to work daily as I run my business thru my phone 90% of the time...
  • Samsung already has folders.
  • Custom accents
  • To those of you who did not get it: this is what is called a proof of concept. Yes, the ROM released by -W_O_L_F- is not that huge, but its the first one for a WP8 device, and it will eventually get better, even if ROM cooking never went really far into customization for WP devices (because we don't care about changing our home screen or tweaking our system, it already works perfectly that way, while some stuff is really missing and can't be added through custom ROMs anyway).
  • #ijustlovenokiacogs ativs are different "ooh you have a lumina" lol each to their own...o2 Gurus have major relationship with Samsung #Samsungtechwin
  • *Lumia
  • I came from Android and used various custom Roms for LG and Samsung devices to remove bloatware and extend battery life. Got my Ativ S 3 weeks ago and have no intention of loading custom Roms as WP8 is almost perfect, could do with X on multitask but will wait for GDR3 then it will be flawless for me.
    Battery last whole day and more with push email, 3G on and many phone calls. Miracle coming from Android. All bloatware can be uninstalled too.
  • This is good news for me because it gives me hope that I may eventually be able to load a custom rom on my AT&T Lumia 820 that includes more than 6 languages for the interface. Actually, it would be nice to get ALL of the features that AT&T stole from us back...
  • Yeah when you support phones for a living and sell them having every customer who walks in saying "my sons told me to come and get a Nokia Lumina" its like which one? At the same time as four a day being delivered back from the repair center with buttons astray, battery life skewiff and camera previews going mad its hard not too say, "just buy the ativ s please..." i appreciate some of the nokias are good and i cant wait to see 2520 but ill stick to Samsung myself
  • Internet Sharing always worked for me on my AtivS.
  • here's to hoping this comes to the 920/925/928/1020 before the devices are obsolete
  • maybe someone will implement bluetooth/usb tethering too
    or usb audio output.  why WP doesn't have usb audio out is beyond me...
  • USB audio on my Mercedes plays my music and changes.
  • Can someone please explain to me in common English what this WOLF thing is?
  • Whether wp needs custom ROM or not but it will definitely help to attract the geek community of xdadevelopers.
    I will look to buy Ativ S just for this fun custome ROMs.
  • I feel like the geek community is going to go for Android, Sailfish, or Ubuntu Touch since they're Linux based so there's a lot more freedom and changing things is much easier
  • Geek community is playing a lot with android but at the same time nature of this community is such that they try to work on things which are more challenging. Breaking security of WP is definitely a challenging task.
  • WP is slowly turning into a pretty looking, less feature rich android with a terrible game collection. Hell, Ubuntu Touch is in 1.0 and it has a notification center
  • She don't need custom roms, but that might open up new possibilities and sway Android users to switch, they love the word" custom Rom"
  • Waiting for"DFT"....
  • I think this is the Samsung trying to sabotage Windows Phone.
  • The fact that Microsoft even convinced Samsung, a huge OEM now to join Windows Phone surprises me. But Samsung's support for WP8 is more than HTC and on certain aspects more than Nokia. Samsung is constantly updating their WP8 apps, more than Nokia does.
  • Samsung is making a name for themselves, not just one one platform, but Samsung is starting to become synonomous to quality. Nokia is failing because they keep granting AT&T exclusivity to their devices.
  • If a custom rom can help me get my Twin Blades back that I paid for and enjoy, then I am all in!
  • If they do one of these for the 8x, I'd do it just for full access to the APN settings...
  • Possibly make tiles do different animations e.g. wiggle or stutter or horizontal flip etc?
  • How about WiFi direct or wireless printing embedded into the OS?
  • Without the need for an app, similar to AirPrint or Samsung Galaxy s4 wireless print.
  • Yandex - done by russians. I would stick with original rom.
  • Awesome hopefully custom rom will have many benefits to developments of the OS!
  • Can I ask why you need to do a hard reset after flashing? I mean do I need to do one after flashing a normal rom ???
  • Nobody wants feature of adding media files in Whatsapp or rather third party apps access to file system of WP8? Can i get a custom ROM for that? Feels aged without some basic features like these and independent sound profiles etc..
  • Can i have nokia glance screen with this custom rom? That's the only thing missing in my ativ s.
  • I used to love reading about cooked roms back in the days of WinMob 6.5 etc
    - Twenty pages all loving the dev
    - 4 pages asking questions on how to install
    - 426 pages asking for fixes as stuff no longer works.
    I do NOT miss all of that! :)