Let the hacking begin: Samsung ATIV S gets interop-unlocked, making it a first for Windows Phone 8

The hacking scene for Windows Phone 8 so far has been pretty dismal, with a lot of the legends in the community moving on to more open systems like Android. Although Windows Phone 7.x did see some minor movement within the fringe hacking community, its replacement OS has not met the same fate. The reason for that is Windows Phone 8 was unable to be interop-unlocked, a phrase not familiar to most casual users.

When it comes to operating systems, especially Windows Phone, there are different levels. Developer unlocking is the easiest and can be achieved by joining Microsoft’s developer program. Once registered, users can unlock their device by connecting to a computer and logging in. This allows developers to side-load XAP files i.e. apps not from the Store. But even side-loaded XAP files are sandboxed by the OS and cannot touch the deeper level functions. OEMs and carriers get access to this area, which is why they can roll out system updates.

Now, for the first time an interop-unlock has been achieved on the Samsung ATIV S. The news come via XDA Forums, home to many in the homebrew and hacking community.  The trick was accomplished by a user nicknamed ‘GoodDayToDie’ and while it’s not for the casual user, for those looking for an adventure can try and repeat the process.

Currently there are very few if any apps or services available to take advantage of this unlocking, though that can easily change in the future. It’s unclear at the time if this process could translate over to other Windows Phone 8 devices, especially the more popular Lumia line from Nokia. Device bootloaders and differing configurations make direct translation of interop unlocking difficult, though we’ll continue to monitor for any changes.

Source: XDA Forums; Thanks, Trevor H., for the tip

Daniel Rubino

Daniel Rubino is the Editor-in-chief of Windows Central, head reviewer, podcast co-host, and analyst. He has been covering Microsoft since 2007 when this site was called WMExperts (and later Windows Phone Central). His interests include Windows, laptops, next-gen computing, and for some reason, watches. Before all this tech stuff, he worked on a Ph.D. in linguistics, watched people sleep (for medical purposes!), and ran the projectors at movie theaters because it was fun.

  • Mmm cool I guess.
  • Lets see what happens
  • WOW... That's what I'm talking about!
  • What can I do with this exactly?
  • When I was on WP7 (HTC Arrive) here were things that are/were only available for other devices and limited my experience. One of those was Internet Sharing. Since sprint stopped supporting my device, I never received this update. Even forcing an update did not give me the new features as other phones had. Once unlocked, people were able to make custom roms and bake in the stuff that was missing. We also did not have the "extras" such as panorama pictures or burst mode. Again, upon unlocking the phone, these "extras" could then be installed and utilized.
    There are more advantages but those are just a few off the top of my head.
  • You? Nothing at all. It would not benefit you in any way shape or form. But others may be able to do things like, add notification section, make drivers and install system apps from other makers wp8 devices (like htc clock on a lumia for eg). Add new colours and themes (my hacked hd2 that i had running 7.8 had about a hundred accent colours, and about 50 background colours (not just white and black).
  • It could go both ways really.
  • There's two schools of thought on it.
  • Six in one, half dozen the other.
  • The glass could be half full or half empty.
  • There's a fork in the road.
  • Yin-Yang
  • To be, or not to be
  • Have your cake and eat it too
  • Meh. Windows Phone OS is good as is, would never have any interest.
  • I kinda disagree. There's alot of basic features missing that takes forever to get update by lack of OS firmware. I like WP but things as simple as copying an image link from a website is missing.
  • It has potential to do minor things the OS needs that matters to some people like custom SMS tones, more tile colors, etc....
  • Yes please!! If they figure this out they are gods among men!!  It can't be hard!  If the carriers can put their own tones in it should be possible for us to do it as well.  Let's hope this is on the list!
  • We're missing Missing text ringtones, notification center, and the ability to MAKE A PLAYLIST ON TEH PHONE WITH EASE! Such a no brainer feature missed..
  • I certainly can make playlists on my phone (Lumia 925). Just add the songs you want in your playlist to "now playing", then press a volume button and tap on the name of the song, then (once you see the album artwork) just select "save as playlist". Easy as pie.
  • It'll take me about 3 hours for my 100+ songs
  • Yes but try deleting a song from your playlist. I remember deleting a song from a playlist was possible when i first got the 920, however, after its first update, the one before the gdr2, it stopped showing the option for deleting a track from the playlist.
  • In addition to all of the replies to this post, I feel that if the phone were capable of being "jail broken" and deeper customization were possible, that would garner more interest from consumers who seek that level of operation. Let's face it, the more the OS offers to consumers the better. IMHO, Microsoft should actually make this happen.
  • Not really... in fact, as "big" as the XDA and PPCGeeks communities are, they're a remarkably small segment of users. It's not "wildly popular" nor "hugely demanded". It's also very complicated at times, so more for those of us who are tech savvy and enjoy tinkering for sake of tinkering.
  • I disagree. There's no way to remove my 2 GB of useless shit.
  • Good news maybe?
  • No. Microsoft should open up the OS closer to the level we see on Android. Possibility of crap coming into WP? Possibly, but you have a curated app store there for the purpose of keeping the WP scene clean. There are some amazing developers within the WP community, e.g. Liquid Daffodil, Lazyworm, Rudy Hyn and JayTBennet -- *come on!* Give WP developers proper access to the OS and watch things blossom... Watch how WP will catch up, near instantly, with the compeition in terms of desired functionality (e.g. Notification Centres, volume controls, file managers, etc).
  • iOS is closed and has a much nicer app store, so no. Please no.
  • No. I want my phone to be a functional powerhouse, I had a enough of mimicing Apple/iOS - screw that. It was Microsoft that stormed the market with Windows, a relatively open OS whereby end-users and developers could customize it at will. Were there serious problems? Sure. Are we past that and equipped with mature means to *defend* against those problems? Certainly, hence why since 2008-2009 operating a Windows machine has been a breeze, esp. with Windows 8-proper. Let's just grow out of Jobs shadow and actually do something we thrive at, i.e. making use of the powerful NT-kernel powering WP and Windows RT. If WP were as open we'd see apps such as VLC, 3rd party VPN, etc. a whole lot sooner, and a developer community that is a whole lot vibrant and supportive of WP.
  • VLC is already confirmed to be coming to Windows Phone. VPN doesn't need an open-OS to run. smdh.
  • VPN wise MS have already confirmed an auto config VPN for the Enterprise Feature Pack coming early next year.
  • Yes i agree Android is to Windows was Windows was to Apple. And had over 90 percent market share of devices when they were all PCs
    You cant admin every app AND  charge an OS license fee, now, in 2013 unless you have invented the touch phone and pad. 
    also , my first impression UI-wise was Android is more like Windows than Windows Phone is like Windows.,  and remains so.
    As a .Net developer I really want Windows to pick up and I'I've ranted about it on Nokia Facebook and to Microsoft.  Even buying Nokia might not save Win Phone.  .  Or.. if they Trojan this new App stuff along with full Windows 8.1.. and Intel can power an energy efficient tablet..things  might pick up .
    They could at least put silverlight 5 out there on the phone and RT and not try admin every front end in the enterprise
     Administering free "apps" like some corporations line of Business frontend tier UI is a waste of everyones time   AND  the enterprise might not want to Obfuscate the code ( It can be decompiled)  and make it show in any  public store at all.  
    So.. I, dont like Android, dont like windows , dont like iOS,  but I   like tablets and touch phones, so FTW..  Maybe MS will open things up more.. from corporate pressure though the sales channel,   I think so.
  • It sounds like what you want is Android. Shall I show you where to buy one?
    Personally, I like the sandbox. In the computer world, all the cat turds are outside the sanbox.
  • Have to disagree completely.  Windows Phones and iPhones are not, in fact, smartphones.  They are feature phones.  iPhones are very, very smart feature phones, and Windows Phones are pretty smart feature phones, but they are feature phones nonetheless.
    Android phones (and before them Symbian phones, PalmOS phones and, ironically, Windows Mobiles) were smartphones.  Real multitasking, sideloading of applications, the ability to add drivers, etc.
    This has a huge impact on the usability of the device.  It is, for example, the reason why RT has proven to be such a dud (and will remain so).  It is a "feature" OS.  Windows 8 devices, on the other hand, have a bright future.  The reason for this is that, if there is a shortcoming in a feature OS, you are generally stuck out of luck...applications can be developed to add new functionality, but with respect to the inherent capabilities of the device, you limited to what is on offer out of the box.  For example, want a better browser (like Firefox*) on your RT device?  Can't have it.
    In contrast, on a "smart" device, if you are unsatisfied with the core functionality, it can be added.  Want a better browser?  Go get it.  Can't play a certain kind of video?  Go install the codec.  Need to attach to a peripheral that your OS doesn't support, grab the driver from a Web page.  On my old Symbian phone, the email client didn't have HTML support.  But I went out and bought one from DataVis that did.  And you know what, I could even attach PDFs to my emails and -- shocker -- edit the contents of a message I was forwarding.  I think the reason WP is failing to gain significant traction is that MS is incapable, all by themselves, of adding all the functionality that people would want on their phones...it's simply too much to ask.  But there are an army of 3rd party developers who would plug all those holes for them, if only they could.
    There is no doubt that the interface on Windows Phone is a heck-of-a-lot more usable than the interface on Windows Mobile ever was, but they should have built that interface on top of a smartphone OS -- they already had an industry leading one!  I think MS were just blinded by Apple's success and followed them, instead of looking where the market was headed, which is resoundingly toward smart devices.  The simple fact of the matter is, Apple's heyday is over, and Android is now a virtual monopoly.  The reason Android has won the day is that it is smart, and iOS is dumb.  MS bet on dumb, and are paying the heavy price.
    The plan for the future must be to get Windows Phone off of arm and onto x64, and then to phase it out and replace it with real windows.  By Christmas 2014, MS would be wise to have real Windows 8.2 (or whatever) on phones.  At least, that's my advice to them.
    (*I am not interested in an argument over whether or not Firefox is better than IE.  It is, but that isn't my point.)
  • I disagree, Android is the prime example of how NOT to develop a smartphone OS!!!!
  • If Android is a prime example of how to not do it, then Palm OS, WinMo & Symbian aren't either, which is incorrect. I've said it before, Android is what Windows Mobile SHOULD HAVE BECOME. That's why it's an equally attractive OS as WP is to me. I remember my WinMo phones doing exactly what I need and wanted without waiting on MS to deliver, but I never got the performance that I get with WP. Ideally, you want both in one package which is pretty much what Win8 is. I agree with x, Win8.2 on phones should be the future.
  • That's ridiculous. Windows Mobile was a mess, that's why Microsoft went back to the drawing board with Windows Phone. Android is an even bigger mess as it feels like lots of open source projects slapped together in an attempt to make an OS!!!!
  • More than 75% of the world's smartphone users disagree with you.
  • More than 75% of the users were not given a choice. It was by what the sales person was a fan of and pushed at the time...
  • Or that they are really cheap. You can get a $68 dollar android tablet,(awesome deal) and I don't even like android!
  • I may have to save this comment as it is how I view the problems with my windows phone. All the had to do was may the phone run like windows where you could install and access everything. Android is closer to the OS I would use and my Lumia has the right interface. I may have to switch back to an Android until Microsoft figures this out and opens up the os in wp9.
  • Windows phone is stifling. Which is such a shame, because its interface was such a breath of fresh air when the OS first came out. It is a gorgeous, intuitive, masterpiece in that respect. And I kept telling myself, "They'll open it up. This is the company that brought us Windows, the most diversified computer ecosystem on the planet. They know how to please all comers." But they have done next to nothing. Windows Phones today have almost no functionality they didn't have when they launched two years ago. Indeed, in some areas they have even less (wireless syncing, ability to open Office binary files, etc.)
  • "iPhones are very, very smart feature phones, and Windows Phones are pretty smart feature phones, but they are feature phones nonetheless"...What? Go tell that to your mirror.
    Android appeals alot more to geeks who are in a better position to maximise its "openeness". The average joe out there which constitutes over 90% percent of the users don't know what a custom rom is  let alone rooting. They use there devices just as it is out of the box. IOS gives users what they (Apple)think they need and is best for them. Any gap is filled by applications. Lumia OS threads the fine line between the two. It gives the average joe the basics he needs. While some of those basic functionalities are absent presently, they are surely enroute in the nearest future.
    Android is not successful because of its openess. If it is, what do you have to say about IOS or Lumia OS?
  • Except it's not Lumia OS, it's Windows Phone!!!!
  • Lol...I hear you. I felt I should start getting used to some new brand before MS comes up with another suprise. I think Lumia phone will replace Nokia Lumia 9xx windows phone...
  • What's the point of WP8 then? Just buy an iPhone and have a closed system with tons of software.
  • Metrotube is broke for me. Played one video and that was it.
  • Yes!!!!!
  • Wooooooooooooooow!!!!!!!! Yes yes yes yes!!!! We need this to enable features!!! START MESSING WITH THE REGISTRY PPL!!!
  • That's great news. I flashed my old Lumia 710 with a custom ROM that offered me much more features and control of my phone, including full File Explorer and Registry Editor. I am very willing to do the same with my WP8 phone when Nokia ROMs become available.
  • GoodDayToDieHard is working hard for WP and the XDA Community he is quite known there
  • Yea, he is the MAN ! There a bunch of others over there too that are really good but, when you get them all together talking about it, HUGE brainstorming...Epic to read if your into this stuff..
  • Free tether ability!
  • I unlocked my wp7 and the only thing it was for was loading game and app .xap files without paying for them. Will be the same again. I hope this time they ban the Xbox accounts.
  • That is where you are wrong my focus full unlock with custom ROM and I have a Nokia text alert, screen capture, send file via Bluetooth, marketplace config download apps over 50 mbs over cell network, and custom theme tiles.
  • Also battery % on topbar etc!
  • Forgot to add I can install Nokia apps from marketplace
  • The reason no one is allowing removal able storage anymore.
  • Not a big fan of "breaking" the OS. I want my phone to work, be able to receive regular updates, and avoid possible malicious software.
  • MS wants a secure OS without trojans masquerading as bootlegged apps - I get that.
    But the flip side is developers can't create utility apps to extend the OS functionality because it's so locked down. This means MS has to build it all themselves. Probably why improvements are so slow in coming.
  • Remember the Badnews fumble in android market? :)
  • I'm just waiting for someone to adjust this so it will work on the Lumia 928s. It won't be too much of a hastle to change it to work with Lumias. All thats required is for it to launch extras+info instead of the Samsung diagnostic launcher.
    The biggest thing us 928 guys are waiting to get our hands on are the settings to enable radio.
    Time will tell though.
  • I think that 928 doesn't have hardware support for FM radio and it won't be possible to enable it via software.
  • I have the TMOUS 925 and there was no radio app on it (that I've seen) but it came with Amber.  I downloaded an FM Radio app and it gave me warnings about not working in windows 8 pre-amber (odd) and a couple of others, but then when I plugged in speakers to the headphone jack everything was happy. 
    I checked that out after you mentioned that though and I see a bunch of posts stating its not available and that the websites previously said yes but have both (MS/Nokia) changed to no.
  • I think the radio support issue was restricted to Verizon Lumia 928.
  • The nexus one did not have support for FM radio and they made it work. That's what the development great. Making the impossible possible but can't make anything possible locked down.
  • One of the reasons that I like WP so mush is because I don't have the time to break stuffs and fix them... that could change by mid 2014 but that's a different matter. I'm in the same boat needing a smartphone that works.
  • This is finally a good thing. I know many people would oppose my comment but Interop Unlocking unlocks much potential :D
  • I know right that is how I started on my focus with jaxbot interop unlock then to a custom rom
  • Custom notification Tones!!  Your mission should you choose to accept it find out where they are and how to change them!!
  • It would be great of I could get a hack to assign text tones to different contacts...
  • What I still want from my Windows Phone but i know MS is not gonna provide it soon: 1) Notification Centre
    2) Apps to sd card as we all know Internal 8gb storage gives us only aorund 3-4gb of installing
    3) Homebrew Apps :P
  • My personal opinion on this:
    1) I don't see a whole lot of value other than easing transition from alternative OS products to WP. Live tiles pretty much address this need for me (if I want that level of detail I'll actually open the app).
    2) I personally think they shouldn't add SD to the phones at all (just purely from a design point of view) but should just add more base memory. Low end devices should have 16 GB minimum and there is no excuse for high end devices not coming with at least 32 GB with a larger 64GB option being an actual OPTION and not a carrier limited exclusive.
    3) I like the security of the WP platform as a whole, One of the problems I had with android and WM was that you didn't know what apps to trust (security, and to be well behaving on the phone in general), and it was even worse when you started adding apps from random sources and needed to spend your time troubleshooting your device instead of using it. That said, I'd be interested in finding out why you feel the WP store is so restrictive that you can't get your app published (joining is only $19 now so its not really price prohibitive).
  • If it can speed up the incredibly slow animations between screens, I'm in!
  • What can Interop-unlocking do? back on wp7 we can deploy more apps and thats all
  • With Interop-unlock devs can reach deeper down and access APIs that are supposed to only be available to OEMs, outside of the usual sandbox. That means devs can now create file explorers, text alerts, a whole notification center...or they can tinker with settings that are inaccessible by normal apps. A lot of cool new functionality was added to WP7 with interop-unlock, it wasn't just deploying more apps.
  • If this goes on, and is confirmed working for the entire range, this could be the gateway to develop many features and items users have been after... Almost like iOS... Hopefully it'll grow as fast too!
  • I think this is good news. Not everyone wants to 'hack' their phone, but it's nice to have the ability for those who want to mess around with it and know the inherit risks of doing so.
  • I like my Windows Phone as it is. It ain't no Droid.
  • Alot of you who say were missing simple things are correct example wp7 no screenshot ?! So I liked the way the webos dev community was all the tweeking they did never made me feel like id break my phone or have security issues like Android it feels unstable so I believe WP should have developers who tweek things but I don't want an open os
  • Advanced Config anyone?
  • That post on xda has been there for quite a while, took you guys long enough
  • Nice.. Time to look for a purchase
  • Great, now fix the random reboots
  • Nice, bring on the sideloading.
  •  I interop unlocked my WP7 as soon as I found out that was the only way to get notification behavior to change on a schedule e.g. Text messages don't beep between 10pm and 6am. On Android you just install Timeriffic but this level of control wasn't available to ordinary apps on WP. An interop unlock app called Snotify did the job (even though it sounds like it provides streaming of nasal fluids)