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Back in January we reported that ChevronWP7 Labs, the officially-sanctioned "jailbreak" service for Windows Phone "homebrew", was coming to a halt. At the time, the reasons cited mostly revolved around the difficulties some users experienced in installing it and the following tech-support needed to help them out. The project was put on indefinite hiatus with more tokens possibly being bought in the future.

However, today it's official: the experiment is over.

Within 120 days, those who unlocked their phones via the ChevronWP7 Labs service will have their phones re-locked. The good news is all users who bought a token are eligible for a one-year Microsoft App Hub membership, a $99 value and allowing them to stay unlocked for 12 more months.

The jailbreak service is being permanently shut down for a few reasons, including those cited above but also because many of those who did unlock their phones so that they could "sideload" apps for experimentation, never moved on to actually publishing any apps to the Windows Phone Marketplace. That was one of the goals of the project -- to reduce the $99 barrier for devs who might not be able to afford the App Hub membership.

While ChevronWP7 Labs is gone, the ChevronWP7 team made up of Rafael Rivera, Long Zheng and Chris Walsh will continue tinkering around:

"Fear not, we will continue to explore other ideas with Microsoft. All sides are still very interested in the hobbyist and homebrew developer communities."

For more information on the closure of the service and for those looking to upgrade to that App Hub membership, head to the ChevronWP7 Labs site here.

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Over on XDA, Jaxbot has just detailed a project that he has been working on.

Basically he has managed to unlock his out-the-box Focus with nothing more than a pair of pliers (yes, I'm paraphrasing).

Now, let's take a step back. What I did was interop unlock my Samsung Focus, without using Chevron Labs, AppHub, etc. Not that I'm cheap, but it's the principle here that counts. Unfortunately, there's a catch: the exploit, while working for every device, requires further provisioning. Samsung devices can do this using the diagnostics application. Other devices have some opposition to that.

Hit the break to see how this all works.

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Just over a week ago, the homebrew unlocker tool ChevronWP7 Labs was released in the wild. A joint venture by Rafael Rivera, Chris Walsh and Long Zheng, the officially sanctioned tool was a bold and complicated project: unlock phones so that apps can be side-loaded for a modest $9. The challenge of course was the myriad of PC setups, devices, OS versions and miscellaneous that could complicate things.

As a result, there were some issues people were having and within a few hours, ChevronWP7 Labs briefly suspended services until the team could feel more confident in the service working as intended.

In a new blog post, the group members go over the history of what happened, discuss some of the problems (including if people want refunds who can't get it to work) and that after some server re-workings, the token-purchasing is back. While the team still expects a few users to have difficulty with the process, they are evidently satisfied that most people should be able to successfully unlock their phones now. Sounds good to us. So any of you take the plunge yet?

Source: ChevronWP7

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We last reported on ChevronWP7 last month where the team announced the release of the service was to be within a few weeks. Fast forward three weeks and the Chevron Labs page has been updated with a login via Live ID button. The site is going live as we speak, so if you have any errors logging in, just give it some time as they finish updating the site to full-release mode.

The ChevronWP7 Labs will enable users to unlock their handset(s) for a fraction of the cost for the official developer membership. It will allow Windows Phone owners to have fun with homebrew apps without breaking warranty on the device and being hunted down by Microsoft. The process is fairly straightforward:

  • You'll need a Windows Live ID (it can be different from your Windows Phone Live ID)
  • Purchase an "unlock token". Cost is $9.00 via PayPal and is good for infinite unlocks per single phone.
  • Download and install an unlocking too, which is similar to the official AppHub registration one
  • Your phone will be placed in a queue to be unlocked and that's it!

So by show of comments, how many of you are going to be unlocking? If you do, don't forget to take a look at some of our past Homebrew coverage to get started.

Update: The tools have been temporarily pulled till two issues can be resolved.

Source: Chevron Labs, thanks H3ALY for the tip!

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Now that Mango has come to a lot of Windows Phones, there's still a few big things to look forward to this year: Skype, Nokia and of course ChevronWP7 Labs. For those new to the site or community, ChevronWP7 Labs is the little project by Rafael Rivera, Chris Walsh and Long Zheng who originally unlocked Windows Phone in the pre and post NoDo era (with Microsoft's indirect and humorous approval).

The Labs project has one goal:" allow hobbyist developers to install, run, and debug unsigned applications on their personal Windows Phone". That is, it's a way for you, the regular user, to toy around with some advanced tools without breaking the bank and while being sanctioned by Microsoft.  And now that day is nearly upon us, meaning you can soon join the homebrew community to side-load some apps on to your Windows Phone.

Here's how the process will work when launched in a few weeks:

  1. You'll need a Windows Live ID (it can be different from your Windows Phone Live ID)
  2. Purchase an "unlock token". Cost is $9.00 via PayPal and is good for infinite unlocks per single phone.
  3. Download and install an unlocking too, which is similar to the official AppHub registration one
  4. Your phone will be placed in a queue to be unlocked and that's it!

All in all, this will provide a great opportunity for those who aren't full-time developers nor those who can't afford to pay the regular $99 to unlock their phones. It should also expand the hobbyist and homebrew community significantly, giving Windows Phone users a new avenue to explore as well as apply new ideas.

The team is wrapping up the final preparations now and we can look for an official launch in a few weeks. We'll of course keep you abreast of all and any new developments.

Read the full details from the ChevronWP7 Labs team right here.

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ChevronWP7 Labs to cost $9?

With the announcement of ChevronWP7 Labs bringing a new unlocking tool/service to the Windows Phone developer table, we all began rejoicing at the prospect of a continued homebrew community with Microsoft's indirect support.

Our Daniel Rubino put forward the question to readers as to how much they thought would be reasonable for the service. He mentioned $5-15 could be considered suffice for a small pint fund that the team could use at weekends. We weren't far off with this estimate as Chris Walsh has mentioned over Twitter that ChevronWP7 Labs will set interested users back by only $9. A Small fee compared to the $99 with AppHub (which was recently re-launched).


Of course we wont be able to submit apps to the Marketplace, have registry access or native access to the OS, but the ability to create apps and side-load them to be a happy-as-Larry user is huge plus for a mere $9. Perfect for developers who are just starting out or who reside outside the supported countries for Marketplace submission - although we have covered a few services (App Exchange and Yalla Apps) that overcome this issue.

Finally though, a word of caution: Chris has since deleted his Tweets, so this may not be final yet...

We'll keep you up to date with more news, be sure to follow ChevronWP7 Labs on Twitter.

Via: MobilityDigest

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A good majority of us has been intrigued by the white background and black live tiles combination of themes, not to mention choosing the color scheme of your device by hex values instead of a limited (but aesthetically pleasing) list. Thankfully diaahussein and rmcgraw have come up with a sweet little guide (especially convenient for us newbies).

You will need an unlocked device (read up on our Chevron team coverage) and have a registry editor installed. This process involves altering system settings on your phone and WPCentral cannot (and will not) accept any responsibility or liability for devices that end up continuously displaying the following image when booting up:

Head on past the break for the steps and a video tutorial by Saijo from 1800PocketPC.

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It's been awhile since we've heard much from the homebrew crowd, in fact once everyone went to 'NoDo' and the door was shut on home-unlocked devices, the amount of side-loading software declined dramatically. That wasn't a terrible thing either, as Mango's "500 features" goes along way in "fixing" any complaints users may have with the OS.

Still, for those developers who either cannot afford the $99 or for those just starting out, there's an odd solution coming forth from the ChevronWP7 team. Evidently they are set to release a new unlocker, but this time with the blessings of Microsoft. It's called ChevronWP7 Labs.  The catch? It won't be free this time:

"The service will require a small fee — currently via PayPal — to offset costs but we assure you it will be more affordable than the App Hub. Those who wish to write and immediately publish apps are recommended to sign up to the App Hub instead.

We’re excited to be making this service available to users with the support of the Windows Phone team."

Now, before we can pass judgement on this, we'd have to know how much we're talking here. That range can be from $1 to $98, we suppose and that's a large range. If we're talking $5-15 we can kind of look past it and almost think of it as a tip to the Team for their work; more than that and it starts looking like opportunism (and we'd be surprised Microsoft would be okay in losing that money).

For now though, we can at least be happy that an unofficial/official solution is coming to the platform, which may still allow a homebrew community to grow on the sides and allow devs of all ranges to play with the platform. Stay tuned...

Source: ChevronWP7 Blog; ChevronWP7 Labs

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Back amongst the chaos of complaints, rants, tantrums and media surrounding the NoDo update process, Chris Walsh released a tool that forces a Windows Phone 7 device to update to NoDo - this hack was later regarded as a life-saver for all users who were impatiently awaiting the update notification.

Since then, there have been numerous reports and articles suggesting the tool (if used to forcefully update your handset) could cause problems down the road with future updates from Microsoft. Again, we have the above capture of a tweet by Brandon Watson reiterating Microsoft's stance on the whole shebang - users wont get past build 7390 with Walshie's tool. 

So if this runs true, who has to work for a fix? Microsoft, or will Walsh be continuously called upon by his faithful following to create more workarounds?

Source: Brandon Watson, via: wpsauce

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Team ChevronWP7 in full effect at MIX11

Wearing their gifted shirts from Microsoft (Brandon Watson confirms only 5 exist), the ChevronWP7 team is in force at MIX11 this week, blogging, covering the event and meeting with whose who in the Windows Phone world. And we must say, they're all stand up guys. So we had to grab this photo, because why not? From left to right: Chris Walsh (@chriswalshie, site), Raphael Rivera (@WithinRafael, site) and Long Zheng (@longzheng, site).

For those who don't remember, these were the folks to first jailbreak WP7, were invited to Redmond for some "talks" with Microsoft and have since continued being a creative thorn in Brandon Watson's side. Will we see more from them on the Windows Phone front? We'd bet on it..

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Chris Walsh, part of the ChevronWP7 team and responsible for the current ChevronWP7.Updater app, which used Microsoft's own tools to push NoDo to thousands of Windows Phones prematurely, has blogged about why he pulled the app.

On Monday, I released a homebrew utility that attempted to install unreleased updates to Windows Phone devices. The tool successfully passed my own tests involving multiple update scenarios.

I was later informed by Microsoft that there were several problems with my tool and the manner in which it changes phones.

Despite the fact that all outward signs indicate the phone has been updated to build 7390, Microsoft tells me otherwise. Part of the problem, the company says, is that I incorrectly used an undocumented API to deliver updates.

Most problematic, Microsoft tells me that updating in this manner will place devices in a "non-serviceable state". In its blog post describing the situation, Microsoft instead says devices updated in this manner "may" no longer receive updates

Not too much more info than we had previously reported, if anything this just confirms what we already know: users phones may or may not have problems in the future with later updates. We have had reports from users that after using this method, they still received notifications for OEM firmware updates which were then successfully installed--which bodes well for this "Microsoft is just being safe" idea.

Still, while using non-supported hacks to force system updates may not be the best idea, Walsh will be following up his post with details on what users should do next, since "official support" is not an option. It will be interesting to see in six months when thousands of users try to update to 'Mango', to say the least!

Source: My Coding Adventures

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Last night on the Twitter, Chris Walsh, aka one of the people who brought ChevronWP7 to the masses, was working on something "big", having Raphael Rivera testing something related to those new tools release by Microsoft. Those tools were meant to fix two rare but possible update errors people may be experiencing with the NoDo updater.

Turns out, when modified, those tools were able to force pre-NoDo and NoDo updates to any phone, any carrier with any language. Indeed. There's no sideloading here, no modifying of registries, etc. Just a multi-step process that will bring you the update to your phone right now.

Basically they’ve created a managed wrapper over the whole update process for us, rather nice of them.

So I flashed my HTC Mozart back to RTM (7004) via a ROM update HTC ship and whipped up a little application to flash pre-NoDo (7008), NoDo (7355), NoDo update 1 (7389) & NoDo update 2 (7390) all in a single process. No I don’t care which carrier you are on, which phone you have, it’ll just update your phone accordingly.

We really have to commend Microsoft here for being able to split up the OS updates into differential packs, which saves users downloading 200+ MB updates, unlike the IFruit updates.

All you need to do is run the ChevronWP7.Updater.exe console app and follow the prompts.

For the instructions and custom updater file (both for 32 and 64 bit Windows), go to Walsh's blog for more info. [Also, see Simple Mobile Review for a step-by-step walkthrough]

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The ChevronWP7 team finally got around to updating their blog regarding the recent meeting with Microsoft and the t-shirt heard around the world.

The team is of course under an agreed to non-disclosure agreement (NDA) so whatever details they can share are somewhat vague. But here's what we know:

  • They're "genuinely excited by many of the forward-looking presentations. We can only hope they come to fruition as soon as possible."
  • ChevronWP7 "...will work with Microsoft towards long-term solutions that support mutual goals of broadening access to the platform while protecting intellectual property and ensuring platform security."

And perhaps most importantly, we know that the unlocking tool will be disabled with the upcoming NoDo update--but they are "collaborating with Microsoft on an interim solution that will continue to support homebrew developments after the update.". No details were given on what exactly that means, but will be forthcoming. Some other information gleaned: no, your Xbox LIVE accounts won't be banned for using and unlocker and Rafael Rivera at least seems confident that we'll like the "short term stuff".

In addition, the team was able to play with and test the new update, confirming that the unlocker doesn't work and managed to receive some Asus E600 developer phones for their trouble.

In summary, while we only have some vague notion of feelings on the matter given from the team, it as least sounds as if they are satisfied and that Microsoft is working on some sort of "solution" to the homebrew question, something we vigorously support.

Source: ChevronWP7 Blog; Within Windows; @withinrafael

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Well, that answers that.

In the meeting with Microsoft, the ChevronWP7 team evidently brought up the issue of emulators, specifically the NES one floating around, which we took for a spin a few weeks ago.

The answer from Brandon Watson, Director of Developer Experience for WP7, should have been expected: unless there is a legal way to host and distribute those ROMs, it's a violation of IP law. The answer should be a no-brainer really and Microsoft would be putting themselves in an odd position with Nintendo if they were to allow such an app to be distributed. Heck, Microsoft is hesitant about adding a screen shot tool because of these issues, that should tell you something.

Still, here's to homebrew and sideloading!

Source: @BrandonWatson

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Oh Microsoft, this is why we like you and not say Sony or Apple, who take a different approach to jailbreaking.

Long Zheng and Raphael Rivera of ChevronWP7 met with Microsoft, including Brandon Watson to go over the whole jailbreaking thing, making the Marketplace more secure and discussing the future of Homebrew.

No details on progress was given, but at least the ChevronWP7 team got some t-shirts for their effort. Lulz.

Edit: Chris Walsh, the 3rd member of ChevronWP7, had a visa issue preventing him from physically being at Redmond, but he lets us know that he's there via video conferencing. Touche, Chris!

Source: iStartedSomething

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We’ve been covering the exploits of the ChevronWP7 team for a couple of months. From the original release and the various applications released for unlocked devices, to Microsoft having a heart-to-heart with the team and the subsequent discontinuation of the unlocker, it’s been a busy couple of months.

The stated reason for ChevronWP7 development being discontinued was that Microsoft was interested in officially facilitating the homebrew community, saying that this is an important area for consumers. It looks like Microsoft is putting action to their words. In a couple of tweets Microsoft’s Brandon Watson states that he is looking forward to hosting the ChevronWP7 team next week. Brandon also confirms that the hole that ChevronWP7 found has been closed, and recommends that any ideas or questions on the subject of homebrew development on Windows Phone 7 be directed to the ChevronWP7 team to be discussed next week.

What are your thoughts on the homebrew situation? Have you been using ChevronWP7? Is it good that Microsoft is being proactive? Talk it up in the comments.

Source @BrandonWatson (Tweet 1, Tweet 2)

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Last night, the ChevronWP7 team posted a new blog on their upcoming meeting with Microsoft in Redmond next week. At that discussion, they plan to put forth the argument as to why the Hombrew community is important as well as the general feeling on improving the OS:

We’ll be sharing our perspective on the homebrew potentials of Windows Phone 7 and some of the wider community feedback around the platform. In addition to our homebrew focus, we will also be pushing for stronger protection of WP7 developer intellectual property (IP) on the platform as we believe both can co-exist on the platform.

Sounds pretty good. But then again, there's certainly no commitment from Microsoft to embrace or work towards a hombrew community. It seems that you can only have it all open or all closed, but in between is hard to navigate. But hey, there's some smart people around discussing this stuff so maybe a workaround can be reached?

The second big bombshell is that ChevronWP7, technically discontinued, will no longer work after the upcoming 'NoDo' update:

Although this has been subtly communicated before, we’d like to reiterate Microsoft has informed us the “coding error” used in the ChevronWP7 unlocker will no longer work after the next Windows Phone 7 update (officially announced at CES 2011).

So that's that, evidently. Of course we imagine some other young, starry eyed team will come a long and we'll repeat the whole process by say....March or April. Much like the locked-unlocked-locked cycle of the iPhone and the Cydia community, this has the potential to go on for a long time. However, if Microsoft comes up with a Homebrew solution, that would easily nip in the bud the desire for more black-hat activities amongst the community.

Maybe we're cynical, but we're just not holding our breath on the homebrew thing happening. Your thoughts?

Source: ChevronWP7; via @ChrisWalshie

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Although porting HTC apps (like YouTube and their Weather Hub) to non-HTC devices is not going too smoothly as HTC has many "checks" in the way, the reverse seems doable.

XDA developer xboxmod has successfully ripped numerous Samsung-only apps and distributed the XAP files for others to install. All that is needed is an unlocked device (developer or ChevronWP7) and to install a certificate via email. Once loaded, the apps mostly seem to work fine although we had some hiccups with the German and movie apps. But, Samsung's NOW hub, which shows weather, news and stocks loads up just fine and pulls data with no issues as you can see above, running on our HD7.

Overall, we like where this is going and hope some LG apps, including their voice-to-text (found on the Quantum) can maybe make their way over to our phones. Then again, we're not sure how those OEMs feels about all of this, though we could imagine...

Source: XDA

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This one will cause a lot of envy amongst those with non-developer/ChevronWP7 unlocked phones. Developer CodeJoker has gone ahead and done the obvious: create a shortcut to the device WiFi settings. It's exactly what you think it would be--you tap the icon and you're at your configuration to turn WiFi on or off with a few less steps than the current setup. You simple install the XAP file and you're good to go, not really much to it and it works as advertised as you can see above.

Could this be technically submitted to the Marketplace and approved? We don't really see why not, it's not so much a hack and just creating a shortcut. But until then, you'll have to go the unlocked route. We're also pretty sure Microsoft has to be working on something similar from their end, hopefully some type of tile --> folder --> icons system, making such ritual changes much more easy.

Source: CodeJoker; via wmpoweruser

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Walking the fine line between black and white hat security, XDA member V@l€n has gone and posted a detailed "security whitepaper" on the state of app piracy in the Windows Phone Marketplace.

We almost hate to write on the topic since it will attract claims of supporting piracy,  but the fact is developers and Microsoft need to know just how vulnerable the platform is so that it can be improved on before it's a problem. And that's just it, right now there is no issue with app piracy for Windows Phone, but it is inching closer and once those few remaining hurdles are cleared, there will literally be a flood of pirated apps on the market.

But before we jump into all of that, lets detail exactly what is going on here. For better or worse, V@l€n has done a great job of outlining all the steps needed to make a ridiculous piracy campaign, showing all the necessary procedures that need to be cleared.

Follow us after the jump as we walk through this story...

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