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Updated: Microsoft vs. XDA Developers (or not)

It was bound to happen sooner or later, and in a way it shouldn't be a big surprise. On Jan. 22, XDA Developers Member Da_G ported and posted a Windows Mobile 6.5 ROM for the HTC Fuze/Touch Pro. This was a popular cooked ROM that developed a healthy following. If you were one of the many who flashed this ROM, consider yourself amongst the lucky ones. Now, after receiving a "legal complaint" from Microsoft, XDA pulled the links for the cooked ROM as well as other ROMs based on Windows Mobile 6.5.

It also looks like Microsoft is monitoring mirror sites that provide downloads for unlicensed (read: cooked) of Windows Mobile 6.5 as well as Windows Mobile 6.1. Hosting sites have received e-mails sent out by James Young, Internet Investigator on behalf of Microsoft. 

The e-mails identify the site as distributing unlicensed material and state,

"We hereby give notice of these activities to you and request that you take expeditious action to remove or disable access to the material described above, and thereby prevent the illegal reproduction and distribution of this copyright work(s) via your company's network."

While Windows 6.1 was mentioned in the email, it appears that the developers of WM 6.5 ROMs were the target of the investigation. Several Windows Mobile 6.1 based ROMs still are available over at XDA.

We will admit to being of two minds on the issue: it's more than reasonable to argue that distributing unreleased and even cooked ROMs is piracy, so Microsoft is well within its rights to shut that stuff down. Add in the likely possibility that 6.5 won't run that well on current hardware and will therefore give a bad impression to users, and it's no surprise that Microsoft put the hammer down. On the other hand, ROM cooking is one of the more exciting (and loyalty-inducing) things going on in the Windows Mobile world (and especially in HTC circles) right now, so it's a bit of a shame to see it tamped down.

There's no telling how all this will play out. It may simply drive the development and distribution of cooked ROMs more underground. Two things are for certain: XDA-Developers.com has definitely seen an increase in traffic, and there are a lot of unhappy chefs in the kitchen.

Read: Fuze Mobility

Update: Looks like this James Young guy might not be on the level. More over at XDA.

Phil is the father of two beautiful girls and is the Dad behind Modern Dad. Before that he spent seven years at the helm of Android Central. Before that he spent a decade in a newsroom of a two-time Pulitzer Prize-finalist newspaper. Before that — well, we don't talk much about those days. Subscribe to the Modern Dad newsletter!

15 Comments
  • Whatever. Just keep doing your thing, XDA. MS isnt going to go through all the trouble of shutting down anyone because Win Mobile was ported to a 3 year old PDA that was never going to get the update anyway. iPaq hx2790
  • ppcgeeks and XDA has always been a bit hypocritical about this sort of thing. they are very against piracy, but at the same time, they strongly encourage piracy. the only defense in the past I was able to give them was due to the way MS licensed windows mobile, namely that a windows mobile 5 license was the same license as a 6 and 6.1. So any device was really already licensed for 6 and 6.1 so one could argue there was no piracy going on, as people were running code they were licensed to run (albiet the people distributing it had no right). but that changes with 6.5 as microsoft is saying that 6.1 devices can't be upgraded to it except if they come with certain features b4hand which none of today's devices do. still think microsoft loses more than they gain in this regard.
  • The operating system isn't the only thing that has to be licensed. In some cases the drivers on the devices may have licenses associated with them.
  • The folks at XDA will keep doing what they do. It's in their nature. They love to tinker and customize and WM still offers the best platform for that on the cell front. But if Microsoft starts pursuing them too aggressively they do run the risk of alienating some of their most vocal brand evangelists (and it's not like they have a whole lot of us on the mobile front.)
  • MS can go the rout of persecuting it's customers f it wants to turn into the RIAA/MPAA. then the outlaws will give up on it as soon as alternatives like Linux in it's various flavours (Android, Limo) become interesting to tinker..... and with a last foul, greedy expression of insecurity, MS will have lost it's last remnants through it's grubby fingers.
  • There are only two reasons I'm currently considering a Windows Mobile phone at the moment is because of XDA developers (and alike) and WVGA. Remove either component and the next phone will most likely be one of the many good rival products. Zuber
  • Something about this seems suspicious to me, If MS was sending out cease & desist orders wouldn't it come from their Legal Department? WTH is an Internet Investigator? I've heard previous mention of this James Young character, and his email domain etc was traced to the UK, isn't MS headquartered in Seattle?
  • @Comment #2:
    Actutally Microsoft itself doesn't care, they don't license to the end user. A while ago someone from MS posted there and basically said that what they were doing was pretty nice and that they had no problem with it but if they had to take any measure it would be because of their customers, not MS itself because they do not lose money when you upgrade your device as manufacturers purchase licenses in bulk.
  • I read on ppcgeeks that they are thinking that this is a hoax and not even someone from ms sending the emails. Read about it here. http://forum.ppcgeeks.com/showthread.php?t=60914
  • micro$H1T can go to hell if they stop xda the ONLY reason windows mobile is worth it is because of these people. the usless goon at microsoft dont know a thing about their own stuff. their slow development since 2000 is a joke
  • I predicted this ! http://forum.ppcgeeks.com/showthread.php?t=54422 Personally I blame the blogs. Re posting every single link of 6.5's progress. Sometimes multiple times a day. But never once did they host a rom on their servers.... I know this sounds sour. But it is the truth. There is plenty of PPC tips and content to go around. The Rom world is a very slippery slope and this much attention should not be brought to it. I'm not pointing fingers, all of the PPC blogs are guilty of this. Sorry just my two cents
  • until this guy gives us some proof here is 6.5 21176 for anyone that wants it -JUST LIKE HOT DOUGHNUTS AND COLD MILK- get it while you can: http://www.mediafire.com/download.php?mqrylnimigc HERE IT IS
  • this was quoted by herg62123 at www.fuzemobility.com by the way
  • I think, there is even no James Young works in Microsoft.
  • If there's no cook ROM , then I ll definately go for a normal feature phone.... maybe the HTC diamond will be my last Windows mobile phone....