Windows Phone has a very ironic history. Back in the mid-2000s it was the operating system for hackers, tinkerers and those looking to push the boundaries of mobile computing. Even I got my start making custom ROMs on Windows Mobile Treos.
Fast forward by a decade and now it is Android that serves that role with Windows Phone taking a place closer to the iPhone as opposed to an 'open sourced' OS.
Tonight, some of that may change. XDA hacker and all around mobile guru Heathcliff has announced the availability of his new suite of tools dubbed Windows Phone Internals 1.0. The new software has been under development for many months now and lets higher-end hobbyists "unlock the bootloader of selected Lumia Windows Phone models. After unlocking the bootloader, you can enable Root Access on the phone or create and flash Custom ROM's."
The software supports "most versions of Windows Phone 8.1 and Windows 10 Mobile", which is very interesting.
All in all, there is not much else to say except that this software for the first time opens the doors to Windows Phone custom ROM development. Although such practices fall outside the purview of many regular customers, arguably it is the hackers and programmers who push the boundaries of OS development. Attracting this crowd to Windows Phone again could give a nice shot in the arm to what is an OS constantly trying to find its place in the world. Indeed, it is only because Android is so hackable that it has managed to find its niche, and now that spotlight can come to Windows Phone too.
Heathcliff has posted two videos where he describes how the tools work. The platform merely sets the stage for more custom ROM development and work, meaning there is not much to see yet.
Now that these tools are available to anyone, we should start to see more advances in customs ROMs and pushing the core of the Windows 10 OS to its boundaries. That alone should be very interesting. Whereas Android is just a mobile OS, the kernel underlying Windows 10 Mobile is potentially much more powerful.
Head to WPInternals.net to read more about the tools and check out the videos above to get an idea of what is in store. Windows Central will be following the progress of Windows Phone Internals, so stay tuned.
Small warning: The tools presented here should only be used by those who understand the underlying architecture of Windows Phone and Windows 10 Mobile. Using them unsupervised could result in damaged and unrecoverable phones, so please be careful.
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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.