Right, it’s good to be back. This is news from last week, but heck, it’s relevant for me since I just got my HTC HD7 Windows Phone 7 device. Anyway, if you’re running a very large company in the business of selling phones, gadgets, and so on, there are several ways to deal with jailbreakers. It seems like Microsoft is one of the few companies who knows what it needs to do.
Long-time Windows specialists Rafael Rivera, Chris Walsh, and Long Zheng, who together make up ChevronWP7, released the first Windows Phone 7 jailbreak tool a few months ago, were asked by Microsoft to take their tool offline and come join the company in Redmond to discuss how to best address the homebrew issue.
This talk took place last week, and it appears to have been a productive and fun get-together. Microsoft showed they were good sports by giving them some fun t-shirts (‘I was the first to jailbreak Windows Phone 7, and all I got was this lousy t-shirt.’), but of course, that wasn’t the most important aspect of the talks. Much of the information from the talks is under NDA, but the ChevronWP7 team did get to share that going forward, they’re going to work together with Microsoft to bring a permanent solution for homebrew development to Windows Phone 7.
“To address our goals of homebrew support on Windows Phone 7, we discussed why we think it’s important, the groups of people it affects, its direct and indirect benefits and how to manage any risks,” they explained, “With that in mind, we 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.”
This seems like a good approach to me. It would be great if Sony, Apple, Microsoft, and several Android phone makers would implement a simple development switch in their phones – these would obviously void the warranty, but it would give hackers the opportunity to actually own their devices without fear of having to jailbreak all over again whenever an update arrives.
It seems like Microsoft is serious about this. Geohot, famed iPhone and Playstation 3 hacker and jailbreaker, said on his website he’d move his attention towards Windows Phone 7. Not long after, Microsoft’s head of Developer Experience for Windows Phone 7, tweeted that Microsoft would simply give geohot a Windows Phone 7 devices for free – “let dev creativity flourish”.
This isn’t particularly surprising, by the way, to anyone who ever spent any serious amount of time in the Windows Mobile community of yore. Microsoft pretty much looked away and silently approved the modding community there. Several websites were openly dedicated to spreading modified Windows Mobile ROMs, and Microsoft was okay with it.
This is an obligatory comment. The NEXUS from Google do have such a switch. You go the phone setting, enable USB debugging and using Google tools, you can plug your phone and turn off the protection. The phone will reboot and ask confirmation, wipe out everything and give you root access with a warning that your phone is unlocked at boot.
This seem to be a good way to me. I rooted it the hard way because I didn’t wanted to redo my configs, but it is cool to be able to do it “legally” too. (legally as USA point of view, soon to come in Canada, NewZeland and others).
Most readers here can at least think of one cool thing to do with rooted devices. Mine was mostly about backup (git repo as home folder), ssh, port forward and SSHFS/NFS share to quickly access my desktop files directly from any applications that can read/upload file. Doing any of those could have been done anyway, but required a bunch of additional applications, services, memory and lagg. To OSS hacker like me, being able to play with my own toys is cool, but let face it, it’s just me/us.
How many time have you installed Windows on your (larger) family PCs? How many time to you see viruses in their computer after their 14 years old kid have installed smiley packs or cursor theme (and porn)? Could this happen in non-rooted iOS like OSes? Yes, but it is a lot easier to manage when someone else is admin and can push updates at will (apple can, but dont do it). I think for 95% of peoples, hard platform is better. Without any way to compromise it at the exception of buffer overflow, no switch, nothing. Like that, there would be 99% less spam in the world and 99% less viruses, because propagation would be slower without botnet.
I know it is hard for us to accept that, and we will always want the option to improve our gadgets, but this is -because we know what we are doing-, this is not the case for 99%+ of the world. The other 4% is to use a device in special way, like dashboard for an headless robot and stuff that require kernel drivers. 90% of driver could exist in userspace with good io libraries, but 90% is not 100%.
Edited 2011-01-25 22:41 UTC