A new piece of software is promising to give Windows Phone 7 owners an alternative to Microsoft's Windows Phone Marketplace when it comes to installing applications.
The third-party tool, dubbed "ChevronWP7," was released late last week, and opens up the phone for the side-loading of applications. That means end users can add applications to their phones directly, instead of having to go through Microsoft's Zune software, or the phone's built-in application directory and installer. That said, it's not a third-party application repository, or an alternative to the application storefront Microsoft currently offers.
The three creators of the software say the tool has not been designed for the piracy of applications. Rather, it's been made to "enable and create WP7 homebrew applications that cannot be submitted to the Marketplace in the first place." That includes applications that make use of private, or native application programming interfaces, as well as ones that do not meet Microsoft's content guidelines and technical certification requirements--all things that would keep them from making the cut.
The other reason for the software, the developers said, was to bypass Microsoft's $99 developer registration fee, which is first required to enable the existing side-loading functionality on the device.
A Microsoft spokesperson told blog WinRumors that such an exploit was "anticipated," but that "attempting to unlock a device could void the warranty, disable phone functionality, interrupt access to Windows Phone 7 services or render the phone permanently unusable." One of ChevronWP7's creators, Rafael Rivera has since refuted the statement, saying that it's unfounded. "This is patently false as we use the same exact procedure the official Phone Registration tool uses," he said.
Microsoft, like Apple, is one of the few OS-makers to keep side-loading of applications off its phones. Google, RIM, Nokia, and Palm all allow users to install and run applications outside of a marketplace, while still offering one of their own.