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Windows Phone 7 jailbreak withdrawn after Microsoft offers compromise

The makers of a tool that lets you sideload home-made apps on to your Windows Phone 7 phone have discontinued it after being offered an olive branch by Microsoft.

The ChevronWP7 tool that allowed people to unlock Windows Phone 7 phones has been withdrawn by the developers after Microsoft got in touch with a compromise over homebrew apps.

Microsoft "has agreed to engage in further discussions with us about officially facilitating homebrew development on WP7," the ChevronWP7 developers wrote on their blog. "To fast-track discussions, we are discontinuing the unlocking tool effective immediately."

ChevronWP7 was targeted at developers who wanted to install home-made apps on their phones without going through the official Windows Marketplace app store or purchasing a developer account. It didn't affect the SIM lock that limits a phone to work only on a particular network.

We're impressed Microsoft is reaching out to talk to hackers, rather than reaching for the cease-and-desist letters -- assuming it didn't just leave a horse's head in their beds. It remains to be seen how the company will help people who want to play in their phones' sandbox, without worrying about digitally signing or publishing their apps.

Microsoft knows it's got to tempt developers to Windows Phone 7, which is sprinting to catch up with the app stores on other platforms. Apple's iOS and Android both have over 100,000 apps in their shops, while Windows Phone 7 has roughly 3,000, according to its developer blog.

The company seems to take the challenge seriously -- the ChevronWP7 team was contacted by Brandon Watson, who has been tasked by Microsoft with "getting our developer mojo back".

Previously, the makers of the unlocking tool denied that it would encourage pirated apps and discourage developers from contributing new ones to the Marketplace. They insisted that Marketplace apps have sufficient security measures so that you can't sideload them -- that is, transfer them directly to your phone without using the app store -- or run them on your phone, whether it's unlocked or not.