Monthly Archives: November 2010

My thoughts on “My thoughts on ChevronWP7”

I would be lying if I said I didn’t think some people would get the wrong idea about ChevronWP7, which is why we went into great lengths to emphasis it is just an unlocking tool and even outlined our position on application piracy. What I didn’t think is that people would actually accuse us of advocating piracy itself.

One post in particular, “My Thoughts On ‘ChevronWP7′” by Michael B. McLaughlin is riddled with so many false allegations that begs a response. Although this post will be replying to excerpts of his writing directly, I hope this will help clear the air for others as well.

“ChevronWP7” is a “jail-breaking” thing

“Jailbreaking” is just a euphemism for “helping criminals steal from developers who depend on the software they write to help pay their rent, feed their kids, buy clothes, and meet the other ordinary expenses one incurs in life”.

First of all, the common understanding of a jailbreak is gaining root access to a device that otherwise has a limited API, which I might add was recently ruled a legal practice with the support of the EFF. Misrepresenting jailbreaking for application piracy is a far stretch of the truth.

I really don’t care what your motives are. The fact remains that you have created a tool, the sole purpose of which is to circumvent the security restrictions of the phone.

Personally I think my motives are pretty important in the context of this issue and that is to help develop a community of Windows Phone 7 homebrew developers and users.

Nevertheless, the sole purpose of the tool is also quite simple – to enable anyone to sideload an unpublished application to their Windows Phone 7 device.

I must emphasize the ability to sideload and run unpublished applications is a supported functionality of all Windows Phone 7 devices. Although not enabled by default, it’s a behavior embedded into the design of the operating system itself. That’s all ChevronWP7 does.

You say that the tool can’t be used to illegally load apps from the marketplace. How should we know? Because you say so?

Anyone who thinks that doesn’t hasten the arrival of pirated apps is deluding themselves. You’ve moved the ball forward on that. You. Not someone else. The fact that someone else might have done it eventually anyway doesn’t make it any less harmful and doesn’t make it “OK” that you did it.

We say this because none of our efforts has any effect or influence on what would be necessary for application piracy. Microsoft has implemented what we understand to be sufficient anti-piracy protection on all applications published on the Marketplace and it’s not our intention to break them.

Of course someone out there could be attempting to break that protection, but our tool and efforts does not aide them since it makes no modifications to the operating system’s security mechanisms.

Just to play devil’s advocate, even if the protection is compromised, we would support Microsoft hardening its anti-piracy mechanisms for published applications since it should not have any impact on any homebrew efforts outside of the Marketplace.

Do whatever it takes to help yourself get to sleep at night. Because being a celebrity is totally worth being a sociopath without any concern for your fellow human beings. Isn’t it?

As someone who tries to be a compassionate and considerate person and member of society, this is extremely offensive.

Microsoft banning you would simply be them sticking up for us. It’s their call how to deal with this abominable act of yours, of course. But don’t harbor any illusions that developers would universally support you. This developer, at least, most certainly would not.

I fully intend to pursue my goal to enhance the Windows Phone 7 experience for myself and anyone else who understands the nature of our work. It’s a shame Michael doesn’t feel the same way.

Update: The first homebrew Windows Phone 7 application that enables custom ringtones has just been released.

Update 2: We have a new blog post “Pursuing the future of homebrew on Windows Phone 7“.

ChevronWP7: Windows Phone 7 unlocker released

ChevonWP7

After many long hours of Skype banter over the past week, we’ve finally opened Pandora’s box.

Today, together with Rafael Rivera and Chris Walsh, we’re releasing an elegantly simple tool to allow any user to unlock any retail Windows Phone 7 device for application side-loading (without having a WP7 marketplace registration account which costs US$99/year).

You can find the download and keep track of any further homebrew developments on the official ChevronWP7 group blog.

As I advocated previously, I believe having broader access to a device is both important to developers who might want to push the boundaries of what is “permitted” by just the public APIs, and users who may want to further customize and tweak their device (e.g. ringtones, custom theme colors, hardware search button, WiFi hotspot).

Windows Phone 7 homebrew developers, start your engines.

Update: If anyone was concerned about piracy, please read “Our stance on piracy” post.

Update 2: I have another followup post clearing up some further false allegations surrounding ChevronWP7 and piracy.

Update 3: We have a new blog post “Pursuing the future of homebrew on Windows Phone 7“.

Reading between the lines: Windows Home Server code name “Vail”– Update

When we first started designing Windows Home Sever code name “Vail” one of our initial focuses was to continue to provide effortless support for multiple internal and external hard drives.

Like a sane person, we started out designing the next version of our product with the same key selling point as our previous version.

Drive Extender provided the ability to take the small hard drives many small businesses and households may have acquired, and pool them together in a simple volume.

Drive Extender was awesome. Oh I’m such a tease.

During our current testing period for our Windows Home Server code name “Vail” product, we have received feedback from partners and customers about how they use storage today and how they plan to use it moving forward.

It’s not me. It’s you.

Today large hard drives of over 1TB are reasonably priced, and freely available. We are also seeing further expansion of hard drive sizes at a fast rate, where 2Tb drives and more are becoming easy accessible to small businesses. Since customers looking to buy Windows Home Server solutons from OEM’s will now have the ability to include larger drives, this will reduce the need for Drive Extender functionality.

I’m going to lie and say there is no difference between separate individual drives and a pool of drives. Ignore the fact that a storage pool is still applicable to larger drives as it was for smaller drives.

When weighing up the future direction of storage in the consumer and SMB market, the team felt the Drive Extender technology was not meeting our customer needs.

The maths was too hard. We can’t figure it out.

Therefore, moving forward we have decided to remove the Drive Extender technology from Windows Home Server Code Name “Vail” (and Windows Small Business Server 2011 Essentials and Windows Storage Server 2008 R2 Essentials) which are currently in beta.

You know that piece of candy we already gave you? We’re taking it back.

While this removes the integrated ability for storage pooling of multiple hard drives and automated data duplication, we are continuing to work closely with our OEM partners to implement storage management and protection solutions, as well as other software solutions. This will provide customers greater choice as well as a seamless experience that will meet their storage needs. Customers will also have access to the in-built storage solutions Windows Server 2008 R2 provides for data protection.

We pray one of our pals is going to cover our ass.

We are also still delivering core features such as automated Server and PC backup, easy sharing of folders and files, Remote Web Access and simplified management without any expected changes.

Our product is now reduced to the functionality of common NAS solutions.

Target product availability is still H1 2011, and we expect to deliver a new beta without drive extender for Windows Home Server Code Name “Vail” early in the New Year.

Keep an eye out for the headless chicken.

Update: A petition in the Windows Home Server “Vail” beta site on Microsoft Connect to bring back Drive Extender is already 600 votes strong at the time of writing. How’s that for “feedback from customers”.

“Be what’s next” makes first public cameo in Microsoft recruiting promo material

Microsoft’s got a new tagline and isn’t afraid to use it. Having just being registered at the US Trademark Office earlier this month, Microsoft is already putting good use of “Be what’s next” in a series of promotional material for a new college recruiting campaign dubbed “A Playground Of Innovation” as exhibited by creative agency Mondo Robot.

Although the video and print material (embedded below) aren’t the most exciting thing in the world, what’s interesting is how fast Microsoft has begun adopting the use of the new tagline for a company its size and marketing scope.

Considering this is the first of presumably many marketing material refreshes to come (with the new straighter logo), it’s actually a little odd seeing a tagline under Microsoft’s logo after years long absence of its previous tagline “Your potential. Our Passion.”

Nevertheless, I like it. Especially with as many product offerings and business groups as Microsoft, it’s good to have, or at least have the appearance of, a single focus for the brand and everyone associated with it.

Windows Phone 7 native access enables prototype augmented reality app

And so it begins. Just days after the breakthroughs in Windows Phone 7 native COM access by enthusiast folks on xda-developers like Chris Walsh, WP7 developers are beginning to explore the full and uncharted capabilities of the platform.

As noted by Gilbert Corrales, Kevin Marshall from WP7 development house Clarity Consulting has posted a YouTube video of a Silverlight application taking advantage of the native camera APIs that allows him to easily utilize a Silverlight augmented reality framework, SLARToolkit, to build a sample AR app.

Of course, augmented reality is not currently possible with the public WP7 SDK due to a lack of a camera API. No doubt Microsoft will eventually add such an API among many others in the future, but it would be naive to think a tightly controlled framework will enable or even allow all the possibilities of a platform and what people might want to do with their devices.

I for one can’t wait for a WP7 jailbreak and a marketplace for jailbroken applications.

Windows 7, Windows Live and Windows Phone 7 comes together to make sweet music

[flv:wincloud.f4v 670 380]

It’s one thing to read about utopian use cases for the Windows 7 and Windows Live ecosystem, but nothing beats watching real people putting it into use to create something amazing.

From the same director of the recently popular Blu-ray PC vs Mac ad, Keith Rivers also produced and directed this 2:30min spot featuring the entire family of Microsoft’s consumer offerings – Windows 7, Windows Live Essentials 2011, Skydrive, Office Web Apps and Windows Phone 7.

According to Keith, who was a fan of this up and coming musician Andrew Belle, this commercial documentary/music video for the song was very much inspired by real events that occurred over a matter of weeks in September this year. Shot with a Canon 5Dmk2 complimented with a great soundtrack, the ad looks and sounds drop dead gorgeous. It’s a pretty compelling story too.

For the icing on the cake, you can actually download the featured song “Sky’s Still Blue” from Microsoft.com or get it on Zune Marketplace for free. Andrew just earned himself a new fan.

Update: The original Vimeo video has been removed for some reason, I’ve embedded a copy from Microsoft’s website.