ElCondor · Jan 8, 2011 at 06:00 pm

Interview with Third Party Windows Phone 7 Developers Part 1: Rafael Rivera (ChevronWP7)

Third party Windows Phone 7 development is in full swing; the first unlockers and lower-level applications are rolling out. Steve Ballmer isn’t happy with this progress. Yet, not really surprisingly, we are. In these interviews, we’ll dive further into the future of the third party Windows Phone 7 development. What can we expect? Will there be custom ROMs in future? But before we start to talk about the future, it might be an idea to look at the past WP7 development.

It basically started with ChevronWP7, created by Rafael Rivera, Chris Walsh and Long Zheng. As most of you know, ChevronWP7 is an unlocker which removes certain certificates that are responsible for not being able to install and run non-marketplace apps. It was a game-changer. Again, it was proven that anything is hackable. Almost immediately, Microsoft reacted and talked with the ChevronWP7 developers about the tool. Before we talk about the outcome of those conversations, let’s continue with some other tools and hacks.

ChevronWP7 continued with a ringtone installer that enabled installing custom ringtones on Windows Phone 7. The first file explorer for WP7, called Touchxplorer, became available. XDA member tom_codon created an .xap installer which lets you install custom .xap files (which work the same like the .cab files for Windows Mobile).  And the list goes on.

So, what can we expect in the future? Custom ROMs for Windows Phone 7? Or less restrictions from Microsoft to give homebrew developers more possibilities?
To learn more about that, and to understand what’s going on in the current development progress, we thought it would be a good idea to have a little talk with some people that are working behind the scenes.

First off, we start with an interview with Rafael Rivera. Together with Chris Walsh and Long Zheng, he elaborated on the ChevronWP7 project.

Rafael, thank you for taking your time to answer our questions; we really appreciate your efforts.
The ChevronWP7 tool you created was the first hack for Windows Phone 7. When did you start with the development of that tool?

Rafael: ChevronWP7 simply used components in place to support the normal Windows Phone Developer Registration process. Because everything was already in place, development time was short. We spent more time setting up the Tumblr blog I believe.

What was the main goal of ChevronWP7 when you started working on it? And did you achieve that goal?

Rafael: We have many goals. One of our goals was to increase developer visibility of the Windows Phone 7 platform by removing Marketplace registration requirements. With this out of the way, anyone on Earth with a phone could play. Did we achieve this goal? Absolutely.

A few days after the release of the tool, it turned out Microsoft wasn’t really happy with it.– They contacted you and you had a discussion with them. Can you tell us a bit more how everything went? How did you feel about it? What was the result of the conversation?

Rafael: There was no question as to if Microsoft would contact us. It was merely a question of when and how painful would it be. Long Zheng simply got a note about an upcoming telephone conference, we all joined, and we all talked. Discussions were calm and understanding; they heard our homebrew message loud and clear and want to discuss it in January.
We pulled the tool shortly thereafter as a good faith measure to place their focus back onto making Windows Phone 7 rock. (We’re not quite there yet.)

So in other words, the reason you pulled the tool is to leave Microsoft alone to let them work on Windows Phone 7. Is that your only reason or was there some kind of pressure from Microsoft? So, is this basically a timeout, to test Microsoft to see if they added some more homebrew possibilities in their next update?

Rafael: To clarify, we pulled the tool so it wasn’t the focus of Microsoft’s attention anymore. It’s hard to sit down and have productive talks with Microsoft when they’re worrying about ChevronWP7, its PR effects, and legal implications.
We won’t see any homebrew capabilities in the next update. In fact, the next update will be a tiny step backwards. (ChevronWP7 is allegedly being rendered inoperable.) Hopefully, we’ll see welcome changes in the second update.

Does that mean that, after the update, programs like Touchxplorer and Tom XAP installer cannot be used anymore? I would rather call that a big step instead of a tiny step backwards. What concrete changes to the OS have you requested in your conversation with Microsoft?

Rafael: It’s alleged that unofficially unlocked phones will re-lock and will not be unlockable with ChevronWP7. Officially unlocked devices, however, will still happily execute these homebrew applications. We haven’t made any requests or changes yet; we have yet to meet up with Microsoft. (That’ll happen January 17th.) If readers want to chime in on what changes they feel passionate about, shoot us an email: chevronwp7+homebrew@gmail.com

So, leaving the reader’s requests out, what things would you like to see changed in Windows Phone 7?

Rafael: My personal list includes (but isn’t limited to):

* Improved camera application (settings storage, mainly)
* A proper Windows Live Messenger client (the current application is official, but obviously sucks)
* Multiple Google calendar support
* Fixed IMAPS port
* Clamping of data usage on cellular networks

Concluding this interview, do you think there will be custom Windows Phone 7 ROMs in future?

Rafael: The kitchens at XDA Developers are open 24/7. :)

So, let’s hope they will cook up something that’ll work! Thanks again Rafael, we’re looking forward to the results of your conversations with Microsoft on January 17th.

Bringing everything to a conclusion, what would you like to see happen to Windows Phone 7 in future? Let us know in the comments below!


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ElCondor

ElCondor is an editor on XDA-Developers, the largest community for Android users. View ElCondor's posts and articles here.
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