WP7.5 Breakthrough—Run .EXE Code Natively on Stock, Unlocked Roms
We recently saw the announcement of the newest contender in the market for mobiles—WP8. However, do you think that the short-lived WP7+ would be left for dead before it could begin taking off in the underground development scene? Lots of devs who are still loyal to the Microsoft brand are working hard to try and make the best out of this newly endangered species. Even with Microsoft’s insane and quite possibly over the top restrictions and locks to their WP7 platform, people like XDA Recognized Developer Heathcliff74 still like to tinker with the idea that there is far more than meets the eye, and are willing to go the extra mile to find out.
For approximately 1 year, Heathcliff74 had been looking at ways to try and get programs to run on WP7+ without the need of Silverlight—by running them directly on the device. To put a bit of background on this, most Windows Phone apps are coded with Silverlight as a “launching pad.” By this, I mean that the apps themselves in their raw executable forms cannot be launched simply because they cannot be signed due to not having a valid certificate and as a result, the OS will not recognize them as valid WP7 applications. Having said that, WP7 does have the ability to run code without the need of Silverlight, as it can be seen from native exe’s from Microsoft, which run perfectly well on the device. The dev saw this and figured, “why not?”
The previously mentioned certificates are stored somewhere in the device, and in order to convince the device to sign the homebrew app, it must find the corresponding certificate. Creating and adding the certificates to the correct place was the complex part as this is heavily protected against write access. However, after lots of research, trial and error, and some help from XDA Elite Recognized Developer Cotulla, the dev was finally able to add the certificates that he required to run code in the device. Now, please note that Custom ROMs already have this capability. Heathcliff’s main goal was to be able to do this for devices that would not be loaded with anything other than stock ROMs.
While not yet released, Heathcliff74 says that he will implement it in his WP7 Root Tools suite—so keep your eyes peeled for these, as they should become available soon. In the meantime, please do not ask the dev for ETAs.
On Custom ROMs with Full Unlock it was already possible to run homebrew executables. For stock ROMs with Interop Unlock there is WP7 Root Tools which allows Policy Unlock for Silverlight applications. But running homebrew executables like Opera Mini was still not possible.
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