“Microsoft is interested in further understanding the “Home Brew” developer community’s perspectives on Windows Phone and invited a few members to our Redmond campus last week for an exchange of ideas,” a Microsoft spokeswoman told Wired.com.
This friendly approach even managed to impress George Hotz, the youngster who gained fame as the first hacker to unlock the iPhone.
“Perhaps a more appropriate way to deal with jailbreakers,” Hotz wrote on his website, linking to a story about a Windows Phone 7 hacker getting a free T-shirt.
Brandon Watson, who is part of Microsoft’s developer relations team, posted a public message on Twitter offering Hotz a free phone for making apps.
Microsoft’s friendly interactions with hackers are unusual in a highly litigious technology industry. Recently, Sony asked a court to remove all traces of a PlayStation 3 hack from the internet, alleging that it violated copyright law and would eat into PS3 game sales.
Similarly, Apple in 2009 attempted to make jailbreaking the iPhone illegal. The move was unsuccessful, as the DMCA in 2010 declared hacking the iPhone lawful. Jobs once described Apple’s relationship with iPhone jailbreakers as a “cat-and-mouse game.”
Of course, the PlayStation 3 and iPhone are far more popular than Microsoft’s newest mobile operating system, which debuted in October, 2010. As of December, an estimated 1.5 million Windows Phone 7 devices had shipped to retailers, and there were just 4,000 apps available for the platform. Recruiting hackers could be part of a much-needed developer- and customer-outreach campaign.
Microsoft isn’t being a complete pushover, of course. The first jailbreak for Windows Phone 7, dubbed ChevronWP7, will be broken with the next Windows Phone 7 software update, according to ChevronWP7’s makers. However, that seems to be a temporary roadblock.
The ChevronWP7 team says it’s under a non-disclosure agreement with Microsoft about just what will be officially supported with regard to Windows Phone 7 hacks, but that it’s “genuinely excited” about what lies ahead.
“We appreciate Microsoft’s outreach, genuine interest and involvement in this matter and we hope the community can understand we’re working towards a win-win scenario,” ChevronWP7 wrote in its blog.