With the shuttering of the ChevronWP7 Labs unlock project, Windows Phone continues to not seem like the most accessible platform for homebrew development. Some users turn to custom ROMs, fully unlocking their handsets, but that isn’t an option for everyone. There’s another solution, though, which is starting to look more and more attractive, letting users run native code on their phones through some digital signature trickery.
Windows Phone verifies apps that Microsoft has approved for execution in such a native mode by checking a digital signature against the company’s certificate, stored on the phone. Without the company’s private signing key, homebrew developers can’t deliver their own apps that pass the check and run in a similar fashion.
It turns out there’s a way around this on stock firmware, even if it is a little convoluted. The trick is to install a new certificate, so you can sign an app yourself and have its signature check-out on the phone.
That’s easier said than done, limiting the practicality of this method for the time being, but it’s an intriguing idea, all the same. In time, there’s a good chance that a polished version of this method will come to a future version of WP7 Root Tools.