The ChevronWP7 team announced this past summer plans to start offering a new alternative to getting a Windows Phone developer account, letting you unlock your handset for use with homebrew apps. Today they’re announcing the availability of the fruits of their labor, launching ChevronWP7 Labs and starting to offer that unlock service.
Unlike rooting your Android, or jailbreaking your iPhone, gaining control over your smartphone through ChevronWP7 Labs doesn’t involve any software exploits and operates under Microsoft’s blessing; that’s a two-way street, and keeping things on the up-and-up also means that you’ll have to pay $9 per handset to unlock it.
Once you pay your $9, you’ll receive a digital “unlock token” which is then used along with a desktop app to actually unlock the phone. Once that’s done, you’re all ready to start sideloading apps to your phone.
There’s little denying that the availability of this service is a fantastic resource for Windows Phone enthusiasts, and seriously lowers the financial bar for what you need to get into WP7 app development. That said, there’s something fundamentally wrong with having to pay a fee in order to run the code of your choice on a device you own; it doesn’t matter if it’s $9 or $99. We hold out hope for the day some hackers with different motivations come out with a good exploit that will bring WP7 unlocks to the masses without having to make concessions to Microsoft.