After releasing the first Windows Phone 7 sideloading tool, giving end-users the ability to put the apps of their choice on their smartphones without needing a developer account, the ChevronWP7 team started talking with Microsoft, had a change of heart, pulled their tool, and decided to go all white-hat and team up with the company to develop an officially-sanctioned way to get apps on your WP7 phone. Today the team announced ChevronWP7 Labs, a developer resource that will include an unlocking service, as well as revealing that you’ll have to pay for that privilege.
Full details of what ChevronWP7 Labs will entail will be revealed soon, hopefully along with what kind of “small fee” the team has in mind for charging its users. Yes, we get that they’ve put time and effort into their tools, and it would be nice to see them compensated, but wasn’t the whole point of their initial release to give you a way to avoid paying Microsoft’s $99 developer fee? A smaller fee is still a fee.
We’re obviously not opposed to paying for apps and smartphone-related services, but it’s free to jailbreak an iPhone, and it’s free to root your Android, so why should WP7 be the outlier? It just feels wrong to have to shell-out in order to run your own code on WP7 devices, when the hackers who create tools for the other platforms release most of them for free. Is this a consequence of getting in bed with Microsoft, a stipulation the company demanded? We’d be interested to see if any developer or group emerges as the new ChevronWP7, and releases its own, free tool to enable sideloading in the future.