When you’re installing smartphone software from unofficial channels, there’s always a lingering fear that something will go wrong and you’ll ruin your phone. Most of the time, things work out for the best, especially when you’re patient, read all the documentation, and understand what you’re doing, but there can be a very fine line between no problems and big problems. Even when we’re not looking at intentional malware, it doesn’t take much for an app to really screw things up. The latest cautionary tale comes from Windows Phone 7 land, where even trying to remove an app can break phone functionality.
DFRouter is a homebrew app that allows you to use USB tethering with your HTC WP7 device. In doing so, it changes the smartphone’s USB mode, so that it will support the tethering connection instead of looking for Zune when attached to a PC. All’s well and good until the app goes away before you have a chance to switch back to the Zune-supporting USB configuration. Even though the author specifically warns against doing so, this can happen if you uninstall the app before making the change, or if your side-loaded apps get revoked by Microsoft.
For now, there’s no obvious way to get a WP7 phone in such a state back to the point where it can connect to Zune. Users in the XDA-Developers forum and a Microsoft MVP on the company’s site agree that the only thing to do at that point is to return the phone for a replacement.
First we had the ChevronWP7.Updater requiring a special fix to get phones it was used on back to where they could get normal updates, and now this mess? Is Windows Phone 7 earning a reputation as a platform that’s dangerous to experiment on?