When hackers are playing with your platform, you can either try to thwart them - leading to a cat & mouse situation as with Apple and the iOS jailbreakers - or you can work with them; sensibly, Microsoft is apparently doing the latter when it comes to Windows Phone 7. According to WinRumors, the company recently met with part of the ChevronWP7 team, responsible for the Windows Phone 7 Unlocker tool, to discuss how homebrew application developers can co-exist with Microsoft's existing official developers.
The Windows Phone 7 Unlocker made it possible for unofficial apps to be sideloaded to a regular WP7 handset, rather than demanding that developers pay Microsoft's $99 annual developer registration fee. At the time it was heralded as the first step toward an unofficial Windows Phone Marketplace, similar to the iOS Cydia app store; however, ChevronWP7 later pulled the tool at Microsoft's request, and the company plans to close the loophole that facilitated it in the upcoming WP7 software update.
Instead, it seems Microsoft wants to look at more legitimate ways to enable the homebrew community, and given the amount of catch-up it has to do to compete with Android and iPhone that seems the sensible route. According to Microsoft's Windows Phone 7 group product manager Greg Sullivan, the company will have more to announce about homebrew on the platform "in the coming months."
[Image credit: ChevronWP7 member Long Zheng]