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1/28/2011
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Ed Hansberry
Ed Hansberry
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Microsoft Embraces Jailbreakers

Microsoft's history has involved a bit of heavy-handedness against those that have tried to hack or jailbreak their systems. That seems to be changing with Windows Phone 7 and the Kinect motion sensor for the Xbox 360.

Microsoft's history has involved a bit of heavy-handedness against those that have tried to hack or jailbreak their systems. That seems to be changing with Windows Phone 7 and the Kinect motion sensor for the Xbox 360.Preston Gralla at ComputerWorld notes that Microsoft is swimming against the current compared to other tech companies with platforms to protect.

Apple tried to make it illegal to jailbreak the iPhone, but the court where Apple filed suit turned down Apple's request. Jailbreaking is totally legal, at least in the US. Not only did Apple try to lock down the operating system and software, they have also tried to lock down the hardware by installing proprietary screws that require a tool to insert and remove that isn't available to mere mortals.

Sony has sued hackers that have tried to circumvent the copyright protection in the PS3 gaming console.

Not only is Microsoft taking a different approach, they are also tweaking some of their competitors that are busy suing users. Microsoft gave a Windows Phone 7 to the PS3 hacker.

Last fall, a trio of hackers wrote ChevronWP7 that allows users to install apps from sources outside of the Marketplace. Rather than dispatch the sharks, I mean lawyers, Microsoft engaged the hackers. They got the ChevronWP7 group to remove the tool for download without the thread of jail time or financial consequences.

Microsoft met with the team "to discuss how they can support 'homebrew' apps - third-party software that doesn't require the approval of Microsoft - in a way that benefits both parties."

When it comes to the Kinect, Microsoft left the device open where people could write their own USB drivers and collect data read by the optical sensors.

Does this change your view of Microsoft at all? The software giant, with all of this activation technologies, Windows Genuine Advantage tools and the like has given it a reputation for being over-zealous in protecting its property to the detriment of honest users. This new attitude shows Microsoft in a slightly kinder, gentler light.

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