Microsoft Locks WP7 with ‘Genuine Software Activation’

Microsoft has dashed the hopes of smartphone hackers across the world with Windows Phone 7—the new operating system has a security system that works much like the genuine software activation process on the desktop version of Windows 7. According to WPCentral, the private key system or PVK that Microsoft has installed in WP7 prevents devices with modified operating systems from connecting to Zune, Windows Live, Marketplace and Xbox Live. Microsoft probably wants to stop software pirating more than it cares about hackers trying to modify WP7, but this is a big hurdle for anyone who wants to see what the hardware and operating system can really do.

The new smartphone platform that Microsoft hopes can make it a major player again in the rapidly expanding mobile market has enormous potential. The company already competes in the business software world and WP7 could eventually start giving Research In Motion’s (RIM) BlackBerry another reason to worry. Apple meanwhile has started ‘stealing’ RIM’s corporate sales staff according to Electronista. At least five senior sales staff members that used to work at RIM have shown up at Apple in the past two years. It looks like Android isn’t RIM’s problem at all—Apple and Microsoft going after its BlackBerry smartphone customers in the corporate world is the real threat.

With more manufacturers—take Samsung for example—expressing interest in developing WP7 smartphones, enthusiasm for Android smartphones might start to level off. After all, a manufacturer can only build so many phones running the same operating system. For manufacturers like HTC and Motorola, who have no problem selling phones with different operating systems on them, WP7 is a good idea. Why would anyone put all of their eggs in a basket they didn’t build?

Microsoft’s move to lock down WP7 with software activation that matches up hardware information and parts of the operating system to test if it has been compromised might seem like a move Steve Jobs would take. To be honest, it’s just the next step in the evolution of software development. Google’s ‘open-source’ movement harkens back to the days before big companies started developing their software in secret then suing anyone who touches it. The only problem is, closed systems like iOS and WP7 are easier to control. Let’s wait and see how much leeway Microsoft gives developers before we pass judgment.

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