Windows Phone - 09 January 2011
Author: David K

imageWe’ve heard about the possibility, and even a proof of concept, of an app to download Marketplace apps and then certify them so they can be sideloaded onto unlocked Windows Phones. We can confirm that there is an all-in-one tool that is available now to do this. We will not mention its name or provide links and we will scrub any mentions of it in the comments so don’t bother asking about it. I want to make it clear that should you come across this and be tempted to download it you shouldn’t think about it. Why? Well 1) pirating apps is illegal and you will get caught with this method and 2) if you pirate apps you’re a dick. Let’s take them in order:

In case you missed it, Microsoft knows what apps are on your device regardless of how they got there. So if you go ahead and pirate an app Microsoft will be able to detect that you do not have a valid license for that app. Yes, it will install on the phone (and pass the phone’s local certification check) but if Microsoft cross-checks licenses on their server against your phone then they’ll detect the app, and based on the Diagnosis app this appears to happen automatically. And whether or not you have location settings enabled, or a Live ID that is linked to your name or you’ve enabled payments through your carrier or credit card, etc, you can bet that MS can detect exactly who it is that is running pirated apps. Does that mean you’ll go to jail 5 minutes after installing it? No, but you want to take that kind of a risk to save $.99? I think that really speaks to your mental health…

And that brings me to my second point. Developing apps takes years of skill and hours of work and the developers are asking for what – $.99? If you think that other people should spend their time just for you to steal from them then you’re a dick. I mean, you get that this is someone’s livelihood, right? And that they learn their skill to sell apps? And then you clean off your Cheetos eating hand and with a keystroke you steal from them? Yeah, you’re a winner. And yes, plenty of apps are free or ad based. That’s the developers decision and not yours.

The only valid justification for this tool is for people in markets that cannot download apps because Marketplace doesn’t exist in their region but this only extends to free apps and not paid apps.

Bottom line – focus your efforts on earning a few more bucks and paying for the apps you want and less time figuring out how to be a thief.









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(31) Readers Comments

  1. Well said DavidK. Can’t make it any clearer.

  2. Well, for those that cannot access the marketplace, I recommend setting their Windows Live ID to United States.

  3. And all this started with Chevron Wp7, hope those guys feel proud of their work.

  4. There is a difference between Pirates and Pioneers, the later is what we are about. We are into exploring not stealing. These developers are some of our own too. Nice post David!

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  9. While I agree with your principles, and have not pirated any apps. The only $.99 apps on Windows Phone 7 are “flashlights” that make the screen white. Most WP7 apps are $3.99+. In fact, most “good” apps (the best of their category) are around $4.99 or $5.99. If WP7 developers are serious about avoid piracy tempation (as iPhone devs did in the first year of its App Store’s existence) they will price their apps similarly in the $1-2 range.

  10. @Mark Jonson: I have to disagree. Of the 44 apps (not including games) I have “purchased” to date, only 9 were over $1.99. Of those, 2 were $4.99 ( my top app price): 1 was reduced to $2.99 after I purchased it and the other was not worth it.I have a few $3.99 and $2.99 apps, all worth the price. I have yet to see a $5.99 app (again, not including games, especially XBox) and I search the Marketplace every day for new stuff. Based on my observations, WP7 users are conditioned not to pay more than $2.99 or $3.99 for a decent app with good functionality. Coming from Windows Mobile with decent apps costing $14.99 – $19.99, these are all bargains.

    And regarding XBox, they have been the top selling apps since day one. No reason to adjust those prices.

  11. Unlocking the phone has nothing to do with piracy. You can buy a license directly from microsoft for 99 bucks (or get it free if you’re in college) to unlock your phone so you can side-load files. Microsoft isn’t giving you the means to start pirating-it’s just a tool to get .exe’s onto your device without going through the marketplace.

    I’m with you, Jimski. 5 dollars is nothing to pay for software. Let the android and iphone markets be flooded with 99 cent crapware. You need to pay for quality. I’ve paid up to 40 bucks for a good program (when that’s what they were called, before Apple brainwashed everyone into calling them Apps). I will always vote for quality over quantity, but I’m sure that sooner or later the microsoft marketplace will have 500 hundred battery widgets that all do the same thing (i.e. nothing), just like the Android marketplace does.

  12. David K are you serious: “2) if you pirate apps you’re a dick”.
    You have to be sucking MS dick to make a statement like that. If you never pirated an app, song, or movie (on a phone or PC) or stole anything in your life, you probaly can make this statement but otherwise you are a “Hypocrite Dick”. I can’t believe your editor let you call a percentage of your readers a Dick (beleive it or not, some of your readers pirate apps and anything else they can get their hands on). This site’s editors pulled Simmons article because he wrote about a topic that involved (was not soley about) a gun carrying tea party gathering but you went with this.
    I’m not justifying pirating anything but that is just a part of this f*cked up world. When developers get in this business I’m sure they are aware of the possibilities of not getting paid for all of their work, similar to a music artist. (Ironic movie actors/actress don’t care about pirated moives because they get most of their money upfront.) They made the chose for the app to have a price or advertisement.
    I’m sure MS will find a solution to this as there will always be avenues to pirate anything with copyrights. Do you plan to write an article each time something comes out to steal from your undercover lover MS? Good luck with all of that.

  13. I would prefer to say that you’re a raging douche if you pirate software.

  14. +1 on that. There is absolutely no legitimate reason for pirating software.

  15. While i do agree with what the author said, there is one thing..

    Pirating would not be done to save 0.99, it would be done to save 100×0.99. So it’s a hundred bucks, not one. Some people might find that tempting.

  16. Yeah, the same people who probably bought their WP7 off contract, cause the just have to have the latest and greatest, and are paying at least $75/m for the privilege of using it and have a drawer full of other unused gadgets. They sure need to save that .99 or 100 x .99

    Some people live for win-lose. Dirtbags one and all.

  17. @jimski:

    actually, i think it would be those who bought the phones with the contract. high-schoolers, students.. And other people who feel that their money could be better spent.

    Also, marketplace is not available in many countries. Also, ms has put higher prices on apps outside of us. which is really offensive. If there appears a way to pirate “safely”, i will probably pirate a couple of apps to make up for this bullshit ms tax difference if they do not correct this.

  18. Still don’t think any of that is justification for exploiting someone’s hard work. I think anyone found pirating should be forced to learn how to write code and contribute a meaningful app to the Marketplace before the MS servers will again sync with you phone. That’s what I would call a win-win, and an excellent learning experience.

  19. Anyone who buys a WP7 phone outside the US should know that Marketplace isn’t available yet. That’s no excuse for stealing. It just says that you’re an idiot, and you should’ve gotten an android phone or iphone. Buyer beware.

    And boo-hoo if software costs more outside the US. Again, buyer beware. It’s up to you to gather all the facts before making a purchase, and then to decide what’s best for you.

    • Amazing how you are willing to boo-hoo users over unfair treatment to them, citing ‘buyer beware’. This is simply two faced hypocrisy.

  20. @FarTed: you are a douche if you really mean that. how can you say that it does not matter that everyone else pays more for the same thing? that’s discriminatory. I’m guessing you also support the witch hunt RIAA is leading, destroying families for as little as 10 illegally dwnldd songs? And Gene Simmons is your role model? You are probably a republican, so i’m gonna let it slide this time :)

    Ok, i’m sorry, maybe i went too far, but i’m allergic to these kinds of things. Makes me sick a little. Of course that there is no real excuse to pirate anything, but there is also no excuse for what some corporations are doing to their customers.

  21. Of course I mean it; sorry it hurts your feelings. Boo-freaking-hoo if it costs more somewhere else. Again, you only have yourself to blame if you buy something without doing the proper research, and then come to regret it do to shortcomings that everyone knows about.

    This may shock you, but commodities have different prices in different regions. Try taking economics, perhaps it will enlighten you. And keep the character assasinations to yourself. You don’t know me, and I’m pretty glad I don’t know you.

  22. @FarTed: i don’t own wp7 yet, and this is me gathering info. so i guess i’m not an idiot. yet.

    maybe apps should be more expensive elsewhere, maybe usa has the lowest taxes or whatever, but it has not been the case with any other app store (as far as i know) and ms has not made a statement about it (which they should have done) explaining. given that, how am i, as a buyer, suppose to inform and educate myself?

    fake cry is irritating.

    as i’m not native english speaker, i do not know what “character assassination” means. i was trying to express my distaste of “moral pillars”. according to you, “buyer beware”, but companies are free to impose unjust and nonsensical rules as they like with no explanation?

    anyway, i just made my comment to criticize ms for not being transparent, nothing else.

  23. Not an excuse to pirate but some WP7 users might not want to be lab rats as MS trains you to pay for apps. (You know what happens to lab rats when the experiment is over, they snap their necks.)

    They know some peoploe will pirate their WP7 software. They want to train the current WP7 users to pay for this crap and tell others to please don’t pirate apps from my daddy MS. They will find out and put you on punishment.

    Of course this type of thinking will not get a lot of users with limited resources but they don’t care. They will eventually try to lock down the corporate customer who will pay anything. You know MS don’t care about their core mobile user as they left the old Windows mobile customer to defend for themselves (see statement above about un-needed lab rats). They want a new crop of lab rats to play with.

    Using FarTeds logic,the developer should know when you write an app for wP7 there maybe a higher potential for you not to get paid because few want to pay for apps if they had the choice to pirate it. The developer should do their research for WP7 as well as any mobile operating system. Boo-hoo developer if you don’t get paid as you should know what you are getting into. (Just using FarTeds logic but not justifying pirating)

  24. Uh, please don’t attribute that piece of logic to me. I’ll Lol that one.

    Um, I don’t know if you realize it, but the phones you’re using to buy the software don’t cost the same in different countries. Neither does cell/data service. Neither does the case that you buy for your cellphone, or the ear-buds. Please tell me why the developers have to charge the same price. I’m also not sure if you’re aware that exchange rates vary all of the time. Do developers have to take that into account? If an app costs $2.99 in the US, then does it have to cost 1.54 pounds one day in the UK and then 1.47 pounds the next? I suspect that the developers would just find it easier to set it at 2 pounds and leave it. Or set it at 3, as is their desire, if they think they can make more money that way.

  25. @FarTed: well that’s the point, developers did not put those prices, ms did without even letting the developers know.

  26. I posted this on the “microsoft knows what’s on your device” article, and think it’s relevant here as well.

    Apps that already on the device count as marketplace installs not sideloading.

    They won’t (and can’t) monitor properly sideloaded apps, as they’re not on MSs servers.

    Each app has a GUID associated with it (names etc can change, but that won’t) which gets stored and verification occurs against. Just changing that GUID will break any checks MS may have.

    Sideloaded apps can be revoked by MS if the GUID gets revoked, but again, changing it makes the device assume it’s a developer app, and it won’t check.

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  28. The only raging douche here is FarTed

  29. Pirating apps is not stealing at all the developer doesn’t lose anything. If pirating wasn’t an option then i would not be able to use paid apps. I never buy apps anyways so how will pirating affect the developer