Microsoft takes kinder approach to hacking; GeoHot approves

Microsoft may have proven this week that accommodating and working with the hackers of your devices is a much more effective approach than getting all sue-happy (*ahem* Sony), and George “GeoHot” Hotz may have found his next paying gig if Sony fails to dish out the punishment they’re intending.

On Thanksgiving last year, developers Rafael Rivera, Chris Walsh and Long Zheng, released a Windows Phone 7 jailbreak tool by the name of Chevron WP7. Rather than calling their lawyers, Microsoft’s director of developer experience for Windows Phone 7, Brandon Watson, called a meeting between his team and the hackers to discuss ways that Microsoft could develop and provide an official homebrew tool for Windows Phone 7 handsets. In response to Microsoft’s offer to work with them, rather than against them, the ChevronWP7 team pulled their tool down.

The proposed meeting was set to take place at Microsoft’s Redmond, WA headquarters this week, according to the ChevronWP7 blog.

“We’ll be sharing our perspective on the homebrew potentials of Windows Phone 7 and some of the wider community feedback around the platform,” Rivera, Walsh, and Zheng wrote in a post last week. “In addition to our homebrew focus, we will also be pushing for stronger protection of WP7 developer intellectual property (IP) on the platform as we believe both can co-exist on the platform.”

When the ChevronWP7 arrived in Redmond, they not only encountered open minds, but also “lousy t-shirts” custom made especially for them.

Hotz was so impressed by Microsoft’s treatment of the ChevronWP7 team, that he updated his website Tuesday with his opinion on the subject. “Perhaps a more appropriate way to deal with jailbreakers
I’m going out to buy a Windows 7 phone,” Hotz lamented.

Microsoft’s Watson got wind of Hotz’s post, and sent a note for him on Twitter. “#geohot if you want to build cool stuff on #wp7, send me email and the team will give you a phone – let dev creativity flourish #wp7dev,” Watson tweeted.

So far Hotz has been able to dodge the legal ramifications of Sony’s jailbroken fury, but it’s uncertain right now what kind of punishment he may eventually have to deal with. At least for the moment, Microsoft has restored some of my faith that at least one corporate bigwig has a bit of sense when it comes to the issue of hacking. Hopefully that sense is contagious.