Hacker friendly: Microsoft turns over a new leaf?

I never thought I’d see the day but it seems Microsoft have really got into the hacker spirit recently. I mean what would Bill Gates say about this new leaf of openness, who knows… but I can imagine a shudder of fear slowly tingling up his spine.

Remember Hacking the Xbox: An Introduction to Reverse Engineering by Andrew bunnie Huang

"Hacking the Xbox" confronts the social and political issues facing today’s hacker. The book introduces readers to the humans behind the hacks through several interviews with master hackers.

"Hacking the Xbox" looks forward and discusses the impact of today’s legal challenges on legitimate reverse engineering activities. The book includes a chapter written by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) about the rights and responsibilities of hackers, and concludes by discussing the latest trends and vulnerabilities in secure PC platforms.

Its not just phone 7, Kinect kicked off a new attitude for Microsoft. Good on them, but I do wonder how long it will last?

A side point

I was a little excited when I discovered Rafael Rivera was one of the people behind the phone 7 unlocking. But of course he’s not to be confused with the new BBC director of Future media Ralph Rivera. That would be so weird if it was…

App sharing

Android phone

App referrer sends app links to your friends via qr codes via Lifehacker

We’ve all been in that situation: you’re sitting next to your friend, with both your phones out, and you tell them about this "awesome new app you found". Then he or she has to pull up the Market and manually search for the app ("What’s it called?" "Space or no space?" "It’s spelled with leet speak?"). There are a number of ways to share files and apps between phones, but App Referrer keeps it simple—you don’t need to set up any kind of connection between the phones, just open it up, tap the app you want to send, and it’ll generate a Market QR code that they can scan right then and there.

I stood up at Mix 2009 (the Microsoft developer conference in Las Vegas) and said to the Windows mobile team,

One of the benefits you have with Windows Mobile is the CAB format (Cabinet). You can share the CABs with friends over email, email, bluetooth, etc… Yes its not as sexy as the apple store but when you want to share an app it just works and you don’t want to give directions on how to download it on the app store. Microsoft should keep that format and allow people to share apps if there free on the app store.

Did they listen to me? No… They followed the Apple model and forced people to download from the app store. I told them they were crazy, people were using bluetooth to share apps and media. Anyway, I’m happy that I wasn’t the only one thinking this.

App referrer is interesting but one thing I noticed on my Android phone was an app (HTC or Orange) called App sharing. You can share via,

  • Bluetooth
  • Evernote
  • Facebook
  • My Friends Stream
  • MMS
  • EMail/Gmail
  • Text
  • Twitter
  • Read it Later
  • Delicious
  • WordPress

I guess when you do any of these it sends a APK file, just like I suggested to Microsoft back in Las Vegas…!

Fact is App sharing makes sense (specially when the app is free), why force people to the app store to get the same app as there friends…? Crazy! I swear theres some lessons which can be learned from the pirates dilemma.

Windows phone 7 interface

Windows phone 7

I actually like the new interface of Windows phone 7. The Zune type interface works well on a small device and to be fair it all makes a lot of sense. I’ll be honest and say its fresh and somewhat exciting to see Microsoft’s Mobile team take a total step back and attempt to redesign the whole experience of the mobile again. No icons, no chrome, no backgrounds, just a sliding scope which logically makes sense. Impressive! I can’t believe this is the same company who worked hard on version 6.5!

I’ll have to reconsider writing off Microsoft in the mobile world.