If you were a power user on WP7, chances are you enjoyed ChevronWP7
. It gave you the ability to sideload apps like the screenshot
or orientation locking
tools using the same method as official AppHub accounts (the $99 service which allows people to publish apps to the Marketplace) minus the Marketplace access. Though run by a third party, it was an officially sanctioned service supported by Microsoft, which guaranteed that things like updates wouldn't break it, such as how less sanctioned but more powerful workarounds for root access only work on certain older devices. Unfortunately, the experiment is at an end.
The intention of the service was to help reduce the barrier to entry for your average power user, to allow them to become acquainted with the system before paying the money for a full AppHub account. Many people stepped right up to use the service as is, but unfortunately few took that next step to becoming published developers. As a refund of sorts for those who expected to be able to have an unlocked device for a year (all devices will re-lock in 120 days in the absence of the service), Microsoft is offering a free AppHub membership for a year for those who register there with the same account as the one that purchased ChevronWP7 unlock tokens, provided you register within 60 days. That's a great deal, and hopefully some people will make use of the ability to publish their apps with it. It is important that Windows Phone does have the ability to cheaply run apps that don't come from the Marketplace though, since not every app is suited to official publication (such as anything running under interop unlock). And luckily for us, the team do state they are looking into other options to enable to homebrew community to exist here on WP7. Here's hoping!