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Hackers Create Tools to Make Zune HD Apps and Games

Continuing in its traditional, all-Zune, all-the-time coverage, has an interesting report about some hackers who have (at least temporarily) figured out a way for developers to create apps and games that will run on the Zune HD.

A team of three developers has created a toolkit that can bypass Microsoft’s limitations on developing programs for the Zune. The kit allows independent programmers to create applications for the digital music player.

“This is the first Zune hack that works,” Glenn Anderson, one of the creators of the toolkit told “People can now bypass all of Microsoft’s limitations and develop for the platform.”

The toolkit called OpenZDK will allow developers to make new games, port old ones, create emulators and even have a rogue app store on the device. It will work on the original Zune and Zune HD.

Earlier efforts to make Zune apps relied on a Microsoft kit called XNA development tools. In 2008, Microsoft released XNA Game Studio 3.0, which supports Zune development. But some developers say that XNA’s sluggish performance and lack of 3-D or internet access make it difficult to produce quality apps.

The OpenZDK toolkit could allow programmers to get around the limitations Microsoft has placed. The OpenZDK crew met on ZuneBoards, a popular online Zune development community, where they go by usernames Netrix (aka Anderson), Nurta and itsnotabigtruck. It took them a few months to work around Microsoft’s protections, Anderson said, and they have been testing it for the last two weeks.

More info at the OpenZDK wiki.

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