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Microsoft developing activation lock to render stolen Windows Phones useless

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Microsoft is planning to update Windows Phone to include anti-theft features that will prevent thieves from using devices after they’re stolen. The software maker signed on the CTIA’s Smartphone Anti-Theft Voluntary Commitment in April, and plans to release a software update to the Find My Phone feature of Windows Phone 8.1 ahead of the CTIA’s goal of July 2015. New features will include the ability to wipe and lock devices from being used without logging into a Microsoft account, known widely as an activation lock.

Apple introduced similar features for its iPhone devices in September with iOS 7, allowing users to stop thieves from wiping them and reactivating handsets. Police officers in San Francisco and London believe the iCloud Activation Lock feature has helped lower iPhone theft over the past six months. iPhone robberies in San Francisco dropped by 38 percent, and in London the thefts fell by 24 percent. While the feature helps prevent crime, it has led to headaches for iPhone resellers. Google is also planning to implement an activation lock feature in Android, and is expected to deliver this by July 2015.