I was reading through the HTC forums tonight as I often do and ran across a new post asking about pending Microsoft updates for the HTC Surround. Below is the response from the Forum Moderator, who I would assume has more than some basic knowledge of the update process:

OK so here is how it goes.

MSOFT Completes their Generic Update and gives it to the OEM’s.

The OEM’s take the update to the carriers.

The carriers then tell the OEM’s what they want changed/added/removed/etc.

The carrier then has to take the Generic ROM back to MSOFT to have these changes made.

The Modified Update is then given to the OEM who in turns provides it to the carrier and both test. If everything works out as it should, it is then released to users.

This can take at least 16 weeks from start to finish.

The update will not come from MSOFT but rather from your carrier.

So for starters. Is this not enough motivation to never own a carrier branded phone ever again. The carriers have you by the cohones for two years, or three years in some parts of the world, because they give you a couple/few hundred dollars off on a phone. That limits your ability to get the phone you want, when you want, or change carriers when jobs, location or other variables change, and more importantly get timely updates. I realize that going unbranded may not be feasible for everyone but definitely something to think about. BTW, on a two year contract, that’s 0.41 per day (assuming $499 for a non-subsidized phone /$199 subsidized). Won’t help that much with the above immediately, but if enough users did go independent it would certainly make the carriers nervous.

OK, but that’s not going to solve the current issue which appears, at least to me, to be a broken process. Not sure if all the detail is included above, but shouldn’t the carriers only be seeing the changes that directly affect them, like maybe the way a call is handled and NOT cut & paste for example. Show ten people something and you are almost certain to get ten different opinions of what would make it better. I don’t have a problem with Microsoft sharing a planned update with OEM’s and carriers, but feedback should be in the way of “suggestions” and not “dictates” as to how the OS will change. And it we have learned anything in the past six months it’s that all the testing in the world (i.e. SD cards / Focus updates / alarms) will not make something foolproof. When dealing with multiple OEM’s and device models the variables are endless. Does Microsoft not test this stuff before releasing to the OEM’s/carriers. Of course they do. So what is the carrier actually testing? Oh, that’s right; did they add the ability to send video over MMS – scratch that, and are they allowing your to send video or audio files via email – not, and they didn’t go and sneak one of those front facing camera thingies or any WiFi calling API’s, or tethering in there did they – no, no, no. And all while the carriers are producing another round of commercials touting how they have the fastest, most robust network. Rubbish.

I don’t think Microsoft checks with all their PC OEM’s before releasing updates for their Windows/Office/Other products and I think the days of  “getting permission to update” from phone OEM’s and carriers needs to come to an end. Let the OEM’s focus on building stylish phones but based on the detailed specs provided and let the carriers focus on improving their networks rather than worrying about the feature set on a phone. Microsoft has done pretty good so far. Get out of their way. Or maybe they should really stick their necks out and just buy an OEM (or two) along with a carrier (or two) and put an end to all this nonsense. Time to go check again for an HTC or Windows (carrier) update.

19 COMMENTS

  1. 16 weeks? That’s the amount of time between Android versions and meanwhile the WP version is waiting for approval by third parties. I do see why some feedback is worthwhile. The cut and paste holdback may have been that carrier apps would break if not updated (since pivot controls were changed) BUT that’s true of all software and all developers had the same ample warning in this case. Anyway, hope this is something MS is learning about. And by that, I mean I hope they’re learning that this process cannot be maintained if they want updates to occur get pushed out and the end result is that they push out some of the shit that’s in the way of getting important updates to the end user.

  2. That’s “at least 16 weeks”. So Mango for example, needs to be in the hands of the OEM’s by about April 15th, to make certain it’s on new devices in September, and maybe our existing devices by about October/November.

  3. So how does the carrier send the update via the Zune software? Are we to believe they have access to the Zune infrastructure and are themselves pushing updates as claimed? Sounds fishy, even for this completely broken update system and its also putting a lot of faith in a forum mod who may just be talking out of his arse.

  4. I don’t know and you may be absolutely right. But I suppose that last statement may mean that the update is signed/released by the carrier but pushed out through Microsoft’s portal (Zune) which is a good centralized distribution point. So until the carrier forwards the approved file to Microsoft, nothing happens. Based on what I have been reading the past two weeks I have no reason at this point to dispute the accuracy of the statements. No doubt that something is seriously broken.

  5. I’ll be on the phone with AT&T Monday asking where’s my WP7 update? Saying things like it’s supposed to have happened in January, the starving people in India have cut and paste on their WP7 phones, the same is true with Sprint so what does this say about AT&T, this is BS and of course let me speak to your boss.

    Generally a call like that is worth some $$ credited to my account. Come on everbody raise some hell.

  6. You are very stupid for your comment. if the people in India that bought wp7 were starving they wont have been able to afford dell venue pro.

  7. @Koyce:

    It’s an old US expression and it only applies because India has copy and paste. Maybe I should say Slumdog has it. Is that better? Starving people are everywhere it effects 8% of the US population. Grow some skin and Peace.

  8. All the carriers and some oems have software they ship with their phones,and their own version of hardware. It’s up to them to test the update against their own code, not Microsoft. Which takes time. And any changes need to be retested. It’s not a fast process.
    The OS code is usually pretty solid, with few bugs, especially when compared to third party code.
    Which means pressure needs to be put on the oems and carriers to beef up their testing teams.. Carriers are especially bad. They are used to ignoring bugs and problems, and then selling you a new phone to upgrade. True for WM6.x, and still true for Android. Microsoft changed the model to gain more control of the update process. Carriers can only skip one update, then they get the next one regardless.. and they are cumulative.

  9. Can’t say for certain but from what I have been reading unlocked devices got the initial update first, or at least very early. No carrier interference to slow things down.

  10. I have a SIM free Samsung Omnia 7 and I didn’t get any update so far…
    Tried connecting to Zune, tried manual checking, nothing…

    PLEASE DO NOT FORGET ME MICROSOFT! I’M A FAN!

  11. The listed process is about as inaccurate as a monkey throwing darts at a board of speculation.

    Microsoft creates the updates, drivers, and they are packaged in a base ROM that works with essentially all devices.

    OEM/Carriers do get to review the ROMs, this is mainly for testing of specific applications they have for the phone.

    OEM/Carriers can put a hold on the update, to resolve an issue with an App or a bug in testing on internal devices.

    Microsoft handles the delivery once approval is granted.

    The timeline on this is a fairly fast turn around, as the final bits of the last update were only a few weeks old before they were delivered to the phones.

    There are always exceptions, but in general, this is all there is to it.

    The process is far more simple than Android and is closer to the iOS update process, even though it covers several phones and several carriers. (Apple only deals with their phones and ATT and now Verizon)

    What is good about the update process and how WP7 is handled, is it uses the base Windows model that made Windows a success on the desktop.

    If you look at the Windows Desktop world, it makes it easier to understand. i.e Toshiba doesn’t have to compile Windows 7, adjust the code, and build Windows 7 to each of their laptops specifically. Thus ATT and Samsung doesn’t have to do this with WP7 either.

    This is because of the model Microsoft is using that is easier on the builders and carriers and because of how WinCE is designed that runs WP7, as it does not have the Linux kernel and library dependencies that require specific compiled versions for each device and carrier network.
    .

  12. Thanks for clearing that up. As noted this info is from the Mod who handles the forums for HTC so I assumed there was some degree of accuracy but maybe not. One of those eternal mysteries in life I guess. Wondering if the phones that got the update shortly after the code was finalized were branded/unbranded. Still waiting for my first (AT&T) update. Spring starts in 13 days. Summer in another 92. Glad they did such a good job with 7004 (minus OEM bugs) or I would have moved on long ago.

  13. @TheNetAvenger: It clearly doesn’t use the desktop approach for the updates, or else we would get bug fixes immediately. Instead we have to wait for the two big updates per year.

  14. i was told all the non telco (sim free) devices will get the update first, but my sim free HD7 from singapore got the pre update update 10 days late…. but i got it…

  15. But many carrier branded devices, at least in the US, are still waiting for “any” update. Any day now, any day. Maybe a hunger strike would get Microsoft’s attention.

  16. My main beef with the cell phones is also tied to the fact they are tied to one carreir, but in this case they all seem to do this. We bought my daughter what was billed to us as an MP3 capable phone (a Sony-Ericsson Walkman Phone). Can it use mp3 ringtones we asked Of course . Great, Christmas present was sorted. When she got the phone, and started playing with it, turns out that the carreirs disable the ability for you to use your own MP3 s, you have to buy them from their MP3 download service!!! What a rip off.Luckily, if anyone has a Sony-Ericsson, and I suspect this will work with anyone in this predicament, you can get a piece of Software from Sony-Ericsson called the DRM-Packager. The phone companies make the phones only accept Digitally Rights Managed (DRM) mp3 s the kind they sell. The DRM packager converts your mp3 to a DRM compatible one mp3 ring tones work a charm now. MUCH better than the other option, which was to invalidate the warranty and get the phone flashed’ back to factory status.

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