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The Microsoft Update Process Revealed

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.