Windows Phone 7 update bricking phones, MS admits carriers can refuse updates

Summary:Unlucky Samsung phone owners are finding the Windows Phone 7 update corrupts the firmware, rendering the handset inoperable (bricking). Microsoft admits the problem and also confirms that carriers have the right to refuse software updates for customers.

Smartphone owners are quick to complain when updates are delayed getting to their phones, but as proven by the current Windows Phone 7 update they are not easy to produce properly. What was claimed to be a minor patch update by Microsoft has been causing some Samsung handsets to fail during the update process. The lucky phone owners affected have the update fail at a point where the phone can be rebooted sans update. A few unlucky Samsung phone owners have the update process corrupt the firmware, rendering the handset inoperable (bricking). Bricked phones must be returned to the black hole of carrier technical support. Microsoft is encouraging owners to hold off on the update for a few days until the issues can be addressed.

This is not a good way for Microsoft to begin the Windows Phone 7 update situation. The company had been criticized in Windows Mobile days of yore for allowing partners to determine if phones would receive an update. A common complaint of WinMo phone owners was that OS updates rarely made it to handsets after purchase due to partner refusal to provide them. WIndows Phone 7 was touted by Microsoft to change that, as the company remained in control of the update ecosystem. This minor update failure for some phones does not make Microsoft look very good to new WP7 owners.

Further sullying the WP7 update situation, Microsoft is admitting that carriers have the right to pass on any update. A WP7 support tech stated in a support forum:

Some Mobile Operators have the right to skip one update if they wish. However, they can't skip the next one, which would be an acumulative update and would include the previous one.

So if your mobile operator decided to block this one, you will be getting the early March one (which will include the Feb one too).

Microsoft first admitted that carriers could block updates right after launch, and while this is an improvement over the update process of old, it's not the same as guaranteeing WP7 owners will receive all updates. It is not a good beginning for WP7 in regards to customer support, and further proves how difficult a process OS updates can be.

Topics: Telcos, Microsoft, Mobility, Operating Systems, Software, Windows

About

James Kendrick has been using mobile devices since they weighed 30 pounds, and has been sharing his insights on mobile technology for almost that long. Prior to joining ZDNet, James was the Founding Editor of jkOnTheRun, a CNET Top 100 Tech Blog that was acquired by GigaOM in 2008 and is now part of that prestigious tech network. James' w... Full Bio

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