Developer bypasses carriers, delivers Windows Phone update

Developer bypasses carriers, delivers Windows Phone update

Summary: If you're an early adopter with a Windows Phone 7 device, you're probably still waiting for the March update ("NoDo") which adds bug fixes, performance improvements, and copy-and-paste support. Want to cut to the front of the line? I look at an unofficial, unsupported, do-this-at-your-own-peril standalone updater.

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Update: According to Chris Walsh, the Chevron Updater tool was downloaded more than 25,000 times in 12 hours of availability. The update package is not currently available for download. Via Twitter, Walsh declined to comment on the reasons why the update was pulled. 

In the last two months, Microsoft has released a pair of updates to its Windows Phone software, including the March update (“NoDo”) which adds bug fixes, performance improvements, and copy-and-paste support.

Although Microsoft manages the actual delivery process, many early adopters are still waiting for their mobile carriers to finish their testing and allow those updates to be delivered. I know, because I use a Samsung Focus on AT&T’s network, and according to Microsoft’s “Where’s My Windows Phone Update?” page, AT&T isn’t due to complete its testing until “early April 2011.” (It's enough to make me want to leave AT&T completely.)

If you’re tired of waiting, developer Chris Walsh (@ChrisWalshie on Twitter) can cut you to the front of the line with an unofficial, unsupported, do-this-at-your-own-peril standalone updater. (Walsh is no run-of-the-mill developer. He worked with Long Zheng and Rafael Rivera to develop the ChevronWP7 tool to help developers unlock Windows Phone 7 devices. That app caused some consternation at Microsoft and earned the team an invitation to Redmond for some in-depth talks with Microsoft developers, who promised to work with the trio on upcoming tools.)

You can read Walsh's blog post and download the necessary files here: So who wants Windows Phone Updates, like right now?

Well, first, thanks go out for Microsoft for releasing a support tool for Windows Phone yesterday. Inside that tool, were unreal hidden gems.

Basically they’ve created a managed wrapper over the whole update process for us, rather nice of them.

So I flashed my HTC Mozart back to RTM (7004) via a ROM update HTC ship and whipped up a little application to flash pre-NoDo (7004), NoDo (7355), NoDo update 1 (7389) & NoDo update 2 (7390) all in a single process. No I don’t care which carrier you are on, which phone you have, it’ll just update your phone accordingly.

In the interests of science, I downloaded the Windows Phone Support Tools and the Chevron updater for my Windows 7 x64 system. I checked the language settings on my phone and confirmed that my language (US English) is supported. I followed Walsh’s instructions to the letter, installing the Microsoft-signed Windows Phone Support Tools package first, then running the Chevron updater.

It’s a console-based program, which means it runs in a sparse, text-based window. The only input required is for you to enter the number associated with your language.

Before I began the update, I connected the phone to my system using its USB cable and checked the Zune software to confirm that it was still stuck on the original (version 7004) software. “Your phone is up to date,” it said, adding that the current phone software version was 7.0 (7004).

And so I held my breath and launched the Chevron updater. And watched and waited, somewhat anxiously.

If you’re still running version 7004, as I was, the updater actually has to run twice—once to install the February update, and then again to install NoDo. After the February update completed, I saw this message in the console window:

And then I waited some more. Graphics on the phone itself indicated that the device was connected, and a progress bar at the top of the screen displayed the update’s progress more effectively than the dots in the console window.

The update process took a total of less than 10 minutes from start to finish. When it was complete, the console window closed, my phone returned to its lock screen, and I confirmed, in the Zune software and on the phone itself, that the device had indeed been updated to the latest version.

I did a few quick tests to confirm that every function was working as expected, and saw nothing out of the ordinary. Indeed, the phone feels faster, and apps load noticeably quicker than before. I also checked out the copy-and-paste feature and confirmed that it is indeed available. More on that later.

Do I recommend that you run an unauthorized updater on a $500 [*] device? Absolutely not. The rewards are relatively small, and the wait should be only a few weeks, even for AT&T. Still, if you’re aware of the potential problems and are willing to accept the risks, it’s comforting to know that you really can bypass the carriers.

If you’ve decided to take the plunge and update a WP7 device, leave a comment in the TalkBack section and let me know how it went for you.

Update: Several owners of Samsung Focus phones have commented that they had problems with the update. According to Walsh, the fix is to run the Windows Phone Support Tool and restore the phone to its original firmware first, then perform the update. Although I've seen this option I haven't tested it and can't personally recommend it.

[*] In the comments, several readers took issue with my warning about the potential for bricking "a $500 device." They point out that you can get a Windows Phone for $50 from AT&T or for a buck from a third-party reseller such as Amazon. That is true IF you do not currently have a contract AND you are willing to sign a two-year agreement. After you purchase that subsidized device, you have a contractual obligation. If you lose your phone, drop it in a lake, brick it with a faulty software installation, or otherwise render it unusable, you will have to pay the full, unsubsidized cost (the "no commitment" price) for a replacement device. Currently at AT&T, that is $450 + tax and shipping for an HTC Surround, for a total price of around $500. The Samsung Focus goes for $350 unsubsidized.

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

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40 comments
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  • RE: Developer bypasses carriers, delivers Windows Phone update

    <i>"Do I recommend that you run an unauthorized updater on a $500 device?"</i><br><br>Did someone pay 500 bucks for their phone?<br>Or is that the MSRP?

    You can get them from Amazon for $01.
    Return_of_the_jedi
    • You don't get that price for a replacement device

      @Return_of_the_jedi

      You can get them from Amazon for $1 IF you do not currently have a contract AND you are willing to sign a two-year agreement. If you have a contract already, you will have to pay the full, unsubsidized cost (the "no commitment" price) for a replacement device. Currently at AT&T, that is $450 + tax and shipping for an HTC Surround. Total around $500.

      Any more questions?
      Ed Bott
      • RE: Developer bypasses carriers, delivers Windows Phone update

        @Ed Bott

        So you really <i>don't</i> want to brick it. It stands as good advice.

        Thanks Ed.
        Return_of_the_jedi
      • RE: Developer bypasses carriers, delivers Windows Phone update

        @Ed Bott
        I am all for bypassing the carriers, seeing as they dont really care that much about our happiness with them anyhow, (part of why I dumped ATT) now granted it doesnt sound like you are rooting the phone to accomplish this, but are you in anyway subverting your contract with your carrier if you do this?
        nickdangerthirdi@...
    • Message has been deleted.

      ipadsucks
      • Message has been deleted.

        athynz
    • RE: Developer bypasses carriers, delivers Windows Phone update

      @Return_of_the_jedi

      Got my Focus for $50. Plus an ATT contract (unfortunately).
      bran.e.murray
  • RE: Developer bypasses carriers, delivers Windows Phone update

    That is cool that someone is offering the NoDo update to all. A lot of WP7 will be pleased with this.
    Loverock Davidson
  • RE: Developer bypasses carriers, delivers Windows Phone update

    If you do do this, will you have to do this for all future updates? Or will they be delivered as normal through the carriers?
    Justin071894
    • This uses the normal update process

      @Justin071894

      This doesn't jailbreak your phone or do anything out of the ordinary. It uses the standard Windows Phone updater and you are still eligible for all future updates in the normal fashion.
      Ed Bott
      • RE: Developer bypasses carriers, delivers Windows Phone update

        @Ed Bott

        How large are the downloads? I have a Samsung Focus on AT&T in the US, and i have a slow internet connection. Should i wait until i can do it somewhere there is a fast internet conenction or just go ahead with the update(s)?
        Justin071894
      • Tiny

        @Justin071894

        The x64 support tools package is 14 MB, the updater package is 43 KB.
        Ed Bott
      • Sorry

        @Ed Bott

        Not the applications, but the two updates themselves. I've read that there a couple hundred megabytes, but i'm hoping that they might be a little smaller.
        Justin071894
      • Sorry don't know the actual update sizes

        @Justin071894

        Those downloaded to a temp space and then were transferred over the cable. I know that they are incremental updates, so shouldn't be too large.
        Ed Bott
      • RE: Developer bypasses carriers, delivers Windows Phone update

        @Ed Bott <br><br>Updated to Pre-NoDo Last night everything went fine. I tried NoDo and it was taking a while. Figured i'd wait untill i can go to a friends house with faster internet, or just go to a mcdonalds and use their wifi or something of that nature.

        <b>UPDATE:</b> Updated to nodo today :D it works GREAT! Apps load a lot faster and the copy and paste is wonderful. As i've seen in the videos you have to tap twice or more, but from what i've used it works like a charm.
        Justin071894
  • RE: Developer bypasses carriers, delivers Windows Phone update

    I think it's very unfortunate to think that customers would have to jump though such hoops to get an update. Why doesn't Microsoft offer the update officially this way if the carriers are blocking the update for their own reasons.<br><br>This most certainly would keep me from even considering a Windows Phone.
    Ross Snowden
    • RE: Developer bypasses carriers, delivers Windows Phone update

      @Ross Snowden you must be a apple troll has it like saying why would anyone want an iphone 4? when it has so many bugs like deathgrip, daylight saving time and alarm clock issues which all apple fanboys uses LOL what a joke!
      ipadsucks
      • Message has been deleted.

        athynz
    • Because iPhone, WP7, Android

      @Ross Snowden
      all need the carriers. Plus if somethng does indeed goes wrong, the carriers will just say "we did not approve it, we suggest you call motorola with your issues.
      Tim Cook
  • RE: Developer bypasses carriers, delivers Windows Phone update

    I was about to do this. have the setups installed on my laptop, but did not have the heart to finally install it.. felt it was a bit too risky. stopped a tthe 1% thing as in the screenshot above. I hope MSFT provides a update soon. Am in India without any carrier locks etc. Do not know why the update has not come through :(.. but then it does not stop me from using the phone!!!!
    isubu1981