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

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.

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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

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26 comments
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  • Not bad compared to Android

    If there are a few samsungs and its samsung that did not follow MS's requirements, then not bad.
    Android had multiple handsets bricking with many of its updates.
    JABBER_WOLF
    • Missing the point

      @JABBER_WOLF

      From Ars:

      "It's amazing. Given the importance that Microsoft's smartphone platform should have?not to mention the uphill struggle it faces against the iPhone and Android juggernauts?one would have thought that the company would make sure that delivery of the first patch was rock solid and reliable."

      Take a look here:

      http://arstechnica.com/microsoft/news/2011/02/everything-that-can-go-wrong-with-windows-phone-7-update-does.ars
      Economister
  • The question is

    Why just Samsung Handsets? Any issues reported with other brands? Has anyone thought that this could be a problem with the Samsung Handsets too instead of placing ALL the blame on Microsoft?
    bobiroc
    • The don't update all phones at the same time..

      @bobiroc Samsung.. was the "lucky" manufacture that was up first..
      doctorSpoc
      • RE: Windows Phone 7 update bricking phones, MS admits carriers can refuse updates

        @doctorSpoc

        Thanks.. I was just confused by why there was such a focus on Samsung devices. In the blog he states a few have been affected. Also wondering what is meant by a "few". If it is really a small handful then similar issues have been reported with Android and iOS based devices.
        bobiroc
  • RE: Windows Phone 7 update bricking phones, MS admits carriers can refuse updates

    "That?s directly opposite to what has been claimed by Microsoft in the past"

    I am afraid you are mistaken James. This has been what Microsoft has been saying all along.

    http://windowsphonesecrets.com/2010/11/11/the-truth-about-windows-phone-7-software-updates-and-carriers-ability-to-block-those-updates/

    As Paul Thurrott reported back in November:

    ?Updates are cumulative. If a carrier doesn?t get their testing done in time, the next push date comes and it goes out then"
    tamer@...
    • RE: Windows Phone 7 update bricking phones, MS admits carriers can refuse updates

      @tamer@... Thanks for that link. I find it amusing that MS claimed in that article that even though the carrier can block an update from customers, the end users are in control of the process. That's just not true, unfortunately.
      JamesKendrick
      • RE: Windows Phone 7 update bricking phones, MS admits carriers can refuse updates

        @JamesKendrick...Really James Kendrick? Your 'interest' in WP7 is disingenuous; not even sure why Matthew Miller bothers with you. The title you chose to give this blog post is pathetic...'MS admits carriers can refuse updates'. You are implying that Microsoft lied about this; they didn't. Microsoft was very forthcoming from the beginning that carriers could block updates for one update cycle.
        1019902735
      • You should act like a fair journalist

        @JamesKendrick

        but your tone in the comment clearly indicates that you hate Microsoft and enjoy MS bashing as others in this forum. The readers of zdnet are free to choose a camp to like or dislike but you as an official zdnet blogger on zdnet payroll should be true to your profession and present facts abd be fair.

        As 1019902735 said, your using the statement 'MS admits carriers can refure updates' implies MS lied which it clearly didnt since they had expressed this earlier that carriers do have the ability to block updates.

        More is expected of you James, dont be posting such biased comments please.
        DontBeEvil
  • You're missing the point.

    The pre-update does nothing but prepare for the REAL update in March. If Samsung refuses this update, then who cares? So in effect the pre-update forces the operator to push the real one when it comes.
    pdskep
  • RE: Windows Phone 7 update bricking phones, MS admits carriers can refuse updates

    Nice one sided story trying to make it look like this is Microsoft's fault and downplay the benefits of WP7. It is a Samsung issue, not a Microsoft or WP7 issue. Its within the firmware of the Samsung Omnia phones and that phone only. If you are going to report at least try to get the facts straight instead of misleading people into thinking its all WP7 phones. The rest of the of WP7 should update to get the most out of their phones.
    Loverock Davidson
    • RE: Windows Phone 7 update bricking phones, MS admits carriers can refuse updates

      @Loverock Davidson

      YOU DON'T OWN A WP7

      "I can't wait to get one"....

      OWNED.
      Ron Burgundy
    • RE: Windows Phone 7 update bricking phones, MS admits carriers can refuse updates

      @Loverock Davidson
      Not even able to update the updater. Must be that ugly looking monster bricking Windows phones.

      Microsoft Apologist = Loverock Davidson
      choyongpil
    • RE: Windows Phone 7 update bricking phones, MS admits carriers can refuse updates

      This is certainly not MS's fault, the customer must have been using them for back scrubbers in the bath and no way is the worlds best software company responsible for this minor hiccup.
      Rubberduck Rabidson
      • RE: Windows Phone 7 update bricking phones, MS admits carriers can refuse updates

        Microsoft Apologist = Loverock Davidson
        Microsoft Apologist = Rubberduck Rabidson
        Loverock Davidson = Rubberduck Rabidson
        choyongpil
  • So it's not just Apple/AT&T bricking phones now?

    Is it really too much to ask that I can make a simple phone call with my so-called smart phone? Between all the areas with poor reception and all the dropped calls, this blasted thing is just a glorified game-boy. Then Apple bricked the damn thing with an update.

    I was hoping to jump ship and go with MS instead, but now I hear it's not just Apple/AT&T bricking phones but WP7/Samsung too. [sigh]

    It kind of makes you long for the good-ol-days when you could actually make a phone call with your phone. I guess I need my land-line back...

    Regards,
    Jon (also known as, yet another frustrated AT&T victim)
    JonathonDoe
    • RE: Windows Phone 7 update bricking phones, MS admits carriers can refuse updates

      @JonathonDoe
      From all that I have heard the iPhones that were ?bricked? were all jail-broken. Now if your phone was not Jail-broken and still got bricked, that might be different. But Didn?t Apple warn iPhone users not to update Jail-Broken, or unsupported phones?
      Rick_K
      • Yes, and no...

        Hi Rick,

        Yes, my phone was jail-broken and no, to the best of my knowledge no warning was issued in advance. I certainly didn't get one. If I had I would have avoided the update. I only heard about it after the fact when I called to ask for help once my phone stopped working.

        This whole ''we own your property'' and ''we say what you can and can't do with it'' behavior is what put me off Apple and moved me toward more customer friendly offerings.

        I was hoping to go to WP7 when my current AT&T contract ends, but now I'm starting to hear about a lot of negatives there too. I must admit it is rather frustrating. Are smart phones really so complicated that no-one can get them to work right?

        Have a great day!

        Regards,
        Jon
        JonathonDoe
      • RE: Windows Phone 7 update bricking phones, MS admits carriers can refuse updates

        @JonathonDoe
        <i>This whole ''we own your property'' and ''we say what you can and can't do with it'' behavior is what put me off Apple and moved me toward more customer friendly offerings.</i>

        You might want to avoid Microsoft products as well. If I am not mistaken Microsoft has Bricked products also. The xbox 360 is only the latest in that effort to control what a user does with their product. They claim it was to prevent piracy, but how is installing a larger Hard Drive considered Piracy?
        Rick_K
      • Thanks for your advice!

        Hi Rick I was trying to reply to your reply... but it didn't have a [reply] link in it. Hey, ZDN, what's up with that? You only allow one layer of conversation?<br><br>Anyway, I hadn't heard about them bricking X-boxes. I'm afraid I'm rather out of touch with video game consoles, though my kids love their wii. Frankly, I'm a bit of a graybeard and my idea of games include cards, chess boards, or pool tables.<br><br>So if MS is going with the Apple walled-garden ''screw the customer'' approach too, what options remain? The Android market seems pretty fragmented. HTC seems to have a decent offering so I'm watching them, but overall it still seems a little too immature right now.<br><br>I'm really not asking for all that much out of a smart-phone; just that it successfully make calls and not drop out in the middle of a conversation, have a GPS app, play some MP3s, take a couple of pictures, and a little web surfing for maps and finding local nightclubs and restaurants when I'm traveling.<br><br>I've been hoping that the failure to achieve even the ''making a call'' objective on my iphone was because of the lousy AT&T service, but if it's indicative of an overall failure of the entire smart-phone market ... well, that is going to hurt.<br><br>I suppose I could go back to carrying a laptop, tom-tom, sansa, coolpix, and a basic phone but I really don't really want to.<br><br>Hopefully things will advance while I'm waiting out this contract and I'll have better options to choose from then.<br><br>Regards,<br>Jon
        JonathonDoe