Microsoft has halted distribution of the first Windows Phone 7 update to Samsung devices following complaints that the update left some handsets in a 'bricked' state.
A Microsoft spokesperson had the following comment:
"In response to this emerging issue, we have temporarily taken down the latest software update for Samsung phones in order to correct the issue."
No timescale for a revised update has been given other than it will be available "as soon as possible."
The problem as reported seemed to occur at stage 6 of 10 of the update process, and seems to be restricted to Samsung handsets with certain firmware configurations. Affected handsets caused Zune software to display the following error:
An error prevented the restoration of your phone to its previous version.
Your phone can't be used in its present condition and there are no restore points for it on this computer. The phone might restart and return to normal if you disconnect it. For further assistance, contact your mobile operator.
To prevent further problems Microsoft has temporarily halted distribution of the update to all Samsung WP7 handsets.
Peter Bright of Ars Technica sums up the situation perfectly:
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.
If you're one of those affected, here's a possible fix for those with bricked handsets:
- Unplug the handset from the computer and place on charge.
- Turn handset off.
- Turn handset back on holding Power + Camera + Volume Down buttons.
- Hold buttons for 15 seconds. Continue to hold if asked if you want to format SD card. Keep holding the three buttons until handset enters 'Download mode' which will reinstall the OS.
- If handset doesn't reboot within 15 minutes, switch it off and on.
- Handset should be ready to set up again.
It also emerges that despite repeated assurances from Microsoft to the contrary, carriers can block updates from being sent to WP7 handsets.
These bricked WP7 Samsung handsets stand as a good example of why a one-size-fits-all update across multiple devices and OEMs is far from an ideal situation. Something here obviously slipped passed Microsoft during the testing phase, and as more handsets hit the market the situation will only get worse. Hopefully this lesson will be taken on board by makers and OEMs and we'll see devices that are a lot harder to brick and a lot easier to recover from a bricked state (think how far motherboards have come along in recent years).
[UPDATE: What should you do if you are now the proud owner of a bricked handset? Here's what Microsoft says:
"If your device is in an unrecoverable state, you should contact your mobile operator or device manufacturer regarding your options for repairing your device."
However, at least one Samsung Omnia owner has managed to unbrick their handset by using the Samsung version JK1 firmware.]
[UPDATE 2: WinRumors has outlined a possible fix for the WP7 update handset bricking problem. It's long and convoluted, involved downloading firmware from untrusted sources and there are no guarantees ... but it could bring your bricked handset back to life.]
[UPDATE 3: Microsoft issues comment on the matter here.]