Windows Mobile Update – what is it for?

There have been a number of articles on blogs both at Smartphone Thoughts and also CoolSmartphone about the role/purpose of Windows Update. 

Let me explain some history on this.  We introduced a capability in Windows Mobile 5.0 called Image Update this would allow a Mobile Operator or OEM to update the image of the device without having to do a complete ROM reflash.    That capability is taken one step further in Windows Mobile 6 with Windows Update. 

Windows Update is a mechanism to allow Microsoft to directly provide Critical Security Fixes to Windows Mobile devices. 

Now imagine the scenario in Windows Mobile 5.0 - a critical and nasty security issue is found in the Windows Mobile operating system.  If we (Microsoft) wanted to resolve that issue we would have to pass the fix to the OEM/Mobile Operator and have them then provide the fix to customers.  That process could take many months as the fix goes through their testing and integration.

With Windows Update in Windows Mobile 6 we can provide the fix in such a scenario directly to the customer almost immediately. 

Now I'm sure this will spark a whole set of comments of why can't we provide fixes to bugs and device issues.  The reason we don't is that the OEM/Mobile Operator ultimately own the overall device build. 

Comments (13)
  1. Jorge says:

    How will Microsoft verify that the fix won’t make anything break with the OEMs image?

    The reason why it was a good idea to send the fix to the OEM was that then the OEM has to rebuild a new image and run through the logo verification, which lead to a more stable platform….

  2. MSDNArchive says:

    Jorge – we would obviously test this solution before we distributed it.  Similarly we would only provide an update to an area that would not be impacted by any OEM customisation.

  3. It is an interesting feature to have but I have not been able to connect to the server to check the status recently. If I do a hard reset on my device, it works again but I am curious as to why I am unable to connect to it otherwise.

  4. Windows Mobile Update – what is it for?

  5. Era da un po' che me lo chiedevo ma ammetto di non aver indagato più di tanto: There have been a

  6. Jorge says:

    Jason – I didn’t mean that MS would not test the fix/change, I know that the testing is quite thorough before anything gets released.

    But is it not a tricky thing to know which changes affects OEM customisations and which doesn’t?

    For example, a bugfix in DirectDraw might break the display driver since the OEM made a workaround for that specific bug?

  7. Exchguy says:

    How is it that Microsoft continues to push everything device related down to the "carriers responsibility" for device updates/configuration when Apple is able to release regular updates to the iPhone even though iPhone is also supported by the carrier?

    Something interesting to ponder.

  8. Pony99CA says:

    Not interesting at all, Exchguy.  Apple controls the software, the hardware and which carriers get the phone.  They know exactly what hardware is there, what drivers are there and what carrier customizations they made.

    Microsoft only controls the software and just licenses it to an OEM.  Sure, MS sets some minimum hardware specs, but they don’t control exactly what hardware each device has or which carriers get those devices.

    That’s a lot more complicated, wouldn’t you agree?

  9. JasperM says:

    Also, from what I have heard from other chats with WinMo folks, the Update tool is not intended to replace AKU’s.  Which when I first heard about feature, thought that it might be intended to do.

    Also, its important to note that unlike OS updates, the Windows Mobile Updates applied will keep even after a hard reset of the device, correct?  As in the update goes into the actual OS (i.e. not like the Day Light Savings Time update for WM 5.0)

  10. Patrik says:

    What many doesn’t realise is that we still use networks that is very closed down to what terminals that are allowed to run for the big public.

    In scandinavia an operator has the right to blacklist a terminal if they feel that this terminal with that gsm firmware (stack) isn’t proper tested at their own test-facility. (what I know of).

    So it is hard to go around the operators and directly from OS developer to release mode on a device.

  11. Antony Gibson says:

    An update that stays after a hard reset? That’d require patching of a ROM image area (CE or ExtROM) or perhaps storage on an external memory card. And seeing as how operator customisations aren’t just in ExtROM (device drivers for example) patching would be messing with the operators packaging in the CE build.

    I’ve been staying around a community that likes to twiddle too long haven’t I?

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