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AT&T planning for a post-8107 OS update for current Windows Phones

WP Central

AT&T caught a lot of flak over the weekend regarding their semi-public announcement to not support the 8107 OS update for their current Windows Phone lineup. That update, as many of you know, is critical for security fixes as much as for fixing the famed disappearing keyboard bug.

We just spoke with AT&T on the situation and we can confirm and clarify a few things on the record. First, it is true that they have passed on 8107 or what they referred to as "Windows Phone Mango Commercial Refresh 1" or just CR1. They've also passed on CR2, which is what the Lumia 900 and Titan II are running (that's build 8112). That update brings LTE and Visual Voicemail support for AT&T with the first aspect obviously being pointless for current Mango phones.

So that's the bad news.

The good news is they have not shut the door on OS updates for their current lineup including the Samsung Focus S, Focus Flash and HTC Titan.  Stacey Harth, a spokeswoman for AT&T, told us this morning "AT&T plans for a Windows Phone update that will contain the improvements in the 8107 update and more" with no commitment to a time-frame.

So what does that mean exactly? It means "Tango", which goes by the alternate name CR3, is something that they are looking to evaluate for an OS update. While they did not want give any time-frames they are definitely committed to updating those devices with a post-8107 OS update from Microsoft. "Tango" (or a build post-Tango) is certainly the most viable candidate for such an update.

Of course what you want to know is why are they passing on 8107? It's a bit complicated and you don't have to agree with their position but they do have a rationale (and it's not to get you to buy a new phone). In short, each update comes with a corresponding OEM firmware update which also fixes hardware bugs and/or optimizes the software (these are often at the request of AT&T). Those updates need to be scheduled with the "bits" from Microsoft and it does take a bit of coordination to get that to happen. Moreover, while 8107 does fix a pretty annoying bug, the updates in CR3 (aka "Tango") brings that fix and even more . For example, AT&T very much likes the idea of multiple-photos in MMS, voice notes, etc. that Tango brings to the table.

WP Central

And that's the crux of the matter: AT&T is admittedly conservative on OS updates and would prefer to not certify every single one that Microsoft releases for evaluation. Instead, they prefer the method where you can pack numerous bug fixes and new features into a single, bigger update. It's similar to the "do I buy this phone now or wait 3 months for a better one?" scenario that many of you face when you follow technology. For AT&T, the question is do we push this update or do we wait for that even better one just a few weeks away?

That does raise a larger, ongoing issue, which is why can't Microsoft just push out mini-bug fixes to the OS without interference by AT&T, especially if it does not touch the radio firmware? It's certainly a very valid point and the reason seems to be a combo of "this is how carriers operate" and Microsoft has not made "patching" as easy (or perhaps they've just conceded too much power to the carriers).

Regardless, the take away point is that AT&T is planning to update your phones and that update will be a larger, post-8107 update which will include that keyboard fix and even more features. We can disagree on what makes an update imperative and yes, we consider the keyboard fix to fall into that, but that is the current situation.

In the end, it may not be the answer you want to hear but we think it is a lot more palatable than the perception left from this weekend.

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Reader comments

AT&T planning for a post-8107 OS update for current Windows Phones

87 Comments

It does make sense from a business p.o.v. Can't say I agree with them, but luckily I'm not on at&t for my personal phone. I think once WP8 comes out & the OS picks up steam, Microsoft should then be able to have a little more say in the matter of smaller, but very important updates, such as these. •fingers crossed•

I assume 1st gen AT&T phones are abandoned still? I assume they are, wouldn't want to get my hopes up.. but it's nice to know. :)

Great article Daniel. Thank you for getting the details. Why didn't they just say this upfront? Corporate bureaucracy? Anyways ;-) I think we all appreciate what you're doing for the WP7 community.

I've been quick to express my displeasure with this whole mess, so I am (a little) glad to see some communication from AT&T. The vague timetable is a bit worrisome, but I will take what I can get.

"The good news is they have not shut the door on OS updates for their current lineup including the Samsung Focus S, Focus Flash and HTC Titan."
But they did shut the door for the 1st gen phones?

So my 1st gen Focus is destined to be forever cursed with the disappearing keyboard bug?  Thanks AT&T!
Oh, and thanks Microsoft for not allowing us to restore old ROMs.  My phone was just fine with the mango developer preview, it was the production version that was sick.

I wouldn't rule it out. But the memory issue with the Focus complicates things.

I just didn't want to put words in AT&Ts mouth on the matter and would rather take a wait and see approach, sorry :-/

Forcing the update is really quite easy if your Focus is unlocked. I am running 8107 on my Focus (however the disappearing keyboard still comes back to haunt me from time to time).

'CR3, is something that they are looking to evaluate for an OS update.'
so are going with this update or they are goint to first evaluate, then cordinate with oem for firmaware, then TEST the update, then deliver it over a month -- if they do all this starting TODAY , it will take like 6 months for them to come

It's a little bit of both, though they did tell me Windows Phones and their update do pass through certification relatively fast, especially compared to other devies, so I wouldn't say "6 months".

Well . . . at least AT&T is expressing its plans. It's awfully quiet on the VZW front. They only have 1 WP7 (Trophy) and can't even keep that one up-to-date.  Any news on your side about this?

Just a note on the story, the Lumia 900 ships with 8112, not 8712. But it's nice to finally hear some news from AT&T.

It's infuriating because if AT&T would just LISTEN to their customers, they would have known all along that this was not whining about new features.  Our expensive devices that we pay hundreds of dollars a month in service for, are BROKEN, plain and simple.

The bullying actions by their moderators on the forums seek to block any efforts to SOLVE the problem.  If you post about a non-AT&T fix, they delete the post.  If you talk about or give information about contacting regulatory agencies, they sometimes delete the post.  If you give information about contacting someone in the company OTHER than the innattentive and seemingly powerless (and clueless) forum dwelling employees, they delete the post.  If they spent as much time interacting with the customers and relaying the information back to people with the power to look at a situation, they could avoid these serious dings on their PR.

The point NOW is that Tango won't be released until at least the fall if you believe the rumors.  So until that time, we are stuck with BROKEN phones.  We can easily text, email or even fill out web forms.  We are REQUIRED to have data plans, so they are stranding us with the crippled devices.   This "no time frame", non-committment isn't good enough.  I guarantee you if I gave a no time frame on my next payment that they'd promptly cut off my service.  They are in the WRONG here and no spin can fix it.

The only options we have for our BROKEN phones are:
1.  Don't run any apps that might have a background task.  (That's the bug that Microsoft already fixed, but AT&T won't let us have)
2.  Buy a new phone in early April with the update pre-loaded. (Yeah, sure the don't want to force people to buy into a new phone/contract)
3.  Do a manual update, thus invalidating your warranty.

This is serious business and they should not be allowed to get away with it.  Take to Twitter, Facebook and to the regulatory agencies (FCC, FTC, your state Attorney General's office) and even the Better Business Bureau.  

Not being able to have a consistent experience when texting, emailing and using the web is not OK.  This is magnified by the fact that AT&T REQUIRES data plans with these phones AND that it is problem where a fix already exists.  This is negligence...at best.  We should not have to wait until the fall to have basic functionality.

"The point NOW is that Tango won't be released until at least the fall if you believe the rumors."

You're confusing Tango with Apollo. Tango is just hitting devices as we speak. See the phones for China and the Lumia 610.

They don't care, dude. No amount of complaining will change them. Take matters into your own hands and proceed with Option 3. When your contract is up you will have more options.

Thanks Daniel!  I truly believe that if the Windows Phone customers on AT&T knew they were planning on the release of CR3, AND TOLD US THAT, we wouldn't have been so vocal in demanding 8107.  But, this has shown this update process MS has is a huge mess they must address.  There should be no reason why AT&T (or any other carrier) should block patches to an OS.  New builds that include new features (aka CR3), sure, I get they want to verify it.  I know I'm saying this again, but they shouldn't have the end-all say in the deployment of an OS update to their consumers.
 
Didn't Microsoft build a sophisticated testing lab in Redmond to help carriers and ODM's test?  I would love if you could track down some MS folks to help voice our complaints over this matter.

"I truly believe that if the Windows Phone customers on AT&T knew they were planning on the release of CR3, AND TOLD US THAT, we wouldn't have been so vocal in demanding 8107."

For the record, I literally told them this almost verbatim.

I told them that as well, as I received a call not more than 15 minutes ago from their corporate office that handles complaints.  I submitted a BBB complaint last Friday night.

PLUS ONE they do not care and they were selling 1st generation phones knowing the very day they were purchased they were never going to get the 8107 fix    This did not stop them from selling these "broken " phones with required data plans now did it ??!
There is something basically wrong if not illegal for them to have been pushing these phones when you know "they knew" what was down the road for these late gen one sales, which were assured by MS there was not going to be fragmentation and that buying these late gen ones would be o.k. because after all AT&T and MS were going to provide all with the latest fixes ??!!! Can you tell I am not too satisfied with any of these drug out smoke screen just wait a little (4 or more MOnths)longer B.S. stories of how they are never going to fix my BROKEN phone with what is otherwise the best OS available, just wish I could fully appreciate it THANKS AT&T.

Do what I did:  unlock your bootloader and flash the DFT ROM on your HTC Arrive.  I've been running 8107 with Internet Sharing for a few weeks now without issue.  Sprint and HTC obviously don't care about us and unfortunately it seems that there are too few of us Arrive users to make enough noise to change that, so it's left to the hacking community to provide support.

So updates are no better than what we had with WM and android (ok a little better). This is one of the better features of the iPhone. You don’t have to wait for the carrier to get updates. Was hoping WP would be the same but alas we are stuck with the whims of the carriers. Win one for Apple.
 

Has anyone seen Tango for anything other than 256MB devices?
I'm surprised it's taken this long to come out.

Thanks for the information! Until they actually announce and deliver an update this all doesn't really amount to much, but at least we're a little bit less in the dark now.

or perhaps they've just conceded too much power to the carriers
^This^
I'm coming from iOS, where when an update is released all supported phones have access to it immediately.  This is one of MS's major fails with WP7 IMHO (the other being that the apps cost too much when compared with competitors), still love my WP though :)

BTW - I'm also using a 1st gen Samsung Focus and would like to hear confirmation from AT&T about the update too, but even if it is - by the time the update would be available my contract will be up and I'll be moving to T-Mobile (providing they have the lumia 900 or a WP8 device by then).

So far T-mobile is doing a great job updating my htc radar 4g and I love it. The problem is Att has the nicer toys "Lumia 900 and HTC Titan II". I hope when the release of Apollo T-mobile will have a high end Windows Phone. The word is "I hope"!
:-P
 

My HTC Arrive's keyboard hasn't disappeared in months and I don't have the 8107 update. I don't know what the other security and bug fixes are but my phone runs extremely smooth with no hiccups or glitches.
1st Gen devices will be 2 years old in just a couple of months so I can understand those devices no longer being supported. I can also understand why they don't push every little update to the public. MS needs to do more quality control as well as provide a way for 1st Gen devices to be able to get vital updates and patches. I can't sit here blaming AT&T if the last update they "allowed" to go through managed to cripple some features of the phones. I can see why some folks are frustrated and these are some of the things that make it hard to support newer/less popular OSes. I plan on switching to AT&T in a few weeks to get the L900 and better service in my area. I see the writing on the wall and I still choose to switch to AT&T knowing I may get updates last, they may be skipped in an effort to wait for a bigger and more comprehensive update or that MS hasn't figured out how to ensure that their mobile OS gets the same level of support as their biggest competitors.

Hopefully they will also update 1st gen phones. If my Focus makes it to Tango, then I'm good. I can understand that Apollo might not make it, but at that point I should be close to my 2 year contract being up and would be looking for a new unit anyways. Probably Lumia 900 (or whatever is the high end Lumia at that point).

Daniel, thank you for having all of our backs in this. The AT&T Forum discussion was getting us nowhere but more and more infuriated. And as I mentioned in the tip I sent you, they were going so far as to delete dozens of comments every day after Jamileh's post got everyone riled up. And not for compliance issues either, I was in the middle of replying to one and a message popped up telling me the post I was replying to no longer existed. AT&T are shady. They told you they didn't pass on 8107 to sell new phones but because of the added features of the next update? I call bull. They'd already passed on 7740 and when 8107 was released almost 4 months ago, there is no way they new what MS had planned for future updates. For AT&T it's ALL about money, NOT customer satisfaction. We even had to find out this news from a link posted by an AT&T community member, not AT&T, after 30 pages of customer comments (more like 50+ counting deleted ones) !!! I'm glad you finally got someone there to talk.  Please try your best to do the same at MS regarding the "mini-bug fixes" being pushed out directly as your article discusses. Good Luck, we all have your back too !!!

"there is no way they new what MS had planned for future updates."
 
While I share the same frustration as you do, I don't beleive that is true.  MS is known for letting their partners know of what's going on, and what release milestones are approaching and what they are planning.  To say otherwise, you don't know how MS operates.

I agree that MS should own the entire process.  But, if AT&T is not lying to us, I could see why they wanted to skip 7720 and 8107.  Doesn't make it right though.

I also disagree that AT&T is in the dark about the update timeline. I'm a very small  Microsoft Partner, and I get to see all sorts of things that are protected by NDA regarding Windows 8 & other Microsoft products. I'd have to imagine that AT&T gets to see much more than I do, since they're the largest US Windows Phone seller.
Also, consider the other story about how AT&T wanted LTE now instead of in Apollo and then got it. Do you really think they have they kind of power, yet are left in the dark on the dates for Windows Phone updates?

While I can see where you guys are coming from, I still don't feel they had all the details that they are now using as an excuse for not releasing the 8107 update. As if they had our best interest in mind and thought it was more important to get us added features later than to fix broken phones sooner.

Frustrated beyond belief at the overall update process, I can't believe it really. I'm a huge WP fan, but at this point im actually considering the next iPhone if it has a big enough screen. Gosh that hurts to say! I need apps, I need timely updates. Sigh.

If you want better updates move to T-mobile. I got my update the day wpcentral annouced it for htc radar 4g 8107 it's very quick and I'm happy with my WP. When Apollo comes out I will upgrade all four of my kids phone.

Thank you for the information! Personally, I didn't believe that AT&T were not going to update at all and assumed they would roll several updates together as you have confirmed. However, I agree that AT&T drags their feet WAY to long on updates to the point of causing major issues with their customers and are entirely too tight lipped about the whole process. I also believe MS gave up too much control over their updates, but feel that they did such in order to gain a foot in with the carriers. It will all iron out, but AT&T's time frames and lack of communication are a bit frustrating.

To all the Negative Nancy's with 1st gen devices.....you guys need to relax and think positive...I'm sure your device(as well as my Arrive) will get updated all the way to Apollo...
 
 

You think AT&T will bother going through the memory stick testing issues Focus has all over again? They don't sell the phone anymore, there's no money in it for them to update it ever again. I doubt I'll see Apollo on my Focus, it's just common sense. I would love onboard Skype but I'll just never see it.

When you have a bug, like the disappearing kb, that seriously affects the user experience, or security threats, which could cause unknown havoc. You have to drop everything else and FIX it. Everyone can wait for feature updates. No need to couple "critical" and "non-critical" updates together.

And for those with 1st gen Focus': while you may still be under your 2 year contract with AT&T I'd hazard a guess that your device only came with a 1 year warranty. So manually get the 8107 update, no warranty to void.
 
As stated, it's ridiculously easy via Windows Break, installing a reg editior - changing the carrier ID to Rogers, updating to 8107 via Zune, change carrier back to ATT - DONE!

I debranded my phone for updates. I'm on att and when att releases the updates I'll just restore and get the official update when ready

Great investigative reporting. I find it frustrating that they seemingly won't release the VVM update to 1st and already released current gen phones, but now their point of view is a tiny iota clearer. It STILL to me smells like the "buy a new phone to get the update" strategy though.

Maybe we'll get lucky and someone at XDA will capture the 8112 cab for the rest of us...

Still seems ridiculous to me. Here you have AT&T that actually carry WP7 and have a lot of customers using them but don't provide updates. I have a HD7 on Bell here in Canada who stopped carrying first gen phones last year and have no plans to carry second gen phones and yet they released updates within days of Microsoft making them available. Just seems backwards to me.

It's good to hear AT&T come forward and make a statement, but there is one critical flaw in what they are saying...there is always going to be a release in the pipe.  7740 offered fixes that were important to some, but maybe not as important as the updates in 8107. A major bug that 'bugged' us all (sorry, not an intentional PUN) was fixed in that update. That one really should be pushed out given all that was included.
Frankly, for me personally, Visual Voicemail or even multiple images in an MMS message is more 'feature' and not 'fix what's broken'. If they wanted to go off of the logic they spout, then they could potentially say 'Oh, we'll wait until Apollo (or whatever is after that that's after that'.
In the end I CAB'd my phone. I love my HTC Titan, but have been seriously looking at Nokia's strategy. They have been aggressive in getting updates (OS/Firmware) out to their devices quickly and faithfully. I only hope the other OEM's take a look at their strategy and become as diligent.

The part about OS and firmware updates needing to be paired together is BS. My Lumia 800 received the 8107 OS update and has received two seperate firmware updates since. Other Lumia 800 owners have received the firmware updates, but not the OS update yet. T-mo Windows phones get firmware updates occasionally without an accompanying OS update. The international version of the Titan has received firmware updates with fixes to call quality and sound enhancement performance, as well as the awful bug that makes many Titans freak out when their storage usage gets above about 75% or so. AT&T blocks important firmware updates too, and for a made up reason apparently. Windows Phone updates are officially no better than Android updates at this point. Lame!

Ideally they are paired together. HTC almost always pairs them both.

To re-word, it's about having the user sit down ONCE to update their phone (OS and firmware) and not the OS one week and the firmware two weeks later.

Don't forget, lots of folks don't update or don't care about updates or they rarely sync to their PC so don't know they have an update, etc.

I don't get why that is ideal. This whole thing is like waiting for Comcast to update my Dell's BIOS & install my Windows updates at the same time. At least admit that sounds pretty stupid on a PC, so why not call it stupid on a phone?

VZW is late to every party. iPhone anyone? I also want my Trophy to be updated. Even T-mobile has three windows phones.

Microsoft is clearly aware that the carriers are going to basically go out of their way to be jerks with updates, so I would guess that since they know they won't get them to support every single one, they're giving them slack on minor releases if it means major ones (not that Tango is particularly major, but it does at least have end user changes) get out the door on time.

I am SO angry that Nokia is working so closely with ATT. After this fiasco I will never again buy a phone on ATT. Why would I subject myself to a 2 year contract to upgrade to a Nokia 900 when they've proven to me that it will amost never be updated?
 
I love WP7, bugs and lack of Zynga games and all, and I really want to love the Lumia line. But ATT is an abomination. Please give us a quality top of the line WP8 on T-Mobile folks.

What a load of bullshit. My carrier, Bell Mobility, has pushed out EVERY INDIVIDUAL UPDATE WP has had, and in a timely fashion, in spite of the fact that they currently carry zero WP devices and have no current plans to carry any. They ACTUALLY CARE about their customers, and want us to ENJOY our devices.

And what about the muffled voice quality of Titan? Have they acknowledged this yet? Wife getting fed up with it!

Thanks for the information-- it's a lot more than I received when I talked with them on Monday (they were very rude to me, even before i asked a single question.  It's one of those places where politeness helps, and should be required from both customer and company).
This article doesn't answer my questions, though.  Will the original Samsung Focus get this update?   (the answer to this seems to be negative but it's not explicitly said)  Will visual voicemail be available for my phone?  (the answer to this seems to be no from another aritlce on this site --, that it's only going to be available to LTE phones)
I'm thinking of jumping ship to T-Mobile, early termination fee notwithstanding.  At least I know I'll get better prices and working visual voice mail for my phone.
 

Thanks for sharing a bit more details. Still not pleased will AT&T's rational. I'm not buying their explanation. Allow me the choice.

I don't understand how a premium partner is so behind on testing; shouldn't Microsoft and AT&T be in lock step with OS releases? While I'd love to bury AT&T for this, I suspect Microsoft is at fault here too.

Thanks for the info WPCentral!!!.. :-). You know, unpopular news is always more palatable when the rationale behind it is explained!!.. Communicate with people AT&T!!!.. You will find a lot less grumbling and more understanding!!!. People are small children!!. Just tell us what's going on.

What AT&T is really saying here is "if the update doesn't allow the usage of more data by the consumer then we aren't interested". Multiple pics in MMS? Visual VoiceMail? Eat up that data kiddies....AT&T wants to make sure you are using data that you have to pay for instead of getting meaningless updates that fix bugs on your phone. Those don't put any more $$$$ in THEIR pockets. Go away and come back when Tango is here.

Obviously this makes total sense, what they basically jus said was,"Think BIGGER people...and quit telling us how to do our job!" =P

So AT&T is passing on the update that will FIX MY PHONE as soon as possible for the option putting out a later update that will include the ability to FIX MY PHONE at their convenience.
Funny that they were capable of trying to buy out T-Mobile (Who has put out BOTH post-Mango updates) as soon as possible. Not merely when convenient for the T-Mobile customers....

So we can now safely say this was only a rumour after all.  There will be no more updates for the HTC Titan on AT&T.  7720 is the version we're stuck with, officially.