Skip to main content

Rumor: Microsoft looking to once again alter the Windows Phone update process

It's no secret that Windows Phone owners have endured confusing and frustrating update processes on the platform and while Microsoft has looked at improving the speed and reliability of the rollouts, we're still not quite there yet.

Rumour has it now that the company is looking at revamping the update process once again from the release of GDR2 onwards. Whether or not this is good news remains to be seen.


WPDang reports that the update process will change after GDR2 is released. The main OS update will be sent from Microsoft to OEM partners, where releases will be packed with both firmware and main software updates. Consumers will then receive notifications once manufacturers have fired up the rollout trucks. In short terms, Microsoft is providing more control to manufacturers. This could be the next big change from Redmond after the company kicked in OTA (over the air).

Microsoft used to be responsible for the entire process, bundling manufacturer firmware with its own new releases for consumers to receive, but this proved to take a while and caused issues for consumers who had to wait some time to be able to download the latest version of Windows Phone. WPDang notes that this responsibility is being passed to manufacturers. Unfortunately this leaves Windows Phone owners relying on their manufacturers to release system updates.

A perfect example of this is the upcoming Amber update for Nokia hardware, which includes GDR2 and some improvements bundled by the Finnish manufacturer. The only potential issue here is for those who have chosen Windows Phones with OEMs that aren't particularly involved with the development of the platform and who will take more time in getting updates sent out to customers. This could streamline the update process and we could see massive improvements to the speed of delivery, but there could well be potential bumps in the road.

Let us know your thoughts on the rumoured plans in the comments.

Source: WPDang, via: Windows Phone Daily

Rich Edmonds
Rich Edmonds

Rich Edmonds is Senior Editor of PC hardware at Windows Central, covering everything related to PC components and NAS. He's been involved in technology for more than a decade and knows a thing or two about the magic inside a PC chassis. You can follow him over on Twitter at @RichEdmonds.

  • OMG everyone RUN AWAY FROM SAMSUNG AND HTC!  lol I kid...I know they have been doing a fairly well job with WP8 sys+firmware updates (depending on the carrier..that is).  I actually see this as a good thing, as it would take less time between all parties -carrier, OEM, MS.
  • Actually you are right. This means don't buy a Samsung or HTC phone from now on. The only one we can honestly trust is Nokia. If it ain't Nokia, don't buy it.
  • My Ativ S got updated damn fast while all the Nokia users were still waiting
  • Ny htc 8x too. That was in fact the first device that received portico. It now Nokia will be the first with gdr2 and I don't know how soon HTC is going to release it after Nokia :|
  • OTOH, My HTC Titan •never• got an update.
  • This
  • +920!
  • I feel your pain. My Titan is still waiting patiently for the disappearing keyboard fix....
  • Never will come dude. IF you want updates...use seven eighter. -or if you're daring, hop on over to XDA and unlock it for custom roms...
  • one cared...not HTC, not AT&T...well not even MS!
  • Amen. +100
  • I'd have to agree... I buy a $500 phone, I want a company that is going to support it the longest...
    I had a samsung focus... great phone, never go updates.. (Until I forced it on myself)
  • And if that is true, this means that this is an under table push from MSFT to Nokia to increase their sales and dominate windows phone .. unless other OEMs decide to actually care about windows phone .. in both cases its a win win situation for MSFT
  • Exactly!! Glad I bought a Nokia, they are committed to WP and their customers...period!
  • Trust Nokia for updates, emmm I waited 2.5 weeks for 1314 firmware on an unbranded 920 that's after carriers were releasing it. So they sat waiting for the carriers to test it (slowly), rolled it out for their handsets then gave let it trickle out for the rest of us. Is Nokia's update server sitting in a shed on a dialup modem?
  • HTC did a fantastic job keeping my HD7 up to date!
  • It just needs to be better.
  • This makes me glad I bought a Lumia
  • pst, my Lumia 810 hasn't seen but one update (portico) while it suffers from major issues (other storage, etc)
  • Blame TMobile, not Nokia I have the same phone FYI.
  • I do blame TMO, tryna point out that having a Lumia isn't all its about...
  • Tmobile killed our phone now the only thing we are waiting for is the two updates and the big one 8.1. Nokia will release updates for their apps and whatever they have control. I have a HTC Radar and tmobile decided not to give us radar and 710 owners with 7.8 upgrade. The only thing keeping on TMobile is the family plan it's cheaper compare to others.
  • Isn't it ultimately the carrier that decides these things?
  • yes.
  • Yes, but if the carrier gets the update faster, or OEMs can do more with it, it's significant. To put it another way: there has to be a solid reason why MS would make this change, presumably it has benefits somewhere.
  • Unfortunately, "benefits somewhere" doesn't always include the end user.
    Especially when combining software/oem/carriers.
    <-- Verizon customer. They can be frustrating.
  • This. If this new update process is true, it will be more like android in that the manufacturer controls who gets and who doesn't get updates. I really hope the rumor isn't true. 
  • Until MS makes huge real changes to the updates process you are wise to only purchase a device that works the way you want it to now. It is why I'm still on my Quantum. Assuming you'll get updates at all is taking on risk.
  • I wish Microsoft had the influence over carriers like Apple does so updates could skip the carriers completely. They always muck everything up.
  • What I'd love to see is OS updates being independent from the HW updates the way that Windows is now. It would speed up the development of the OS and hopefully see MS push updates faster independently from their Hardware and Carier "partners". I'm not sure how well this will be done with this new model.
  • Potentially I can see this happening, but it might mean disabling portions of the update until the requisite hardware updates are loaded.  Considering this, what's the point?
    Just do it all at once or not at all.
  • I think this means us HTC owners are stuck in the whatever version you bought ghetto forever.
    HTC does not support their products.  I was stuck in gingerbread and its predecessor forever on my HTC android device, convinced to try T Mobile's flagship WP8 because of ATT's exclusivity deal.  Now I'm sitting on a phone full of Other, no real support rolled out from HTC (I mean, has anyone used HTC's storage app - it is hilariously useless) and I don't expect to ever receive updates based on this news. 
  • Totally agree. Until now I didn't mind my HTC over lumias but now I am fucked. It will never get another update. Definitely not within the 18 months support period after which they can officially deny support. I am planning to sell my HTC now.
  • Well HTC is supposed to be a premier WP8 device which Ballmer and the CEO of HTC state when it was introduced, so I hope the continue to distribute updates.
  • Don't bet on that you might get disappointed.
  • I think you're confusing "HTC" with "your crap carrier" for the lack of updates. HTC pumped out the updates for HD7 and 8X. It took an extra 6 months for AT&T users to get them each time, and everyone just blames HTC when they sent the update out months prior
  • Oh, so now whe are Windows HONE owners haha!
  • I saw that lol.
  • Microsoft is making the P available to iOS.
  • Awesome comment.
  • Manufacturers I trust (only because I have a Nokia)... Carriers not so much, they are so slow.
    So let's wait for all the details or even confirmation of this rumor.
  • Agreed
  • When I saw the picture before reading the title I got excited because I thought there was an update available. :P
  • I don't see any difference from the current process. As far as I know MS ships the OS updates to OEMs, who add their firmware updates, and that bundle is distributed to users via Windows Update after OEM/carrier/regional approval.
    What exactly is the difference supposed to be?
  • Wondered that myself
  • Yeah. Thought that too. It sounds to me like the difference is in who distributes it. Previously: MS. Now: OEMs, who who will also disribute pure OS updates.
  • Just keep carriers out of the update process. Period.
  • Well that would be nice. But the article doesn't even mention the carriers and suggest that MS is currently rolling out updates on their own whim. Which I believe to be untrue.
  • Because ensuring carrier quality of service. Who needs that?
  • Totally agree! Those assholes fuck everything;)
  • i love my lumia so much .hope ms let the wp better
  • Windows hone owners. :)
  • I have a Nokia 920 BUILD device, and the updates have been scarce.  They come directly from Nokia rather than carrier, and they come way late.  I'm still stuck on .1308 and experiencing connectivity issues constantly.  When I reached out to Nokia they said they have no updates scheduled and no information about if / when they will come.  I realize the BUILD devices may not be a high priority but its sad. I hope this is not a sign of things to come.
  • Can't you push the update your self?
  • Another reason to buy a Nokia.
  • Well, at least I know what I'll be getting into whenever HTC decides to release a 4.7 or 5.0 device. Shame MS locked down WP8 so much as to kill custom images.
  • Since windows phones are supposed to be built to pretty exact specs, why can't MS just release the software over the net, just like Windows?  OEMs are free to release their hardware specific fixes anytime.  If the complex PC world can do it, the simpler windows phone world should be even easier.
  • And cut out the all-controlling OEMs & Carriers in the process? (I wish!) That would be the best option and I would think boost loyalty to WP. Unfortunately, OEMs and Carriers want users to buy the next new one on the block. If you can simply update your OS without their limitations (forcing you into a newer model), they lose.
  • Lol^^
  • I have Nokia so I'm good.
  • The only reason Windows Phone hasn't developed further than it has, is because people have thousands invested in iCrap (apps, accessories, etc) and dont want to make all that obsolete.
  • Just fix other storage... I've got 6GB in it fucking frustrating -_-
  • Really!  It has been known since November 2012.  It has to be hurting devs since owners can't add new apps thanks to the other storage swallowing their phones.  YOu would think it would be a high priority fix.  Belfiore promised an update months ago, and radio silence since. 
  • Didn't an update for this just come out this week?
  • Its been known for over 7 years. This started with the original Zune. I pointed it out them with over 30 phone calls, all being told they never heard of it (even though I had pointed it out 30 times!). ZUNE 30, ZUNE 80, ZUNE 120, & ZUNE HD. They either dont care or dont know how to fix it. People think it is only related to apps, but It happens when you delete large items like apps OR VIDEOS. Videos and movies is what would kill my Zunes. It never fully frees up the space the video took up.
  • Still waiting on 7.8 on my Samsung Focus S. I'll be moved on to the EOS before it happens (if ever).
  • I don't understand how people who visit this site haven't all run seven-eighter on their WP7 phones. You've been abandoned. No more support for WP7. That little program will force update all WP7 phones to the latest version. Just do it already.
  • What makes you think I haven't? I have run seven-eighter and had such issues with tiles that didn't update correctly, I restored back. Please refrain from making such assumptions.
  • I am glad that Nokia starts handling the process...I just hoped they removed this from the carriers hands. That would help so much more.
  • In Australia unbranded phones git the 1314 update 1 month after Telstra(a carrier). Go figure..
  • What happened to the enthusiast program that was mentioned? Is that just a bunch of malarkey?
  • If the rumors are true, the Windows Phone team is so far behind on GDR2, GDR3, and 8.1 that I don't think any enthusiast program will make a difference. At this point, it's beginning to sound like the bottleneck is Microsoft, rather than wireless carriers and OEMs.
  • Microsoft's phone development seems to be very cyclical. They will do a lot of work at once and then later they'll sit on their asses and do nothing for a long time. Take a look at Windows Mobile. Up to 5.0 they were developing it very quickly. 5.0 to 6.5.5 took years and barely added anything worthwhile. Then 7.0, 7.5, 8.0 came out pretty fast. Now they're just doing nothing again it seems.
  • Its just so frustrating to see what is happening. The picture of the ecosystem and continual updates were painted and it feels shattered. I know it's the shut up and ship approach but gee whiz this is all over the place. If what you say about the gdr updates is true it will take its toll even with the windows phone evangelists.
  • Yea, that was malarkey.
  • I'm still waiting on the 1308 update from Vodafone Ireland!!!!
  • Great news for Europe.
  • I want my early adopter program from MSFT directly. The rest I can wait for the OEM's.
  • LOL....that is one of the largest jokes with Windows Phone...
    Wish MS would keep their word with this but, as we have seen, No, not even talk about it from the orginal press statement on it...
  • in other will push out updates to "enthusiast" users early. these are the power users who want to get in on updates as soon as they are ready to deploy.
    ...LOL. remember that one?
  • Oh yeah...that was a giant bag of sh*t
  • Yep, there have been crickets on this. At least come out say you changed you mind (or had to change your mind).
  • GDR2 from Microsoft + Amber from Nokia will be pushed together in July by Nokia!
    PS: GDR2 is a Windows Phone OS update from Microsoft and Amber is a firmware update for Lumia from Nokia. GDR 2.0 ARRIVES 15 JULY CONFIRM...
    Get Ready Lumians (l520)...
    Gdr 2 brings data sense.
    New camera , close option in multitasking,no­tification center,
    double tap to wake, duplicate fix, improve battery and some more.  
  • And where does this nugget of information come from? Because we already know that the multitasking and notification center are BS.
  • rocket launcher???
  • How will carriers be involved ?
  • I sure wish Nokia would bypass Verizon and speed up the process
  • Does this mean I might get the 1308/1314 update one day on my 810? 5 GB other storage on 8 GB device now...
  • I had to use seveneighter to get wp7.8 on my htc surround. I thought these update problems would go away with wp8. Guess not.
  • I love how apple can do this right, but the rest are complete incapable of it.
  • MS should give us updates once a month, along with firmware, there are enough bugs to justify the effort!
  • Exactly!!! like the do for the Surface where the support so far is brilliant as far as updates go.
  • Being in the US this makes no difference, as the carriers still control the outcome updates/upgrades. My AT&T 820 is still on 1249, while the 920 is on 1308. This will just make my look for unbranded phones more, and pay the higher price.
  • At least your phone is still supported by ATT. My 810 on TMobile is already Killed.
  • Long Live Nokia!
  • This is exacly why, like others here, I am glad I purchased a Nokia.
  • +1
  • NOKIA. nuff said.
  • I'm not sure how this improves things. It just leaves the process more firmly in the hands of HTC, Nokia and Samsung. While Nokia so far has a great track record, HTC's and Samsung's are terrible. I can also see this resulting in some fragmentation. Hopefully, Microsoft imposes guidelines to avoid Android-style problems.
  • Carriers aren't particularly fast with the updates
  • i am glad i have a Nokia. I know they will be faster to roll out the updates!
  • So this basically means that you are a lot more likely to be stuck with what ships with the phone and never receive any update. Maybe except for Nokia hardware, which is my next WP after I still dont have WP7.8 on my ATT Samsung Focus.
    Microsoft should be controling the whole process as it does with Windows machines. When you leave something to OEMs or even worse carriers then you are screwed right from the gate.
  • I really think sprint is the slowest since the HTC Arrive has been long since forgotten. :(.
  • I don't mind If they do it properly , but if they gonna do it like Android ... oh boy
  • Hmm. This sounds like Android. Well I think this is a good thing for Lumia owners because Nokia does a great job supporting its devices. I'm worried about HTC and Samsung, though.
  • We played this same game with Windows Phone 7. HD7 was totally forgotten by HTC especially 7.8 update, which we never saw. Microsoft constantly has their head screwed on backwards when it comes to Windows Phone. Why is it we make the commitment to purchase these phones with 2 year agreement only to be stabbed in the back later by the manufacturer. If my phone is forgotten again, I will defiantly not purchase another Windows Phone.
  • "On the Floor" is a stupid hoe.