Windows Phone 8 OS update - when can the rest of us expect it?
Last night we broke the story about the international version of the HTC 8X receiving the Windows Phone 8 OS 10211 (Portico) update, which included a fix for the rebooting issue and some new features as well.
Of course the majority of you with Nokia Lumias or branded 8Xs are probably frantically checking to see if your update is ready too. So when should we anticipate it?
Unfortunately, we don’t have any specific dates for you—not yet at least. But past experiences and some common knowledge tell us that this will be a controlled, rolled out procedure. The reasons for that should be obvious but in case it’s not, let us explain.
With Windows Phone 8, over-the-air updates (OTA) are finally realized for the first time to deliver OS fixes and patches straight to a users phone with no syncing to a PC required. It’s a fascinating method that in theory will allow Microsoft to dynamically update our phones with either new firmware, OS patches or new features when necessitated. The problem is it’s brand new.
For those of you who remember on Windows Phone 7 when its first update (affectionately called ‘NoDo’) was released, it too was very staggered and slow, more so than the proceeding Windows Phone 7.5 ‘Mango’, requiring a few apologies from Microsoft. Even carriers got in on the blame game at the time. Part of that interruption was because the update system was novice and Microsoft was collecting diagnostic data for feedback—to see if was working or not.
Interestingly, it was estimated that nearly 50% of users were on Windows Phone 7.5 just one month after its release. That was a massive improvement from NoDo.
From what we understand, this update too will be staggered, at least initially (and not on the level of NoDo). This first update, pushed to non-branded HTC 8Xs, is a bit of a test bed for the company and they’re now anxiously reading your comments here and getting feedback from support forums, etc. What for? At least two reasons:
- To see if anyone is having a problem getting the update e.g. freezes, failed loading, boot problems, etc.
- To see if this indeed fixes some of the problems it needs to address
That latter part may sound odd but there are a lot of variables going into a sudden reboot issue. As any software developer can tell you, you can internally test, test, test but it’s a whole different ballgame when that app goes “live” to the world. (Just ask our own thorough and fastidious Jay Bennett who is never surprised at the bugs our app faces in your hands).
In short, there are no guarantees that this update will fix everything it is meant too, though the chances of it doing so are quite high (the Windows Phone team wouldn’t push this if they weren’t confident in it). There are also the unintended consequences of patching a mobile OS, numerous times we may add, all over-the-air that need to be taken into account.
Types of OTA updates
As we've detailed earlier, Microsoft has planned Windows Phone 8 around numerous types of OTA updates, which we'll repost below:
- OEM code (drivers, customizations, QC code – modem and BSP changes (encrypted))
- Extra small – (<1MB) – i.e. cert changes, security updates
- Small – (<10BM) – i.e. diff and canonical changes – predominant MSFT update
- Medium – (TBD) – i.e. feature pack dot updates
- Large – 100+MB – i.e. Major update release (e.g. 7740 update) w/o language pack – uncommon
- X-Large – 150+MB – i.e. Major update release (e.g. 7740 update) with language pack – uncommon
What are the chances your phone getting this update?
We'd say very good. In Windows Phone circles, the role of carriers in allowing or blocking updates is a notorious source of contention. Often the carriers are seen as impeding the update process e.g. AT&T’s Tango update for the Focus 2 just a couple of weeks ago. Indeed, they are often the cause for delays but we think this update will be different. Why? Because it’s high priority. And yes, updates deemed critical by Microsoft do get prioritized, even by the carriers.
The Portico (10211) OS update is not just an optional feature-set to be added, like multiple MMS in Tango. Its main function at this point is to stop random reboots. That’s not something that Microsoft would put under the “optional” category for carriers but rather “critical”, making this something that users can expect to be getting. Sure, Microsoft has also tossed in some highly desired new features and if they can sneak those in with a critical update, even better for us. But at this point, fixing the OS is the main concern.
There’s no need to frantically check for this OS update, as we fear many of you are now doing. For one, your device will notify you if and when your update is ready (it checks
once every 24 hours every every few days). In fact, your best bet is to pay attention to our site or the Windows Phone Blog, who will announce more information when it becomes available.
Our guess is that we won’t see this update for a few more weeks through the carriers—some faster, some slower. But we should give Microsoft a little breathing room in case they need to tweak the OTA process, especially on their first run with it.
Oh and for those asking for an official change-log for these updates, it is our understanding that on the “finish” screen where it now repeatedly says “Update completed!” that repetition may be removed in future deliveries to provide exactly that information. So just consider it a placeholder for now.
Don't be these guys. Not until after Christmas.
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Daniel Rubino is the Editor-in-chief of Windows Central, head reviewer, podcast co-host, and analyst. He has been covering Microsoft since 2007 when this site was called WMExperts (and later Windows Phone Central). His interests include Windows, laptops, next-gen computing, and for some reason, watches. Before all this tech stuff, he worked on a Ph.D. in linguistics, watched people sleep (for medical purposes!), and ran the projectors at movie theaters because it was fun.
I could brag about getting feature X before everyone else and feel special for 2-3hrs...then back to my low self esteem issues.
Sign me up dang it!
The ignorance of this statement is amusing.
I tought Portico would be more...
Using Lumia 820, no updates by now.
It was already known that the carriers still get to test and approves updates. But it has also been stated many times, that you as a USER maybe able to opt out of get blocked by the carrier:
This might be in a future update, or something that comes over the air - we just don't know. Microsoft has been tight lipped about this. Yes its frustrating, but its too early to get excited over this.
Windows Phones get way better updates (in most cases) than Android, only bested by iOS (And even then, iOS still has backward compatability issues. I know this as a iPhone 3G user of old)
So please, stop trolling every update thread. You, I or Danial Robhino himself knows what the full picture is yet on future updates. If you knew anything about development, getting a software patch out in under 6 weeks since launch albeit a small one is pretty impressive, and this is not the feature set updates that are due out early 2013.
There were total 4 updates for HTC 8X named in usual MS fashion, KBxxxxxxx (KB stands for knowledge base)
KB updates for Windows desktop versions mostly contain decription even if brief though few updates don't have any description mostly because Microsoft doesn't want to reveal what is updated, often for some security reasons and considering closed nature of MS OSs, thats absolutely fine.
Back to point, only second update (KB 2788412, 8.0.10211.204) had description, rest of 3 had none. Those 3 might be security/critical updates and MS don't consider that its important for everyone to know whats updated. And 2nd update was about quality improvements and brought changes which are actually visible such as SMS, WiFi improvements.
Now, if one is familar to Windows updates for PC, it shows installing update and update installed notification for every individual update even if multiple of such are in queue. This was the case with first "series OTA updates" for WP8. It just notified that "update completed" for other 3 updates which had no description and displayed "For more information about what is included...." like info. for an update which had description. Repeated update complete notification is not a placeholder, it is a very usual practice by MS when they don't want to tell anything more about what is updated. Nobody should expect the exact information for every single update in future in MS environment.
This however is your problem and you should not always act as if it is the same in every other country.
There are tons of Lumias available through carriers and retailers worldwide, the unicorn status is an American delusion.
And Nokia still was a European company last time I checked.
Between the long suffering process of getting updates approved by the carrier & at the very least hoping the manufacturer doesn't abandon the hardware for the next new hotness to roll of the assembly line, looking at you HTC/Samsung, Android for now is what I'm stuck with. But I'm holding out hope Microsoft can get this ironed out. I've got an upgrade I've been sitting on for 5 months just waiting to be used on my family Plan. Now that Verizon is giving me the choice between more than just Android & iOS, the ball is in Micrsoft's court to get the apps in the ecosystem & get the updating process fixed like they promised forever ago.