Windows Phone 8 OTA update goes live, gets detailed and fails

One of the big new features for Windows Phone 8 is the ability to finally do over-the-air (OTA) updates to the OS—either for big things or little fixes. Previously, we could check for updates but if one were found, you had to head home to your PC and plug in the phone to install (including performing a full backup). Now, things are more streamlined.

In an article over at Mobility Minded, details of the update process were posted, giving a look at what users can expect with these updates.  The updates are listed as manual or automatic, with the latter being downloaded behind the scenes and the former involving tapping in Settings to see if there is an update.

In addition, there are a few types of updates, depending on size:

OEM updates

  • OEM code (drivers, customizations, QC code – modem and BSP changes (encrypted))

Microsoft updates

  • 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

Interestingly, we just had an update notification on our pre-release HTC 8X for AT&T. Luckily we had our trusty HD camera around to document the process and sure enough, it went as stated above. Almost. For one, we did get the full download but the device never prompted to restart into the bootloader. Instead, it attempted to install the <1MB update directly. We also have heard it failing for some folks and sure enough, ours did too returning error code 800b010a.

Before we get all panicky, we really have no idea what the purpose of this update was—is it a test of the OTA system? Was it a certificate fix? Whatever it was, since it came in under 1MB it was not too important.  

Still, seeing that error code is never a good thing so we’ll just have to wait and see what happens. We’re thinking maybe this is some last minute testing by HTC and AT&T though we’re just taking a guess here.

Either way, watch the video above and you can get an idea of what to expect.  The question still remains though if Microsoft will have a bit more direct control over these updates or whether carriers will still try and block them.

Daniel Rubino

Daniel Rubino is the Editor-in-chief of Windows Central. He is also the 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 watches. He has been reviewing laptops since 2015 and is particularly fond of 2-in-1 convertibles, ARM processors, new form factors, and thin-and-light PCs. 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.