The Windows Phone “Pre-update” Update Explained

July 22, 2011, By Christian Cawley

If you have just got your hands on a Windows Phone, there is a chance that it hasn’t yet been loaded with the latest updates. In order to fix this, you will need to connect the device to your computer and check for any available updates.

What you should find are three updates that will be applied in series. A “pre-update” update has been rolled out to users which allows the subsequent updates to be more efficiently installed, and this (like the others) is applied to phones via the Zune client software. Following this, the NoDo “copy and paste” update will be applied, followed by a smaller security fix.

This “pre-update” has on the whole been successful – unless you own a Samsung-built Windows Phone device with a certain firmware (effectively software device drivers) version installed.

So what has gone wrong with the update, and how is it supposed to work?

The Windows Phone pre-NoDo update Explained

Windows Phone Update Failures

While there have been no reported issues for LG, Dell or HTC Windows Phone owners, those with Samsung devices have been unfortunate enough to experience a severe error when installing the “pre-update”.

For such users, “pre-update” fails, resulting in no update or in some cases the phone “bricking”, resulting in exchanges being made at retailers for working devices. Microsoft and Samsung have been working to resolve the problem and made some initial headway by releasing a new version of the update which largely worked across the board – but failed on a smaller section of Samsung devices, this time with an error message.

Windows Phone Updates and Other Devices

Any Windows Phone user who doesn’t own a Samsung device meanwhile should already be running the “pre-update” which is easily applied to devices and makes little visible difference at this stage.

The idea behind the update is for Microsoft to provide a more reliable framework for the upcoming NoDo update to be applied. While they have come in for some stick with these update problems, it is fair to say that no company has ever rolled out a successful update across mass devices. Moreover, this is Microsoft’s first attempt with mobile devices.

Meanwhile, some Samsung users have reported that the update can successfully be applied by first performing a factory reset on troublesome devices, thereby removing all installed software and avoiding any potential conflicts.

How the Windows Phone “Pre-Update” Should Install

If you haven’t yet found the Windows Phone 7 “pre-update” message appearing on your phone, you should connect your device via USB to a PC with the Zune client installed.

The Zune client will display a black Update Your Phone screen, where instructions will be displayed – these inform you that the update will take an estimated time of 20 minutes and that your phone won’t be able to take or make calls during this time.

You then have a choice of Update Now or Update Later. When you update, the Zune software will connect to Microsoft to find and download the update for your device – no user interaction is required other than ensuring that the handset and computer remain connected via USB.

Your phone will restart during the update process, and when completed you will be able to use the device as normal.

The small number of Samsung users affected by the problem have been very unlucky as this is a genuinely easy and straightforward procedure on other handsets.

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