Microsoft: "steer clear of bootleg updates and homebrew tools"
Posted on 09-21-11 02:01 pm

In a rather controversial blog post today, Microsoft decided to call out people who have been using unofficial methods to update their phones.

The post, written by Microsoft's Eric Hautala, the General Manger for Customer Experience Engineering, was intended to convey the fact that Mango would "start rolling out" in the next week or two. But just about half of the post contained a different message, one to most of the Windows Phone community at this point. He stated (quote):

This also seems like a good time to caution against installing unofficial or leaked copies of Windows Phone software.

During the official Windows Phone 7.5 update process, every Windows Phone will also receive software from the handset manufacturer. This matched and paired firmware has been painstakingly tuned so your phone—and apps—work with all the new features of Windows Phone 7.5. Since your phone requires the proper firmware to function as designed, my advice is simple: steer clear of bootleg updates and homebrew tools.

This is controversial for a couple of reasons. First off, the Mango update that's in circulation was provided directly from Microsoft's servers. Sure, there are leaked builds floating around, but they're also from official OEM updates. Second, it'd be an understatement to say that several people have updated their phones unofficially, and we haven't seen any firmware related problems at all. In fact, unofficially updating your phone still allows you to get the required firmware, so we're not sure where that idea comes from either.

Here's the biggy, though: The reason why people use unofficial methods to update their phones is because Microsoft is unable to follow through on a timely basis.

No, really. Sure, there's the whole Mango thing floating around, but that's a case of poor advertising and delays in the first place. In fact, Mango really should have been released over a month ago, at the rate Microsoft displayed it. The real case of matter here was the NoDo update. It took over three months to get the update fully distributed, and not without headache and pain from many users. Users weren't being shady or greedy when they grabbed the update unofficially, they were proving a point. If they could find an out of the box way to get the update, and have it working 100% on their phones, why can't the carriers get the update rolled out? In fact, why does Microsoft authorize the carriers to have any control over the process in the first place?

Dear Microsoft. We're not pirates roaming the seas, trying to take what we don't deserve. We're your early adopters, and we're trying to make a process you made complicated somewhat easier on ourselves. We're your users. You already killed homebrew, and stomped out all the joy we had in using it. We've found a way to get around that, but not one that's easy. For the general consumer, we understand your restrictions on the process. But for those of us that have been loyal to you, who know what we're doing, and who understand that plugging the USB cable into our phone has "risks", we expected better from you. Who is the "we" in this case? The "we" is the group who have devoted their time and efforts to making the platform suck less, to fix the problems you created, and to try to give consumers one out of the box reason to purchase your phones.

Call it harsh, but it's true. It's as if an outside hand is calling the shots for your software.

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