Microsoft’s Steve Ballmer launches Windows Phone 7 in October 2010. Photograph: Spencer Platt/Getty Images Windows Phone 7 owners in the UK will have to wait until next week to update their handsets with Microsoft’s “NoDo” (no doughnuts) software version which adds cut and paste and other features.
UK networks have told the Guardian that they will be rolling out the update to contract customers over the next 10 days, though the precise timing varies between them.
The update, which will be available through Microsoft’s site and require owners to connect their phone to their computer to carry it out, is the first major upgrade since Windows Phone 7 was released in the UK at the end of October, and is being rolled out through carriers around the world.
Some users of SIM-free phones will already have the update notification, UK networks told the Guardian.
The delay to the update has partly been caused by the networks’ requirement – imposed on all handset manufacturers – to test the update thoroughly to ensure that it will work with their individual systems.
Among the features the Windows Phone update will introduce are:
• cut and paste functionality;
• faster app launching;
• improved Marketplace search and stability;
• Wi-Fi improvements, including display of the phone’s MAC address in Settings, which is sometimes needed to join networks that use MAC address filtering, and removal of limits on Wi-Fi profiles;
• improvements when you receive an MMS if you have a PIN-locked SIM;
• better Facebook integration;
• more stability when switching between still and video on camera settings; and
• improvements to Outlook for viewing photo attachments from Gmail, Hotmail or Yahoo mail accounts when using Exchange Server.
UK carriers have been testing the update to ensure that it will work with the handsets that they are selling, and are rolling it out cautiously, after an earlier update rendered some Samsung handsets inoperable.
“The updates for the HTC 7 Trophy and LG Optimus 7 [the WP7 devices that Vodafone offers] have been approved by Vodafone and will be distributed in due course – MS have begun to gradually roll out the update, starting small with customers with open market phones this week. Update will be via PC suite,” said a Vodafone spokeswoman.
A spokesperson for O2 said: “We’re working with Microsoft to bring the Windows Phone 7 NoDo update to our HTC HD7 customers as soon as possible. We currently expect it to launch in early April.”
Everything Everywhere – which combines Orange and T-Mobile – said: “Our current plan is for Microsoft to roll out our approved version next week in line with other operators.”
The update does not however bring full multitasking support for third-party apps. That will have to wait for a more major update, codenamed “Mango”, which is expected about October. Nokia, which recently announced a strategic alliance with Microsoft to put Windows Phone onto its future smartphones, will wait for “Mango” – and possibly later – before releasing any Windows Phone devices.
The “NoDo” update had been expected initially to arrive in early February, after a phone using it was used in Steve Ballmer’s keynote at the Consumer Electronics Show at the start of January. That date then shifted to 8 March, which passed. The “pre-update” that affected the Samsung phones was intended to make future software updates simpler, but its effect on those phones is understood to have delayed the update for about a fortnight.
Every software update to any carrier-sold phone, including the iPhone, is tested by each carrier before it is sent out, and can only be rolled out when all of them agree to its use.
The number of different phone models that run an operating system therefore complicates the update process. There are five different Windows Phone 7 handsets available in the UK, and new ones being prepared, each of which has slightly different firmware and so which has to be checked against the software update. That does raise the question of how the update that bricked the Samsung phones passed the approval process – but has meant that the networks are more cautious than ever about rolling out Windows Phone updates.