Windows Phone Unofficial Updater Causes Issues

Microsoft is claiming those Windows Phone 7 owners who used an unofficial update tool to download the latest software tweaks will be blocked from future updates.

Were you one of those Windows Phone 7 users who, frustrated with Microsoft's slow pace of updates, used a homebrew solution to download software tweaks ahead of their official push-out?

Yes? Then you might have a slight issue.

"Despite the fact that many people have claimed that an unofficial update mechanism worked fine for them," Brandon Watson, Microsoft's director of developer experience for Windows Phone 7, wrote in a May 4 posting on The Windows Blog, "we cautioned that phones which were updated via this method were not going to be able to update past build 7390." That's a reference to the recent "NoDo" update, which boosted app-loading speeds and introduced cut-and-paste functionality to Windows smartphones.

"Unfortunately for those customers out there who acted on information from sources outside of Microsoft, the rubber meets the road today," he added. "Phones updated via the unsupported method do not contain an official image and cannot be updated further at this time." For those whose smartphones have smacked into this particular wall, "you will most likely have to return to a store and submit your phone for a manufacturing return."

Microsoft is currently prepping its first-ever security update for Windows Phone 7, known as build 7392, which will protect the devices against a vulnerability caused by fraudulent certificates. In addition to Windows Phone 7, affected Microsoft products include Windows Mobile 6.x, Zune, Kin, and Windows.

At the beginning of April, developer Chris Walsh issued the ChevronWP7.Updater, which gave Windows Phone 7 users the ability-at least in theory-to update their devices' software ahead of official push-through. Three days later, though, he reversed course, asking people to avoid using his homebrewed utility. "I was later informed by Microsoft that there were several problems with my tool and the manner in which it changes phones," he wrote.

Watson's blog post describes how the unofficial tool, at least according to Microsoft, garbled Windows Phone 7's underlying software. "The state machine looked more like pre-7390 than it did 7390," he wrote. "However, because of the existence of some of the 7390 bits on the phone, and the fact that the 7390 update process was not intended to run against this a priori unknown state machine, the result was an incomplete 7390 update." Hence the error messages.

Walsh, in a May 4 posting on his blog, asked users who'd "Walshed" their devices to post their phone make and model, information from settings, and their carrier. "Personally, Zune updated 3 -Walshed' phones to 7392 just fine this morning. So I'd love to hear if you are having issues so I can check it out and see the issue," he wrote. "If you've posted below with your details ... I will be in contact with you with a solution to fix it."

Walsh also suggested the fix in question was "quite simple really."

Watson wrote: "The creators of the unsupported tool are a clever bunch, and wanted to get a timely fix created for customers who have put their phones into this state. ... we will work with them to validate their solution and applaud the team for taking responsibility to do this."