- 02-13-2013, 12:39 AM #1
i have been interested in the topic of updates and i am curious if microsoft could organize the operating system to bypass carriers. apple seems to be able to force carriers to push out, or accept, updates while android is a complete mess (telus in canada still sells phones running android 2.3 brand new) . microsoft seems to be in the middle, however with the small market share for wp8 i cannot imagine they have the clout to improve the situation and force updates across the board.
i am curious if wp could be packaged as a completely stripped down operating system consisting only of a dialer, a messenger, and a browser. this would ensure that all of the apn settings are working properly (this is as far as my technical knowledge goes). everything else, essentially the entire operating system, could be packaged as apps. this would be similar to what they are doing with skype. the phone could then be preloaded with all of the microsoft apps before reaching the consumer. i imagine that the base operating system would rarely need to be updated and if it did it would be easier to pass through both carriers and mobile phone manufacturers. additionally individual updates could happen more frequently than an operating system update and would completely bypass both carriers and manufacturers.
is this is possible or would the resulting os would be a complete mess?
02-13-2013, 05:26 AM #2
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- 02-13-2013, 02:42 PM #4
To a small extent, portions of software are developed in isolation, and then fit together with the bigger picture piece of software. Putting out only small updates as individual "Apps" at this stage would not be possible. It is also foolish, because of far too many issues to be listed here.
Developing an OS in complete segmented isolation is possible. Just look at Linux.
The risk you run, is ending up with an OS like Linux.
- 02-13-2013, 04:39 PM #5
The firmware to run on each carrier is carrier tested and approved before updates can be released, that is why over seas cdma and global GSM see updates, it is a tighter standard, and US CDMA (sprint and Verizon) get screwed as the last one to be updated. It's the last to be updated and tested to make sure it doesn't hose the carrier network.
- 02-13-2013, 04:41 PM #6
The apps you mentioned (dialler, messenger, browser, even the start-screen) aren't, at least technically speaking, part of the operating system. They may ship with the operating system, but they do not fulfil any of the functions typically ascribed to an operating system (memory management, IO, hardware interfacing, security, etc). They are in fact just normal apps. These apps differ only in the sense that they are developed by Microsoft, that they ship with the OS, and that they are flashed to ROM instead of being installed to storage like other apps. These are rather minor differences, so distributing them from an app store instead of embedding them in the ROM image wouldn't be incredibly difficult.
Although BeaverJuicer is correct that developing parts of an OS in isolation makes development more difficult and error prone, this wouldn't necessarily apply to your suggestion, since as previously stated, the things you mentioned are just apps and not, technically speaking, part of the OS.
Whether your suggestion might actually solve the unfortunate WP update situation is an entirely different question though. It might, but I find that doubtful. The thing is, Microsoft's update woes aren't really a technical issue.
Microsoft can update the OS without touching the firmware (the bits added by the manufacturers), meaning they can already distribute OS updates without manufacturer intervention.
Microsoft decided to axe all update channels except the carrier OTA channel. Since automatic OTA updates make carriers an accomplice in the update process, carriers will reserve the right to test the update before distributing it over their networks. So, at least procedurally, carriers are always involved in WP OS updates. Technically however, this isn't strictly necessary, as it is ultimately Microsoft that flips the switch that kicks the update process into motion for any given carrier. So, at least technically, Microsoft could also distribute OS updates without carrier intervention.
My main point here, is that you are suggesting a technical solution to a contractual/legal problem. There are in fact no technical barriers preventing Microsoft from flipping the update switch for every device in the world at any given time. Since this isn't a technical problem, we should probably be looking for a legal solution instead, but that is a very thorny issue in comparison.
A simple provision, contractually binding carriers to test OS updates within a given time frame, would likely achieve wonders. Understandably/Unfortunately, carriers will not agree to such provisions if not forced through other business interests.
EDIT: This applies to U.S. carriers as the situation in Europe is entirely different.
Last edited by a5cent; 02-13-2013 at 06:57 PM. Reason: Spelling
- 02-13-2013, 07:08 PM #7
Thanks for the details behind such updates.
However, how/why can Apple update every iPhone on every carrier worldwide virtually at once whereas WP8 updates take months? For example Portico. It has been available for several months yet, carriers such as Verizon still have not issued the update to its WP8 users?
- 02-13-2013, 07:36 PM #8
The most likely scenario is that all U.S. carriers selling the iPhone committed to testing and signing off on iOS updates within a short time frame, say two weeks.
In many other countries, carriers have policies in place that allow them to outsource this step entirely. As long as manufacturers stick to the rules, they can update their devices whenever and how often they like (excl. OTA)
- 02-13-2013, 10:16 PM #9
thanks for the reply. great post by the way. i appreciate the clarification on os / vs apps.
i can understand that both microsoft and carriers want to control as much of the process as possible. it is frustrating, from a consumer point of view, that the process can be held up / neglected and we really have no choice. one would think that a carrier that was committed to pushing updates a quickly as possible would attract subscribers. i imagine however, that at the point of sale very few people are thinking of these types of issues and unfortunately carriers know this.
this may change? the mobile space is evolving so quickly and three years seems like a long time to hang on to a device, especially one that does not get updates.
- 02-14-2013, 06:13 AM #10
- 02-14-2013, 07:22 AM #11
Most people just can't get their heads around how drastically different WP and Android are in these regards, and I suspect that is where this misconception comes from.
People might as well claim that PC updates "would've been easier to do if MS made their own PC hardware alone". Yes, but is that stopping MS from releasing the same OS updates to millions of differently configured PC's almost on a weekly basis? No, not at all. WP, and the devices it runs on, are no different in this regard.
- 02-14-2013, 07:57 AM #12
I think I read somewhere once that Apple solves the problem by strong-arming the carriers. It shows them a date and ships on that date, regardless of whether the carrier is done "testing" or not. Of course, you can't quite do that when you're at 3% market share, begging the carriers to help promote and sell your devices.
- 02-14-2013, 08:04 AM #13
- 02-14-2013, 08:09 AM #15
A short and incomplete explanation:
WP OS updates and WP firmware updates are piggybacked on top each other. The intent is to reduce the number of updates Microsoft and WP OEMs must convince carriers to spend time and effort on "validating". Although that isn't the only reason, none of those left unmentioned are technical.
Google and Android OEM's have the same issues, but Google has the additional issue of not being able to distribute OS updates independently of the OEM's, even if they wanted to. Some Android OEMs, like Samsung, make extensive modifications to the OS. For them, patching Google's Android updates back into their own code base is an extremely laborious task that takes months. Samsung does this to a greater extent than most, but every Android OEM effectively derives their own proprietary Android variant (from Google's source code distribution) for each device they ship.
Contrast that to WP, where OEMs are both technically and legally prevented from making any modifications to the OS. In fact, Microsoft doesn't even ship the WP source code to OEMs. That is in fact a drastic difference, even though it isn't apparent to consumers.
Now, you may justifiably argue that the difference is irrelevant, as consumers update experiences are often similarly disappointing. I would agree, were this a discussion of how the update process currently works. But it isn't. We are discussing how the update process on WP could/should work.
Last edited by a5cent; 02-14-2013 at 09:14 AM. Reason: Rewritten (first post occured accidentally)
- 02-14-2013, 08:27 AM #16
- 02-14-2013, 08:42 AM #17
Just a friendly reminder. We, meaning users who visit various forums for mobile information and take a real interest, probably represent less than 5% of the total Smartphone world. Everyone else doesn't know the difference between 6.5 and 7.8 and for the most part, couldn't care less. Android proves that. They buy a phone, use it till it stops working. Then they buy another phone. With that said, availability of updates has little impact on overall market share. Again, just look at Android.
I wouldn't argue against a better update method, and Microsoft's hands should not be tied for bug fixes, like the famous disappearing keyboard that some users are still dealing with. But generally, updates are bonuses, icing one the cake. I appreciate them, but don't expect them. Personally, I buy devices for what the can do. Of course, not everyone feels the same way.
Sent from my Lumia 900 using Board Express Pro
- 02-14-2013, 09:12 AM #18
As for the differences between Apple and Microsoft, well, for one, iOS didn't take the OTA route in those early days. Hook your device up to iTunes and update away, carriers be damned. You can do the same thing with WP if you know how, it just isn't consumer friendly.
The benefit of OTA updates is that update distribution becomes a push services. It takes the responsibility of keeping devices up to date out of the hands of consumers and puts it in the hands of carriers. Unfortunately, that requires carrier participation and puts them in control.
Personally, as a WP customer, I'm not at all happy with the situation. However, I don't know if it is fair to say Microsoft did a poor job negotiating. Carriers have also become a lot tougher since back then. Apple put all carriers through the ringer, and they have since all responded by taking a mutual oath to never again let any supplier exert so much power over their business. Microsoft probably did as good a job negotiating with carriers as anyone could do these days, it just wasn't a good enough job for enthusiasts.
Last edited by a5cent; 02-14-2013 at 09:32 AM. Reason: Clarification in third paragraph
- 02-14-2013, 12:57 PM #20
At the very least, I hope people appreciate gaining a more in-depth understanding of the issue.
Note also, that for people in 2nd and 3rd world countries, those differences are very practical. Android OEMs will understandably not provide OS updates for their low end devices. Due to the reasons mentioned, that is always prohibitively expensive. WP OEMs have no such problems, so even the lowest end WP devices can expect a few updates. That has got to be worth something, don't you think?
Last edited by a5cent; 02-14-2013 at 01:08 PM.
- 02-14-2013, 01:06 PM #21
The average Android user likely doesn't know that his phone has never received an update, and would be surprised to hear that the hardware could have if he had taken certain steps.
Blackberry releases in a similar manner as WP, except the phone doesn't auto check. You had to (unsure of BB10, but 7.1 and down) plug in to the Desktop software, or check crackberry to see if there was an update available. You want a mess of rollouts? Check the crackberry OS discussions.
The only reason this is important, is because you are here, as a WP8 enthusiast. And as such, you should understand the why's and how's of a rollout such as this.
- 02-14-2013, 01:46 PM #22
OK, I will cede that many (Most?) users of IOS, Android etc. type devices are ignorant of updates to the OS. However, should that fact excuse Microsoft from giving their users the best experience in a timely manner? If you want to stay at a 3% market share behaving like Android is the company to emulate (Rampant fragmentation, etc.) I love my HTC 8X and I want it to be best it can be. Sitting around for months awaiting Portico from Verizon does not meet that objective. Blame who you want (Telco, Microsoft), it's still a lousy experience compared to IOS updates.
- 02-14-2013, 02:05 PM #23
Get 100,000 WP users who are willing to publicly and loudly turn their backs on Verizon if they don't sign a deal with MS, contractually binding them to sign-off on WP updates within two weeks of release, and you would likely have yourself a solution. Due to the non-interest of consumers however, that isn't likely to happen.
- 02-14-2013, 03:21 PM #24
Samsung are getting close to Apple sales, but they are starting with their current bad deal, how do they renegotiate with the telcos? If Samsung walk, they'll just get replaced with 10 other Android phones. Nokia, HTC, Samsung have minimal sales anywhere, so how can they negotiate? They wont be willing to throw money at the telcos to get their updates on time. I can't imagine Microsoft want to start throwing money at the telcos either.
Whinge all you like, but the only way you can guarantee timely updates, is with an iPhone, or maybe a Google Nexus, but then you can't generally get them on contract, which means throwing down large sums to get the phone sim-free.