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If you are a current Windows Phone user the only way you got an update installed was using the Zune Desktop application. The new Windows Phone 8 will now deliver different type of updates Over The Air (OTA). There are different sort and sized updates that can be delivered. It looks like Microsoft is taking more control and hopefully is able to push fixes and  updates more easily now without the carriers and device manufacturers involvement.

I have been lobbying during my conversations with Microsoft that they should be able to push out small updates without carrier or manufacturer involvement. For example the disappearing keyboard fix should have been an easy update. But in Windows Phone 7.x it had to be a complete Rom update and Carriers weren’t to fond of it. Now hopefully Microsoft can just fix things without much delay.

In Windows Phone 8 updates are strictly Over the Air (OTA). In later releases there may be an over the cable update option.

There are two main kinds of updates, automatic updates and manual updates. Automatic updates are downloaded to the device without the need of the user. Manual updates are initiated by the phone users.

Automatic update

  • You are informed that an update is ready to install. You can postpone the update or install the update immediately.
  • If you accept the update your phone will restart in the update bootloader screen. Once the update is complete your phone will restart again – to the updated operating system.
  • You will see a dialog box that indicates that the update was successful.
  • The update will take less than ten minutes in most cases, because the update has already been downloaded before you see the update notification.

Prompted (manual) update

  • You are informed that an update is ready to download. This will occur if you have opted out of automatic download of updates.
  • The notification provides you the size and content of the update.
  • You can postpone the update or authorize the download.
  • You are prompted to connect to a Wi-Fi network.
    • You can also allow the update to use your cellular data connection. This will use your cellular data plan.  You will see a warning about the possibility of a cellular data charge.
  • You are then informed when the update is ready. You can install immediately or postpone installation of the downloaded update.
  • If you accept the update your phone will restart in the update bootloader screen. Once the update is complete your phone will restart again – to the updated operating system.
  • You will see a dialog box that indicates that the update was successful.

 

Update Settings

There are two principal settings associated with updates that are user customizable. You can find these settings under “Settings->Phone Update“. The third one will be a self check.

1. Tell me when updates are available for my phone.

  • Deselecting this option will turn off update notifications for the device.
2. Automatically download updates if my data settings allow it.
  • Deselecting this setting will force a user to manually approve taking an update download when it is available (see Prompted (manual) update flow above).
  • Note: even if the user has selected to receive automatic downloads, if a “zero cost” download scenario is not available, they are prompted to take action. The update then follows the prompted update flow (e.g. find a Wi-Fi or accept an over cellular data connection).
3. Users can also decide to “check for updates” themselves, if they believe that an update is available.
  • This feature will enable a user to supersede the update throttling mechanism to receive their update in a timelier manner.

 

Connectivity State Dependencies

The following information will show you dependencies between different levels of connectivity and factors such as data plan, mobile operator restrictions, update size, and so on. These are the factors that affect the qualityof the experience when you will update your Windows Phone 8.

  • When you are connected to WIFI any size update will work OTA
  • When connected to a cellular data plan you have access to small sized updates and will be charged based on your plan usage
  • Some mobile operators will put OTA update restrictions in place on their cellular network. (this will prevent over usage)

Update Classes ans Sizing

OEM updates

  • OEM code (drivers, customizations, QC code – modem and BSP changes(encrypted))

Microsoft updates

  • Extra small – (<1MB) – i.e. cert changes, security updates
  • Small – (<10BM) – i.e. diff and canonical changes – predominant MSFT update
  • Medium – (TBD) – i.e. feature pack dot updates
  • Large – 100+MB – i.e. Major update release (e.g. 7740 update) w/o language pack – uncommon
  • X-Large – 150+MB – i.e. Major update release (e.g. 7740 update) with language pack – uncommon

 

Flow chart Windows Phone 8 Over the Air Updates.

Click on the image below to a larger version of the flow chart below.

Click on image for larger version

 

What is missing in this information

looking at all this information it seems that Microsoft will be able to push out fixes and small updates without the Carrier and OEM’s (device manufaturer) involvement.  Carrier and OEM specific updates can be pushed out as well. However the scenario for major operating system updates, like Windows Phone 8.5, is missing in this information.

 
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