Telco’s Holding Us To Ransom–An Update

In my previous article Telco’s Holding Us To Ransom I discussed my dissatisfaction at the way in which Windows Phone 7 updates are blocked by the Mobile Carriers. This doesn’t just affect the Windows Phone 7 platform, but also the iPhone and Android devices. It was interesting to read an article today discussing Microsoft’s strategy to break the hold that the mobile carriers have over them:

Microsoft has a good mobile OS, they just bought a soft carrier in Skype, and whether the rumors of a potential acquisition of Nokia pan out or not, Microsoft’s recent deal with Nokia seems to go beyond a simple OS licensing agreement. If Microsoft is trying to turn the cellular industry on end, it’ll start out with Nokia hardware built to Microsoft specifications…

And of course Microsoft isn’t alone in this ambition. Apple and Google each appear to have been moving to the same destination by different paths. Apple’s integration of FaceTime, first into the iPhone, then the iPod Touch, iPad 2, and Mac OS, is a clear move toward carrier independence.

Read the full article at Is Microsoft trying to end the reign of mobile carriers?

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Game of the Week – Flight Control

imageAs I mentioned in last weeks game Wordament, the keys to a successful portable game are firstly, the game need to be easy to learn but takes a while to master and secondly, you can play for as little as a couple of minutes or a couple of hours. Flight Control is one of those games that will keep you playing all day and not want to put it down.

The game is quite simple, aircraft enter from the edges of the screen and its your job to direct them to their runway to land. The only real rules are that different aircraft types have specific runways that they need to land on, and don’t let them crash. Simple enough hey, but as I said earlier, it will keep you coming back for more as you try to squeeze dozens of aircraft on the screen at the same time and keep them from crashing into each other.

Flight Control was originally developed for the iPod touch by Australian game maker Firemint and has remained in the top all time games for several years now. Flight Control is one of those success stories which has racked up over 4 million downloads and has since been ported to the iPad, Android, Windows Phone 7, Nintendo DS, Playstation and also the PC and Mac. Recently Firemint was acquired by EA Games which will hopefully mean some more capital investment to allow them to keep coming out with more great apps like this.

When the Windows Phone 7 update goes pear shaped

imageYesterday I advised that the NoDo update had been released by Telstra, unfortunately the update process didn’t go so smoothly. At the second last step it was supposed to do a reboot, but unfortunately the phone vibrated 7 times then hung on the boot screen. I left the phone and Zune update process for a considerable amount of time, but it was obvious the upgrade had failed. Attempts to reboot the phone by switching it off and on all simply returned to the same state. Further attempts to get it working including a factory reset also failed. Unfortunately the process of performing a factory reset effectively wipes everything off the phone and takes you back to the raw ROM, but seeing as the ROM is in a partial state – this is not possible. After much research on the web trying to find a solution I came across the following blog: http://barrymoves.blogspot.com/2011/05/did-you-use-chevronwp7updater-on-your.html which provides instructions for downloading and reloading the original Telstra ROM. So thankfully I now have a nice clean phone at its original state when I first bought it, all I need to do now is re-install all the apps and reconfigure all the settings again.

Telco’s Holding Us To Ransom

imageI was stoked last year when Microsoft decided to launch the new Windows Phone 7 devices in Australia and New Zealand. Now I know this is mostly due to it being a softer market to launch into where they can iron out any last minute show stoppers before the big launches into markets such as the US and Europe, but it was still very exciting to be one of the first in the world to be on the new platform.

During a press conference prior to the launch that Microsoft and Telstra hosted, one of the questions from the media asked about how software updates were going to be handled and the answer was that everyone would receive the updates at the same time, regardless of the carrier they were on which brought much joy to the wider audience. Fast forward 4 months when Microsoft started to release the first software updates in February (firstly a prep update known as pre-NoDo which was simply a patch to ensure the actual update went smoothly, then the real update – NoDo) and what do we find – the updates though they are coming from Microsoft via the Zune software, looks up your phone to see which carrier and does a verification to check if they have allowed the update.

Now at the time of writing (almost 3 months after the updates were released), all of the carriers in the world except two have release the update – Telefonica in Spain and Telstra in Australia (http://www.microsoft.com/windowsphone/en-us/features/update-schedule-world.aspx ), yet the frustrating thing is that Telstra were the launch partner! The big question on everyone’s mind is simply why? What could they possibly be still testing? If they find any bugs, its unlikely that Microsoft will stop the release seeing as all providers in the world except these two have released it. You would think this was a big enough testing bed to find any issues, plus any issues they did find, unless they were major bugs, would most likely be going into the next release (Mango). Its also very unlikely that there are compatibility issues between NoDo and the Telstra network, seeing as they already released the HTC HD7 pre-installed with the update over a month ago. So this bring me back to the initial question, why are they holding up the release, and the only conclusion I can come to is simply because they can. In a market where class actions are taking place against their competitors, it puts them in a position that those on the network are unlikely to up and change carriers (not mentioning the fact that I am locked into a 2 year contract) – even though the other carriers here in Australia have already released the NoDo update.

So. the biggest thing that I find most annoying is the fact that we were led to believe at launch that we would not be left in this situation where the carriers hold us to ransom, for what gain I really don’t know.

Update: Telstra has released the update as of this morning. The update includes NoDo as well as the SSL critical update.image

Windows Phone 7 Game–Wordament

clip_image001I was listening to the Frankly Speaking Podcast the other day and was put onto a great new game for the Windows Phone 7 called Wordament. It’s essentially a word search game, but played in real time against other players on the internet. The board consists of 16 tiles and you have 2 minutes to try to find as many words as possible by dragging your finger from one letter to the next. At the end of the 2 minutes you get to see the words you missed, then get shown a leader board to see how you went against your online competitors. I’ve never been big on word games like boggle or scrabble, but the fast pace and the multi player aspect of the game gets you totally hooked in very little time.

One of the best recipes for phone games is they are easy to play, but take a long time to master, plus, you can play for as little as a few minutes or can play all day and this game certainly fits that bill nicely. You’ll go to bed and think, I’ll just have one quick game, and before you know it you’ve been sitting there playing for an hour. I’m totally addicted, not to mention the other great thing is that the game is free. Definitely give it a try.