Windows Phone 7 Updates–What’s in them and the process–February and March patches

Many of you know that Windows Phone 7 was scheduled to get a few updates early 2011 to address some minor issues and provide some new features.  I blogged about some of this a while back when news about these updates started to become public in my post about Windows Phone 7 for Business today and what’s coming soon which I would encourage you to look at for context. 

The first Windows Phone 7 update, originally scheduled to be rolled out for all handsets in the February timeframe, was released for some handsets during February, but others took longer and just became available in April.  This initial update was exclusively for the purpose of improving the way we deliver software updates to ensure that the process keeps working smoothly for you. The second update is a more comprehensive update  and included:

  • Copy & paste. You asked for it—now it's here. Just tap a word and drag the arrows to copy and paste it on your phone. You can copy text from emails, text messages, web pages, and Office Mobile documents, and paste it anywhere you can type. To learn more, see Copy & paste.

  • Faster apps and games. Nobody likes to wait. That's why we've whittled down the time it takes for apps and games to start up and resume. It's all part of our focus on getting you to the things you love, easier and faster.

  • Better Marketplace search. We've streamlined Marketplace search to make it easier to find specific apps, games, or music. Press the Search button in the Apps or Games section of Marketplace and you'll see only apps or games in the results. Press Search in the Music section of Marketplace to search just the music catalog.

  • Other Marketplace improvements. We've improved the stability of Marketplace while you download apps. We've also improved the experience of downloading apps larger than 20 megabytes, upgrading from trial apps to paid apps, sharing links to apps via email, sorting Xbox LIVE games by release date, and creating an Xbox LIVE account from within the Games Hub.

  • Wi-Fi improvements. We now display your phone's Media Access Control (MAC) address in Settings. (You might need this info if you try to connect to a Wi-Fi network that uses MAC address filtering. To learn more, see Connect to a Wi-Fi network.) We've also removed the limit on the number of Wi-Fi profiles that you can store and reduced the time it takes to start your phone if you've stored lots of Wi-Fi profiles.

  • Outlook improvements. We've improved the experience of viewing iPhone photo attachments you receive from a non-Exchange-based email account (such as a Google Mail, Hotmail, or Yahoo! Mail account), using the Global Address List (GAL) when connecting to Exchange Server 2003 using Exchange ActiveSync, and working with email display names that contain brackets (for example, "David Alexander [Contoso]").

  • Facebook integration. We've improved the experience of syncing Facebook accounts.

  • Camera improvements. We've improved the stability of switching between camera and video modes.

  • Audio improvements. We've improved the experience of using a Bluetooth headset to make calls when you're playing music or videos.

  • Other performance improvements. This month's update also includes software from several phone manufacturers that improves the performance of specific models. Naturally, if you don't have one of the affected models, we won't install this portion of the update on your phone.

These initial updates are delivered to your phone via the Zune software, though we do expect over-the-air updates in the not-to-distant future. 

I just went through the process of applying these updates, so for those of you who have handsets where the patches aren’t available or you haven’t gotten around to it on one of the handsets where the patches have been made available, you can use this post to understand the process and prepare.  Keep in mind that the computer where you plan to do the updates needs available space to match the total amount of space used on your Windows Phone.  My phone had about 6 GB of space used and it does a check to ensure I had that available space to backup the phone completely prior to applying the update. 

Once you plug in your phone to your computer, the Zune software checks to see if there are updates for your phone and notifies you if there is one.  Since the patches were released last week and I was on vacation when the patches were made available for my LG Quantum, I got the following screen:

WP7 Update #1 

From this screen I clicked the “Update Now” button and the it went through a nine step process to apply this update to my phone.  See the in-process view below:

WP7 Update #2 - Step 6 of 9

This process took probably about 5 minutes which was significantly less than the 20 minute estimate from the initial screen.  When the update completed, it rebooted my phone and unplugged it from my computer to see how it looked.  As expected, there was no noticeable difference in anything I could see on the phone post this update.

Once I was done looking at the phone, I plugged it back into my computer and the Zune software once again checked for updates which of course there was. 

WP7 March Update #1

I clicked the “Update Now” button and started the process which started the download of this larger update:

WP7 March Update #2

The update continued after the download and goes through the process of completely backing up your Windows Phone prior to applying the patch:

WP7 March Update #3

Finally, the process completed, about 20 later, a bunch shorter than the estimated 32 minutes:

WP7 March Update #4 - Completed

With the update now completed, I unplugged the phone and started to familiarize myself with the updates outlined at the beginning of the post.  Very nice update!

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