Microsoft Moves Closer to Shipping Windows 10 Mobile Firmware Updates Directly to Insiders

Posted on February 25, 2016 by Paul Thurrott in Windows Phones with 0 Comments

Microsoft Moves Closer to Shipping Windows 10 Mobile Firmware Updates Directly to Insiders

A month ago, we learned that Microsoft would indeed be adding handset firmware updates to the Windows Insider program for Windows 10 Mobile. Today, Microsoft provided an update on this work, issuing new firmware updates for certain phone models and promising a simpler update scheme going forward.

So what does that mean?

As you may know, you can join the Windows Insider program—which is now available in Fast, Slow, and Release Preview rings—to gain early access to Windows 10 builds on PCs/tablets (“Windows 10”) and smart phones (Windows 10 Mobile).

But in the past, software updates to smart phones—especially Microsoft/Nokia’s Lumia handsets—were generally accompanied by a related set of firmware updates too. And since the OS and firmware updates were often intertwined—where certain OS releases would require a certain firmware level on certain phones and vice versa—this made the Windows Insider program on phones somewhat inelegant. That is, you could get pre-release OS builds through Insider, but when firmware updates were released, you would have to reset the phone to go back to the retail OS build before your phone would “see” (and thus install) a firmware update.

Clearly, adding firmware updates to the Insider program is the way to go. That way, users on whatever ring would still get firmware updates as they were released, and not have to reset their phones to get new firmware releases. And sure enough,Microsoft announced it was heading in that direction a month ago.

And today, Microsoft announced a new step in that direction: Starting in March, Windows Insiders on phone will simply get new firmware updates whenever they’re released, and regardless of what build/ring they’re on. “After this change, Insiders and Retail users will receive firmware updates at the same time,” Microsoft explains.

To get there, however, some changes need to occur. So Microsoft has added a new “production ring” to the Windows Insider app on Windows 10 Mobile so that you can temporarily switch from Insider without having to reset your phone, and then install any pending firmware updates. (Then, you can go back to Insider if you want.)

And you may want to do that today, if you’re using a Lumia 950 or Lumia 950 XL in select markets. This firmware update bumps the version up to 1078.38.16025 and makes the following changes:

  • Stability fixes
  • Improvements for GPS reliability
  • Improvements for call audio quality

(Unless I’m missing something, this firmware update is not available on the Lumia 950 for AT&T, which is what I’m using.)

Microsoft has also issued firmware updates for the Lumia 830 on AT&T in the United States and the LG Lancet (VW820) on Verizon in the US. However, these devices must be on Windows Phone 8.1 to receive the firmware update (2179.0.15455.24047 for the Lumia 830 and 820.10300.11.101 for the LG).

“Insiders will see automatic delivery of new firmware beginning in early March, including the new updates released today,” Microsoft explains. “This doesn’t mean that all devices will have firmware updates, but for those that do… you’ll receive them automatically without any additional work required on your part.”

So good news all around.

 

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