20 June, 2011

Motorola Update Hell

Last week I tried to update my Motorola Defy mobile phone. It is an Android 2.1 device and the people in the US could simply update via WiFi or 3G to Android 2.2. Unfortunately Motorola decided to do a more complex scenario here in Europe.

And whoever decided this strategy is hopefully not longer working for that company. The process requires an external PC and is a big mess.

After many hours trying to update on several machines I finally got my Android 2.2. Here is what I went through.

The Painful Path
  1. I checked the Motorola site and several sources on the web how to update.
  2. According to some sources, I should have been notified of the update directly on the devices, which did not happen.
  3. Then I tried to update via the Android system settings: "No updates for you, sorry guy".
  4. Obviously European mobile network providers require a more complex update approach, even if I have a retail version of the phone, not tied to any provider.
  5. Checking the web again. OK, I need an update software from Motorola.
  6. I found it on their site and downloaded it. OMG, it is an exe-file! It was of course not working on WINE and there was no update software for Linux.
  7. I assumed that this exe-file neither runs on my friends Mac nor my collagues iPads.
  8. Dammit, I had to find a Windows PC, but who owns such old-fashioned devices anymore?
  9. Then I remembered my old Windows XP image, on one of my hard drives. Fortunately it was still there and also tied to the GRUB as last entry to be chainloaded. I fired it up and it still worked.
  10. Yeah! Let's start the funny exe-file: "Motorola requires Internet Explorer 5.5 or above." What the heck? Why does an mobile device update software require and antiquated web browser? For security reasons, I disabled this leaky browser before this Windows image was installed and I will not install it now. Nobody dictates me what to install and what not. That's why I use Ubuntu, my current(!) Linux of choice.
  11. OK, I had to find another Windows device. But where to search? I wont tell you where I finally found my Windows device - the owner was a bit ashamed of still owning it - but we got the update running. He still had the leaky Internet Explorer installed even if he never used it. The update also requires the .NET framework, which was luckly already installed.
  12. Then the update software went a bit amok forcing the notification icons going wild. The notifications told us vigorously about "new devices", "failed driver installations", and "ready devices". I don't know how many times the notification flashed but that I had to start the software a second time and again let it try to dig all its system-related components into the Windows machine. OMG! Fortunately that was not my machine. :)
  13. After all this fiddling it would finally recognize the device, download the update, and install it. Done!
"Luckily" the Defy will not get an Update to 2.3. ;)

Btw., did I tell you that I did not have to install anything when I plugged my phone into my Ubuntu Linux PC and I could start development for Android immediately?

I really don't know why Motorola has built such a complicated update for its European phones. But I hope that next time they will consider the growing number of users of Macs, iPads, Android-based Pads, and even Desktop Linux PCs. The Wintel era is coming to an end.

Update: A few days ago, I send a mail to Motorola's CEO again telling them about me not being happy with their update strategy. It was obviously read by their IT support. Thereafter, they replied on my former support ticket, telling me that they read this blog entry and congratulating me on my update success.
They promised to forward my valuable feedback to the responsible departments. Very nice!


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