One of the most frustrating parts of being a Windows Mobile user is the lack of control you have over whether your phone or PDA will receive the latest software updates from Microsoft. Historically, every time Microsoft has pushed out new features or updated versions of the Windows Mobile operating system, users have had to wait for their phone carrier or device manufacturer to offer an upgrade path — or risk installing a hacked copy of the software.
That means you could buy a phone running the latest and greatest version of Windows Mobile only to find your software is out of date within less than a year. And there’s pretty much nothing you can do about it unless your wireless carrier offers an upgrade option.
But it sounds like Microsoft is shaking things up a bit with the launch of Windows Phone 7. The new mobile operating system is set to ship later this year. And once it does, Microsoft will be able to push firmware updates to your phone over a 3G or WiFi connection. Larger system updates will require you to connect your phone to a computer and use the Zune Manager software to upgrade.
This makes it much more likely that you’ll be able to buy a phone in late 2010 and still have the most up-to-date software running on it in late 2011.
Of course, there are always limits. While Apple tends to offer free software updates to iPhone and iPod touch users, the upcoming iPhone OS 4.0 update will only fully support the iPhone 3GS and iPod touch 3rd generation. Earlier models don’t have the hardware to work with all of the new features.