Microsoft is working on getting together some new hardware for Windows Phone 7 developers to use while they work on software for this fall’s Mango release. These devices will be invaluable for testing apps that take advantage of the new hardware Mango will support, like gyroscopes. For apps that won’t rely on such sensors, developers could get by doing their hardware tests on existing WP7 smartphones that have had their software upgraded to Mango; certainly, such an update sounds a lot easier to distribute than new phone hardware. It turns out things may not be that simple, with Microsoft reporting that it’s hit a bit of a snag while trying to come up with a process that allows for safe upgrades to Mango while still allowing developers to restore their phones.
The problem is that, as a test platform, Mango may not quite yet be ideal for daily use. For developers who also use the phone they test with as a daily-use smartphone, they might want to flash to Mango for testing and later revert to NoDo. While that would be fine, if something were to go wrong mid-flash, Microsoft fears it could be looking at bricked smartphones. The company’s Cliff Simpkins explains:
“One of the chief issues is that the update brings your entire device up to a pre-release state; doing a hard reset brings the device back to a ‘clean’ state, but that ‘clean’ is a ‘clean’ pre-release; and if the update fails while the device is in mid-update, you don’t have a ‘clean’ state to return to, which would then need involvement from a human being, some tools, and an image file. :)”
“…the team is actively working to provide a way to restore the phone back to a baseline, but if a crash happens in mid-flash (while the device is being repartitioned and ROM is being updated), the device would likely require outside assistance.”
As of now, there’s no obvious solution, but Microsoft assures developers that it’s working on something, and that it hopes to have more news about getting Mango onto their phones soon.