Windows Phone 7 glitch affects 1 in 10 upgrades

Microsoft isn't saying what caused the problems, but it has stopped upgrades to Samsung handsets as a precaution.

Microsoft said a "technical issue" is to blame for the recent Windows Phone 7 software update problems that have bricked about 10 percent of devices trying to upgrade. The update snafu mostly appears to be affecting Samsung devices. Microsoft hasn't said what, specifically, caused the problems, but it has stopped upgrades to Samsung handsets as a precaution. Updates are continuing normally for non-Samsung phones.

The Windows Phone 7 Update Saga

Microsoft started rolling out its first Phone 7 update Monday. The update is a minor, but important, upgrade "designed to improve the software update process itself," according to Microsoft. Another Windows Phone 7 update is expected in March that should include the much-anticipated addition of copy-and-paste capability to Phone 7 devices.

Shortly after the update started hitting handsets, owners of Samsung Phone 7 devices started complaining that the update was turning their devices into expensive paperweights. Microsoft recommends that users with bricked phones contact their carrier or the device manufacturer about repair options.

Microsoft discovered that about half of the update woes were caused by either a bad Internet connection or not enough storage space on the user's PC hard drive for the upgrade to take place.

Windows Phone 7 upgrades are delivered via USB when a user connects his or her device to a computer. Before the upgrade is installed, however, the phone's data is backed up as a precaution. The desktop software, Zune for Windows or Windows Phone 7 Connector for Mac, then downloads the new software and updates the device. It appears that if a person's computer doesn't have enough space to back up the phone data, it causes the upgrade process to brick the device, at least with some Samsung users. Similarly, if the Internet connection drops, the upgrade stalls, bricking the handset.

Windows Phone 7 Precautions

Microsoft recommends that users make room on their hard drive before trying to update the device. The company doesn't say how much room is needed, but suggests that Windows users run the Disk Cleanup Utility to make room by deleting temporary files. Microsoft does not provide any solutions for Mac users. You can find more information on Microsoft's site about how to prepare for your Windows Phone 7 upgrade.

Microsoft isn't the only smartphone software maker to experience upgrade woes. Some Android users recently complained of similar issues when upgrading to Android 2.2 (Froyo) including some Samsung users.

Connect with Ian Paul (@ianpaul) and Today@PCWorld on Twitter for the latest tech news and analysis.

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