Microsoft defers to outside dev for stuck Windows Phone fix

Won't fix phones updated with unofficial tool, but works with its maker, who plans to issue workaround today

Microsoft on Wednesday said it will not help Windows Phone users who updated their smartphones last month with an unsanctioned tool, and are now unable to apply a security update.

Instead, Microsoft has worked with Chris Walsh, the developer of "ChevronWP7.Updater," to make sure a workaround he's created will do the trick.

In a post to a company developer blog , Brandon Watson, senior director with the Windows Phone team, informed customers that Microsoft would not directly assist anyone who had run Walsh's tool last month.

"We cautioned that phones which were updated via this method were not going to be able to update past build 7390," said Watson, referring to March's "NoDo" update. "Unfortunately for those customers out there who acted on information from sources outside of Microsoft, the rubber meets the road today."

Saying, that the company hadn't figured on needing to deal with such a situation and that it had no engineering resources to spare, Watson said, "While we are not ruling out having a fix in the future, for now there is no fix."

Microsoft had warned users this might happen.

After Walsh created ChevronWP7.Updater in April -- a move in response to Microsoft's slow pace in getting out two updates, including one dubbed "NoDo," to customers -- a company executive said anyone running it risked not receiving future updates. Microsoft also asked Walsh to yank the tool, which he did.

"We cautioned that phones which were updated via this method were not going to be able to update past build 7390," said Watson, referring to the "NoDo" update. "Unfortunately for those customers out there who acted on information from sources outside of Microsoft, the rubber meets the road today."

Watson said that anyone who had used ChevronWP7.Updater would not be able to update past NoDo, and would not be able to retrieve and install the security update Microsoft shipped Tuesday.

That claim runs counter to reports from some user, including Walsh, that they were able to download and install Tuesday's security update.

According to Watson, users who "walshed" their phones -- Walsh's name has become a verb -- would need to return it to their carrier for a substitute.

"Our engineering priorities are focused on improving the process by which updates get to Windows Phone, issuing the security update you just got and working to getting Mango to market. Undoing this specific problem was not in our schedule," said Watson.

But Walsh has a fix of his own.

In a tweet Wednesday -- which has since disappeared -- Walsh said he had a workaround ready that was waiting for validation from Microsoft. Later in the day, he said the fix would be released Thursday, with details posted to his blog.

Microsoft's Watson confirmed that in his own post Tuesday.

"The creators of the unsupported tool are a clever bunch, and wanted to get a timely fix created for customers who have put their phones into this state," said Watson. "They believe they have created a way to get these phones back on the officially supported path. We will work with them to validate their solution and applaud the team for taking responsibility to do this."

Walsh hinted that Microsoft had provided him with the code-signing certificate necessary for his fix. "I can haz code signing cert :D," he tweeted.

Gregg Keizer covers Microsoft, security issues, Apple, Web browsers and general technology breaking news for Computerworld. Follow Gregg on Twitter at @gkeizer or subscribe to Gregg's RSS feed. His e-mail address is gkeizer@computerworld.com.

Read more about smartphones in Computerworld's Smartphones Topic Center.

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