Cell phone carriers and manufacturers are notorious for lagging behind in updates for Android phones. This not only restricts users from leveraging newer features, but also leaves them vulnerable to otherwise-patchable security holes.

Do similar problems exist with Windows phone carriers and manufacturers, or are there measures in place to prevent this? For example:

  • Are Windows Phone updates distributed directly from Microsoft to the users, instead of being held up by the carriers and manufacturers?
  • Are there contractual obligations that require Windows Phone carriers and manufacturers to provide Windows Phone updates in a timely fashion to their users, for a certain time period after a phone's initial release?
  • Are there any other ways carriers and manufacturers are generally prevented from delaying updates to Windows Phone users, after Microsoft has released them?

Whilst updates aren't as frequent as the desktop OS, they do still happen, relatively unencumbered by network or handset manufacturer. Updates are staggered for logistical reasons, so you may see people asking about a particular update a few weeks before it becomes available in your region.

It's worth noting that all the Windows Phones released with v7 (the first version of Windows Phone) have been progressively upgraded to v7.5 and are in the process of being upgraded to v7.8. It has already been stated though that a v7.x phone will not be able to be (officially) updated to v8.x (or later). When v8 was announced, one of the features that was highlighted was that it would support "over-the-air" updates direct from Microsoft (the first of these was in December 2012).

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