Upgrading my O2 Xda Orbit to Windows Mobile 6

Windows Mobile 5 compared with Window Mobile 6
Before and after: Windows Mobile 5 (left) vs. Windows Mobile 6 (right)

I’d read a few days ago that O2 would be offering a free upgrade to Windows Mobile 6 so yesterday I went in search of such delights, and lo! as it says in the good book: seek and ye will find: software update for O2 Xda Orbit only

Browser caveat

Except, it doesn’t warn you in the Bible that if you’re trying to download the Windows Mobile 6 upgrade from the O2 website you can’t use Mozilla Firefox, it has to be Internet Explorer (or, oddly, Opera).

I spent ages entering my Xda Orbit’s serial number again and again only to be told that the serial number was wrong. I tried it again a little later in IE7 and got straight through to this page: O2 Xda upgrade page on HTC website, where I was able to download the 44.7 MB upgrade file.

Installation preparations

Installation was thankfully very simple and straight-forward. Here’s what I did to prepare for the upgrade:

NOTE: I’ve updated the link to the download as it doesn’t appear to be available anymore; I hope that helps (and that it’s the right file as I now no longer have my Orbit) — 8 October 2011.

  1. Download the software upgrade (Zip, 89 MB) for O2 Xda Orbit only
  2. Deactivated Co-Pilot 6 using these instructions (PDF, 28 KB)
  3. Connect the O2 Xda Orbit to my PC and synchronize with Outlook using Windows ActiveSync 4.5 (for Windows XP or earlier — Windows Vista does its own thing).
  4. Run the installation file, which is called RUU_Artemis_O2_UK_3.4.206.2_4.1.13.28_02.67.90_Ship.exe

Here’s a walk-through of the installation screens while upgrading from Windows Mobile 5 to Windows Mobile 6.

Step 1: Welcome

Welcome to the ROM upgrade utility

Not exactly a quiz this screen: just understand that this installation will wipe clean the Xda Orbit’s memory (but NOT any MicroSD card that you may have installed). That’s why it was important to sync with Outlook before the installation.

Tick the box to say that yes you want the software to purge the phone/PDA of all its sins, then click Next.

Step 2: Instructions

Follow the instructions

Aha! Instructions:

  1. Connect the PDA Phone to the USB cable.
  2. Establish an ActiveSync connection with your PDA Phone.
  3. Disable the standby and hibernation modes on the host PC.
  4. Make sure Main Battery has a charge greater than 50%.

If you’ve completed those steps then tick the box. The third instruction is quite important: the last thing you want to do is have your PC go into standby or hibernation midway through the upgrade.

Tick the box, click Next.

Step 3: Current ROM version

Current information about your PDA ROM

The application then checks the Xda Orbit and gives feedback on the Operating System ROM version found.

On my machine, running Windows Mobile 5 it found:

Image version: 1.25.206.2

Click the Update button

Step 4: New ROM version

New ROM version

Next the application tells you what OS ROM version it will upgrade you to:

Image version: 3.4.206.2

Click Next.

Step 5: Confirmation required

Confirm you are ready to update

After all that information, you are now finally ready to update your Xda Orbit’s OS to Windows Mobile 6. This screen simply tells you what to expect:

  • The PDA Phone is prepared for the update process.
  • The progress bar is displayed on the host PC and on the PDA Phone.
  • The completion screen is displayed on the host PC.

If that all sounds fine click on Next.

Step 6: Update in progress

Progress bar

The dialog window is now replaced with a non-closable progress bar window. (I tried to capture the shot at 45% but it was just too quick for me.) As indicated, the progress bar also appears on the Xda Orbit.

Step 7: Update complete

Congratulations! Your ROM update is now complete.

After a few moments the dialog window appears again indicating that the planets have aligned, there is once more a star over Bethlehem leading wise men from the east and the update to your PDA Phone’s OS has completed successfully.

First impressions

My first impressions of Windows Mobile 6 (WM6) are that it appears to be running a little faster and is more responsive and stable than WM5. It feels like Windows Vista’s ‘Mini Me’, with a more pearl-like Windows logo and some tasty Web 2.0-esque gradients.

Sadly the enhancements to Office Mobile don’t appear to have been in the areas that it could have most used them. For example, I still find the Tasks application unnecessarily complicated (for different views) and limited; Calendar still doesn’t have the flexibility of Pocket Informant or indeed of the Psion Agenda application from 1999!

One new-comer to Windows Mobile 6 is the inclusion of Windows Live, which now integrates with Windows Live Messenger. But be warned: if you don’t logout of Windows Live it will not shut down and will constantly attempt to connect to the Web via GPRS which could prove to be costly.

On the whole — niggles with Windows Live aside — I’m very impressed with Windows Mobile 6. I still don’t think that Office Mobile has a patch on the Psion EPOC R5 operating system applications (found in the Psion 5mx, Revo(Plus), Psion 7 or netBook) but that’s a topic for another blog post.

Recommended software

As it stands I’d say a newly upgraded Xda Orbit with Windows Mobile 6 is a pretty good mobile phone. But by adding a couple of commercial applications from SPB Software House it suddenly becomes an incredibly good one:

  • Spb Mobile Shell
  • Spb Phone Suite

Thanks to …

With considerable thanks to the folks at Xda Developer’s Forum for advice, and XDA-Orbit.com for just being there!

Bah!

O2 Xda Orbit phone

I’ve been using my ‘repaired’ O2 Xda Orbit for a little under 24 hours now.

I’ve had to do a soft reset twice now. Both times after using Pocket e-Sword Bible software.

Bah!

I think I would have been happier sticking with a Nokia. Or a paper cup and a length of string.

Double bah! Oh well, only 16 months left on my contract.

I got my O2 Xda Orbit back

O2 Xda Orbit mobile phone

On Saturday I got my phone back from the O2 Repair Centre; I picked it up from the O2 shop at the Gyle Shopping Centre in Edinburgh — more of that in a moment.

There was a note attached:

Dear Customer,

That’s me.

Thank you for sending your mobile phone to us.

Your handset has been examined by one of our qualified engineers …

Is that supposed to fill me with confidence? Is this an out-of-the-ordinary action for them? Do they usually just hand them to sixth-form school kids on work-experience to tinker with?

… and we are pleased to tell you that the reported fault has been identified and the necessary repair has been successfully completed.

Hoorah! I wasn’t going mad, there was something wrong with it. I wish they’d said what it was. I’m curious like that.

We have also taken the opportunity of installing the latest O2 approved manufacturer’s software which corrects any known faults in the original software. If you experience any further difficulties with your phone, then please return to your nearest O2 store.

Our nearest O2 store

Now, I’m sure that my nearest O2 store is probably in Dundee, but since we’re more often in Edinburgh that’s the one that we regard as our nearest; and the Gyle Shopping Centre is closer to the Forth Road Bridge than Princes Street.

But I’ve yet to be served there by someone that I could truly regard as helpful. Saturday’s assistant was a trainee called John, who muttered and mumbled and spoke so quickly I had to ask him to repeat himself on more than one occasion.

When he returned from the back room with my repaired phone, I tried to engage him in a little conversation; a little banter, you know, to try to draw out some genuine and authentic communication.

It would probably help while reading the following if you mutter Trainee John’s remarks.

Me: Did they say what the matter was?
Trainee John: No. They just say that it’s fixed.
Me: Oh, that’s a shame. It’s strange, because every review I read about it said that it’s a great phone.
Trainee John: I don’t recommend it.
Me: WHAT?! Why?
Trainee John: I just don’t like it. I think it’s rubbish, and I don’t recommend phones that I don’t like.
Me: Okay … that’s one approach, I suppose.
Trainee John: I just don’t like it.
Me: So … you’re saying that I’ve got a terrible taste in phones.

I can’t say that I was particularly impressed by his sales manner.

Fixed or not?

When I got the phone home I discovered that the casing hadn’t been replaced properly; nothing that a good firm squeeze didn’t fix. It certainly appears to be working quicker than before. Only time will tell, I suppose. And then I can write that review, eventually.