Microsoft have confirmed that they will be taking responsibility for firmware updates for Windows Phone 7, rather than leaving them to device manufacturers as is the case currently with Windows Mobile. According to Charlie Kindel, Partner Group Program Manager at Microsoft, the company will use both OTA and side-loaded updates: smaller firmware packages will be delivered via 3G/WiFi, while more significant firmware changes will be handled when the smartphone is plugged into the Zune Manager software.
In contrast, current Windows Mobile devices are left to manufacturers to support, and owners can never be entirely sure that they'll receive the latest version of the platform or on what sort of timescale they'll see a release. Custom UIs like HTC Sense have added to the confusion, as manufacturers are forced to rework their own modifications to fit with the new Microsoft software.
Now that Microsoft have banned third-party UI enhancements, however, together with standardizing minimum specifications for devices, it leaves a far more straightforward playing field for future updates. "We want everyone the same version of the OS," Kindle explained, "it is not like thirty versions of your operating system in circulation."