You have to give Microsoft some props. While it practically announced that Windows 10 Mobile and its previous incarnations are dead, it isn’t yet totally abandoning its existing users completely. In fact, it has just made available a new tool that makes it easier to keep Windows phone devices up to date. At least for the extremely few Windows phone devices left that can run the extremely few Windows 10 Mobile releases left.
One of the key themes of Windows 10 when it was first rolled out was how Microsoft wanted to shove updates to users under the “Windows as a Service” campaign. It’s now bringing that same thrust to smartphones but with a slightly more lenient attitude. Instead of simply forcing users to update, Microsoft’s new “Over-the-cable” Updater, or OTC Updater, tool gives users one less excuse not to update.
The problem with Windows 10’s new system of regular and piecemeal updates is that its easy to build up a backlog of updates over a short time that you don’t update your device. Not much of a problem for desktops and the like but a huge annoyance for mobiles. This leads users to shy away from updating their phones, building up an even bigger backlog of updates. Definitely a vicious cycle.
What the OTC Updater tool does is let users immediately jump to the latest Windows 10 Mobile version by connecting a Windows 10 PC via a USB cable. It forgoes downloading and installing each and every update, which can be pretty tedious. Instead, UTC offloads the task to the PC to download and prepare the updates to the phone. Curiously, the phone itself has to be in Airplane mode before using the updater.
While an unexpected but definitely welcome surprise, it raises the question of whether it’s too little too late. Windows 10 Mobile devices have always been far and few in between. And while Windows 10 Mobile updates have indeed been regular, recent events seem to suggest it won’t be for long.