Microsoft Releases Surface Hub

The long awaited update to Microsoft’s Perceptive Pixel PC’s has finally shipped.

Surface-hub-1

This is a huge deal for the enterprise…

One of the things that I like the most about my current job and role in IT is that my company has a Windows 8.x powered Perceptive Pixel PC.  It sits in one very specific conference room, and quite honestly, I tend to live in that room, mostly because of this particular PC.

Perceptive Pixel is Surface Hub, before it was Surface Hub.  The update and launch of this device has been a long time coming, and Microsoft’s General Manager of Devices Marketing, Brian Hall said, “… our Surface team works together better because we have Surface Hub.”

The difference between Perceptive Pixel and Surface Hub is that PP is really a giant Surface Pro 3 styled touch screen.  Surface Hub is really more of an interactive whiteboard. It’s really designed to take advantage of Windows 10 and incorporates collaboration tools like Skype for Business, Office, including OneNote, and Windows Universal apps (if any of note actually existed…but I digress…)

Surface Hub can be mounted on a wall or movable stand and resembles a flat screen television but with a touch screen; and really has little to no difference than Microsoft’s Surface Pro 4 or Surface Book.  Microsoft is targeting the device for the enterprise in the fields of healthcare, manufacturing, automotive, consulting, defense, finance and education.  However, it’s really going to work well in any corporate setting.  Not only does it allow physical attendees to interact with it, but via Skype for Business, even remote meeting attendees can use its interactive and collaboration features.

In today’s fast paced business environments that often include distributed teams, having the ability to have everyone see what you’re seeing at the same time as well as collectively and collaboratively interacting with meeting resources and files – sometimes at the SAME time – is going to be a huge productivity boosting benefit.

Surface Hub is said to come in two flavors – an 55″ model and an 84″ model.  Prospective pricing was announced for the devices about this time a year ago.  The 1080p equipped, 55″ model will cost $6,999 USD and the 4k capable, 84″ model will cost $19,999.  The devices actually started shipping in March 2016 (as opposed to the original September 2015), and have also seen a price increase over their initial pricing.  The 55″ device cost $8,999 and the 84″ device cost $21,999.

Now… I wonder how easy it will be to upgrade our Perceptive Pixel PC here in the office…?

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Apple Seeds New Betas of iOS 9.3.2 and OS X 10.11.5 to Developers

Bug fixes and performance improvements seem to be the order of the day…

ios-9.3.2-beta-1Well, Wednesday 2016-04-20 seems to have been a big day for Apple Developers. In the wake of Apple announcing WWDC from 2016-06-13 through 17, and announcing the ticket lottery, they’ve also released two new OS betas.

Apple has seeded both iOS 9.3.2 Beta 2 and OS X 10.11.5 Beta 2 to their Developer Community.

iOS 9.3.2 Beta 2 comes nearly a month after the launch of iOS 9.3, which was a major update to the mobile OS as it introduced Night Shift and other features and improvements. iOS 9.3 was released three weeks after a bug fix for iOS 9.3.1.

iOS 9.3.2 is a minor update that will focus on bug fixes and performance improvements since the release of iOS 9.3. Of note – sorta… – is a fix for a major Game Center bug. There aren’t any outward facing changes to iOS 9.3.2 that anyone has been able to identify as of this writing.

I also wouldn’t expect any major new updates to iOS 9.x.x at all at this point. My guess is that with WWDC just around the corner, Apple is going to concentrate all its effort on development of iOS 10. While it’s unclear just what goodies may be found in it, I’m certain that some information will start making its way to the main stream media as we get closer to mid-June. I’m certain I may also have an iOS 10 wish list published by that time as well…

Apple also seeded its second beta of OS X 10.11.5 for its desktop OS, currently code named El Capitan. Beta 2 of this update comes just two weeks after OS X 10.11.5 Beta 1.

OS X 10.11.5 is also likely to focus on security enhancements, performance improvements and bug fixes that have been logged since the release of OS X 10.11.4. Currently, nothing of note has been discovered, so this clearly appears to be a maintenance update.

If you’re running the beta, you can get beta 2 via the Software Update mechanism found in the Mac App Store on your Mac desktop, or in the Apple Developer Center’s download area.

Like iOS, it’s clear with the release of this maintenance update so close to the middle of the year, that the more serious development work is happening for OS X 10.12,that will also, most likely, be announced at WWDC and its keynote address on 2016-06-13.

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Initial Impressions of Windows 10 Mobile

Well… I’ve upgraded my BLU WIN HD LTE handset…, and… yeah.

Introduction

Ok… I’ve got a few thoughts on Windows 10 Mobile, and I need for everyone to understand the justification behind them, so… bear with me a moment.  This may sound a bit critical, but in the end, I don’t think anyone can blame me…

Windows 10 MobileI started my mobile Windows journey in 1997 with the Casio E10, a WindowsCE powered handheld device that had a 320×240 pixel, 4 grayscaled LCD that received electrical power via 2 AAA batteries.  WindowsCE itself was released by Microsoft in 1996 at COMDEX.  The OS was meant to power handheld computers and act as an embedded OS for other industrial applications. Comparatively speaking, while the devices weren’t really cutting edge, even for the day, they (and the Palm Pilot) were an advancement in computing technology that were the precursors to all mobile devices including all smartphones on the market today.

I got involved early, becoming quite the expert in nearly all versions of WindowsCE, PocketPC and Windows Mobile, prior to it being totally scrapped and changed for Windows Phone.  In fact, I became so competent, I was able to craft my own option ROM’s for PocketPC devices  to use after a hard reset (so all my third party apps would install, as hard resets were a common practice to resolve technical glitches caused by bad third party apps). I also got into flashing alternative ROM’s and OS builds on my Windows Mobile devices.  You couple that with a lot of my desktop Windows experience, and I feel I have a solid basis from which to rate an evaluatory impression on Windows 10 Mobile…

Here it is – meh.  And honestly, I’m being generous. Here’s why…

  • Universal Apps
    In short… where the heck are they? There may be some available and in the Windows Store, but they certainly don’t exist in the numbers and volume that Microsoft was hoping for this far into the release and support of Windows 10.The whole advantage to Windows 10, at least from  Microsoft’s advertised position to its developer community, is that you can write one (1) app, and it should work on every version of Windows 10 and every device that runs it, regardless of screen size or version.  That’s (supposed) to be the draw for developers and Windows 10, code once, run everywhere.  That’s a “universal” app.Unfortunately, I don’t see a lot of universal apps in the Windows Store, and I don’t see a lot of developers flocking to the universal app banner.  With developers still ignoring Windows 10 and this new development platform, I’m wondering where the draw is for consumers to choose Windows 10 Mobile over iOS or Android.  Quite honestly, as a consumer, I don’t see it.Consumers want apps. We want games. We want utility apps or “task-oriented” apps (I want to do my banking, I want to buy something from <pick a store>, I want to play <a game>…) With Windows Phone/ Windows 10 Mobile, there’s a really great chance that the app or tool you’re looking for, doesn’t exist on that platform; and won’t. PeriodHere’s the capper, though – according to an article published about a year or so ago on Business Insider, the Universal App platform has issue and problems.  Microsoft also hasn’t really given developers a genuine reason to build Universal Windows Apps (hence, the reason why, a year later, you don’t really see any in the Windows Store…)

    Universal Apps are really a boon for the mobile platform.  The idea here is that Microsoft gets apps for its mobile-powered devices when developers move to the Universal App Platform.  However, regular PC apps and PC development platforms like Visual Studio continue to work just fine, so, there’s no real reason for any developer to change what they’re doing.

    A year after its release, there really aren’t any Universal Apps to speak of, and with Windows 10 Mobile now released to the wild (as of this time last month), the absence of Universal Apps is a huge hole, and one that is made additionally glaring due to Windows Phone’s dismal, global market share of just 1.1%.

    (Interestingly enough, while doing research for this article, I stumbled on a TON of articles dated 2012 that had the IDC predicting that Windows Phone would surpass iOS in global market share by 2016.  Ouch.  That was a bit of miss, wouldn’t you say?)

  • Nokia Here Apps are Gone
    This is a crushing blow to the platform.  One of the biggest reasons why I really liked the Windows Phone/ Windows 10 Mobile platform was in no small part due to Nokia’s Here apps.I used Drive (part of Here Maps) for my daily commute, as it memorized the commute route and then gave you traffic reports and guidance along it so that you could get to work on time.  The Windows Phone version is the only version that does this.  Other versions of Drive on other mobile platforms do the routing thing, but the Windows Phone version was the only one that did the route memorization and advanced alerts.However, with Drive and the rest of Nokia’s HERE Apps NOT coming to Windows 10 Mobile, this is just another reason, from a consumer’s point of view, to ignore the platform.By the way, according to Nokia, the reasoning behind this…  The Universal Apps platform, and the absence of a few key API’s no longer supported by Windows 10 (again, in favor of the Universal Apps platform).  Regardless of how much Nokia asked (dare I say, “begged??”) Microsoft NOT to deprecate these key API’s, Microsoft did it anyway, and hence… bye-bye HERE Apps.This definitely seems to be a case of Microsoft cutting off its nose to spite its face.  I also see this as a fatal move for the platform and is a certain sign that the end is near. If Nokia (of all companies…NOKIA!) abandons Windows Phone, then I have no reason to believe it’s going to survive much past 2017.
  • Windows 10 UI Advantage?
    Yeah… there isn’t any really.  Not on mobile, anyway.The UI on Windows 10 mobile is the tile interface, and that really dominates anything and everything on a Windows Mobile device and has really, since Windows Phone 7.  Microsoft really didn’t make any global UI changes of any note, in my opinion, except for what they did to Settings.On the desktop side of the Windows 10 world, they totally redesigned Settings and changed the way it looks on both Desktop and Mobile. While the mobile side of the world isn’t 100% identical to what you see on the desktop side (and vice-versa…) they’re similar enough for you to be able to not only see the similarities; but to use one vs. the other without any issues or problems.Other than this, however, I really don’t see a consumer based advantage to having the same UI on all Windows 10 devices.  From my perspective, a Windows Phone is still a Windows Phone; and as much as I may like the UI from a mobile perspective – and I do – it ain’t buyin’ me anything.  The Advantage to the same OS, regardless of platform was supposed to be Windows’ Universal Apps, and we all know how well THAT’S turned out (or do I have to go into it again..?  No??  Ok…)

Conclusion

Let’s face it bubba… Windows 10 Mobile is a total and complete bust.

There aren’t any – and in my opinion unless developers worldwide have some sort of, uh-hem, universal epiphany about Universal Apps – there won’t be any Universal Apps for Windows that will make any kind of difference, or lasting impression.  There certainly won’t be any that make Android or iOS users dump their devices for Windows Phone in general.

With Nokia HERE apps – and especially the Windows Mobile specific version of Here Drive – taking a powder from the platform completely by the end of June (meaning that they’re going to stop working for Windows Phone 8.x devices, too), one of the biggest draws to the platform is now totally gone.  Nokia is recommending that all former HERE Maps users on both OS versions look to Windows Maps (a horrible mapping, solution, BTW… Same maps, but rotten UI) for all future mapping and navigation needs.

Finally, without a real compelling UI advantage over Windows Phone 8.x, I not only don’t see the real need or desire for current users to upgrade existing devices; there’s no real drive for new users to make Windows 10 Mobile their OS of choice over an Android or iOS device.

I mean, Windows 10 may be familiar – and that may be a good thing from a desktop computing experience point of view – but from a mobile computing perspective, familiar isn’t compelling.

Its familiar.  That’s it; and familiar is boring.  Familiar isn’t going to make people drop their iPhone or cutting edge Android FLAGSHIP phone for what really only appears to be a mid-range Windows 10 Mobile device (as there really aren’t any compelling Windows 10 Mobile Flagship phones available, despite what Microsoft may have released with Nokia branding…)

I don’t mean to be down on Windows Phone or Windows 10 Mobile.  I really don’t. As I said at the beginning of this whole hullabaloo – I cut my teeth on Microsoft Mobile Devices.  This is really my platform.

The problem is, not only is Microsoft a little too little, a little too late; they’re really just in the way now.  They’re noise… they’re an annoying gnat that you’ve been trying to swat out of your face for a while now, and just won’t go away or die.

It’s sad really, but like Blackberry – who once totally OWNED the mobile device market 10-12 years ago – Windows Phone just needs to go away so that the rest of us can just move on.

It’s over kids.  These really aren’t the Droids you’re looking for…

Agree or disagree with me?  Am I missing something that really needs to be brought to light here?  Are there other nails that need to be jackhammered into the Windows 10 Mobile coffin?  Have I missed the mark, if even by a little bit..?

If so, I would REALLY welcome your input and your comments in the Discussion area below.  This has been a bit painful for me to write and to admit to not only myself, but to say out loud to all of you as well.

I really don’t want to be right on this one, man; but I can’t help but think that I am.  I mean , I know I predicted  the demise of Windows Phone just over six months ago; but predictions can often be wrong and miss the mark. The more that I look at all of this – all of the evidence – I can’t help but think that I’m right; and I really don’t want to be.

As I said, meet me in the Discussion area and give me your thoughts…or at least pass me a box of Kleenex…

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Uninstall QuickTime for Windows – QUICK!

That is, if you want to remain virus free…

Uninstall QuickTime for Windows

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been a bit absent from Soft32.com, not because I wanted to and not because there wasn’t cool stuff to write about, but because real life intruded.  It’s always an interesting time when real life gets in the way, especially for those of us that have routines.  Thankfully, though, I didn’t have THIS problem to deal with – more malware.

However, if you’re an iDevice user on the Windows side of things, you’ll remember that iTunes historically always wanted you to install QuickTime for Windows. It used to play all video out of iTunes via QuickTime.

That, my friends, has changed.

Apple is no longer using QuickTime for Windows to play video in iTunes and apparently, has also stopped issuing security patches for it as well. Unfortunately, Apple didn’t tell anyone about this.  This was picked up and reported by Trend Micro and their Zero Day Intuitive; and has been making quite the stir ever since.

Trend Micro released the following statement on the issue:

“Apple is deprecating QuickTime for Microsoft Windows. They will no longer be issuing security updates for the product on the Windows Platform and recommend users uninstall it… Our Zero Day Initiative has just released two advisories ZDI-16-241 and ZDI-16-242 detailing two new, critical vulnerabilities affecting QuickTime for Windows. These advisories are being released in accordance with the Zero Day Initiative’s Disclosure Policy for when a vendor does not issue a security patch for a disclosed vulnerability. And because Apple is no longer providing security updates for QuickTime on Windows, these vulnerabilities are never going to be patched. We’re not aware of any active attacks against these vulnerabilities currently. But the only way to protect your Windows systems from potential attacks against these or other vulnerabilities in Apple QuickTime now is to uninstall it.”

While nearly everyone should have seen a number of third party reports to this effect, there’s no information on Quick Time for Windows’ demise coming from Apple.  They just seem to have flushed it, and moved on.

Those Mac users in the audience don’t have anything to worry about. Apple doesn’t seem to be deprecating or ending support of Quick Time for Mac, just the Windows variety.

It is highly recommended to everyone who uses Quick Time for Windows, to remove it from their Windows PC’s immediately.

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Government Cracks the iPhone 5c

The FBI was successful in jailbreaking, uh, I mean, cracking that iPhone 5c they have…

iphone 5c_unlockBefore I get into it, let me say, this is (probably) the best possible outcome of this whole crazy mess.

Early Monday evening, Chicago Time, the Department of Justice announced that its efforts to crack the iPhone 5c used by Syed Farook and his wife Tashfeen Milik. I’ve tried my best to cover this story while it has been going on. Just to recap:

Back door..?!? We don’ need your stinkin’ backdoor..!
The DoJ to Apple Computer – Byte Me…
The All Writs Act is an All Access Pass
Apple Tells the FBI to go Pound Bits

It’s not been exactly our best moments… with grandstanding and posturing on both sides. However, with the phone cracked and the data “safely” in the hands of the FBI, the DoJ has moved to vacate its court order compelling Apple to provide aid in giving them access to the phone in their ongoing investigation. Now that they’ve got a way in, they don’t need Apple to build them that back door.

Melanie Newman, a DoJ spokesman, provided the following statement via Twitter on their plans:

“It remains a priority for the government to ensure that law enforcement can obtain crucial digital information to protect national security and public safety, either with cooperation from relevant parties, or through the court system when cooperation fails… We will continue to pursue all available options for this mission, including seeking the cooperation of manufacturers and relying upon the creativity of both the public and private sectors.”

Apple has issued a brief statement, as reported by Buzz Feed’s John Paczkowski:

“From the beginning, we objected to the FBI’s demand that Apple build a backdoor into the iPhone because we believed it was wrong and would set a dangerous precedent. As a result of the government’s dismissal, neither of these occurred. This case should never have been brought.

We will continue to help law enforcement with their investigations, as we have done all along, and we will continue to increase the security of our products as the threats and attacks on our data become more frequent and more sophisticated.

Apple believes deeply that people in the States and around the world deserve data protection, security and privacy. Sacrificing one for the other only puts people and countries at greater risk.

This case raised issues which deserve a national conversation about our civil liberties, and our collective security and privacy. Apple remains committed to participating in that discussion.”

There are a number of groups, that are calling for the government to disclose information on the actual exploit that was used to gain access to the iDevice in question, including the American Civil Liberties Union.

However, there are two takeaways here that everyone should be cognizant of, and that are near certainties:

1. The government isn’t going to share the information
If they disclose the method used to access the iDevice, Apple will certainly plug the hole, preventing the government from using it on other iDevices in the future. Besides, they’re probably a little more than miffed at Apple for not giving them what they wanted without putting up a fight.

2. Apple is going to devote a great deal of time hardening iOS
Apple is going to make certain that it goes on a big enough bug hunt that it squashes any and all security holes it finds. Its then going to go and improve the encryption and other security features in iOS to insure that end user data that is supposed to be private, remains private.

So, how is this likely the best outcome, given the above, and other developments?

That’s easy – because no one had to force their hand…

Simply put, the government didn’t have to (really) try to make Apple comply, and Apple didn’t have to refuse. The debate on the case, isn’t far from over, however, as I’m certain that its likely to come to a boil before Apple has a chance to release a version of iOS with “uncrackable” encryption.

What do you think of all of this? Is this the outcome you were hoping for? Are you Team Apple or Team DoJ? Should Apple build the back door the government was initially asking for, or should it harden iOS to the point where no one can get it without the proper password or biometric data?

I’d love to hear from you. Why don’t you sound off in the Discussion area, below and let me know what you think of all of this?

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Back door..?!? We don’ need your stinkin’ backdoor..!

Life is just full of little surprises…

backdoorI really can’t help but chuckle a little bit. Over the past four to six weeks, the FBI and the DoJ have been screaming at Apple through the media about how they MUST help the DoJ break into an iPhone 5c owned by a local government agency but used by Syed Farook and his wife Tashfeen Milik.

There’s been a great deal of posturing back and forth between the two – Apple has been saying that the government’s requests are really equivalent to making them create cancer. The government has threatened to make Apple turn over its source code and signing keys.

In an interesting development, it was reported on 2016-03-21 that a third party made an offer to show the FBI a method that may get them access to Farook’s iPhone 5c, all without assistance from Apple.

The FBI was so interested in this development that they moved to cancel a court hearing scheduled on 2016-03-22 where additional evidence would be presented by both sides. The same judge who previously ordered Apple to help unlock the encrypted iPhone, US Magistrate Sheri Pym, approved the motion.

The DoJ remains “cautiously optimistic” that this will work. If it does, then they get what they want without having to compel Apple to do it for them. The court has ordered the DoJ to file a status report by 2016-04-05.

Apple’s attorneys are urging caution, saying that the method the DoJ was shown may not help them and both may find themselves back in court in two weeks. It’s also unclear to Apple what vulnerability the FBI has been shown in order to crack the phone. Like everyone else, this was news to them (Apple) as well.

However, if the FBI can’t crack the phone with this new help, they’re going renew their original case with vigor.

If this works, I can see the FBI tying the solution up very quickly into their own, private back door… that is until Apple – or a DIFFERENT third party – discovers or discloses it, and Apple hardens the OS against this particular vulnerability.

At the end of the day, though as in the 1948 film The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, I can hear “that guy” saying “it” over and over again – We don’t need any stinkin’ backdoor..!

This is an ongoing story, and as additional information is made available, updates will be posted.

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Apple Introduces iPhone SE and iPad Pro Mini

There weren’t too many surprises at the recent Apple event, but let’s review to see what we’ve got…

iphone 6seYesterday, amidst what will likely be one of the very last product announcements on the existing Apple Campus, Tim Cook and Apple made some highly anticipated, rather expected product announcements in the iPhone, iPad and OS families. I’m going to run through these very quickly, as despite the small venue; the information coming out of this event was rather big.

iPhone SE

Apple’ latest entry into the smartphone arena is a 4″ model iPhone, dubbed the iPhone SE. The guts are similar to the iPhone 6s; but in a smaller package, with a smaller price. While the iPhone 6s starts at $649USD, the iPhone SE will start at $399 for the 16GB model , a full $250USD cheaper.

The main differences between the SE and the 6s are 1GB of RAM in the SE (vs. 2GB in the 6s), the smaller screen, 16GB and 64GB sizes only (the 6s has a 128GB option) and the lack of optical image stabilization (OIS). Orders for the iPhone SE will open up on Thursday 2016-03-24. The device ships on 2016-03-31.

The nitty gritty on the phone can be found below:

 

 

IPhone SE: 16GB – $399, 64GB – $499

  • 64bit A9 processor
  • M9 Motion Coprocessor
  • Always on, “Hey Siri!”
  • Improved Battery Life
  • Faster LTE
  • VoLTE
  • Faster Wi-Fi
  • Wi-Fi calling
  • BT 4.2
  • iOS 9.0
  • 12MP iSight Camera
  • Retina Flash
  • Live Photos
  • 63MP Panoramas
  • 4k Video, with duel 4k editing streams
  • 1080p @ 60fps
  • Slo-Mo @ 240fps
  • Apple Pay
  • New microphones

iPad Pro “mini”
While officially dubbed the iPad Pro 9.7-inch, the newest member to the iPad Pro family is really nothing more than the best of both worlds – and iPad Pro in the regular iPad form factor. It also has most of the improvements you see from the iPhone SE, minus any “voice” related features.

What most people are interested in, however, is the following:

  • Does it have a Smart Connector for powered keyboards and other accessories ?– Yes.
  • Does it support Apple Pencil? – Yes.
  • Does it work with my USB Camera Adaptor and SD Card Reader adapter? – Yes.

Some of the more specific details of this newest iPad Pro and its A9X processor include

  • 3rd generation A9X processor
  • 64bit architecture
  • Desktop class performance
  • CPU – 2.4x faster than A7
  • Graphics – 4.3x faster than A7

What can be taken away from all of this is that while the 9.7-inch iPad Pro does have desktop class performance, the 12.9-inch Pro is faster. It has an overall faster CPU, faster graphics performance, faster battery charging and faster data transfer, according to a report by Apple Insider.

The biggest take away here is that you now get most of the benefits of the original iPad Pro, but in the form factor of the original iPad Air. Wins and grins all the way around…

The new iPad Pro 9.7-inch comes in three models, two flavors

  • 32GB – $599 USD Wi-Fi Only, $729 USD Wi-Fi+LTE
  • 128GB – $749 USD, Wi-Fi Only, $879 USD Wi-Fi+LTE
  • 256GB – $899 USD, $1029 USD Wi-Fi+LTE

Prices for the 12.9-inch version have also been adjusted, and a 256GB option has been added here as well

  • 32GB – $799 USD Wi-Fi Only
  • 128GB – $949 USD, Wi-Fi Only, $1079 USD Wi-Fi+LTE
  • 256GB – $1099 USD, $1229 USD Wi-Fi+LTE

Orders for the 9.7-inch iPad Pro will open up on Thursday 2016-03-24. The device ships on 2016-03-31.

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Upgrading an HTC One (M8) to Android 6.0 Marshmallow

Why Verizon makes life so difficult is beyond me…

android marshmallow

About 12 years ago, I wrote a couple of reviews for pocketnow  related to very early PocketPC phones – the Samsung i700 and the hands free kit that went with it.  The i700 itself was about $500 – $600 depending on the length of the contract that your got with the phone. The hands free kit (read: car it), which in today’s much more advanced Bluetooth enabled world would be handled by your car radio and some kind of universal mounting kit, made it safe and easy to make and place calls on the go. It was $200. (I paid a combined total of $700, which translates to $987 in today’s dollars when you factor in inflation.)

The point in heading down memory lane is that back in the day, when anyone at Verizon Wireless saw a PocketPC phone coming, the store associates ran the other way. None of them understood it, and knew that their company made working with the devices very difficult.

Unfortunately, that hasn’t changed much…

If you remember, I spent a great deal of time with the HTC One (M8) about two years ago.  Thankfully, I was able to keep the M8 on an “extended loan;” and I’ve been covering Android using this device ever since.  If you’re interested, you can see the unboxing video I did of the device, here.

The M8 came with Kit Kat (Android 4.4.2). It got an upgrade to Lollipop (Android 5.0 and Android 5.0.1) in 2015.  The upgrade for Marshmallow (Android 6.0) for the M8 was announced in late 2015. It was actually expected in December 2015, but was (obviously) delayed.  The device finally got its upgrade on 2016-03-07; and in order for me to get it on this device, I had to jump through some pretty big and complicated hoops.

In the process, I learned some very interesting things about Verizon.  I’ll get to all of them as I run through this; but suffice it to say… I’m very glad they are no longer my carrier of choice.  If I had to do crap like this for every smartphone OS update, I’d probably dump them all over again.

Anyway, here’s what I learned:

  1. There’s no direct download for the upgrade
    The upgrade for Marshmallow for this phone is OTA (over the air) only. You used to be able to download device updates to a PC and then flip a couple of settings on the phone, connect it to your PC via USB cable and then push the device to the phone.  Not so much anymore…
  2. You MUST have an Active SIM
    The HTC One (M8), unlike many traditional Verizon Wireless devices, actually has a SIM card.  However, that SIM card is tied to one number and one number ONLY (it can’t be recycled like AT&T or T-Mobile SIM’s can after 3-6 months of inactivity), and its tied to ONE specific device. Period.Over and above that, I found that if you want any kind of device update from VzW, you have to have an active SIM card, which means that you have to have an active account, with that device on that account; or have to have had an active account, and a SIM card that is still able to communicate with VzW Towers as a “valid” SIM card.If your SIM card/ device has been out of service for more than 3 months, you’re kinda hosed. An active Wi-Fi connection and internet access is not enough to pull down the upgrade to the device.

Given these restrictions, the only way I was able to upgrade my M8 to Android 6.0 Marshmallow is to try to activate the device.

Long story short, I opened and closed a VzW account for that phone over a 24 hour period.  After getting the SIM recognized by the local Verizon towers, the upgrade and its associated pre-requisites were quickly installed on my M8.

Please note that I had three updates waiting for me after my device was back on the VzW network. One of them was an Android 5.01 related update.  It should have been installed months ago and didn’t due to my SIM card going inactive.

I’ll have a write up on Android 6.0 Marshmallow next month. At this point, I’m still playing with the device, trying to figure out the ins and outs of the update (and I’m also still arguing with Verizon about getting the $84 bill vacated for less than 24 hours of active service without ANY data, TXT or voice call usage).

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