Windows Phone 7 Facts: OOBE: Out-Of-Box Experience, Start-up Sequence

This is part 4 of the Windows Phone 7 Facts series. In case you missed it, you can find the previous articles here.
The previous facts were all based on information from XDA user and moderator Da_G. The coming articles however are all interesting facts from the Windows Phone 7 Guides for OEMs.

Microsoft is planning to add a new customization progress to Windows Phone 7.
Internally, they call it OOBE: Out-Of-Box Experience. They will probably advertise it as OOBE too.

Not very surprising, the Windows Live service is required for complete use of WP7.
The following image from a confidential Microsoft document shows us the exact way that WP7 will be customized

Click the image for larger view

This procress will start when you’ve unboxed your Windows Phone 7 Phone and boot it for the first time.
The start-up sequence will not differ from current Windows Mobile versions, the order is the same:

  1. OEM Image (i.e. HTC)
  2. Operator Logo (i.e. AT&T)
  3. Windows Phone 7 Image – this one will only show up once at the very first boot.

Make sure to keep an eye on the XDA-Portal for more information!

Windows Phone 7 Facts: Maybe Much Better and Rich Apps!

This is part 3 of the Windows Phone 7 Facts series. In the following weeks, we will be covering the more technical side of the currently unreleased Windows Phone 7 OS by Microsoft. In the previous article, we talked about how the new OS will affect us ROM cookers, and how ROMs are being deployed.

All information is based on exclusive information from XDA-Developers.com member and moderator Da_G. There will be some more changes to the way we were working with Windows Mobile. In this article, we will dive deeper into how the hardware collaborates with the software. We will compare the CE5 kernel (used on WM6.X platforms) to the CE7 kernel which will be used on the new WP7 devices. Both kernels are 32 bit, and both use a 4GB Virtual Address Space, which is split into 2GB reserved for the kernel and 2GB for user space, but that’s where it’s going to differ:

CE5

The running application shows up in red.

The CE5 kernel handles the 2GB of User Space differently from the way CE7 does. The 2GB space is split into 2 parts:

  1. User Space.
  2. Memory mapped files, Modules, etc.

The User Space is where it’s going to differ. In CE5, it’s divided into 32 slots of each 32MB (together 1024MB). A process, such as a program, is loaded into a slot when it’s running in background. During execution, so when the application is running, it’s swapped into Slot 0. This means that every program can only use 32 of Virtual Memory (VM). CE7 however will handle that differently:

CE7

The running application shows up in red.

The User Space in CE7 will not be divided any further, you get 1GB of VM. The huge advantage of this is that an application can use the full 1GB of VM to run.

Originally posted by Da_G

Each running process is mapped to the entire 1GB space, allowing the full 1GB of VM available for use without the trickery needed to accomplish using more than 32MB of VM in CE5.

This means that CE7, and thus Windows Phone 7, should allow much more rich programs to be developed. Requirement for this however is Microsoft’s allowance to us to write Native Code. According to Da_G, this will be coming at some point.

Other inter-process memory sharing, needed for Multitasking, will be done in the other 1GB of user space. This user space will be divided into 256 ‘priority levels’, for each individual thread within an application:

Scheduling is handled on a round-robin basis for threads sharing the same priority level. Priority level 0 functions as a “real time” priority level and any thread running at this level will run through til completion before the scheduler runs another thread. True multitasking will not be accessible to programmers initially, though Microsoft intends to unlock that later down the line (presumably around the time native code is allowed). There is no hard limit to the number of threads a program can utilize, it is only limited by the system resources available.

This means that there will be multitasking, but it could take some time.

In short: I think and hope that there will be much more rich apps, because of the huge size of Virtual Memory available. However this won’t be accessible until Microsoft supports Native Code for third parties.

We hope you found this informative, I think it’s pretty interesting how everything works. It also shows how difficult it is to create a new fresh kernel.

View the original thread for additional information, you can also ask questions to Da_G in that thread.

Windows Phone 7 Facts: How About ROM Cooking?

This is part 2 of the Windows Phone 7 Facts series. In the following weeks, we will be covering the more technical side of the currently unreleased Windows Phone 7 OS by Microsoft. In the previous article, we were talking about the new installation package called .xap to replace the .cab files.

All information is based on some interesting, XDA-Developers.com exclusive information from XDA member and moderator Da_G. There will be some more changes to the way we were working with Windows Mobile.
One thing that interests most Windows Mobile ‘power’ users, is the ROM.

So will we be still working with the knowm .NBH files when the first HTC WP7 devices come out? The answer is No. Every OEM uses his own design for ROM deployment. HTC uses .nbh files and the RUU system. LG uses .dz/LGMDP files system. No longer this custom design is allowed. There will be standardized  requirements for OEMs for Windows Phone 7 Devices.

So you might be shocked thinking that we would have to develop new kitchens, new tools, etc. Fortunately, the tools we are currently working with will work flawlessly with the new ROM format, B000FF or .bin. The image format will only get some minor changes when compared to CE5 images.

The way the boot loader handles image deployment will change significantly though:

Originally posted by Da_G

For Samsung and a handful of other manufacturers, this (read: ‘image deployment’) won’t change too much, as they already utilize the B000FF system for deployment. The filesystem inside will be IMGFS – no longer will BinFS be used for NK/XIP section (now IMGFS will all partitions on device, NK and OS just being split by package rather than a seperate FS)

Don’t worry if you don’t get this, to summarize: The image deployment of WP7 will be different from older versions of Windows Mobile.

The physical flash layout will look as follows:

  • Reserved Regions, updateable only through a special oem-written driver to allow access to this area (size varies)
  • Partition Table (1KB)
  • BLDR (1MB)
  • DBSP (Device Boot State Partition, 256KB)
  • DPP (Device Provisioning Partition, 256KB)
  • USP (Update State Partition, 2MB)
  • ULDR1 (>=6MB)
  • ULDR2 (>=6MB)
  • NK (read ‘Native Kernel’) (IMGFS, >=4.5MB) – At least 1MB free space for updates
  • OS (IMGFS, >=181MB) – At least 20% free space for updates
  • User Store (TexFAT)

The User Storage are all the files you can explore using a file explorer (For example /Windows, /Program Files, etc.). Thus these files are user-writeable. All other parts are ‘invisible’, and are only writeable during an update operation. The images will be transfered to the bootloader via ethernet over USB. The connection will most likely be encrypted, and probably with the same kind of encryption as the Zune HD. Fortunately the Zune HD has been hacked recently, so let’s hope they’ll be able to hack WP7 too.

There are still some more similarities to CE5 / Windows Mobile 6.x. The BLDR, Base Boot Loader, will not change; OEMs can still choose their own buttons to trigger various actions. The ULDR will still be available for a recovery flash when for instance a power failure shows up:

Similar to CE5/WinMo 6.x, There is a BLDR (Base Boot Loader) which makes the initial determination to boot up to the ULDR or to the WP7 OS. The OEM implements alternate boot parameters to trigger this and/or a button press combination. If ULDR is triggered, it checks the battery and power source to ensure that there is enough life remaining to successfully complete the flash, then awaits the flash download. There are redundant ULDR partitions (ULDR1/ULDR2) to facilitate failsafe recovery in the event of a failed ULDR flash (ULDR provides a basic level of functionality to enable a recovery flash even in the event of power failure during a flash)

As you can see, Microsoft will be very active in trying to get its Phone Update Service the primary method for distributing phone updates. These updates can be deployed over-the-air and through a USB connection using Zune Software.

Concluding, ROM cooking won’t be the problem, only getting the ROMs on your Windows Phone 7 phone will be a real challenge. View the original thread if you have questions or if you want some more information.

Windows Phone 7 Facts: .xap to Replace .cab

XDA member and moderator Da_G has showed us some interesting facts about Windows Phone 7 in the WP7 Development and Hacking section. In the following weeks, we will be covering the more technical side of the currently unreleased OS by Microsoft. We’ll try to make it as easy to read as possible, so get yourself a cup of coffee, sit back, and read!

Most of you probably know about the .cab files. We’ll be talking about the Cab file used for Windows Mobile. Cab files are nothing more than installation packages that copy the files and registry edits from the package to the desired folder on your device. These ‘cabinet’ files, which originally were called ‘Diamonds’,  were used since the very first Windows Mobile devices.

Well these files seem to get banished from the coming Windows Phone 7, internally still called Windows Mobile 7. The new files to replace the cabinets are called ‘.xap’ files. So what are the exact changes between the two files?

First of all, .xap files are nothing more than renamed .zip files. There are a number of possible .xml files that could be included inside the .xap. These determine things like required security access level, to tell the system which .dll contains the main() for the application, and more setup options. Initially, xap files will only be available for deployment through the Marketplace.

Because of the sometimes bad experiences from users about laggy and slow Stock ROMs, Microsoft added some very strict requirements for preloaded apps:

Originally posted by Da_G

Preloaded App Requirements (which will be distributed as .xap) as follows:

  • Maximum of 6 preloaded applications on the device, not to exceed 60MB
  • All preloaded apps must pass Marketplace submission process (some extended APIs are available to OEM/MO so the process is slightly relaxed in that regard)
  • The application(s) and all future updates must be free of charge.
  • The apps must launch without dependency on network availability.
  • The apps must persist through a “hard reset”.
  • The apps must be updatable and revocable (!!!!) through the Marketplace.
  • The apps must notify the user at first launch of any capabilities to be utilized and get user consent (to access compass, accelerometer, network, etc.)

Most of the requirements aren’t bad at all for the end-user, though I think the OEMs are probably not very happy with these requirements.

You can download an .xap file from the thread to examine it.

RT Jailbreak Tool Lets Users Install Non-Microsoft Executables on Windows RT

This is XDA Developers, and we like our devices a certain way. We like them unlocked, rooted, and free to do with as we please. However, very few devices are ever released in this condition. Thus, our large community of dedicated developers figure out a way to do it. After all, it’s happened again and again and again. When Windows RT came out, it wasn’t 100% open either. There were security features in place that prevented users from installing unsigned .exe files. This, of course, means that users can’t install much outside of the Microsoft App Store. Now, there’s a jailbreak tool to get around it.

XDA Forum Member clrokr observed the exploit first and XDA Senior Member netham45 wrapped it up in a nifty little tool. Called the RT Jailbreak Tool, it allows users to sign unsigned applications on their Windows RT devices. This is a pretty big deal since most of the fun applications are unsigned.

Using the tool is pretty simple. It comes in a zip file that must be extracted first. Once extracted, users run the .bat file included to make a menu open. There are a few options: Users can install the jailbreak just one time, have the script apply the jailbreak on every login, or uninstall the tool. You may notice it says that it can install it just once. One caveat—or possibly one advantage—to this exploit is that it is goes away upon a reboot. In other words, it’s quite easy to remove if you wish to go back for any reason.

There are some other fun facts that come with this tool. It won’t let you run apps like Photoshop, AutoCAD, etc. You can still only install RT applications. Installing a jailbreak doesn’t make traditional x86-64 applications suddenly compatible with ARM. However, apps that are open source and can be compiled for ARM processors will work. An example would be the growing list of ARM-compatible apps being ported from desktop apps being worked on already. In addition, there are also links to help people with things like lib problems and compiling their own apps from source.

There are a few issues as well. Some people who try this may get a BSoD. This has been tracked down to something that happens only in the first couple of minutes after logging in. So if you try it and get BSoD, wait a few minutes after the next reboot and try again. It is also suggested that you make sure you are fully updated via Windows Update. Also, since it allows unsigned .exe files to be installed, there is always a risk of a virus. So be sure you trust the source of the unsigned apps.

If this looks like something you want to do with your copy of Windows RT, then check out the RT Jailbreak Tool thread for more details.

Meteor Showers Info at Your Fingertips With Meteor Show for Windows Phone 7

If you are into the study of the vast wonders of the universe, a star gazer, or are simply into the beauty of our universe, then you may want to take a look at what XDA member enahs_ has prepared for you. This app, named Meteor Show will tell you facts about every possible meteor shower from now till a few years. You can get tons of information from this app including the expected date, where the shower will be most visible from, and much more. The latest version of the app includes data all the way to 2014.

Please note that the free version for this app is not ready yet due to some bugs in the code that the dev is trying to work out with the people from Microsoft. So, please seat tight and just wait for a few days until the app becomes available. However, if you do have some feedback or suggestions, please post them in the thread.

Meteor Show is a nice little app that displays information about meteor showers easily observable by amateurs. It includes short description of the meteor shower, amaze your friends with the information. Displays the moon phase for the date of the meteor shower, as well as shower intensity. Also calculates how many days remaining until the showers optimal dates! If the shower is within 7 days it will notify you upon starting the application.

You can find more information in the application thread.

Want something published in the Portal? Contact any News Writer.

2012 Application for Windows phone 7

Are you a superstitious person and interested about the 2012 events that may come? XDA member maqwp7developer presents 2012 Apocalypse for your Windows Phone 7. The application is about the prediction and facts of some catastrophic events that may happen in 2012 and it also provides latest videos and news about 2012 apocalyptic events.
The main screen of the app will display a clock with the remaining time for the aforementioned “final” date.
If you like it please leave some comments for the developer.
You can find it as free-ware on the market.

Originally posted by maqwp7developer
[APP] 2012 application for Windows phone 7

Hello all,

We have developed “2012 Apocalypse” free application for windows phone 7.
Please review and give your comments.
Any suggestions or improvements are most welcome.
Thanks.

Continue to the original thread.

Chuck Norris Facts App Finally Comes to Windows Mobile

Since Windows Mobile was born, we’ve had to cope with useless applications such as browsers, document editors and navigation software. They just fill up the storage on our devices, never being used as we wait for something really essential to come along.

Thankfully, Reaper has put an end to this depressing era by creating an app that truly matters. We’ve all been there: standing at a party, watching the funny guys getting all the attention while having nothing to say yourself. Inside, you’re screaming “If only I could access Chuck Norris facts from my Windows Phone!”, but there has never before been a developer there to hear you.

The Chuck Norris Facts app allows you to catch up on the freshest, funniest and most original Chuck Norris one-liners without having to be near a PC. It’s lightweight and effective, and even gives you the option to send the facts in an SMS message to a similarly minded friend.

At present, only WVGA resolution devices are supported. The app requires .NET CF v3.5 and Windows Mobile 6.5 (although Reaper is yet to test it on 6.1 – it may well be functional) and can be found in the application thread.

FairSearch.org Claims Android is a Trojan Horse (not the Malware Type)

I have been a News Writer (among many other things) on XDA-Developers for a little over 3 years and have written well over 1,000 articles. I have covered topics ranging from themes and icon packs, development news, and even some more intricate stories, which have had a much greater reach than I would have thought. I have ranted against carriers, manufacturers, governments, individual companies, and many more. However, even with all that said, I have not yet once wanted to drive my fist through my screen as much as I did when I read this. I have seen dumb, unfounded statements, but this one takes the cake, eats it, and then cleans the plate while having coffee. But, in case you do not feel like reading the “release” itself, I will summarize it for you below.

Fairsearch.org is a coalition group formed by the following companies:

Much like any group of this kind, they have one thing in their mind. No, it is not advancement, development, or the betterment of mankind as they normally claim. It is a much more tangible concept, one that can be counted and that one can easily check by looking in a wallet. Yup… money. If you look carefully at the companies above, you will notice 3 distinct groups of companies involved: Search Engines, Travel, and OS development. Considering that all of the above are getting battered by Google and their services, they seem to have resourced back to the oldest trick in the corporate book: if you cannot beat them fairly and by virtue of your own products, sue them. The group filed a complaint with the European Union (EU) to look into possible anti-competitive practices done by Google through the use of Android. They are claiming that Android equates to the proverbial Trojan Horse used by the Greeks to gain entrance into Troy to end their long conflict. The large wooden horse was presented to the Trojans as a gift, but it was loaded with a payload of soldiers who, upon successful infiltration into the enemy fortress, proceeded to annihilate the enemy forces from within their base.

In this particular case, the Trojan horse is Android itself, as it is free for anyone to use (read: Google does not sell Android). However, the complaint claims that the OS must be accompanied by Google apps for it to be allowed to be placed in the handset(s) by the manufacturer (much like the soldiers were hidden inside the wooden gift). They say that this requirement from Google hinders any and all competitiveness from other companies due to the dominance of the OS and as a result, they are crying foul. They also added a dash/bit about security, privacy of searches, yadda, yadda, yadda… nothing related to what they are claiming as the issue, but really just trying to use anything they can to label Google as a “bad company.” Well, that is pretty much it. They now have the EU looking into possible antitrust and anti-competitive strategies.

I have no words to describe the utter stupidity under which these accusations are based. Google may not be an angel either and God knows they don’t like XDA a whole lot, but this is just plain stupid. Having said this, let us dissect and take apart this argument, shall we?

Google is using its Android mobile operating system as a ‘Trojan Horse’ to deceive partners, monopolize the mobile marketplace, and control consumer data,” said Thomas Vinje, Brussels-based counsel to the FairSearch coalition.

Those are some strong accusations, Mr. Vinje. You are making a rather bold, very specific and serious accusation. Lets hope that you have some facts to support them. Something like, uhm, I don’t know…. evidence? Lets look at what you present.

“We are asking the Commission to move quickly and decisively to protect competition and innovation in this critical market.

No, you are asking the EU to act because all of your partners are getting their behinds handed over to them on a silver platter courtesy of every other operating system in existence, including BBOS and iOS (not just Android). Your members  keep on losing market share because of lousy business decisions and complete and utter inability to adapt to a fast paced environment where services and devices need to offer more.

Failure to act will only embolden Google to repeat its desktop abuses of dominance as consumers increasingly turn to a mobile platform dominated by Google’s Android operating system.

So, let me get this straight. Failure to prevent Google from using Google services to grow its market will only encourage Google to keep on using said services to keep increasing their market share? Do you even read what you are writing? That is analogous to saying that allowing me to wash my underwear will only encourage me to keep on doing it, as I benefit from clean clothes.

Google achieved its dominance in the smartphone operating system market by giving Android to device-makers for ‘free.’

No, Google achieved its dominance of the market because it was an open alternative that invited innovation, promoted social and media integration, and served as an interesting alternative to dying Windows Mobile and Blackberry platforms, both of which were getting hammered by the introduction of iOS back in 2007, which is not free and gives Apple sole dominance over their product (yes, there goes your argument about the “free OS being responsible”). Android essentially came in as a new player into the OS minefield to try and add a new option for people who did not want to switch over to Apple and who were tired of waiting for Microsoft to step up a bit (after all, what we currently know as Windows Phone 7 only took Microsoft at least 3 years to release it). And yes, Android is free… problem? Why would anyone need to pay for a license for an OS when there are free, open source alternatives out there? Same case for Linux based distros for desktop systems. Hey, I know! Since your logic seems valid enough, maybe bottled water manufacturers should sue Mother Nature as she is providing water to us for free and as such she has market dominance.

But in reality, Android phone makers who want to include must-have Google apps such as Maps, YouTube or Play are required to pre-load an entire suite of Google mobile services and to give them prominent default placement on the phone, the complaint says. This disadvantages other providers, and puts Google’s Android in control of consumer data on a majority of smartphones shipped today.

Wow! So, AOSP carries a requirement that forces companies to pre-install Google Apps on the devices? Last I checked, Android (core Android) is gapps free. Don’t believe me? Why don’t you try to build a ROM from the AOSP tree. Once you are done and have it booting, we will talk. Android as a whole is governed by two distribution licenses (Apache for the core ROM and GPLv2 for the Linux kernel), none of which requires anyone to include gapps upon building and distributing the OS. In fact, it is the other way around. Manufacturers need permission from Google to distribute gapps. Don’t believe me? Why on God’s green Earth do you think that gapps are not included in AOSP variants such as CyanogenMod? Google essentially told the CM team that they could not cook these in their roms, essentially denying permission to include them in there (ok to be distributed as separate downloads).

Having Google apps in the ROM certainly makes things easier and allows you to jump through less hoops to fully integrate all your digital lives in the palm of your hand. Are they absolutely necessary for the use of the device? Absolutely not.

On that last one, several manufacturers (including Samsung and Sony) offer their own alternative market (Samsung App Store and PlayNow from Sony).

Lastly (on this exert), how are other manufacturers at a disadvantage? Your coalition members also include their own full suite of apps and services in their devices and last I checked, they sure as hell don’t include anything from other manufacturers or even give you the option to disable them/install something else. Have you ever tried to uninstall Bing out of  a Windows Phone 7 device? Or even change it from being the default engine without having to dig through the registry (which requires you to be fully unlocked)? Want to have the Tripadvisor app included in a shipped rom from a manufacturer? Why don’t you sit down with said manufacturer and try to strike a deal that will allow you to have the app included in the final product? That sounds like a far better use of everyone’s time in my opinion. Lets move on…

Google’s predatory distribution of Android at below-cost makes it difficult for other providers of operating systems to recoup investments in competing with Google’s dominant mobile platform, the complaint says.

This is how you sound on this statement: “but we cannot sell our over priced product because there is a cheaper alternative out there. They are evil and must be taken out of the picture so we can profit from this!” Much like you, Google puts a product out there, the only difference being that they are cheaper (not getting into technical differences btw). ANY CONSUMER WITH A PAIR OF WORKING NEURONS WOULD GO FOR A CHEAPER, COMPARABLE PRODUCT THAT DOES WHAT HE/SHE WANTS IT TO DO. IT IS CALLED COMMON SENSE!

Let me twist this for a second, Apple is ALSO kicking your sorry behinds and they are more expensive AND exclusive, closed source, etc. Why are you not suing them for not letting you include the services you are so eager to sell? The fact of the matter is your products and services are lacking, and that is why you are getting beaten to a pulp. Pricing and/or distribution have jack squat to do here. As far as predatory pricing is concerned, that assumes that you are dumping prices or making them low enough to avoid competition. Android (much like any Linux distro) is FREE for consumers because it is developed by people for people.

The FairSearch complaint comes at a crucial time in the Internet’s development, with users increasingly shifting their use from desktop to mobile platforms. Mobile Internet usage is expected to overtake desktop usage as soon as 2014, according to MindCommerce.

And you have the release of Windows 8 to thank for this wonderful feat…

Last but not least,

“European consumers deserve a rigorous investigation of Google’s mobile practices, and real protections against further abuses by Google,” said Vinje. “Given Google’s track record of ignoring the law, mobile Internet users should be very concerned.”

Indeed. People MUST be protected from good quality, feature packed, inexpensive software. People NEED to pay $200 per license of Windows 8 and SHOULD be allowed to shell out yet another $200 when the time comes to go to the next version of the OS (within a year’s time)! And having a track record for a large company on something as serious as anti-trust is an awful thing to have for a consumer oriented company, wouldn’t you say?

In summary, instead of wasting the European Union’s time and Euros that could potentially be used to help solve issues across Europe, why don’t you and your coalition friends get together and try to hash out a better strategy/product to take the market by force? Apple and Google did it and they dethroned both Nokia and Microsoft as king and queen of the mobile consumer world.

Grow a pair, make a better product, and stop wasting people’s time already!

You can find the more in the Fairsearch website.

Want something published in the Portal? Contact any News Writer.

[Thank you XDA News Writer SammiSaysHello for the tip!]

Device Review: Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1

Everyone has a secret place. Perhaps it is a restaurant tucked away on a side street that makes the best pulled pork. Perhaps it is a picnic table at the far corner of the park where you can sit and enjoy the serenity of the nearby babbling creek. Maybe it is not actually a place, rather a secret band or website that you and few select other know about. At the risk of sounding like a hipster, it almost seems like the Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 tablet is that special secret device.

Originally released at the end of August in 2012 and just recently given the goodness of Jelly Bean 4.1. This device has been eclipsed by bigger announcements, like the Google Nexus 10. However, over the time I’ve had the device I’ve come to enjoy it and believe it is an underrated device.

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Two Years Later: The Amazing HTC HD2

It’s hard to believe just how much the smartphone space has changed since that phone, the HTC HD2, was released in November 2009, two years ago. It was one of the last Windows Mobile devices, but it eventually got ports for both Android and Windows Phone 7. With this active developer support and a thriving community, it went on to become the most popular device in xda-developers history, and was voted as the best HTC device of both 2009 and 2010 in our forums.

Now, it’s November 2011, exactly two years later. Time to recapitulate the story of this extraordinary smartphone.
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