How I updated my Nokia Lumia 800 to Windows Phone 7.8

I’ve been driving around a Nokia Lumia 800 phone for the last year. Given that everyone else I know carries either an iPhone (80%) or an Android phone (15%) or no phone at all (5%), you might think this marks me as a contrarian. And it does. But it’s actually more about being cheap: Nokia sent me the phone because, through a series of happenstances, I am nominally a “Nokia developer,” and they were actively seeding devices to developers last year, presumably in an effort to encourage Windows Phone app development.

So, despite the many little frustrations of the phone (sub-par camera, jangly scrolling, etc.), I’ve held onto it because it’s just good enough to get by with. That, and I have a soft spot in my heart for it’s typographic user interface, which I admire for its moxie and, of course, for its typographicness.

Given all this, I was excited to read this morning that a bold new update to the phone, Windows Phone 7.8. The word came via the Nokia Conversations blog, with its expected snazzy video, a video that proudly proclaimed Your Update is Waiting For You / Get it and Enjoy!

Windows Phone 7.8

Great. Except that my update wasn’t waiting for me when I checked. And, reading the fine print at the bottom of that blog post, I found why:

Delivery of the update is operator dependent, meaning you will receive a notification in the coming weeks if you have an unlocked phone or if your operator has approved the update. If you don’t receive the update notification within the next three weeks, please contact your operator for more information.

I reconciled myself to waiting. And then I remembered that the last time an update for Windows Phone was released, there was a hack, dubbed “the cable trick” that was reported to allow the anxious to update their phones sooner than later by fooling the Zune software into thinking their Lumia’s time had come. I decided to give it a try, which required the following comedically bizarre series of steps:

  1. Start Windows XP in Parallels on my MacBook Air.
  2. Try to install the Zune software.
  3. Find out I can’t install the Zune software until I update Windows XP to Service Pack 3.
  4. Try to update to Windows XP Service Pack 3, but am told I don’t have enough disk space.
  5. Shut down Windows XP, increase the size of the virtual hard drive by a few GB and start up again.
  6. Insatll Windows XP Service Pack 3.
  7. Install the Zune software.
  8. Check Zune for an update for my Lumia – nothing found.
  9. Try the cable trick: start checking for an update in Zune software, then, after a few seconds, turn off the wifi on my MacBook Air. No luck: no update found.
  10. Try again. And again. And again. Each time waiting a few seconds more or less.
  11. Success! Zune tells me an update is found.
  12. Install the update: wait for it to download, install, and for the phone to restart.
  13. Find, despite the update, my phone is still Windows Phone 7.5.
  14. Repeated the entire process; Zune reported another update. Installed it. Still at Windows Phone 7.5.
  15. Repeated the entire process; Zune reported another update. Installed it. Presto! Now I have a Windows Phone 7.8 Lumia.

Zune Update to Windows Phone 7.8