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Whoops! Microsoft accidentally lets out a mobile-'bricking' OS update

Do not install build 16212

“A small portion” of Windows mobile users hoping the unexpected cool new update would start the month off the right way got burned yesterday. Microsoft “accidentally” released a development build of Windows 10 that can transform your phone into jelly if you try to install it.

“We apologize for this inconvenience,” said Microsoft Windows and Devices Group software engineer Dona Sarkar in a blog post last night.

It’s not a pretty situation. If you try installing the build on your mobile device, it will get stuck in a reboot loop and the only way out is to wipe it and start over. Even if you’ve only downloaded it, you will still have to do a hard device reset.

There were also builds released for PCs that can “impact usability.” (WARNING: you only have 10 days to roll back to an older version, or you’re stuck waiting on Microsoft to release a newer build).

The situation isn’t hopeless, however. If you’re lucky enough to not be a part of Windows Insider, you’re safe from being able to install the build, according to the blog post (although you still might have seen it offered).

Reaction from Microsoft Insiders has been mixed.

Startail ‘Coon: “And I had to reinstall my Phone because of this. Waking up with it rebooting. Lost important recordings and F2A Settings SUCKS!”

Daniel Delgado tweeted: “Tell me the responsible is gonna be fired! WDRT for me, lost a lot of info. Thanks!”

Others are more understanding. “Sorry to hear about problems you've encountered with foul-mouthed & abusive folks, especially a few #WindowsInsiders. We knew the risks!” tweeted @dscammell.

Tim Coulling, a senior analyst at Canalys, thinks the issue's reach is fairly minor because the install base for Microsoft mobile devices is relatively low and people with those devices would have also had to choose to install the update immediately (unlikely). However, if the bricking would have happened to PCs, it would have been much worse. "Microsoft needs to seriously look at why this occurred," he said, and to make sure it doesn't happen again.

According to Sarkar, the cause was an "inadvertent deployment" to the system that controls which builds get pushed to insiders. The team has put blocks in place to keep any more from going out - and it's also cancelled all new builds for the week. “Today was a great exercise in our whole team coming together to solve a singular problem,” Sarkar tweeted yesterday. ®

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