Windows 7 Opens New Ways of Interacting with Devices

A friendly tipster shared a particularly cool feature in Windows 7, the Device Stage …

“Windows 7 introduces a new way to interact with your phone, camera, printer, or portable media player from the Windows desktop. Device Stage is new visual interface that makes it easy to find the things you want to do with your devices on your Windows 7 PC. You could think of Device Stage as a multi-function version of Autoplay where it displays all the applications, services, and information related to your device. Device Stage not only works for devices connected to a Windows 7 PC via USB, but also Bluetooth and Wi-Fi as well. In many cases, software installation isn’t required for Device Stage – with any additional drivers that might be needed automatically retrieved from Windows Update. [Windows Experience Blog]

As a Mac user, I’ve always been either puzzled or frustrated by the amount of driver installation required by Windows. Windows 7 seeks to change that to make it easier but also adds a new level of customization for either the manufacturers or even a wireless carrier.

The example shown on the Windows Experience Blog is for the Nikon D90 and as you can see it really is an enhanced way to handle the old Autoplay function.

D90 on the Windows 7 Device Stage

In this case it’s pretty straightforward, but Nikon is offering access to Picturetown (their online picture service and Nikon Transfer in addition to standard Windows functions for importing or browsing. They’ve also included links to the support site and to the device’s manual.

What I really like about this though is the opportunity provided to tailor what you are shown based on what you have… or even who it’s from. This next view is for the Nokia 5800 Express Music.


Here Nokia promotes both Ovi and S60, and provides an easy link to the manual. The view is an S60 branded view though could very easily be from a carrier with links to their services or support content.

I’ve already seen how well Windows 7 handles new hardware installation by adding a printer, changing my wireless card and connecting a few phones. In each case, Windows 7 was able to easily connect and inform me of the various drivers (if more than one) it was simply taking care of … it’s your call whether you want to see the details or not. I’ve yet to see the Device Stage in action even though the N85 which I’ve connected over both bluetooth and usb is allegedly a supported device. I”ll chalk it up to beta for now …

At WinHEC in November Microsoft shared how the Device Stage will evolve to enable common tasks to happen within the OS rather than requiring proprietary applications from each company. As you can see in the screenshots, the Device Stage can bridge both standard “in house” functions with those the manufacturer would like to handle themselves. Apparently we’ll be able to be notified and perform advanced tasks like firmware updates in addition to simply syncing or browsing which is the main purpose at the moment.

I’m very pleased with what I’ve seen so far in Windows 7. When I added an Epson Artisan 800 printer (supported by Device Stage), it was seen on the network and Windows just did what it needed to activate the device within a few moments. On my Mac I needed to actually find, download and install software in order to get it working. Quite the change for Windows to offer the simpler process!

E71 Firmware updated

2009-01-13_2159 - Updating the E71

Last night before bed, I saw the news and updated my E71 to firmware v200.21.118.  If I’m not mistaken, this is by far the quickest we’ve seen a NAM update following the EMEA release.  Excellent!

I’ve been restoring my applications today and so far so good.  I love the two new black and red themes … and see Internet Radio is now baked in along with MyNokia though I’ve yet to see the sign-up prompt.

Firmware updates on the E71 erase everything, so please do a backup if you want to try and retain your existing info.  I tend to just move forward rather than restore from backup, but that’s me …

The almost status of Nokia Software Checker

Ricky beat me to blogging this, but I also had the same experience using the Nokia Software Checker on the N79. Nokia Software Checker appears on the newer Feature Pack 2 devices (N79, N85) and appears to be an application who’s sole purpose is to schedule checks against the firmware database.

In theory this is a very handy thing as having the latest software on your mobile tends to deliver new features and most importantly bug fixes.  Updating firmware via FP2 is a simple non-destructive process so updating to the latest software is also painless.  

Back to the Nokia Software Checker … I noticed this application on the N79 first and decided to try it last week.  After pinging the Nokia server, I was told there was an update (not what update) and suggested I connect to my PC to run the software updater there instead of prompting me to check right on the device.  Over the air updates are a key feature on these new devices and I was surprised to see it not referenced.  I tried the OTA update anyway (homescreen > *#0000# > check for updates) and was told there was no new software available.

I’m not sure why there is a disconnect between the two applications and the database online here, but this is not a good way to create a positive user experience.  I’ve not had the chance to try an update from my PC yet but I’m guessing that the software update via PC and Phone are in sync and that it’s the Nokia Software Checker that’s out of alignment.

E71 Firmware Updated

E71 Firmware Update

I updated my E71’s Firmware yesterday and discovered that there are actually two E71 Product codes for the North American version … and only one will see the update (for now).

  • 0559585 – got the update
  • 0569371 – no update

So far, I’m not seeing anything particularly new or different.  When the update was initially reported about two weeks ago there was mention of the new Mail For Exchange client being on board. I’ve found that the version embedded within the firmware (2.5) is actually an older one. If you navigate into your Downloads folder and refresh, you’ll find the newer 2.7 is there.