This is a flashing guide to help get any stuck Focus and Omnia 7 owners back on track or let you experiment with new ROMs. It should be almost the same for other phones too, just do a bit of research to find the correct version of the various tools and ROM files for your specific device. The recommended goal is to properly wipe-out (format) the device (so future updates don’t get a problem), load an original ROM, optionally run tools to unlock Internet Sharing, then give control back to the official Zune software so your device updates itself back to the current official stand, ready to receive the new 7.8 ROM when it is released.
Normally I would not try to install my own ROMs or updates on “managed” devices such as phones, tablets, etc… But sometimes there is a good reason which makes you think “I need to take control and sort this device out”. Many people are in this situation now with repeated failures of Windows Phone 7.x device updates due to what can only be described as rushed low quality packaging (silly things like crashing because they tried to create a directory which already exists), or manufacturer lies like Samsung telling Focus and Omnia 7 owners they have disabled “Internet Sharing” because the hardware does not support it (but it works fine when you unlock it yourself). I was in this position a few months ago and after carefully learning how, I’ve been flashing my phone back and forwards ever since with no problems, using the free tools published via XDA Developers (made by various community experts).
To set yourself up to easily install any of the common ROM, Firmware and Microsoft Phone Update file formats, know/follow these points…
1. Know that your phone can run two boot loaders at the same time and how to boot into them:
You get to the standard loader on an Omina 7 or Focus by holing POWER + VOL UP + CAMERA then releasing POWER after the Samsung logo appears and it vibrates. This “Download Mode” is used to load standard ROM images or run the support tool from Microsoft (which no longer works unfortunately, so you have to find your own stock ROM on the forums).
You can load an alternative and more powerful bootloader and run it at the same time with no problems, called MAGDLDR (currently in version 2). This allows you to totally format your phone (fixing the official update problems) then go into a special low level boot loader mode from which “Windows Mobile Device Center” format ROM images can be installed. You boot into MAGDLDR by holding POWER + VOL DOWN + CAMERA then release when it vibrates/logo appears.
2. You can’t boot into a loader when a USB cable is attached or Zune is running because that causes the phone to immediately restart or get taken over by Zune locking out access from the update tools. To stop this go to general settings in Zune, turn of the “launch automatically when a supported device is connected” option, save (OK button at bottom right of screen) then close Zune.
3. You have to update your Samsung USB drivers and install a small “UpdateWP” tool (drivers from the official Microsoft support tools) before you can send custom ROMs or force updates onto the phone. In my case the USB drivers were installed via “I8700_Samsung_Mobile_USB_Driver_V5.2__V1.2.1050.0.exe” just search for that or a newer version. The UpdateWP components were installed from a download called “WP7_update_tool” or the same from the tools subdirectory of the “WP7_Update_CAB_Sender” file. Install from X86 if you have 32bit OS installed or X64 if you have a 64bit OS installed (not just 64bit hardware, really the OS installed 64bit too – check for a directory called “Program Files(x86)” in your C: drive, if you have that you have a 64bit OS installed.
4. Install MAGDLDR from the “MAGDLDR_2.00” download file “DFT_MLI_SAM1.exe”. Click the correct phone image (Focus or Omnia) else you will brick your phone!!! Note you may have to double-click, a bit non-intuitive so don’t panic if you click and it does nothing.
5. The MADGLDR ROM updates (DFT_WPI_SAM1.exe) use the old “Windows Mobile Device Center” component “RAPITOOL.EXE” to load but often the necessary “CEUTIL.DLL” and “RAPI.DLL” are missing. make sure all three files are present if it crashes or reports missing files when you start it. There is a “RAPI” download on http://www.dll-files.com/ in case you need it, but don’t install it on your system just copy it into the same directory as the ROM. You can also install a stand-alone device center via “drvupdate-amd64.exe” (64bit9 or “drvupdate-x86.exe” (32bit) – search on MS download center.
6 Now you can install any image or update you desire including firmware updates.
For the purpose being discussed here, I would recommend loading the original stock image, in my case that was “Samsung-Omnia-7-Firmware-XXJL3-RETAIL-UK” (unbranded UK phone – no provider lock) but for the Focus and other devices you’ll have to search XDA developers’ forums (ROMS are found under the manufacturer/device specific forum then the “Phone Development” sub-section) they are all there. This is actually a normal ROM image so you boot into the VOL UP (standard “Download Mode”) boot loader to install this then start the “WP7 Downloader Ver 7.21 for All Device (Publish version).exe” distributed with the ROM.
After a long installation and many reboots, you have the original ROM and totally clean device. Everything should work from now on, so just re-enable Zune and let it update for about 2-3 hours (there are dozens of updates since). Your phone is now 100% refreshed and only contains original official files.
Now, for people that want to play 🙂 you can additionally have some fun…
1. Focus and Omnia owners can get their “Internet Sharing” unlocked by loading the “Network Sharing Unlock” tool (search for “File_Deployer_-_Gen_2.xap” on the internet) and load with Visual Studio Express for Windows Phone’s “Application Deployment Tool” after loading the stock image but BEFORE letting Zune apply standard updates again. You also have to activate the diagnostic tool by dialling “##634#” then after the Mango update and enter the diagnostic codes “*#9908#” select “System Tweaks” save then close to enable Internet Sharing. There are detailed instructions available on the internet usually alongside the File Deployer forum download link.
2. Play with one of the many pre-release Windows Phone 7.8 ROMS, for example “OMNIA7-ROM 8835 WP7.8 V5.3.1 Keyboard & Sugget VIET” which has English language even though it originated in Vietnam.
* ROMs, firmware and other updates are found in the “Windows Phone Developer” sub-section of the forum links above.
DISCLAIMER – All of this is at your own risk. I had 100% success flashing phones even right back to Windows CE devices, because I’m patient and careful. Don’t be an idiot and remove the cable whilst it is flashing. Sometimes when the screen is black it is just processing files or making an extra long reboot to initialize everything. If it is black for longer than 15 minutes you can assume it just needs a manual reboot – hold the power for 15 seconds. I had this when updating with the official Zune software after the Mango update! If your phone gets really stuck, boot into one of the two bootloaders or run the MAGDLDR again. You just need to get any of them working then load any ROM to get your device back. However, if you do have a power outage, disconnect the cable or play with your computer and it crashes during a boot loader update, it is likely that your will “brick” your phone and have an expensive paper weight. Boot loader updates are quick so just take extra care with those. Too risky for you? Well with the knowledge Windows Phone 7 has been ditched by Microsoft and 7.8 is just a teaser update with the new start screen and not much else, I’d say it’s a fair game to start loading ROMs on your now “legacy” device. So enjoy if you accept the risk, be patient and have fun!