Installing BlackBerry Leaked OS files (RIM getting sneaky with the vendor.xml file)

It used to be rather simple to install a leaked version of a BlackBerry OS.   These updated leaked versions of BlackBerry Operating System software are often leaked by mobile phone companies so that people like me and many others will install them, like a beta install, so they can get feedback on what’s working and what’s NOT working.  In many instances, these leaked OS’s are fine.  Occasionally, you might find that there are “memory leaks” which is a fancy way of saying that certain apps installed with the OS do not properly use the allotted memory, but for the most part, they work just fine.  In fact, a BlackBerry Leaked OS usually has new features not available in your mobile phone companies currently available release (compared to the one readily available from their website, the RIM web site, or just already installed on your new phone).

To install these a BlackBerry Leaked OS you had to search for one for your specific model.  The OS is specific to the type of phone you have.  So you can’t install OS 7.1 for a BlackBerry Torch 9810 on a BlackBerry Bold 9900.  But once you find the file you are looking for (usually from sites like Crackberry or N4BB where they link you to a file share site like MegaUpload, MediaFire, SendSpace, etc), you simply download the file, and install it onto your computer.

I am the system admin and BlackBerry Support Specialist where I work.  I manage many different BlackBerry Users with different BlackBerry Models and different Operating Systems.  Trying out a new “leaked” OS seems like a daily occurrence for me and as I said it used to be easy.

  1. Download the OS File as I stated above (usually an EXE file but sometimes it’s a zipped file that you have to unpack first)
  2. Run the EXE file which installs the OS files onto your computer
  3. Plug you BlackBerry into your computer with the USB cable
  4. Run Desktop Manager which finds the new OS and asks you if you want to Upgrade.
  5. You say yes (making sure that the “backup the phone first” box is checked
  6. And that was it.

Later on, you had to delete the file called “vendor.xml” which is located in the C:\Program Files\Common Files\Research In Motion\AppLoader folder.  That’s right, simply deleting it would make it all work just fine. Very easy.

When that stopped working you had to disconnect from the Internet (in addition to deleting the Vendor.XML file) so that the BlackBerry Desktop Software (formerly Desktop Manager) would find the Updated OS.  Now, you have two “vendor.xml” files to delete.  On Windows 7 the additional file is in the C:\Users\username\AppData\Roaming\Research In Motion\BlackBerry\Loader XML folder.  O Windows XP the additional file is in c:\documents and settings\XXXXX (user name)\Application Data\Research in Motion\BlackBerry\Loader XML\. You must delete BOTH vendor.xml files in order for BlackBerry Desktop Software to recognize the newly installed Leaked OS.

To install the newly downloaded OS onto your device.  It’s not just a matter of downloading it, you have to INSTALL the OS onto your computer.  That’s true whether or not it’s a leaked OS or not.  Installing the OS puts the files in places/folders on your computer where the BlackBerry Desktop Software (BDS) can find them.  THEN run (BDS).  Sometimes, that new leaked OS you just download and then installed, still won’t be recognized by BDS as a viable OS to upgrade to.  By default, BDS wants to check the Internet (your carrier’s web site where “official” OS files are) to see if an upgrade is available. That’s what happens when you use the menu to “update” your device.  To Force BDS to see the newly installed local installation of a leaked OS, you have to disconnect from the Internet – you need to disable your wi-fi and/or unplug your netowrk cable, THEN run BDS and it will look locally for new OS files.  You will see a little red star next to the OS version and you can then click the Update button whereby a pop up box will appear and you can select this new leaked OS you downloaded/installed.

Here’s what I don’t understand:  These “unofficial” OS versions are “leaked” on purpose. This is a way for vendors and RIM to get real world feedback en masse from the more technical BlackBerry users out there who know what they are doing.  It gives users like me a chance to sample the new features, give feedback on forums, and see how things like Battery Life are improved or not with the new OS.  It’s a vital feature to the BlackBerry OS process at large.  So why do they (and by that I mean RIM, AT&T, Verizon, and every other phone vendor) make it more and more difficult to install these Operating Systems.  Those of us that work with these leaked OS’s KNOW that we can’t call our mobile phone company with a BlackBerry problem if we have a leaked OS on it because they won’t help you.  So it’s not like we don’t know that it’s an “AS IS” kind of thing when you are installing a leaked OS.

RIM/BlackBerry has a Beta Program where, if you sign up, you can be a Beta Tester for new apps and upgrades before they are released to the public.  But I’ve NEVER seen beta testing of Operating System upgrades in that program. I am a member.  So what’s the deal?  I don’t know.  Without people like us testing these leaked Operating Systems in the real world, companies like RIM, AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, and T-Mobile would not get real world feedback that they can use to make corrections and modifications before releasing them to the general BlackBerry user population.  If anyone knows?  Please share.

The bottom line is this:  There are mobile phone companies out there, not in the US but around the world, who release the “leaked”  BlackBerry operating systems as final, even though in the US, they are considered unofficial leaked versions.  Leaked version typically never end up to be the final version in the US.  It’s people like me and the thousand of other technical folks out there willing to install these leaked operating systems on BlackBerrys that help to make the BlackBerry product line better, each and every day.  It’s time RIM and the mobile phone companies came out of the closet, to admit what is really going on with leaked operating systems, give credit where credit is due, and provide a simpler way for us to beta test these suckers.


BlackBerry Bold 9900 and why RIM is still #1

If you believe all of the media hype, RIM (Research in Motion, the company that makes BlackBerry) is about ready to shut its doors, its products are useless, and they have lost all of their market share. Nothing could be further from the truth.   BlackBerry somehow became the Microsoft of the smart phone world.  Everyone started to hate BlackBerry because they were at the top of the heap.  I’m not saying RIM hasn’t made mistakes, but like all global companies who grew very fast, sometimes the growing pains aren’t so easy to take.  But BlackBerry is getting itself back on track and is poised to retake the industry in the number one spot.

First, some house-cleaning.  Worldwide there are still more BlackBerry subscribers than any other smart phone.  Sure, maybe in the US, BlackBerry fell out of favor for a while, but worldwide, a BlackBerry is still number one.  And the BlackBerry does things that no other smart phone can do.  Three of the five top downloaded smart phone applications across all platforms are BlackBerry Apps.  They are BlackBerry Messenger, Twitter for BlackBerry, and FaceBook for BlackBerry.  I believe the number one downloaded app was “Angry Birds” – go figure.  Overall, worldwide the top cell phones are not BlackBerry, iPhone, or Android.  The top sellers are non-smart-phones, meaning regular old mobile phones, by Samsung, LG, and Motorola.  Consider that most people in the world can’t afford to purchase, let alone keep up with the monthly service charges on, a smart phone.

Now to the BlackBerry Bold 9900.  This is AT&T/T-Mobile’s version.  Each carrier  (like Verizon, T-Mobile, and other global companies like Vodafone-UK, Rogers-Canada) have or will have their own model with its own unique features.  Even the AT&T and T-Mobile 9900 versions are not the same.

As the mobile communications coordinator for my company, I have had the opportunity to work on many BlackBerry models including the 8800, 8820, 8310, 8320, 9000, 9700, 9800, 9810, and now the 9900.  I have also been exposed to iPhones of all types, and Android phones.

The BlackBerry Bold 9900 is the finest piece of smart phone hardware I have ever laid my hands on.  I LOVE it.  The full keyboard in a phenomenal achievement and never have I been able to glide and fly over that keyboard to type out an email or text like I can on the Bold 9900.  The phone is solid, the battery life is good, the screen images are crisp and clear; there isn’t anything I don’t like about the Bold 9900.

Here is why I like BlackBerry in general:

  1.  You don’t need to connect the phone to your computer to download and/or install applications. With the iPhone, you do, and that need to do so, is a pain in the ass.
  2. RIM/BlackBerry provides a full desktop software interface that can manage a whole host of things. This includes wirelessly syncing your media to your device whenever you are in range of your computer. The software can also help me rebuild a broken BlackBerry that won’t boot up.  It’s quite amazing what you can do with the tools RIM provides.  And the more technical you are, the more you can do on your own and not have to call someone and wait on hold.  Try to manage your Android with their desktop software – oops, there isn’t such a thing.
  3. Attachments – BlackBerrys handle them with ease.  It doesn’t matter if it’s an Excel, Word, PowerPoint or PDF, you can save it and view it later.  You can also edit it.  Try to do that with an iPhone.  If you don’t forever save the email that contained the attachment, you’ll never see it again.
  4. BlackBerry Messenger – think of it as the way Instant Messaging or Text Messaging should be.  Between BlackBerry users, there is no limit on the number of characters you can type into a BBM message, and you don’t need a special text messaging plan to use it.  It’s free if you are a BlackBerry subscriber.
  5. The BlackBerry Network – You probably heard something in the news back in October 2011 about how BlackBerry services crashed in Europe and eventually affected North America for a time.  It was bad.  But the truth is, there is an entire network of BlackBerry servers and services around the globe, all inter-connected, allowing for BlackBerry users to do the things they do, like BBM to people all over the world at no additional cost.  Everyone with a smart phone needs a data plan, but you don’t need a separate Text Messaging plan if you are messaging other people with BlackBerry’s.  When RIM experienced the big outage, they responded to it by offering several application from its App World for free to its customers.  And they weren’t silly apps like themes or games (although they offered some of those for free as well) but rather some of them were Super Apps, like Vlingo.
  6. BESX – The original product is called BlackBerry Enterprise Server or BES.  BES is used by companies to link and manage all of their BlackBerry devices, push out custom applications to its users, and connect the users to data on servers within that company’s network.  BESX is a somewhat scaled down version FOR FREE.  Smaller companies or companies that don’t need EVERY SINGLE bell and whistle that BES offers, will do just fine with BESX.  Our company moved from BES to BESX and had absolutely no problem with functionality, in fact, just the opposite, we actually gained some functionality that was not yet included in the standard BES product.
  7. Self-Service – While I don’t expect every smart phone user to have access to an IT guy like me, for the people at my company, I am that guy.  And I can fix any problem myself, load any operating system on any device, control which apps are installed, and through IT Policies on the BES or BESX servers, I can control what my users can and can not do with their BlackBerry.  For example, let’s say I didn’t want them to be able to download apps from App World and be able to charge them to our company cell phone bill (this is an option available within BlackBerry App World – try THAT with an iPhone or Android).  I can prevent them from doing that.  OR, I can allow them to do it if the company want to do it as a perk.  Overall, I rarely have to call AT&T for any repair, functionality, or maintenance issues.  I can do it all myself.  The only time I really have to involve our mobile carrier is if a phone gets dropped and broken, and we have to file an insurance claim, or if a phone is so far beyond repair that I can’t fix it.  I haven’t had this last one happen yet.
  8. NFC – stands for Near Field Communications.  The best way to understand it is to think of a Mobil Speed Pass where you wave a key fob near the pump, and your purchase is automatically charged to the account you set up (credit card, debit card, Mobil gas card, etc).  This is just one function.  You will also be able to tap (or bump) your BlackBerry against another to share media like music, photos, and music.

When people try to put BlackBerry in a box, and say that the company is “dead in the water” they seem to forget that RIM is truly a global company.  There are places in Asia where 70% of the population use BlackBerry for personal use – not for business.  BlackBerry is the most respected smart phone world-wide.  I was recently in Boston for the weekend staying at a very large, upscale hotel.  I was surprised that most of the young people I saw walking around with smart phones had BlackBerry’s, not iPhones, not Androids, like the media would have you think.  iPhones and Androids may have great sales right now, but customer loyalty for those platforms isn’t there.  Many people are returning to BlackBerry once they got their taste of being “trendy” and keeping up with the Jones’s and it didn’t work out quite how they had hoped.  And luckily, RIM is ready for them.  In 2012 RIM will be releasing even more new models and the new QNX Operating System (which was supposed to be called BBX but RIM got sued over the use of that name – it will probably be called simply BlackBerry X or something like that).   The new OS will bring the BlackBerry smart phone (and tablet) closer to a fully functioning computer in your hand.

So folks, don’t count out BlackBerry just yet.  Many predicted that when Microsoft Vista came out, it was the end of Microsoft.  There was a mass exodus to Mac….until Windows 7 showed up.  RIM is in the midst of readjusting, refocusing, scaling down, and paring out the dead wood in the company.  They got fat and happy, and then realized it was time to get to the gym.  Now they are well on their way to being sexy, and desirable, all over again.