Android HD2 – How the last HOORAH for Windows Mobile 6 fizzled away

August 19th, 20107:24 am – Written By Xiwei Ying

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<!– Android HD2 – How the last HOORAH for Windows Mobile 6 fizzled away –>

device2device1The HTC HD2: some say it is the predecessor of the Evo 4G and THE phone that started the “big phone and big features” revolution. The HD2 brought on the  likes of the Evo 4G, Galaxy S and the Droid X, creating halo phones for their respective carriers and manufacturers. When the HTC HD2 was launched, it was one of the most powerful smart-phones available in the world, with it’s 1GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon processor, 576mb of ram, and a 4.3 inch screen. The HD2 stood out in a time when iPhone dominated the landscape and Android was still in its infancy. HTC brought a breath of fresh air to the cellular battlefield with the introduction of the HD2. Within this volatile environment, customers flocked to the HD2 and many carriers sold out within days of launching the device in Europe. It was no different in the United States when the HD2 landed in T-Mobile Stores. It also quickly sold out and stores kept a continuing back order of the device for weeks.

Although the HD2 was a very powerful phone and owned the “most powerful phone” crown in T-Mobile USA’s inventory until the launch of the Samsung Vibrant, it was severely hindered by the aging Windows 5/6 platform, which has been the same underlying engine for the device since 2005. At the time of launch, the HD2 was the goodbye for Windows Mobile 6. It was the most powerful device ever created for the WM6 platform before the platform retires by Windows Phone 7. Many had hoped the HD2 would enjoy an upgrade to Windows Mobile 7 like HTC CEO Peter Cho has promised. Unfortunately, with the scrapping of Windows Mobile 7 and the new restrictions Windows Phone 7 Series has in place, which forcefully deny an upgrade path for the HD2, many consumers were in a bitter uproar. During those dark times, several projects sprung up to take advantage of the HD2’s powerful hardware and work accelerated for those development teams who had already began hacking the HD2 after the news of “no upgrade”.

At the famous XDA-Developers forums, where talented developers from all over the world gather to change, modify and share their love for smart-phones, 2 teams stepped up to give the HTC HD2 a new lease on life. For the development of Windows Phone 7, 1500 dollars was raised for the developer “Da_G” to analyze and crack the HD2’s hardware to accept the new Windows Phone 7 operating system. On the other side of the field, a developer named “dcordes” from HTC-Linux, along with a crack team of developers grouped together to modify and alter the Linux kernel to fit into the HD2’s inner belly.

While Da_G is still working tirelessly on the guts and internals of the HD2, dcordes and his team were able to have the kernel working and boot Ubuntu Linux after working day and night for months. Within a few days of the completion of Linux kernel and the successful boot of Ubuntu, basic android builds started appearing. At first, these builds lacked everything. It almost seemed like a proof of concept, but then with the contribution of the developers, especially from “the Kernel King” Cotulla, new boot images started to appear regularly within mere days. Within a month of the first Android OS booting on the HD2, the community has flourished with multiple flavors of Android, many with nearly fully functional hardware. XDA even assigned a subforum within their device forums for Android on the HD2. In certain recent builds of Android for HD2, everything is working on the device other than light sensor and compass!

Untitled-1Untitled-2What are the advantages of Android over Windows Mobile 6 you ask? Here’s a brief list:
– The BEST Gmail syncing experience available on a mobile device
– A GIGANTIC Android Market compared to the Windows Mobile Marketplace
– A fully customizable interface with MetaMorph and themes
– FroYo 2.2, with Flash enabled
– Interchangeable widgets for applications
– Dare I say it? More stable than Windows Mobile
And many more!

The developers are still hard at work improving the code, merging development trees and continuing to improve on what they’ve accomplished.  With these continued improvements the community has responded. The Android forum for HD2 in the XDA-Developers forums has exploded with traffic, propelling the HD2 section of the XDA forums into the 2nd most popular category, succeeded only by the Evo 4G itself. Community support has also flourished thanks to the introduction of other Android developers who took the leap onto the device, developers such as kingofyo1, the maintainer of the MyTouch Slide rom bible, and even the well known and popular Android developer Cyanogen has started to show interest in making a CyanogenMod port official for the HTC HD2.

With NAND access foretold by Cotulla for September, more Android developers are flocking to the device such as Kolohe. With unofficial ports of CyanogenMod 6 Release Candidate 3 available for download, the future of Android for HD2 is bright. While the last celebration of WM6 fades away into oblivion and with the welcome introduction of Android, we can only imagine all the possibilities of what lies ahead for this once all-powerful device that is now dwarfed by the likes of the Evo 4G and the Dell Streak… and what this community of new Android converts has to offer to our army of little green robots.

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If you currently own a HTC HD2 and would like to join the green liberation army, here’s a how-to:


Step one:
Download Cotulla’s HARDSPL here

Step two:
Install one of the many popular WM6 roms, a good one is NRG, I personally use Pongster’s HyperRom

Step three:
Install new radio drivers for your phone

Step four:
Reformat your memory card to FAT

Step five:
Download one of the many Android builds available and follow the instructions to install it onto your card, I use a build call “ShubCraft v1.4

Step six:
Restart your phone, run CAD.exe and then run Haret.exe from the folder

Step seven:
Welcome to the world of Android!

To get back into your Windows Mobile environment, simply shut down the phone and restart, the phone will boot back into Windows Mobile and you can proceed with life as normal! At this point, if you feel comfortable enough to use Android on a daily basis, look into one of the many boot loader solutions to skip Windows Mobile until the developers resolve the NAND access issue.

Thank you to all the developers who contributed to the HTC-Linux project and developed the Linux Kernel for the HD2, special thanks to dcordes for verifying most of my information. Also thank you to all the Android rom builders to make Android such a joy to use on the HD2