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Sunday, 11 January 2009

The Number of the Beast: How Nokia turned its Symbian version numbers into a complete and utterly complicated mess

Nokia Symbian S60
The way Symbian and S60 are named comes straight out of the book called "How To Turn Version Numbers Into a Complete and Utterly Complicated Mess For Maximum Confusion."

Want to download some software for your Symbian phone? Then you probably want to check if the version of the program is compatible with the version of Symbian that runs on your phone.

Do you get dizzy easily? Then stop reading now. Don't say I didn't warn you.

S60 is an interface on top of Symbian, a bit like Gnome and KDE on Linux.
S80 is an interface on top of Symbian.
S90 is an interface on top of Symbian.
S40 is an interface on top of... wrong! S40 has nothing to do with Symbian.

OK, that was easy. Now let's look at the gory details of S60, the thing that runs on most current Nokia smartphones:

S60 first and second edition are so alike that software written for one works on the other.

But software for S60 version 3 is not compatible with the 1st and 2nd editions. And programs for S60 3rd may or may not run on S60 5th ed.

And just because something works on the mobile operating system with the friendly name "Symbian S60 3rd edition Feature Pack 1" doesn't necessarily mean it will work on the same thing with the last digit changed fom 1 into 2. Just install a theme for feature pack 1 on a feature pack 2 phone and you'll see how ugly things can get.

But that wasn't enough for Nokia. "Let's make things even more counterintuitive" said someone at Nokia HQ:

S60 1st ed. runs on Symbian 6
S60 2nd ed. runs on Symbian 7
S60 2nd ed. also runs on Symbian 8
S60 3rd ed. runs on Symbian 9
S60 4th ed. doesn't exist
S60 5th ed. runs on Symbian 9, just like the 3rd edition

Still awake? Let's do something about that. Take a deep breath and concentrate on the feature packs. To prevent irreversible brain damage we'll only look at the feature packs of the widespread S60 3rd edition:

Symbian 9.1 for Nokia: S60 3rd ed. without any feature pack
Symbian 9.2 for Nokia: S60 3rd ed. with feature pack 1
Symbian 9.3 for Nokia: 3rd ed. with feature pack 2
Symbian 9.4 for Nokia: 5th ed. without any feature pack

As clear as a bucket of mud mixed with bottle of black ink in a tar pit at night with all the lights broken beyond repair.

But let's consider ourselves lucky. Nokia didn't label its Symbian flavours in the hexadecimal numbering system. Not yet.

S60 versions and phone models

1 comment:

Player01 said...

Agreed. Esp the fp and os categorization brings utter chaos :rolleyes: