Upgrade your T-Mobile Dash to Windows Mobile 6.1

NOTE: A newer version of this article is posted here.

 

I’ve been a T-Mobile customer for years (and years).  In fact, I’ve been a T-Mobile customer for as long as they’ve been active in the United States.  Before that we were with Voicestream , the company that T-Mobile bought out to stake a claim on American soil.  During that time, of course, we’ve had several phones.  An early Handspring PDA with a phone add-on that made me look like I was talking into a pizza box.  A couple of Samsung phones.  A Nokia 6820 that my wife still uses.  And there were other phones, I’m sure.

In November 2006, however, I waded reluctantly into the Windows Mobile world.  Not because I wanted a Windows Mobile-based phone, mind you, but because I was beginning to support them in the workplace on a regular basis.  It just made sense.  Most of our company is on AT&T, but I staunchly demanded to stick with T-Mobile.  That being the case, my choices of Windows Mobile-based phones was limited.  Not too limited, however, as I was able to purchase the T-Mobile Dash for not-too-much money.

Designed by HTC to be a "T-Mobile" branded phone, I have to say that this handset has some seriously impressive staying power.  Almost 2 years after they were released, T-Mobile is still selling these phones on their website!  Admittedly, T-Mobile is typically behind the "technology curve", if you will, but they seem to know a good product when they see it.  The Dash is a good phone, and a very decent PDA.  I’ve beat mine to heck, but it keeps chugging along.  I don’t turn my phone off — ever — and this device has been surprisingly stable, especially considering that I sync my work email, calendar, and contacts as well as making phone calls, of course, the occasional game, and much more.  So stable, in fact, that at one point I had not rebooted (restarted, turned off, etc.) this phone for over 90 days!  Can you leave your phone up and running for over 3 months without a restart?  Bet you can’t.  πŸ™‚

But I digress.

The point of this article is to help others upgrade to the very latest OS that you can find for the T-Mobile Dash: Windows Mobile 6.1 (WM6.1).  Although these phones initially shipped with WM5.0, T-Mobile (and HTC) eventually offered a free, supported upgrade to WM6.0.  It was a nice move on their part, and a worthy upgrade.  Upgrading from WM6.0 to WM6.1 seems almost trite, but make no mistake about it: upgrading to WM6.1 is a radical front-end change that will leave you feeling like you have a brand new phone!  Perhaps that’s overstating it a bit, but the upgrade is really quite nice to have.

Among the WM6.1 enhancements are…

  • "Sliding panels" homescreen
  • Threaded SMS messaging
  • Improved browser
  • Built-in task manager
  • Better battery life and improved device performance
  • Other stuff

Enough of all that.  Let’s try to get you upgraded!

—————————————-

First of all, this write-up assumes that you have a fully-functioning T-Mobile Dash phone operating on the U.S. network.  It also assumes that you know how to use your phone fairly well, as not everything is spelled out for you.  Lastly, this procedure may void your warranty, so please be aware of that.

What you’ll need:

  • A functioning, usable T-Mobile Dash phone (aka HTC Excalibur) on the T-Mobile network
  • Windows PC (XP or Vista)
  • USB sync cable to connect your phone to your PC
  • To download these zipped files and unzip them to a local folder on your computer.  The desktop works fine.

If you’re already confused, then this upgrade isn’t for you.  Otherwise, please continue…

UPGRADING THE ROM

  1. Turn off your phone, remove any MicroSD card you might have, and boot the phone back up again.  When the phone is fully booted (and usable), connect your phone to your PC via your USB sync cable.  Windows should recognize your phone and either 1) launch Active-Sync, or 2) see it as a removable drive.  Fine.  Things are working normally.
  2. With your phone connected to your PC, double-click on the "RUU_Excalibur_WM61_Kavana_080330_WWE.exe" file that you downloaded/extracted in the earlier steps.  The ROM update utility will start.  Click the button with "EC" to continue.
  3. You should be greeted with a command prompt box telling your to "remove SD card and reboot…".  We’ve already done this, so hit Enter to continue.  The ROM will be copied to your phone.
  4. The screen should read "execute SPL now…"  Hit Enter one more time.
  5. Now, hit the middle (silver) button of your phone d-pad.  The screen on your mobile phone should turn white.
  6. Hit Enter once more to continue.
  7. The GUI for the ROM updater should launch.  Keep the defaults and select any "I agree" statements when prompted.  The ROM update itself takes about 5 minutes or so.
  8. After the update, your phone will reboot by itself and run the ‘Cold Boot’ config.  This is normal.  Restart your phone when prompted.
  9. Upon rebooting again, you will be prompted with a "Voice Command" program selected.  I chose "Microsoft Voice Command" and clicked OK.  Another reboot.
  10. Finally, your phone should boot up into the new WM6.1 interface and join the T-Mobile network.  Congrats!!!  Your phone has successfully upgraded.  You can also turn the phone off again and re-insert your MiniSD card, if you like.

FIXING THE DEFAULT KEY MAPPINGS

This ROM defaults to an alternate (non-US) keyboard mapping for this phone.  It’s fairly easy to fix, so here we go….

  1. Connect the phone to your PC
  2. Copy the ‘ET9 Full.cab’ and ‘et9.Excalibur.0409.kmap.txt’ files to your phone.  Remember where you put them!
  3. Using the File Explorer, find the ‘ET9 Full.cab’ file and launch it to install.  Install it to your ‘Device’, if prompted.
  4. Under Start > All Programs, use the Resco Explorer program to copy the ‘et9.Excalibur.0409.kmap.txt’ file to the My Device\Windows folder on your phone.  Overwrite the existing file.
  5. Restart your phone and enjoy the proper keyboard mappings!

Note: the pink "T" button in the lower-right hand corner of the keypad now launches the CeleTask task manager application.  Very nice!

RUN THE CONNECTION SETUP FOR T-MOBILE

  1. Go to the Start menu on your phone.  This selection now opens the "Recent Programs" option by default.  Hit the left soft button again for "All Programs", then select Accessories.
  2. Choose the Connection Setup program
  3. Select the ‘United States’ from the first drop-down menu, and then ‘T-Mobile’ as your operator.
  4. Reboot when prompted.
  5. Your phone should now be configured for T-Mobile phone, data, MMS, and SMS access.

DISABLING Xt9 (optional)

The default typing input method for the Dash is the Xt9 I’m-gonna-guess-what-you-really-mean-to-say method.  I find it aggravating and turn it off immediately.  Here’s how.

  1. Open a new text message and begin typing
  2. Hold the "alt" key and "space bar" down at the same time
  3. When the menu pops up, choose the ‘ABC’ option (2nd in the list), and click the middle of your d-pad
  4. Now you can type what you want, how you want.  This selection will stay even with a reboot!

DISABLING THE JOG BAR (optional)

The Dash features a touch-sensitive strip just right of the display. It’s called the JogBar, and I hate it.  Actually, I like the idea, but it really doesn’t work well if you hold the phone up to your head with your right hand.  What happens?  Basically, it touches the side of your face and ends up turning the volume down in mid phone call.  Ooops!  For whatever reason, they *never* thought to include another method for adjusting the volume on these phones.  How about the up/down d-pad, guys?  Crazy, I know.

All that said, I just turn the volume on the phone to ‘max’ and disable the JogBar entirely.  Works out fine.  Here’s how…

  1. Connect the phone to your PC
  2. Copy the ‘SetJogBar.cab’ file to your phone.  Remember where you put it!
  3. Using the File Explorer on your phone, find the ‘SetJogBar.cab’ that you copied over and run it.  Install it to your ‘Device’, if prompted.
  4. Next, make a quick phone call, use the JogBar to turn the phone up all the way, and disconnect the call.
  5. Go to Start > All Programs > and Settings on your phone.
  6. On the 3rd screen, find the JOGGR line, open it, de-select the top 4 checkboxes, and click done.
  7. JogBar is disabled

CHANGING THE HEADER GRAPHIC FOR EASIER TEXT DIALING (optional)

Our home and office phones have letters written on the number keys for easier dialing when calling a number like 1-800-FLOWERS, or something like that.  That has historically been somewhat difficult on the Dash, but an upgraded graphic will cure those ails!  Here’s how…

  1. Connect the phone to your PC
  2. Copy the ‘ms_mobile.gif’ image to your phone.  Again, remember where you put it.
  3. Using Resco Explorer (Start > All Programs), copy the ‘ms_mobile.gif’ file to the My Device\Windows folder on your phone.  Overwrite the existing file.
  4. Reboot your phone and you’ll notice a handy ‘numbers + letters’ graphic at the top of the screen when you start dialing.  Cool.

SIMPLIFY THE HOME SCREEN (optional)

The default WM6.1 home screen includes access to photos, music, and other things that I (personally) don’t use a whole lot on my phone.  I’d rather not have them on the home screen.  Guess what?  That’s easy to change.  Here’s how…

  1. On your phone, go to Start > All Programs > Settings and choose Home Screen.
  2. The first option is called the Home Screen Layout and defaults to "Sliding Panel Media".  Select that box, and hit right or left on your d-pad until it says "Sliding Panel" only.
  3. You’ll also notice a checkbox that says "Show Recent Programs".  If you prefer that the Start button shows All Programs (instead of the new default Recent Programs), then simply uncheck that box.
  4. Hit Done and then hit the Home button.  Your home screen will be changed!

—————————————-

That should do it!  Here are some before and after shots of the homescreen (not my phone, obviously):

Before

After

Schwanky!

For more information on your T-Mobile Dash, check out the XDA Developers "Excalibur" message board.  Really great stuff there!

Enjoy πŸ™‚

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50 Responses to “Upgrade your T-Mobile Dash to Windows Mobile 6.1”


  1. 1 Kevin LeRoy July 29, 2008 at 1:52 am

    Oh how I hated that phone…I had it for about 1 week and gave it back. I could never hear the person on the other line. It was always as if they were in a wind tunnel or something. Craig Finley hated that phone too. I am now the proud owner of a Samsung Blackjack II. Best phone I’ve ever had…

  2. 2 Jeff July 29, 2008 at 11:54 am

    Tried updating my Dash but unfortunately, I keep getting the error, “ERROR (270): UPDATE ERRROR – The image file is corrupted. Please check your Update Utility.”

    Do you know where I can find the original files? I’ve downloaded and tried twice now using the links you provided.

    Thanks.

    • 3 Raees July 29, 2009 at 10:53 am

      just extract the file RUU_Excalibur_WM61_Kavana_080408_WWE by right click, i think you need to install winrar first to do this. it should than work. i got this error as well, but no problem with the downloaded files.

  3. 4 yipcanjo July 29, 2008 at 3:31 pm

    Interesting. We have a LOT of the Samsung Blackjack phones — versions 1 and 2 — around our office. They’ve not been so reliable, sad to say, and the battery life has been deplorable. The 2nd rev, like you have, seem to be a bit better, though.

    To be honest, though, you and Craig are *very much* in the minority regarding the Dash. It is well reviewed and well liked. It’s not perfect…..trust me….but it seems to have performed better and lasted longer than most!

  4. 5 yipcanjo July 29, 2008 at 3:36 pm

    Jeff —

    Both my brother and my co-worker received that *exact* same error, but eventually got around it by paying special attention to steps 3, 4 and 5 of the ROM update process. The image is NOT corrupt. Trust me. Pay very close attention to when you press Enter (or ‘Any Key’) and then when you hit the silver/middle button of the d-pad. That was the trick for both of them, and it worked fine.

    You can also search the XDA Developers site or HowardForums for “Error 270”.

    Yip

  5. 6 Jeff July 29, 2008 at 3:59 pm

    Thanks Yip,

    I did look on XDA Developers and resolved the issue. Thanks.

    By the way, thanks for posting this. Very useful and it feels like I have a brand new Dash. I’ve had mine since the end of October 2006 and it definetly needed a new face!

  6. 7 yipcanjo July 29, 2008 at 4:16 pm

    Glad you got it fixed, Jeff! May I ask what the “fix” was?

    Happy to post these instructions. It really does feel like a brand-new phone! πŸ™‚

  7. 8 Jeff July 29, 2008 at 4:25 pm

    I had to use the SDA_ApplicationUnlock.exe and the SurrealNetworksApplUnlock.cab to unlock the phone before it would progress any further. Some on the forum said you needed it, some said you didn’t but, after I did, the update progressed without a hitch.

  8. 9 yipcanjo July 29, 2008 at 4:47 pm

    Interesting. I’ve seen conflicting reports on having to “unlock” the phones too. Not sure if/when that’s necessary, but it worked out for you!

  9. 10 kdogg1 July 30, 2008 at 6:16 am

    The phone could have been a lemon…I didn’t give it a chance. I’m kind of impatient in my aging years now. πŸ˜‰ Craig’s moved on to the iPhone which I lust after but can’t afford. Someday I shall be the proud owner. While I do like the iPhone, I also like Windows Mobile. Great OS and quite stable as well. The one knock against the BJ is its small keys and also how it doesn’t have wi-fi like the Dash does. Too bad cuz that would put it over the top I think. If I still had a Dash, I’d totally use your instructions to upgrade if that makes you happy. πŸ™‚

  10. 11 yipcanjo July 30, 2008 at 4:07 pm

    That’s funny. I *never* (read: EVER) use the wi-fi.

  11. 12 kdogg1 July 30, 2008 at 4:27 pm

    It’s probably because you don’t know how to use the Wi-Fi. πŸ˜‰

  12. 13 yipcanjo July 30, 2008 at 4:29 pm

    Your mom doesn’t know how to use wi-fi….

  13. 14 Jeff July 30, 2008 at 4:57 pm

    I’m with you Yip. I thought that was going to be a great feature of the Dash and I have rarely used it. Laptop – WiFi is a big deal, Cell phone – no big deal. I’d rather have 3G.

  14. 15 yipcanjo July 30, 2008 at 5:28 pm

    Agreed. Using the wi-fi would presuppose that I’m “browsing the web” on my Dash, which is relatively painful. Now… if I could use the wireless to make phone calls (at home, for instance), then that would be a different story entirely! As far as I know, though, you can’t use the wi-fi on the Dash for phone calls 😦

    On a different note, I’ve found “using my Dash as a modem” to be *very* helpful upon occasion.

    On the Dash, go to START > ALL PROGRAMS > ACCESSORIES > Internet Sharing and then click the left soft-button for Connect. Plug the USB cable from your phone to your PC and voila! You can access the Internet on your PC via your phone. Slow, for sure, but very handy in a pinch!

  15. 16 Jeff July 30, 2008 at 8:31 pm

    There have been several occasions when being able to use Internet Sharing has saved me. I once got a call from a client that they needed a particular document before 5PM or the contract was going to “die”. It was 4:15PM and I was on a long road in the middle of Oklahoma driving to the airport to go home. I pulled over to the shoulder, pulled out the laptop and the Dash, hooked it up, and sent the doucment. A lifesaver!!! Any phone I get in the future MUST have tethering enabled. That’s a make or break feature for me.

  16. 17 yipcanjo July 30, 2008 at 10:49 pm

    I’ve also found the “Automatic” phone profile mode — which switches to ‘silent’ when your calendar says you’re in a meeting — to be absolutely critical. I couldn’t buy another phone without that.

  17. 18 kdogg1 July 31, 2008 at 4:53 pm

    I guess I’s just a simple minded boy who just don’t be knowin nuffin…have mercy on me such a poor boy I is…

  18. 19 Brandon August 26, 2008 at 5:01 am

    Its is O like a new phone…

    Does anyone know where I could get the driver for the phone, both my computers wont recognize the phone now that I have updated to 6.1(I will be honest its not the one from this site) but the one on this site is the one I want, and I can get my phone to sync or show up as a removable device at all. If I had the rndismpx.sys file I should be able to just put that on my comp, then install it for the usb driver…

    Or is there more to it than that? Thanks!

  19. 20 Brandon August 27, 2008 at 1:46 am

    So I thought that would get moderated, I wanted to say that it is “SO like a new phone” and that what is happening to me is that my phone “cant connect”, but the second post I made with the right grammar was discarded and the first incorrect one was posted.

    Thanks.

  20. 21 yipcanjo August 27, 2008 at 4:24 pm

    Brandon….what OS are you running on your PC? I’ve only tested Vista, personally, and my WM6.1 Dash connects fine. Haven’t tried XP (or Mac or Linux) though.

  21. 22 Brandon August 30, 2008 at 4:10 am

    One PC is a vista laptop and the other is XP Pro SP2 desktop I built myself, the XP will detect the phone but not find any drivers, thats actually how I got the driver name before.

    My OS is Windows Mobile 6.1 Standard –

    Would there be any other way to connect it? Or a way for me to load the rom from a micro SD card?

  22. 23 exclip September 11, 2008 at 3:31 pm

    I was wondering with this modification i use favfive. is that still available or do i have to dl something that makes it come back. ive read that it gets rid of that and i have that feature.. any insite would be great. thnx

  23. 24 yipcanjo September 12, 2008 at 5:25 pm

    This ROM does *not* include the myFaves support, but you should be able to get that back. I would check the XDA Developers forum. You’ll find that info.

    http://forum.xda-developers.com/forumdisplay.php?f=309

  24. 25 pinkgirl September 13, 2008 at 6:33 am

    since 6.1 is generic (not tmobile brand) does that mean it also unlocks the phone to use on different networks?

  25. 27 Steve September 25, 2008 at 1:42 am

    Thanks for the heads up on how to update my Dash! If I can say 1 thing, it was easier once I waited til I got to work and used my XP based computer vs. my Vista laptop. I also had to download SDA_ApplicationUnlock.exe. Once I did, it all went smoothly!

  26. 28 Jay October 6, 2008 at 9:17 pm

    I followed the instructions but still have some keyboard mapping issues. For some reason the alt-M is an ‘=’ vs a ‘!’ but I am liking everything else. I’ve tried copying that kmap file to the Windows folder multiple times with no luck:

    eT9.Excalibur.0409.kmap.txt

    I can live with it though. I found the ‘!’ on Q for example. I can also just use the symbol key to select what I want from a list.

  27. 29 andre October 30, 2008 at 2:53 am

    having problems viewing youtube video on the phone can anyone help

  28. 30 chris October 31, 2008 at 3:45 am

    done this a bunch of times. still getting corruption error – anyone have any recommendations? Really following all of the steps.

  29. 31 richard king January 20, 2009 at 9:40 pm

    I think the dash will go down in history as one of the greatest phones ever made. Unfortantely tmobile has deicded not to help it work for its customers any longer. lack of 3g the 200Mhz proc and loss of signal at my house have made me do the unthinkable and that is move to the charge you for everything att. I am excited about getting my BJ II but am sad at the same time. I hate ATT but out with the old and in with the new. Bye Tmobile it was fun while it lasted

  30. 32 Gerald January 26, 2009 at 4:02 am

    Does this affect the myfaves settings??? How do you get that to remain on your phone??

  31. 33 jeff March 30, 2009 at 10:04 pm

    6.1 was great but couldn’t utilize internet sharing with my home computer and was told by t-mobile and htc that i needed a driver from htc to use it

  32. 34 lise April 7, 2009 at 12:16 am

    I know this is a bit unrelated to the subject of the thread – but I’ve been impressed by the knowledge… so I’ve been forced to resign my dash b/c I’ve moved out of Tmobile service area (rural area of texas from houston – gasp).

    Anyway I’m trying to avoid typing in all my contacts by hand. My new phone (Verizon) is a Samsung that has a micro SD. What I want to do is save my contacts to my sd card in the dash and then take the sd card and upload them to the new phone.

    any ideas?

    (new phone isn’t a smart phone)

  33. 35 davey May 19, 2009 at 7:26 am

    this is a great tutorial, yip, however, i’m having problems mapping my keyboard correctly. my laptop has windows vista therefor i can’t use activesyn 4.5. i instead downloaded windos mobile device and can’t for the life of me figure out how to the et9 files onto my device to map my keyboard. any further help on using windows mobile device would be GREATLY appreciated. thanks.

  34. 36 yipcanjo May 19, 2009 at 4:31 pm

    Davey —

    At this point, I would actually recommend using a more recent WM6.1 ROM — either the NRG 1.4 Rose ROM, or the 1.7 “Remade” Rose ROM.

    Here’s a link to the 1.7 ROM
    http://forum.xda-developers.com/showthread.php?t=441096

    Here’s a pictoral link for updating to WM6.1
    http://forum.xda-developers.com/showthread.php?t=415225

    I’m using the 1.4 ROM currently, and it already includes the preferable keyboard mapping, pre-installed handy apps, and runs well. Give it a whirl!

  35. 37 yipcanjo May 22, 2009 at 11:49 pm

    For those interested, I’ve posted a new version of the “Upgrade your T-Mobile Dash to Windows Mobile 6.1” at this link…

    https://yipcanjo.wordpress.com/2009/05/22/redux-upgrade-your-t-mobile-dash-to-wm6-1/

    Enjoy. πŸ™‚

  36. 38 meagan turner July 1, 2009 at 11:15 pm

    i just updated the software on my dash to 6.1 and now i cant g or send out picture msg’s can you help help? i even callled my tmobile service to ask them if something happened to my plan and they said im good soo i need help asap plz

  37. 39 yipcanjo July 6, 2009 at 7:54 pm

    @meagan

    I would re-run the Connection Setup Wizard and see if that helps.

    https://yipcanjo.wordpress.com/2009/05/22/redux-upgrade-your-t-mobile-dash-to-wm6-1/#comment-600

    If not, try re-downloading and re-flashing the ROM.

  38. 40 bong July 29, 2009 at 7:48 am

    there is a little bit of a problem with regards to the key mapping… some are not really at there place like exclamation point( ! ) it is located at the Q key pad… have to press alt and Q to get the exclamation point… unless you guys do not know how to use it…

  39. 42 mistermish2000 October 30, 2009 at 5:52 pm

    hey buddy..my t-mobile dash is updated to wm6 standard with the free update t-mobile gave..my phone is country unlocked because i’m using it with a provider outside the usa…also i am from south east asia…so in this case can i proceed ur this update or not? do i have again unlock the country code? plz reply…i love this post and i want to update…waiting…

  40. 43 Gary Kumler March 14, 2010 at 3:59 pm

    I just downloaded your upgrade To Windows Mobile 6.1. When trying to install it I receive the error message 270 (I think). It said the image was corrupted. I tried to install it twice. Please tell me what to try next.

  41. 45 solomon March 27, 2011 at 9:37 am

    can i go back to window
    6 after upgrading to 6.1

  42. 47 ssjort October 20, 2011 at 5:51 pm

    THANK U SO MUCH………..Im from Nigeria..And it worked Perfectly Well….


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