101 Uses of a Dead KindleAs readers may have already noticed, Amazon has announced a “Critical Software Update for Kindle E-Readers” with a warning that your device may be useless without it. Amazon warns that: “customers using an outdated software version on Kindle e-readers require an important software update by March 22, 2016 in order to continue to download Kindle books from the Cloud, access the Kindle Store, and use other Kindle services on their device.” And as it happens, every Kindle device released from the 2007 Kindle 1st Generation to the 2012 Kindle Paperwhite 5th Generation should need that update.

For worried Fire owners, do note that this is only for eInk Kindle Kindles – not the color Kindle Fires. Owners of 2013 Kindle Paperwhite 6th Generation devices and any subsequent Kindles can also relax. However, for other devices, Amazon provides a long list of the relevant OS release your device needs. If you own such a device, it’s probably wise to connect to WiFi anyway just to be sure.

If you can. Because my fourth-generation Kindle, for one, hasn’t had working WiFi in yonks, besides having a battery life measurable in minutes. Connection to the Kindle Store is a tad moot in my case anyway. But for anyone similarly afflicted, Amazon does provide a solution. The long list of “Fire & Kindle Software Updates” on the left of the relevant Amazon Help & Customer Service page does provide links where you can manually download the relevant software updates, for sideloading and installing into your Kindle via USB. That’s a fix I’m going to try on mine, to see if I can get my WiFi back.

What’s Amazon’s reason for the across-the-board upgrade? No idea. New services? Maybe. Security concerns? Possibly. For users, though, it’s more than advisable to connect your Kindle and sync, then follow Amazon’s instructions to upgrade software as necessary. Keep that aging Kindle working as, potentially, a valuable vintage model, rather than a brick.

(Via Nate.)


  1. Over a day of trying to provoke a automatic update to my Kindle 3 (Keyboard) failed to prompt any action from Amazon. Downloading and manually updating via my Mac wasn’t that complicated, although it took two downloads and two updates to bring me up to the present. Figure on it taking a half-hour or so.

    Judging by the accompanying document, this updates the fonts to the latest (skinny) ones, adds parental controls, and supports KF8, comic books and children’s books, along with a better Whispersync. In short, it seems to do what I didn’t think Amazon was going to do, bring my aging Kindle up-to-date.

    The Kindle 3/Keyboard was the last epaper Kindle to include text-to-speech. It didn’t mess with that.

  2. The update finally fixes a weak security hole that was reported to Amazon 4 months ago. It thus prevents the jailbreak that’s available for Kindles on the 5.6.5 firmware. Users are reporting that the jailbreak survives the update as long as it’s done first (but it will be wiped by a factory reset).

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