Wii system software

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Wii system software
The Wii Menu
Developer Nintendo
OS family Nintendo proprietary
Working state Discontinued
Source model Closed source
Initial release 1.0 / November 19, 2006; 9 years ago (2006-11-19)[citation needed]
Latest release 4.3 / September 7, 2010; 5 years ago (2010-09-07)[1]
Available in German, English, Spanish, French, Italian, Dutch, Japanese, Korean, simplified Chinese, traditional Chinese
Update method Direct Download
Game Disc
Platforms Wii
Wii Mini
Preceded by GameCube
Succeeded by Wii U (system software)

The Wii system software is a set of updatable firmware versions, and a software frontend on the Wii video game console. Updates, which are downloaded via the system's Internet connection (WiiConnect24), allow Nintendo to add additional features and software. When a new update becomes available, Nintendo sends a message to connected systems notifying them of the available update.

Several game discs, both first-party and third-party games, have included system software updates[2] so that players who are not connected to the Internet can still update their system. Additionally this can "force" an upgrade by requiring the player to perform the update, without which the new game cannot be played.[2] Some online games (such as Super Smash Bros. Brawl and Mario Kart Wii) have come with specific extra updates, such as being able to receive posts from game-specific addresses, so, regardless of the version of the installed software, it will install an update.[citation needed]



The Wii's firmware is in the form of IOSes (thought by the Wii homebrew developers to stand for "Input Output Systems" or "Internal Operating Systems"[3][self-published source?] and not to be confused with "iOS", the operating system of Apple's iPhones and iPads), which run on a separate ARM architecture processor to other Wii software (nicknamed Starlet by the Wii homebrew community, as it is physically located inside the graphics chip, the Hollywood, so it is a small part of Hollywood.[citation needed] The patent for the Wii U indicates a similar device which is simply named "Input/Output Processor"[4][improper synthesis?]). These control input and output between the code running on the main processor (the PowerPC "Broadway" processor) and the Wii's hardware features that did not exist on the GameCube, which can only be accessed via the ARM.

When Nintendo releases a new IOS version, except for unusual circumstances (for example security updates to block homebrew), the new IOS does not replace any IOS already installed. Instead, it gets installed in addition to any current IOS versions. All native Wii software (including games distributed on Nintendo optical discs, the System Menu itself, Virtual Console games, WiiWare, and Wii Channels), with the exception of certain homebrew applications, have the IOS version hardcoded into the software.

When the software is run, the IOS that is hardcoded gets loaded by the Wii, which then loads the software itself. If that IOS does not exist on the Wii, in the case of disc-based software, it gets installed automatically (after the user is prompted). With downloaded software, this should not theoretically happen, as the user cannot access the shop to download software unless the player has all the IOS versions that they require. However, if homebrew is used to forcefully install or run a piece of software when the required IOS does not exist, the user is brought back to the system menu.

Nintendo created this system so that new updates wouldn't unintentionally break compatibility with older games, but it does have the side effect that it uses up space on the Wii's internal NAND Flash memory. IOSes are referred to by their number, which can theoretically be between 0 and 254, although many numbers are skipped, presumably being development versions that were never completed.

Only one IOS version can run at any given time. The only time an IOS isn't running is when the Wii enters GameCube backward compatibility mode, during which the Wii runs a variant of IOS specifically for GameCube games, MIOS.

User interface[edit]

The system provides a graphical interface to the Wii's abilities. All games run directly on the Broadway processor, and either directly interface with the hardware (for the hardware common to the Wii and GameCube), or interface with IOS running on the ARM architecture processor (for Wii-specific hardware). The ARM processor does not have access to the screen, and therefore neither does IOS. This means that while a piece of software is running, everything seen on the screen comes from that software, and not from any operating system or firmware. This includes the home menu (a menu of uniform appearance that appears when the home button is pressed in any piece of official Wii software), and any error messages that might appear. Therefore, the version number reported by the Wii is actually only the version number of the System Menu. This is why some updates do not result in a change of the version number: the System Menu itself is not updated, only (for example) IOSes and channels. As a side effect, this means it is impossible for Nintendo to implement any functions that would affect the games themselves, for example an in-game system menu (similar to the Xbox 360's in-game Dashboard or the PlayStation 3's in-game XMB).[5][self-published source?]

The Wii Menu (known internally as the System Menu) is the name of the user interface for the Wii game console, and it is the first thing to be seen when the system boots up. Similar to many other video game consoles, the Wii is not only about games. For example, it is possible to install applications such as Netflix to stream media (without requiring a disc) on the Wii. The Wii Menu let users access both game and no-game functions through built-in applications called Channels, which are designed to represent television channels. There are six primary channels: the Disc Channel, Mii Channel, Photo Channel, Wii Shop Channel, Forecast Channel and News Channel, although the latter two were not initially included and only became available via system updates. Some of the functions provided by these Channels on the Wii used to limited to a computer, such as a full-featured web browser and digital photo viewer. Users can also use Channels to create and share cartoon-like digital avatars called Miis and download new games and Channels directly from the Wii Shop Channel.[6] New Channels include for example the Everybody Votes Channel and the Internet Channel. Separate Channels are graphically displayed in a grid and can be navigated using the pointer capability of the Wii Remote.[7] Users can also rearrange these Channels if they are not satisfied with how the Channels are originally organized on the menu.[8]

Network features[edit]

The Wii system supports wireless connectivity with the Nintendo DS handheld console with no additional accessories. This connectivity allows players to use the Nintendo DS microphone and touch screen as inputs for Wii games. Pokémon Battle Revolution is the first example Nintendo has given of a game using Nintendo DS-Wii connectivity. Nintendo later released the Nintendo Channel for the Wii allowing its users to download game demos or additional data to their Nintendo DS.

Like many other video game consoles, the Wii console is able to connect to the Internet, although this is not required for the Wii system itself to function. Each Wii has its own unique 16-digit Wii Code for use with Wii's non-game features. With Internet connection enabled users are able to access the established Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection service. Wireless encryption by WEP, WPA (TKIP/RC4) and WPA2 (CCMP/AES) is supported.[9] AOSS support was added in System Menu version 3.0.[10] As with the Nintendo DS, Nintendo does not charge for playing via the service;[11][12] the 12-digit Friend Code system controls how players connect to one another. The service has a few features for the console, including the Virtual Console, WiiConnect24 and several Channels. The Wii console can also communicate and connect with other Wii systems through a self-generated wireless LAN, enabling local wireless multiplayer on different television sets. The system also implements console-based software, including the Wii Message Board. One can connect to the Internet with third-party devices as well.[13][14]

The Wii console also includes a web browser known as the Internet Channel, which is a version of the Opera 9 browser with menus. It is meant to be a convenient way to access the web on the television screen, although it is far from offering a comfortable user interface compared with modern Internet browsers. A virtual keyboard pops up when needed for input, and the Wii Remote acts like a mousse, making it possible to click anywhere on the screen and navigate though web links. However, the browser cannot always handle all the features of most normal web pages, although it does support Adobe Flash, thus capable of playing Flash games.[15] Some third-party services such as the online BBC iPlayer were also available on the Wii via the Internet Channel browser, although BBC iPlayer was later relaunched as the separate BBC iPlayer Channel on the Wii.[16] In addition, Internet access including the Internet Channel and system updates may be restricted by the parental controls feature of the Wii.[14]

Backward compatibility[edit]

The original designs of the Nintendo Wii console, more specifically the Wii models made pre-2011 were fully backward compatible with Nintendo GameCube devices including game discs, memory cards and controllers. This was because the Wii hardware had ports for both GameCube memory cards, and peripherals and its slot-loading drive was able to accept and read the previous console's discs. GameCube games work with the Wii without any additional configuration, but a GameCube controller is required to play GameCube titles; neither the Wii Remote nor the Classic Controller functions in this capacity. The Wii supports progressive-scan output in 480p-enabled GameCube titles. Peripherals can be connected via a set of four GameCube controller sockets and two Memory Card slots (concealed by removable flip-open panels).[17] The console retains connectivity with the Game Boy Advance and e-Reader through the Game Boy Advance Cable, which is used in the same manner as with the GameCube; however, this feature can only be accessed on select GameCube titles which previously utilized it.

There are also a few limitations in the backward compatibility. For example, online and LAN features of certain GameCube games were not available since the Wii does not have serial ports for the Nintendo GameCube Broadband Adapter and Modem Adapter.[18] The Wii uses a proprietary port for video output, and is incompatible with all Nintendo GameCube audio/video cables (composite video, S-Video, component video and RGB SCART). The console also lacks the GameCube footprint and high-speed port needed for Game Boy Player support.[19] Furthermore, only GameCube functions were available and only compatible memory cards and controllers could be used when playing a GameCube game. This is due to the fact that the Wii's internal memory would not save GameCube data.

Because of the original device's backward compatibility with earlier Nintendo products players can enjoy a massive selection of older games on the console in addition to hundreds of newer Wii game titles. However, South Korean units lack GameCube backward compatibility.[20][21] Also, the redesigned Wii Family Edition and Wii Mini, launched in 2011 and 2013 respectively, had this compatibility stripped out.[20] Nevertheless, there is another service called Virtual Console which can be used to play a large list of popular titles from the Nintendo 64, Super Nintendo, NES and Game Boy systems as well as some non-Nintendo consoles on the Wii.

List of additional Channels[edit]

This is a list of new Wii Channels released beyond the four initial Channels (i.e. Disc Channel, Mii Channel, Photo Channel and Wii Shop Channel) included in the original consoles. The News Channel and the Forecast Channel were released as part of system updates so separate downloads were not required. As of 28 June 2013, some Channels listed below had been discontinued, which include News Channel, Forecast Channel, Everybody Votes Channel, Check Mii Out Channel (Mii Contest Channel) and Nintendo Channel.

Additional Wii Channels
New Channels added Regions Download Release dates
Amazon Instant Video Channel United States Green tickY 2013-01-17 January 17, 2013
BBC iPlayer Channel United Kingdom Green tickY 2009-11-18 November 18, 2009
Check Mii Out Channel United States Japan Europe Green tickY 2007-11-12 November 12, 2007
Daigasso! Band Brothers DX Speaker Channel Japan Green tickY 2008-06-26 June 26, 2008
Demae Channel Japan Green tickY 2009-05-26 May 26, 2009
Digicam Print Channel Japan Green tickY 2008-07-23 July 23, 2008
Everybody Votes Channel[22] Australia United States Japan Europe Green tickY 2007-02-13 February 13, 2007
Forecast Channel Australia United States Japan Europe Red XN 2006-12-19 December 19, 2006
Hulu Plus Channel United States Green tickY 2012-02-16 February 16, 2012
Internet Channel[23] United States Japan Europe Australia Green tickY 2007-04-11 April 11, 2007
Mario Kart Channel Japan Europe Australia United States Red XN 2008-04-10 April 10, 2008 - April 27, 2008
Metroid Prime 3 Preview Channel United States Europe Green tickY 2007-08-10 August 10, 2007
Netflix Channel United States Canada United Kingdom Republic of Ireland Green tickY 2010-10-18 October 18, 2010 - January 9, 2012
News Channel United States Japan Australia Europe Red XN 2007-01-26 January 26, 2007
Nintendo Channel Japan Green tickY 2007-11-27 November 27, 2007 - May 30, 2008
Television Friend Channel Japan Green tickY 2008-03-04 March 4, 2008
Today and Tomorrow Channel Japan Europe Australia South Korea Green tickY 2008-12-02 December 2, 2008 - September 9, 2009
Wii Fit Channel Japan Europe Australia United States Red XN (except Japan) 2007-12-01 December 1, 2007 - May 21, 2008
Wii no Ma Channel Japan Green tickY 2009-05-01 May 1, 2009
Wii Speak Channel United States Australia Europe Green tickY 2008-12-05 December 5, 2008
YouTube Channel United States United Kingdom Green tickY 2012-11-15 November 15, 2012 - December 10, 2012

History of updates[edit]

This is a list of major system updates of the Wii.

Wii system update releases
System version Regions Release date Note
4.3 United States Japan Europe Australia South Korea June 21, 2010 Final version
4.0 United States Japan Europe Australia March 25, 2009 Notably SDHC support[24]
3.0 United States Japan Europe August 6, 2007
2.0 United States Japan November 30, 2006 First major update
1.0 United States Japan November 19, 2006 Initial release

See also[edit]

Other gaming platforms from Nintendo:

Other gaming platforms from the next generation:

Other gaming platforms from this generation:


  1. ^ System Menu Update History
  2. ^ a b "Guitar Hero 5 Forces Mandatory Wii System Update". 5Frets.com. Retrieved 2009-09-02. 
  3. ^ Bushing (2009-06-30). "IOS: history, build process". HackMii. 
  4. ^ US patent US20110190052, Fig. 2,11a
  5. ^ marcan (2009-02-28). "Why the Wii will never get any better". HackMii. 
  6. ^ "Wii For Dummies", by Kyle Orland, p3-4
  7. ^ "WII Game Creation for Teens", by Michael Duggan, p36
  8. ^ Wii Menu: Rearranging Channels
  9. ^ "Choosing a Wireless Router". Nintendo. Retrieved December 13, 2006. 
  10. ^ Harris, Craig (August 8, 2007). "Overlooked Wii 3.0 Update Function". IGN. Retrieved November 16, 2012. 
  11. ^ "Nintendo hopes Wii spells wiinner". USA Today. August 15, 2006. Retrieved August 16, 2006. 
  12. ^ Johnson, Stephen (July 18, 2006). "Secret Wii Details Revealed". The Feed. G4. Retrieved July 20, 2006. 
  13. ^ "Nyko Net Connect". Game Informer 178:  44. February 2008. 
  14. ^ a b "WII Game Creation for Teens", by Michael Duggan, p38
  15. ^ "Codename Revolution: The Nintendo Wii Platform", by Steven E. Jones, George K. Thiruvathuka, p119-120
  16. ^ "BBC iPlayer launches Wii channel". BBC. November 13, 2009. Retrieved December 26, 2009. 
  17. ^ "Wii: The Total Story". IGN. Retrieved November 20, 2006. 
  18. ^ Why Are Current Consoles Not Backward Compatible?
  19. ^ Falcone, John (December 12, 2006). "Which of my older video games will work on the new consoles?". CNET. Retrieved September 13, 2012. 
  20. ^ a b "New slim Wii announced, won't play GameCube games". Destructoid. Destructoid. Retrieved August 17, 2011. 
  21. ^ 김민규 기자 (April 14, 2008). "한국판 Wii, 타 국가게임 '사용불가'" (in Korean). GameSpot. Archived from the original on June 18, 2008. Retrieved September 25, 2008. 
  22. ^ "Everybody Votes Channel now available". N-Sider.com. 2007-02-14. Retrieved 2009-01-20. 
  23. ^ "Final Internet Channel now available". N-Sider.com. 2007-04-11. Retrieved 2009-01-20. 
  24. ^ Wii upgrades to version 4.0, SDHC card support

External links[edit]