Almost exactly a year after the device first received an update to Froyo, the venerable HTC Desire now has an official Android 2.3 Gingerbread update available. The update is provided in the form of a RUU (ROM Update Utility) directly from HTC's Developer Center.
In order to fit Gingerbread and HTC Sense onto the Desire's tiny 512MB of internal storage, HTC has removed certain bundled apps form the update. The updater will also eradicate any carrier-specific branding or applications that might be loaded onto your Desire, which for some may be reason enough to update. Because of the nature of the update, HTC won't be offering it over-the-air, instead the only way to get it will be via a manual install of the package on the developer site. And because the installation method is a little more complex then the usual OTA, HTC recommends the Gingerbread update for "expert users only".
Unfortunately, though, Desire owners in Germany, North America, South America, South Korea, and Japan are out of luck. HTC says that Desires in these territories aren't supported, and applying the update on an unsupported device may result in the loss of basic functionality like SMS and MMS.
So to break it down, here's what you'll get if you choose to apply the update --
Android 2.3.3 Gingerbread (yay!) on top of a tweaked version of HTC Sense 1.0.
A clean, de-branded phone. All user data will be removed during the update, as will any bloatware bundled apps from your carrier.
Just one pre-loaded wallpaper. The rest are included in a zip file inside the updater package.
Flashlight, Teeter, Facebook are no longer pre-loaded. The first two are included as apk files in the update package, while the latter is available from the Android Market after initial setup.
Kudos to HTC for providing a way for advanced users to enjoy Gingerbread with a minimal amount of fuss and lost functionality (we doubt anyone will lose any sleep over having to sideload Teeter and the Flashlight app). If you've taken the plunge and updated your Desire using the RUU, let us know how it went in the comments. In the meantime, you can grab the files for yourself from the source link below, or check out HTC's full release notes after the jump.