Wii system software
The Wii system software is a set of updatable firmware versions and a software frontend on the Wii home video game console. Updates, which were downloaded via the system's Internet connection (WiiConnect24, discontinued), allowed Nintendo to add additional features and software. When a new update became available Nintendo sent a message to connected systems notifying them of the available update.
|Written in||C, C++ and HTML for settings|
|OS family||Nintendo proprietary|
|Source model||Closed source|
|Initial release||1.0 / November 19, 2006|
|Latest release||4.3 / September 7, 2010|
|Available in||American English, British English, European French, Canadian French, German, Italian, Latin American Spanish, European Spanish, Italian, Dutch, Japanese, Traditional Chinese, Simplified Chinese, Korean|
|Update method||Direct Download|
|Platforms||Wii, Wii U|
|Succeeded by||Wii U system software|
Several game discs, both first-party and third-party games, have included system software updates 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. 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.
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" 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 ATI Hollywood, so it is a small part of Hollywood. The patent for the Wii U indicates a similar device which is simply named "Input/Output Processor"). These control input and output between the code running on the main processor (the IBM 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 would not 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 is not running is when the Wii enters GameCube backward compatibility mode, during which the Wii runs a variant of IOS specifically for GameCube games, MIOS which contains a modified version of the GameCube's IPL.
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. 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).
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 be 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. 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. Users can also rearrange these Channels if they are not satisfied with how the Channels are originally organized on the menu.
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. AOSS support was added in System Menu version 3.0. As with the Nintendo DS, Nintendo does not charge for playing via the service; 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.
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 mouse, 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. 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. In addition, Internet access including the Internet Channel and system updates may be restricted by the parental controls feature of the Wii.
The original designs of the Nintendo Wii console, more specifically the Wii models made pre-2011 were fully backward compatible with 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 or 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). 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. 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. 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. Also, the redesigned Wii Family Edition and Wii Mini, launched in 2011 and 2013 respectively, had this compatibility stripped out. Nevertheless, there is another service called Virtual Console which allow users to download older games from prior Nintendo platforms (namely the Nintendo Entertainment System, Super NES and Nintendo 64) onto their Wii console, as well as games from non-Nintendo platforms such as the Genesis and TurboGrafx-16.
List of additional Channels
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 January 30, 2019, all channels listed below have been discontinued with the exception of the Wii Fit Channel and the Internet Channel.
|New channels added||Regions||Download||Released||Discontinued|
|Amazon Instant Video Channel||January 17, 2013||January 30, 2019|
|BBC iPlayer Channel||November 18, 2009||February 10, 2015|
|Check Mii Out Channel||November 12, 2007||June 28, 2013|
|Crunchyroll Channel||October 15, 2015||May 5, 2017|
|Daigasso! Band Brothers DX Speaker Channel||June 26, 2008||Permanent channel|
|Demae Channel||May 26, 2009||March 31, 2017|
|Digicam Print Channel||July 23, 2008||June 28, 2013|
|Everybody Votes Channel||February 13, 2007||June 28, 2013|
|Forecast Channel||December 19, 2006||June 28, 2013|
|Hulu Plus Channel||February 16, 2012||January 30, 2019|
|Internet Channel||April 11, 2007||Permanent channel|
|Mario Kart Channel||April 10, 2008 - April 27, 2008||Reduced functionality after May 20, 2014|
|Metroid Prime 3 Preview Channel||August 10, 2007||2008|
|Netflix Channel||October 18, 2010 - January 9, 2012||January 30, 2019|
|News Channel||January 26, 2007||June 28, 2013|
|Nintendo Channel||November 27, 2007 - May 30, 2008||June 28, 2013|
|Television Friend Channel||March 4, 2008||July 24, 2011|
|Today and Tomorrow Channel||December 2, 2008 - September 9, 2009||Permanent channel, no longer obtainable|
|Wii Fit Channel||December 1, 2007 - May 21, 2008||Permanent channel|
|Wii no Ma||May 1, 2009||April 30, 2012|
|Wii Speak Channel||December 5, 2008||May 20, 2014|
|YouTube Channel||November 15, 2012 - December 10, 2012||June 30, 2017|
History of updates
Wii System Update releases
This is a list of features included in Wii's System Updates.
|System Menu Version||Date Released||Region||Channel updated and description of update||Days until next version update (worldwide)|
|4.3||November 18, 2012||
|September 7, 2010||
|June 21, 2010||
|4.2||September 28, 2009||
|4.1||July 30, 2009||
|July 15, 2009|
|July 3, 2009|
|4.0||March 25, 2009||
|3.5||March 3, 2009||22 days|
|3.4||November 17, 2008||86 days|
|3.3||November 12, 2008||
|October 23, 2008||
|July 22, 2008||
|June 17, 2008||
|3.2||March 21, 2008||113 days|
|March 20, 2008|
|February 25, 2008||
|3.1||January 30, 2008||
|December 10, 2007||
|October 10, 2007||
|3.0||August 6, 2007||
|2.2||April 11, 2007||
|2.1||January 26, 2007||
|January 10, 2007||
|2.0||December 19, 2006||
|November 30, 2006||
|1.0||November 19, 2006||11 days|
Wii Channel releases and updates
This is a list of the updates and releases of Wii Channels.
§ = Released as part of a system update so a separate download is not required.
|Date Released||Region||Download||Channel updated and description of update|
|January 30, 2019||N/A||
|July 31, 2018||N/A||
|March 26, 2018||N/A||
|June 30, 2017||N/A||
|May 5, 2017||N/A||
|March 31, 2017||N/A||
|October 15, 2015||
|February 17, 2015||N/A||
|May 20, 2014||N/A||
|June 28, 2013||N/A||
|January 17, 2013||
|December 10, 2012||
|November 15, 2012||
|February 16, 2012||
|July 24, 2011||N/A||
|March 16, 2011||
|March 9, 2011||
|October 18, 2010||
|January 9, 2012|
|November 18, 2009||
|October 20, 2009||
|September 9, 2009||
|September 1, 2009||
|September 14, 2009||
|July 15, 2009|
|May 26, 2009||
|May 1, 2009||
|December 5, 2008||
|December 2, 2008||
|November 18, 2008||
|November 18, 2008||
|July 23, 2008||
|June 26, 2008|
|April 27, 2008||
|April 24, 2008|
|April 11, 2008|
|April 10, 2008|
|March 4, 2008||
|January 30, 2008||
|December 20, 2007||
|10 December 2007||
|May 21, 2008||
|May 8, 2008|
|April 25, 2008|
|December 1, 2007|
|May 30, 2008||
|May 7, 2008|
|November 27, 2007|
|November 12, 2007||
|October 10, 2007|
|August 10, 2007||
|August 6, 2007|
|April 11, 2007||
|February 13, 2007||
|January 26, 2007||
|December 22, 2006||
|December 19, 2006||
Other gaming platforms from Nintendo:
- Nintendo 3DS system software
- Nintendo DSi system software
- Wii U system software
- Nintendo Switch system software
Other gaming platforms from the next generation:
Other gaming platforms from this generation:
- System Menu Update History
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