I have had an original unlocked and unbranded HTC Desire for more than a year, and it’s still a very fast and capable smartphone.

HTC were quick to upgrade it from 2.1 to 2.2 Froyo, and getting those new features have helped to keep the phone ‘fresh’, as it were, for the first six months or so. However, since the upgrade to Froyo last summer, there has been little sign of HTC keeping the original Desire up to speed with the latest and greatest Android releases. In the last week HTC announced via Facebook that they would not be releasing Android 2.3 for the Desire due to the lack of internal memory. Their HTC Sense modification to Android is too big to fit on the phone. A shame, as incremental Android updates can fix bugs and make many usability improvements. For a device that you have with you every day and use frequently, it’s a big deal.

Making that announcement via Facebook, the largest social network in the world, I wonder if HTC are now somewhat regretting that idea. The uproar was pretty impressive. Hundreds of negative quotes later, as well as a generating a great deal of interest from the technology press and blogosphere, it would seem that HTC have rethought the idea:

To resolve Desire’s memory issue and enable the upgrade to Gingerbread, we will cut select apps from the release. Look for status updates starting next week. We apologize for any confusion. (link)

So, HTC Desire users, you will have your Gingerbread and eat it.

What about the alternatives?

The official HTC release of Android 2.3 Gingerbread with HTC Sense isn’t the only option. Personally, I’d become rather bored of the Sense interface, and the amount of space that it took up on my phone. I had very little memory to play with, and had to be very careful with how many apps I could install. Despite Android 2.2 allowing installing to the SD card, not all of the application is moved, and some apps couldn’t be moved in any way (Twitter, Facebook). So not ideal. What are the alternatives?

Enter Unrevoked to ‘root’ my phone (and allow changes to be made) and Cyanogenmod, a tweaked version of Android customised by a community of enthusiasts. At the time of writing, Cyanogen is at 7.0.3, and the latest and greatest version of Android is running on my HTC Desire. It’s like having a new phone.

Everything can be installed to the SD card. There’s no tacky Sense interface. It’s refreshing.

Installing Cyanogen isn’t for the faint-hearted or for the computer novice, but if you’re feeling brave, it’s definitely worth trying.

So, if you want Gingerbread on your original HTC Desire today, and you don’t mind the stock Android interface (which is rather excellent) then head over to http://www.cyanogenmod.com/ and give it a go.