Editorial – Microsoft hands power back to the networks?


I’m worried, and I’ll tell you why. Back in 2002 Microsoft emailed me after reading some of the stuff I’d put on the web. The first Microsoft Smartphones were hitting the market and I’d added some critical but constructive posted about it. They respected this, and they wanted to hear the feedback from you guys – the community – about how their handsets were performing.

It was the start of an amazing ride. I’ve stood feet away from Bill Gates, I’ve met some amazing people and I’ve spoken to the real, actual people who designed, built and tweaked the OS. They listened, they were interested and it was a real open floor.

Years later and “that iPhone” was born. Things drifted, changes weren’t made, OS updates were few and fat between… and usually removed all of your for. Windows Mobile got stale. Oh, and let’s not mention the Kin… But finally, and far too late in my opinion, Windows Phone was born. Windows Phone 7 was good. Windows Phone 7.5 (Mango) was far better. The Nokia deal brought us the Lumia handsets and the marketing campaign exploded onto our TV’s.

We were told that you don’t have to worry about networks putting blocks in place. Your phone will get the update and you will have the latest version of the OS. When Windows Phone 7 first appeared, we figured that Microsoft would be driving, just like Apple does.

Things, though, are continuing to change. That open channel of communication I’ve used with Microsoft is closed. I can no longer tell Microsoft what you love and what you don’t love. The central “Where’s My Update?” page that Microsoft added for Windows Phone customers is being removed and they’ve left us with a potentially disappointing reason…

This week we started to make a new Windows Phone update —8107— available to many Windows Phone customers. The update, available to all carriers that request it, is part of our ongoing maintenance of Windows Phone.

Questions are now being asked about the “to all carriers that request it” part and this point alone has caused a huge negative response in the Windows Team Blog. We hope it’s just badly worded, because this alone at least sounds like Microsoft are letting carriers / networks trigger updates when they want, instead of the other way around.

If it is as it seems, this leads us onto question number two. Is that “networks can block one update cycle but the update will roll in the next cycle”-rule still in place?

The “Where’s My Update” page was a way of finding out where you, the consumer, stood in the queue. It may have been pulled because it could have inadvertently portrayed partners in a bad light because certain phones may get the update later than others.

I’m sticking my neck on the line here, but there’s something going wrong at Microsoft. It’s not just this recent decision to seemingly let networks call the “update shots”. It’s not just the fact that the community no longer seems to matter. It’s not just the fact that you can’t see when an update is about to arrive. It’s not even the fact that the latest update of Windows Phone 7.5 is “7.10.8107″. Heck, it’s not the OS either, because the OS is good. There’s something very wrong here, and it’s a combination of decisions that I just can’t agree and really don’t understand.

Android updates can be as bad. Updating can be a hit-and-miss affair but Android phones and tablets almost attack you when you enter a phone shop or the supermarket. Meanwhile iPhone handsets update perfectly, but when a potential signal problem came along they continued to sell handsets by the boat load. There’s a loyalty there, a brand, an acceptance to some degree.

Microsoft, if you’re out there, look at the comments on your own site. Listen to your customers. You do not have the luxury of a massive user-base and a myriad of manufacturers. Listen now. Listen hard.

Link – Windows Team Blog

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  • Simon

    They seem to be trying to be all secretive like apple these days. I’m a recent WP7.5 covert (Titan) but am worried by how incapable MS seem to be when it comes to letting people know how good thus OS is and helping current users to get the best out of it.

  • Anonymous

    Let’s face it, they’ve failed. Would windows mobile have been so popular without HTC making cutting edge phones, and a huge community developing it? No.
    Windows mobile is no longer cutting edge and neither are HTC phones.
    Ask most people willing to pay hundreds for a phone their opinion of Nokia, and its not good.
    So they’ve got a ‘crap’ phone manufacturer on board with no ground breaking software or major community behind it.
    I think their future lies in budget to mid range mobile and that is all.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_TD2LEZYY7OSZLLXKIIXBPDKNNA Vito Meingold

    You is wrong to say “…Microsoft are letting carriers….”

  • English is easy

    You are wrong to say “You is wrong to say”

  • Aran

    I like Windows Phone 7.whatever. I have it on a Samsung Omnia 7 and it’s overall a really nice phone experience. Yes I have some niggles (would love to have a choice of keyboards, would love some form of flash support as its browser us one of its weakest points in my opinion) but overall it’s a cool phone.

    I have to agree that Microsofts handling of this situation is a concern. An odd direction took intentionally take, let’s hope they realise that to engender an envious ‘that’s gonna be my next phone’feeling in people you need people actually owning the phones extolling there benefits. I do really enjoy my Omnia 7, going to boot it up now and check for updates… (I’m on T-Mobile and will report back here later today)

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_EN3ES2X36VEOKFGL3ECBBIRXDI Gabriel

    Funny reading this, cos only yesterday I thought I might make jump to Windows Phone. Have HTC Desire for nearly 2 years, but was tempted by new user interface of Windows Phone, as well as tight integration of Microsoft Office (still wondering what that’s like though). I was also attracted by the network carrier-independent upgrade cycle (i.e. can get HTC phone but be reassured software update was coming all the same, unlike on Android). This story puts me off quite a bit.

    For now, I’m sticking with HTC Desire and keeping money in pocket…

  • Ray Rahman

    I for one would be very disapointed if they were ti let the networks choose when to update….. after waiting for months for T-Mobile to update the Omnia 7 to Windows 7.5 !!

    I ended up flashing a new rom to get the update, I would like to think that if this did happen then the carrier free roms would be more popular and we may see a vast amount of people “flashing”

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_EN3ES2X36VEOKFGL3ECBBIRXDI Gabriel

    You may be right, but only a small minority are happy to flash their own ROMs. The vast majority of the public will just go and buy an Android or iPhone.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_EN3ES2X36VEOKFGL3ECBBIRXDI Gabriel

    (then again, the vast majority of people probably aren’t too fussed about being on latest version of OS as long as phone just works for them.

  • Anonymous

    This just highlights the lack power of MS have when it comes to the networks as compared to Apple. WIth the iPhone the networks are the ones that have to jump through hopps to get it and accept Apple’s terms. With Windows Phone, no matter how good it is, MS are beholden to the whims of the carriers. 

    They do seem like they’re trying to do the right thing but for some reason they just don’t have the backbone/leverage to implement on their vision. Why can’t they just throw money at the problem (the carriers) as is their normal wont. 

    It’s quite surprising after the Mango update went so smoothly for all devices.