Microsoft's Windows Phone 7 launch: Hampered by AT&T, T-Mobile?

Microsoft's Windows Phone 7 launch: Hampered by AT&T, T-Mobile?

Summary: Microsoft's Windows Phone 7 devices will land in the fourth quarter, but only on GSM networks initially. Why restrict a launch to the two worst carriers in the U.S. based on call quality?

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Microsoft's Windows Phone 7 devices will land in the fourth quarter, but only on GSM networks initially. Is a delayed launch on Verizon Wireless and Sprint such a hot idea?

As CNet News and Bloomberg report, Verizon Wireless won't be a launch partner for Windows Phone 7 devices. Those devices, which need to be fashioned for CDMA networks, will come later in the first half of 2011.

I noted on Twitter that this trade-off to launch on two likely U.S. carriers instead of all four may be a miscalculation. Some folks supported the decision and said a global launch is better than having four launch carriers in the U.S. The issue: Windows Phone 7 carriers happen to have the worst call quality. You can almost hear the dropped call complaints coming now. In the Northeast, an AT&T or T-Mobile device basically rules a Windows Phone 7 device out for me. And the OS was going to be considered with my expiring Verizon Wireless contract.

Here's the J.D. Power graphic on AT&T and T-Mobile call quality in my neck of the country.

No thanks. Meanwhile, those call quality ratings are the same in most regions, except for the North Central U.S. Simply put, all those folks in Wisconsin are going to have a rock solid network for their Windows Phone 7 devices.

Related; Microsoft talking 'major rewrite' of Windows Phone operating system?

Microsoft made the point that the majority of global phones are GSM and that's a fine argument. On paper, Microsoft's trade-off makes perfect sense. But here's the problem: Microsoft can't afford a so-so U.S. launch. And success in the U.S. often carries over abroad. Microsoft's GSM first decision is a bit Nokia-ish. Focus on the globe and put the U.S. at risk. It hasn't quite worked out so well for Nokia.

Others will argue that limiting the iPhone to just AT&T worked out just fine. And Apple's all-GSM focus has paid off around the world. However, Microsoft can't generate that Apple buzz and loyalty. People will buy an iPhone in the U.S. even if the damn thing can't hold a call for more than 3 minutes (and generally it can't). Do you really think consumers will do that for Windows Phone 7 devices?

If Windows Phone 7 is really as promising as some folks say Microsoft should want all the distribution possible. Take Samsung. Its Android devices are everywhere. It launched a tablet with all four carriers on Thursday. That's how you take share. You don't handicap a launch by picking the two worst carriers for call quality. In the end, no one cares if the phone is GSM or CDMA, they just want it to work.

Topics: AT&T, Hardware, Microsoft, Mobility, Operating Systems, Software, Windows

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22 comments
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  • Too bad

    I was holding off getting an Evo waiting to see what the WP7 for Sprint would be like but I can't wait into the next year. Oh well, it is too bad that they are launching on the 2 worst rated(according to the graph you posted) companies in the US.
    tommcd64
    • RE: Microsoft's Windows Phone 7 launch: Hampered by AT&T, T-Mobile?

      @tommcd64 That graph only shows the northeast region. So that would the 2 worst rated in the northeast. Southeast, where I live, T-mobile looks pretty good. But WP7 is not something I want to spend my money on to beta test. Maybe the next release with cut and paste and multiprocessing will get my money but only if it also has microSD card storage. It's either a G2 or Galaxy Tab next for me.
      marbo100
      • Wow talk about a beta test. android is way less stable and needs restarting

        all the time. if tmobile is good where you are you should go WP7. You will get upgraded to the new features for free when they do the 7.1 etc. in a couple months...
        Johnny Vegas
        • RE: Microsoft's Windows Phone 7 launch: Hampered by AT&T, T-Mobile?

          @Johnny Vegas How are they gonna cut the microSD slot in the phone after I buy it? Do I have to send it in or will they come out to my place? o_O
          marbo100
  • A different point of view

    I don't know, since in almost 4 yrs of having an AT&T device (Samsung Blackjack, originally on Cingular) I have had zero dropped calls, and I don't live in Wisconsin.
    When you look at "global" coverage, you're looking at GSM. Maybe it's time Verizon and Sprint took a hint and adopted GSM? It can make a person wonder why they don't.
    As I mentioned in a prior blog post in regards to the graphic bars, if you remove the bars and look at just numbers, and not just regional, then all the networks have issues that should be addressed.
    One last question is how many of those "dropped calls" are due to faulty equipment (dead, dying battery, calling while travelling in motor vehicle, inside buildings, etc.) and actually have nothing to do with "the network"?
    wizard57m-cnet
    • RE: Microsoft's Windows Phone 7 launch: Hampered by AT&T, T-Mobile?

      @wizard57m@... CDMA has a better signal range per tower than GSM and the CDMA network has already been built out and is mature. It does have some technical trade offs but the coverage is very good. A lot of other countries adopted GSM because they don't have large ground coverage so they can get away with GSM signla towers.

      I fully admit that CDMA is older tech and doesn't do some of the things GSM does but for calls and texting it offers great signal coverage at speeds a human really can keep up with anyway.

      I don't have any inside info at Verizon but it is possible they might skip GSM all together and go Wi-Max if the technolgoy proves itself.
      mr1972
      • Other countries don't have large ground coverage???

        @mr1972 That is the most stupid BS that anybody can make up on the fly in this forums.
        wackoae
      • RE: Microsoft's Windows Phone 7 launch: Hampered by AT&T, T-Mobile?

        @mr1972

        Perhaps you should move to Australia and find out about real long distance comms.

        CDMA - already switched off.
        tonymcs@...
  • Hasn't hampered the iPhone

    Has it?

    WinPhone 7 will fail on it's own and won't need any help.
    itguy08
  • RE: Microsoft's Windows Phone 7 launch: Hampered by AT&T, T-Mobile?

    As a Verizon customer I just may have to wait until next year for when they get the WP7 phones. I do wish they would have released it to Verizon on launch day. That's not going to stop me from going to AT&T and T-Mobile stores just to play with them, let the sales guy think he is getting a sale, then tell him no thanks. Then I wait for Verizon to get it. Its almost too good of a plan!
    Loverock Davidson
    • RE: Microsoft's Windows Phone 7 launch: Hampered by AT&T, T-Mobile?

      @Loverock Davidson Ha. I'm waiting for something LTE compatible. First OS to that wins.
      Larry Dignan
      • RE: Microsoft's Windows Phone 7 launch: Hampered by AT&T, T-Mobile?

        @Larry Dignan Even if it's not Windows Phone?
        tehpea
  • RE: Microsoft's Windows Phone 7 launch: Hampered by AT&T, T-Mobile?

    Smartphones require GSM to work at this time because of CDMA's inabiltiy for Voice and Data at the same time. This pretty much rules CDMA in its current state out for a true smartphone OS. I don't even really think it is possible to have a smartphone on Verizon because they have to cripple the phone everytime it needs to use voice.

    I think this is smart for MS, would be silly to roll out an OS like this on a network that cannot truly support it.
    incendy
  • Lucky To Have Any Network

    After the fail of Kin, they are lucky that anyone is picking this up. Wouldn't count on WP7 being around long enough to get CDMA.
    Stephen.Smith@...
    • the kin fail was verizons fault not microsofts

      everybody who used one loved its cool features...
      Johnny Vegas
      • Everybody???

        @Johnny Vegas You are so pathetically a fanboy that ignore the fact that barely 800 Kins were sold over a 2 month period.
        Do you actually know anybody with a Kin?? NOBODY does, because the 800 that wasted their money are ashamed to even show them in public.
        wackoae
      • RE: Microsoft's Windows Phone 7 launch: Hampered by AT&T, T-Mobile?

        @Johnny Vegas

        Like what? It's got a horrible UI, is missing features and generally a Me-too compared to iOS and Android.
        itguy08
      • Yeah...

        all three of them.
        jasonp@...
    • RE: Microsoft's Windows Phone 7 launch: Hampered by AT&T, T-Mobile?

      @Stephen.Smith@...

      Indeed, by the same logic, after the failure of the Motorola Rokr, the first Apple attempt at a phone, I don't know why anyone would bother with the iPhone
      Doctor Demento
      • Yes, because 800 is about the same as 1M

        Because ~800 sold is just the same kind of failure as selling millions.
        wackoae