Microsoft's Windows Phone 7: Perfection needed to counter ecosystem worries

Microsoft's Windows Phone 7: Perfection needed to counter ecosystem worries

Summary: The Microsoft Windows Phone 7 update this week had a rough patch and depending on who you believe there are two ways to spin the news: 90 percent of phones were fine or 10 percent failed. How will this Windows Phone 7 update affect consumer perception?

SHARE:

The Microsoft Windows Phone 7 update this week had a rough patch and depending on who you believe there are two ways to spin the news: Either 90 percent of phones were fine or 10 percent failed. The much larger question here is what effect the Windows Phone 7 update will have on consumer perception.

Here's the short version. Microsoft hit send on its first Windows Phone 7 update and 90 percent of folks installed the patch correctly. Ten percent of people had a problem, roughly 5 percent failed due to an Internet connection or storage space. That leaves 5 percent of Windows Phone 7 users with a more serious problem.

For some that more serious problem was turning their Samsung devices into a brick. Microsoft pulled the Samsung update. After 48 hours Microsoft detailed what happened and should get some credit for the transparency.

Mary Jo Foley was documenting the events in real-time, but touched on the big issue about this update right out of the gate.

Windows Phone 7 devices began shipping last October to largely positive reviews. I had a chance to check one out and saw enough to like that I seriously considered making WP7 my first smartphone — and my first Windows phone.

But in the four months since, I’ve begun to waver. And the latest back-and-forth over the first update for WP7 has made me increasingly WP7-shy.

The discussion following her story broke down into predictable camps. People either love Microsoft or they hate it. There are Apple iPhone people. Android people. And a few Windows Phone 7 customers. Frequently, these people yell at each other.

Most of us are in the middle somewhere. This largely silent majority doesn't have religious affiliations with a mobile operating system and could give Windows Phone 7 a chance, but Microsoft has to show it can execute.

BUT.

These fence sitters on Windows Phone 7 (count me in this camp), have the following concerns.

  • Can the Windows Phone 7 ecosystem keep up with Android and iOS?
  • Will Microsoft keep a fast innovation cycle and be able to add new features on the fly?
  • Can we safely bet that we won't look like lepers if we have a Windows Phone 7 device?

The first update for Windows Phone 7 addressed the first and second items. I like Windows Phone 7 and generally think it's a good experience and if it had a few key apps---Sirius for instance---concerns would dissipate. And the Windows Phone 7 commercials, which highlight how you don't have to be a slave to your device and a zillion apps on a 4-inch screen, speak to me.

BUT.

Fence sitters like me need some confidence that Microsoft can deliver a flawless experience. And yes folks, Microsoft has to be flawless. It has to be flawless just to get the Android and iPhone camps to consider a Windows Phone 7 device. How pervasive is this perception? I'd argue it's very pervasive. In the U.S., two-year contracts dominate the wireless market. You have to be confident Microsoft will be in the game. The Nokia deal allays those fears for me, but Microsoft has to give us something more to get consumers to go against the Android/Apple/BlackBerry grain.

Is this fair? Probably not, but it is reality. Microsoft needed a perfect update. And frankly a 90 percent success rate isn't going to cut it. Yes, we know Apple has bricked a few iPhones. Android updates can be messy because carriers control the releases.

Here's the problem: Microsoft needs to counter the perception it is saddled with. Mobile device owners aren't going to tolerate bricks and 5 percent failure rates when there's so much competition in the market. Microsoft may be able to have a 90 percent success rate in PCs because it dominates the market. The company is an underdog in the mobile market.

Some folks will forge ahead with Windows Phone 7, but most of us will wait. Microsoft needs to win us over. Prove to us you know this mobile cycle, which the software giant completely missed last time around. In the game of perception, this week's Windows Phone 7 update didn't help Microsoft's cause no matter how you spin it. Fence sitters will watch the next update. Microsoft has to win over this guy from the talkbacks.

I have to agree that this mess has scared me a bit about WP7. I was just saying yesterday that the pace of updates for WP7 has me worried about purchasing one, and then today I hear about this fiasco for the Omnia.

And while I agree that this appears to not just be a Microsoft issue, since only Omnia's with certain firmware appear to be affected, it still scares me. What phone is next to have a problem, after all? Hey, based on the phone design, the Omnia would have been one of my first choices for a WP7 purchase.

Bottom line: Microsoft needs to stick the landing on its next Windows Phone 7 update.

Related:

Topics: Software, Microsoft, Mobility, Operating Systems, Windows

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.

Talkback

71 comments
Log in or register to join the discussion
  • WP7 needs a tighter OEM chassis

    It is certainly Microsoft's fault for the chassis' ineffectiveness to prevent issues like this, but I have a hunch it might be more than it seems. Samsung has had a slew of update issues in the past and ironically this week Sprint pulled the Froyo update because it was causing "sloth" like data connectivity and sd card issues. This is for 2.2?? Wasn't that released in June last year? Point being, something smells fishy Samsung... something smells fishy indeed.
    DezinHiro
    • Windows Phone 7 will end up being discontinued, just like Kin

      @DezinHiro This is Microsoft's fault. Entirely.

      Microsoft should have tested the update with Samsung handsets. Microsoft failed in testing, and failed at having enough OS backups and safeguards.

      Microsoft moves from one mobile fiasco to the next.

      Not long ago, there were strange data leaks causing excess data charges to be billed to Windows Phone 7 users. Microsoft blamed Yahoo. Yahoo blamed Microsoft.

      Before that it was the Kin disaster.

      Before that it was the Microsoft 'Sidekick' phone data loss disaster.

      Those previous Microsoft phone platforms got discontinued because of Microsoft debacles. Windows Phone 7 has had lackluster and declining sales, and will get discontinued like Microsoft's other mobile platforms. The debacles keep coming.
      Vbitrate
      • RE: Microsoft's Windows Phone 7: Perfection needed to counter ecosystem worries

        @zndac

        Corrections:
        - The data leak issue was in-fact cause by Yahoo Mail.
        - "Windows Phone 7 has had lackluster and declining sales" you need to back that up with facts and as of yet there are none.
        NPGMBR
      • RE: Microsoft's Windows Phone 7: Perfection needed to counter ecosystem worries

        @zndac

        Wp7 a real DISASTER
        Sultansulan
      • RE: Microsoft's Windows Phone 7: Perfection needed to counter ecosystem worries

        @NPGMBR - As to the sales question we know that Microsoft said 2 million licenses sold after 3 months. If we assume all these licenses were put on handsets and all these handsets were sold into the channel that's 2 million handsets in the channel over 3 months. If all the manufacturers are running super tight (Apple-like if you will) inventory / channel management systems they will need about 4 weeks of inventory (minimum) to "fill" the channel. <br><br>So that would give us 500,000 sold per month (3 months) plus 500,000 channel fill for a total of 2 million. That includes what should be blockbuster months - product launch and holiday buying, and assumes everyone is running super efficient well oiled supply chains. 6 million phones a year, spead over a dozen or so handsets, is not impressive.
        rbgaynor
      • RE: Microsoft's Windows Phone 7: Perfection needed to counter ecosystem worries

        @zndac Then is it Google's fault the nearly one year old Android 2.2 update had to be pulled from a Sprint device? You anti-MS people kill me. :-)
        Tiggster
      • Guess I won't go iPhone either. CR doesn't recommend it

        @zndac
        http://www2.wsls.com/business/2011/feb/25/consumer-reports-verizon-iphone-has-antenna-issue-ar-868125/

        even the new VZN version sucks. Guess it really wasn't the network after all.
        Will Farrell
    • RE: Microsoft's Windows Phone 7: Perfection needed to counter ecosystem worries

      @DezinHiro

      SHOW US THE SALE NUMBERS MICROSOFT......................
      Sultansulan
    • RE: Microsoft's Windows Phone 7: Perfection needed to counter ecosystem worries

      @DezinHiro I think you are right. Samsung IMO is the culprit. It's a regular affair that their phones getted bricked with updates while other manufacturers seem to have the issue less. My perfectly good backup worldphone, a Samsung Saga, got bricked from an update on WM 6.1 for instance. That was a very straight forward flash.
      LarsDennert
      • RE: Microsoft's Windows Phone 7: Perfection needed to counter ecosystem worries

        @LarsDennert I have a Samsung Moment and this is the second Samsung phone I have had that is a POS (first was a flip phone about 8 years ago). Love Android, hate Samsung phones.
        jabster17
    • I should know better than to read comments

      @DezinHiro
      It always gets my blood pressure up and disturbs me that the IQ of most posters seems to be in the low double digits.
      Wishing failure upon any product or platform seems so childish. FYI though, when MS gets an update ready, they send it to the OEMs who apply their own testing to it. The carriers also get the phones with the new S/W on it so they test also. This is not a MS only problem for sure. I'd guess that some older firmwares from Samsung Omnia 7 devices had introduced an anomoly that fails the update process but those particular devices were not tested comprehensively (since it could be an interaction between the firmware and some other S/W too).

      Having problems with S/W is inevitable for every company, the mark of their success is how they handle it.
      PhoneBiz
  • Perfection....is...IMPOSSIBLE!!

    This device is major FAIL on all fronts. Nothing left to do but kill this product.
    james347
    • If perfection is the objective, and the follow-up is to kill the imperfect

      product, then, I'm thinking you've probably shot yourself in the head by now and you won't be able to read this.
      adornoe
      • RE: Microsoft's Windows Phone 7: Perfection needed to counter ecosystem worries

        @adornoe@...
        Hey with you there bro... Kill 'em trolls - stone dead!!
        Bob Wya
  • Microsoft lost me!

    I was 100% certain that I was going to get a WP7 device this year. However, Microsoft's inability to deliver in so many areas, like tablets has driven me into Apple's arms. From what I can see the medium business sector is increasingly losing interest in Microsoft as well.

    Microsoft will continue to be a great company and every now and then they'll do something that will blow us away, but the fact that they're slow to deliver is going to be their greatest downfall. A new CEO would probably give the company a new and better image.
    General C#
    • RE: Microsoft's Windows Phone 7: Perfection needed to counter ecosystem worries

      @General C#

      I don't really agree. I went to Android and it's nothing special. Besides the few great Google apps, the OS is clunky and unstable. I can honestly say that besides the "hardware" improvements and google navigator, its no better than my WM6.5 phone. Concerning tablets, I haven't seen a real reason to get one besides for the "toy factor". I'd much rather carry around my Acer Timeline laptop that has a full Win7 OS, is light, and more than plenty battery life.

      I agree that they currently have a horrible image. They still have great stuff but I miss BillG :(
      DezinHiro
      • RE: Microsoft's Windows Phone 7: Perfection needed to counter ecosystem worries

        @DezinHiro I second that. Android is nothing special - very functional but a bit dull. My next phone will probably not be android.
        RonanSail
      • RE: Microsoft's Windows Phone 7: Perfection needed to counter ecosystem worries

        @DezinHiro
        I agree with that. I got new Atrix 4G only 3 days back and it already crashed on me 3 times. The phone gets warmer and warmer and finally hot. I can't keep it in pant pocket to hurt my sensitive parts. Could be bad device, but thats it.
        Ram U
      • RE: Microsoft's Windows Phone 7: Perfection needed to counter ecosystem worries

        @DezinHiro

        I have to agree that Android is nothing special. I went from Symbian to Android, and for me, Symbian was actually better. Symbian had a complex UI that puzzled a lot of users, and using buttons was tedious for some apps, like web browsing. Still, underneath the ageing and complex UI, Symbian was better at the basic things I use a mobile for than Android (except web browsing and a few apps).

        My first Android mobile will almost certainly be my last. I don't yet know what I'll buy to replace it, but I'm at least considering Windows Phone -- along with iPhone, BlackBerry and maybe even one last Symbian mobile until the dust from the MS/Nokia deal settles.
        WilErz
      • RE: Microsoft's Windows Phone 7: Perfection needed to counter ecosystem worries

        @DezinHiro Crap, how can I installa WP7 on my Samsun Galaxy S :P
        pepe-el-Toro