Microsoft: It's business as usual with Windows Phone updates

Microsoft: It's business as usual with Windows Phone updates

Summary: 'Nothing has changed in regard to how we work with carriers to deliver Windows Phone updates to our customers,' maintained a Microsoft official following a change in Microsoft's update disclosure policy.

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Microsoft's January 6 blog post notifying users of a change in communications policies around Windows Phone set off a negative chain reaction of epic proportions.

But things may not be as different -- or dire -- as some believe, at least according to the Softies.

Here's the back story: According to late-night (ET) post on January 6 on the Windows Phone blog, Microsoft plans, going forward to no longer be "individually detailing country, model, and carrier details on the Where’s My Phone Update? site. Instead, "the official Windows Phone website will be the primary place for news and information about our updates." This change was accompanied by an acknowledgement by the WP team that while Microsoft had delivered its so-called "disappearing keyboard" update to carriers, it was up to carriers to decide when and whether to push the update to users.

Cue the negative fallout. Windows Phone users shot back on Twitter, the comments on the Windows Phone blog and elsewhere that they felt betrayed and abandoned by Microsoft -- especially after Microsoft officials had made much of the fact that Windows Phone had a more transparent and assured path to receiving updates than Android users did.

"Nothing has changed in regard to how we work with carriers to deliver Windows Phone updates to our customers," maintained Greg Sullivan, Senior Product Manager on Windows Phone with whom I spoke by phone on January 7.

The word is Microsoft's policies and procedures around how the company develops updates, delivers them to carriers for testing and delivers them to customers is exactly the same as it was a year ago. If a carrier decides to hold off on delivering a particular service update, it will bundle it into the subsequent update it rolls out to customers.

Regarding Microsoft's decision to no longer update the "Where's My Windows Phone Update?" page with country, model and carrier specifics, there's been no carrier push-back leading to the decision, based on my conversation with Sullivan. The original reason Microsoft created the update table was to repair damaged customer trust after the bad "NoDo" update experience. The claim: If Microsoft were to continue adding each and every new phone model and new carrier relationship, the Windows Phone Update table would have become unwieldy.

Yes, Microsoft's decision to add service updates and not just major operating system releases to the table did create customer expectations that this would be the way things worked, going forward. But if there are any more updates to the Windows Phone Update page, it sounds like it will be only major operating system releases (like the expected Tango and Apollo), and not any of the interim service updates, firmware updates or patches for particular phone models.

I'm just the messenger here, so don't shoot me. But after hearing from Sullivan, I'm willing to give Microsoft a chance to prove that we early Windows Phone adopters won't get the shaft from the carriers. But I will say the "disappearing keyboard update" sounds like it should go to all of us with Windows Phones. If a fix to the SMS-messaging bug that provided a scare late last year is going to follow shortly, I won't be mad if I have to wait a bit longer for both updates. But I won't be a happy Windows Phone user if I don't get any more Windows Phone updates until the next time Microsoft releases a new operating system version for my phone.

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

About

Mary Jo has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications and Web sites, and is a frequent guest on radio, TV and podcasts, speaking about all things Microsoft-related. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008).

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58 comments
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  • Mysterious happenings

    We seem to be in an age of disappearing information. Facebook will now no longer publish statistical usage updates for Android and iOS applications. I wonder what that's about.

    Maybe this: www.msnbc.msn.com/id/21458486/
    symbolset
    • RE: Microsoft: It's business as usual with Windows Phone updates

      @symbolset more than likely. Microsoft would not want to promote the competition to its own failing product.
      Rick_Kl
    • RE: Microsoft: It's business as usual with Windows Phone updates

      @symbolset - exactly what does this have to do with this blog entry? While I will always agree that WinPho7,8,9,.... will never be a winner (and hopefully cost Microsoft another boatload of money and no revenue) I do think you should stick to the topic at hand.
      The Danger is Microsoft
      • RE: Microsoft: It's business as usual with Windows Phone updates

        @The Danger is Microsoft

        Umm, WP7 is a winner. Its users love the product, that makes a winner. Android is a User Experience nightmare. Just because it has the largest market-share doesn't make it a winner. Also, Google has to pay MS $5-15 per phone they sell, how is that make it a winner?
        spaulagain2
      • RE: Microsoft: It's business as usual with Windows Phone updates

        @The Danger is Microsoft

        Strange that people actually hope that companies loose money. Of course with WP7 this is not going to happen, the Android revenue is a sure bet Microsoft will be in the plus on mobility for years to come!
        sjaak327
  • RE: Microsoft: It's business as usual with Windows Phone updates

    @cool8man quite the contrary. Carriers have nothing to do with Apple's updates. If Apple wants to roll out an update every week, they just do it and everybody gets it at the same time. That's the kind of policy Windows Phone advocates want Microsoft to adopt, but instead they are making the update process less transparent and apparently continuing to allow carriers to decide if and when updates are released.
    xpxp2002
    • RE: Microsoft: It's business as usual with Windows Phone updates

      @xpxp2002 Completely Agree!
      smulji
    • It would be possible if every carrier

      @xpxp2002
      sold one, identicle Windows phone, as a single update would cover them all.

      unfortuneately, there are many different models, with many different features, that it would not be possible.

      [i]instead they are making the update process less transparent and apparently continuing to allow carriers to decide if and when updates are released. [/i]

      That is not accurate. It appears that nothing has changed, as the original process when WP7 was released is no different: A carrier can decide when toi release an updtae, yet it is only within a specific time frame, and if they decide not to release a single update, they can only do so untill the next update, when the previous update will be delivered.

      In essence, the best they can do is too delay, not stop and update.
      Tim Cook
    • Sorry that's just dead wrong. Apple's updates are subject to carrier

      testing prior to deployment just as WP updates are. They just arent transparent about it.
      Johnny Vegas
    • RE: Microsoft: It's business as usual with Windows Phone updates

      @Johnny Vegas nice lie, but it is just a lie. Apple is more transparent that Microsoft and their game of point the finger. If Microsoft delivered finished updates, rather than having the OEMs/Carriers fish the updates, it would be one thing. Microsoft does not want that little bit of truth out there, but a person that works for a major carrier remarked in private about it.
      Rick_Kl
    • RE: Microsoft: It's business as usual with Windows Phone updates

      @xpxp2002 Apple controls the hardware and doesn't have the requirement of OEMs having to test and tweak drives for an individual model, they just do it all for their own hardware. So, what MS is doing is justified and required because of the diferent hardware setups that they cannot test themselves.
      rmark@...
    • RE: Microsoft: It's business as usual with Windows Phone updates

      @Rick_Kl

      There is still carrier approval for iOS. The carriers have too much at stake to risk allowing software in that could take down their whole network.

      Apple tests iOS with all carriers, then releases the iOS update when they have approval from ALL carriers. This creates the illusion that Apple releases on it's own schedule without approval from the carriers. Since it is a big bang, there is less need for transparency around the process.

      The low number of cell phone models combined with Apple's clout with the carriers gives them this luxury.
      SlithyTove
    • RE: Microsoft: It's business as usual with Windows Phone updates

      @xpxp2002 - Yes. It does seem as if Microsoft fanbois are ignoring the Windows Phone fragmentation while constantly harping about the Android fragmentation.

      Microsoft - desperately trying to copy Apple again, like they have done for the last 25 years, but failing miserably.
      The Danger is Microsoft
  • RE: Microsoft: It's business as usual with Windows Phone updates

    @cool8man ... I'm one of the advocates that Microsoft take control of the entire update process just like Apple does. I see no reason why "Windows Update" shouldn't extend to "Windows Phone Update".

    In fact, I'd go a step further and say that all the integral "hubs" of Windows Phone should be updatable through the Marketplace as regular apps. There's no excuse why Microsoft can't rollout feature updates on a regular basis. For example, they should be able to update the People hub to increase the amount of Facebook integration (individual comment likes, tagging people in regular posts/comments, video updating, etc.), and it shouldn't require months to do it.

    If Microsoft wants to update their voice integration, it should just be another app to update. Likewise, I feel the OEMs and carriers should have their apps (I know AT&T does, but Sprint doesn't) in the marketplace as well and be able to update them as needed.

    The core OS should change to be more modular and app-centric in the way Windows 8 is becoming so that updating the OS isn't such a major ordeal. It's much better for ALL parties-- Microsoft, OEM's, carriers, and consumers.
    GoodThings2Life
    • RE: Microsoft: It's business as usual with Windows Phone updates

      @GoodThings2Life I think the "excuse" that MS uses for why they don't (can't) do things like apple is because apple creates all their own hardware. they KNOW what will work and what won't work, they just need to account for a different antenna, basically.

      Since the apple lemmings will buy whatever cupertino says they should, apple gets to walk up to a carrier and say "you're going to do things like this, or this army of buyers is going to go somewhere else" an the carriers oblige; unfortunately it's the only manufacturer that gets to do things this way.

      Microsoft, on the other hand, doesn't create its own hardware so it is left to a bunch of middlemen to get things out the door. They create the OS patches, then ship them to Samsung, HTC, etc. Those OEMs have to finaggle all that in w/ their OS and other customizations (god forbid they just use the raw OS) and test it, then the OEM has to push it to a carrier which has to (now) decide if they want it, and then test it on their network w/ their provisions and allowed capabilities (ie: VZW says "no" to internet sharing)

      the only hope I see is if Microsoft can get such a user base as apple where they can re-negotiate the contract w/ the carriers in such a way that "you'll take it whether you like it or not or we'll go elsewhere" means something to the likes of VZW. Until then, don't expect things to change.
      bc3tech
    • They are already nearly identical. Apple updates get carrier testing

      before deployment as well. Apple just hasnt been as transparent as Microsoft about that. As for making individual pieces of WP independently updatable, in theory that sounds good but in practice when they're updating the os multiple times a year anyway the benefits just dont exist.
      Johnny Vegas
    • RE: Microsoft: It's business as usual with Windows Phone updates

      @bc3tech so anyone with a higher IQ than you is an apple lemming? Nice comment to show your actually IQ level. Just because Apple does not cater to the Walmart crowd, does not degrade he IQ of Apple users. Find out which system is ones by the ;large percentage of people with double digit IQs, and think which group id more lemming like. In a nutshell Microsoft is going to push out half done updates and rely on the Phone OEMs, and Carriers, to make the stuff work.
      Rick_Kl
    • RE: Microsoft: It's business as usual with Windows Phone updates

      @GoodThings2Life When it comes to communication changes on the carrior network or device driver interface changes, MS should not trying to do this testing for the carriers. I am sure the carriers do not care to and do not test functionality changes to an application unless it impacts the network or device drivers.
      rmark@...
  • RE: Microsoft: It's business as usual with Windows Phone updates

    @cool8man

    In fact, the business as usual line is 100% correct here. Nowhere have I seen a change in the update procedure on Microsoft's part. On the other hand, I do believe that security updates (like the one that should take care of the "sms" flaw) should NOT be held back by any carrier, and Microsoft should make it clear that such an update is forced to all devices no matter what.
    sjaak327
  • It ain't a big deal...

    ...because Windows Phone 7 ain't a big deal.

    As Howard Stern put it... they are like the "Jews for Jesus" at Penn Station. Very vocal, extremely convinced the have the "truth", but nobody seems to care.

    Ironically, if taken literally (and pardon any blasphemy, as it is unintended)... if Apple is a Jew (dogmatic, rigorous and, yet, closed) and Android is Christianity (open ended, liberal, but fragmented and sometimes opposing [Reform vs. Catholic])... Microsoft is that middle ground nobody cares to follow... they are both liberal, but business oriented... playful... but structured (just look at the tiles and cookie cut format)... they have flair... but no depth nor form... way too minimalistic... maybe even Feng Shui-esque... but with an excess of whips and splashs...

    Microsoft shoot to create a Spa experience for it's phones, but included a tanning salon on each of them... thus breaking the aura... the worst of both worlds...

    So who cares if they upgrade by phone or by carrier... maybe the numbers magically match...
    cosuna