Has Microsoft dropped the ball with Windows Phone 7?

Buggy updates. Delayed updates. More buggy updates. No clear sales figures. Has Microsoft dropped the ball with Windows Phone 7?

Buggy updates. Delayed updates. More buggy updates. No clear sales figures. Has Microsoft dropped the ball with Windows Phone 7?

I'll be honest with you, I was expecting that Microsoft's handling of the Windows Phone 7 launch and subsequent updates would be as smooth as silk. It needed to be. Microsoft faces an uphill battle in the face of iOS and Android. Microsoft is making a billion dollar gamble with Windows Phone (as are the OEMs involved), the risks are high so it's better to keep the foul-ups and fumbles to a minimum.

But the past few months have been a catalog of foul-ups and fumbles. Let's go through a list:

  • No sales data Yes, we've been given some data on the number of handsets sold by the OEMs to carriers, but no data on the actual number of activations. Microsoft has been very open with sales of its Kinect controller, so we can only assume that the reason for silence over Windows Phone 7 is down to sluggish sales.
  • Bricked Samsung handsets When the first update for WP7 (and update designed to update the update mechanism ...) starts to brick handsets and cause problems, there's a serious problem with quality control. But hey, problems happen. When that a re-released version of that update still causes problems for users, that that's both really shoddy and unforgivable.
  • Silence over update roadmap Where's the WP7 update that's supposed to bring much-needed features such as cut/copy/paste to handsets? All we seem to have at present are rumors and speculation. How is this supposed to give owners and potential owners (not to mention developers and OEMs) confidence in the platform? In fact, does Microsoft even have a realistic update roadmap for WP7, or is the plan now a headlong rush to WP7.5 and some sort of rebranding? Is the promise of regular updates the same sort of promise that Microsoft made to Vista owners over "Windows Ultimate Extras"?

The silence (not to mention absence) of updates is really starting to annoy users. Paul Thurrott wrote a scathing piece on Windows Phone Secrets the other day criticizing Microsoft and holding Apple up as a positive example of how to handle updates:

I’ve already written about how frequently Apple updated its original iPhone during the same time frame under which Microsoft and its partner ecosystem are now ignoring the needs of their own Windows Phone customers. (And, please, don’t be idiotic. These really are needs: Windows Phone shipped in an incomplete and buggy state that has never once been updated. This isn’t just “wrong” morally: Shipping a known-buggy product to consumers is arguably wrong legally as well.)

...

Well, here’s an inconvenient truth for you: When Microsoft launched Windows Phone in October/November 2010, the then-current version of iOS was 4.1, released back in September of that year. And since then, Apple has released:

He then goes on to list every iOS update, from 4.2 to 4.3 (five in all). Yeah, five in the time it has taken Microsoft to release one buggy update that failed to installed on 10% of handsets.

Come on Microsoft, you can do better than this. Right now you're just handing more market share to iOS and Android.

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