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

'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.
Written by Mary Jo Foley, Senior Contributing Editor

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.

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