WP7 Pre-updates, Rumours and Rants

I usually don’t bother writing posts on rumours that spread round (mostly link-baits), or people spreading misinformation, but I’ve decided to wade in on this WP7 updates (or lack thereof) discussion. The main reason is because people like Paul Thurrott, who is relatively well connected in regards to Microsoft, have posted information which doesn’t really help WP7 in any way, despite possibly good intentions. Firstly, to clarify, this isn’t a post to undermine Paul in any way (in fact, most of his posts are accurate and interesting. He has also authored a book on Windows Phone 7), but I’d like to bring some perspective into a couple of claims made.

A few days ago, Paul wrote a post that claimed that the larger ‘Mango’ update won’t be shipped until 2012 (according to his sources). Of course, this is just a rumour, but an unnecessary one. I fail to see what good bringing this up has done. Naturally, other media outlets jumped onto this quote and spread the news that the Mango update won’t be ready this year. Call me cynical, but you could argue that it was a good way to get views to his page (with the many adverts providing revenue *ahem*). Now, had this news been substantiated beyond ‘claimed sources’, or even closer to the Mango release time, maybe there would be some valid context. As it stands, I can’t help but feel that it does more damage to WP7 as non-techies may read about supposed delayed updates and switch to another device. Furthermore, another prominent figure in the MS world is Mary Jo Foley, also wrote a post regarding the Mango update and says that she believes that the Mango update will be available at the end of this year. Naturally, they can’t both be right, so how about we wait and see instead of spreading unconfirmed rumours?

Today I read a post by Paul which persuaded me to write this post (you can read it here). He’s disappointed that he still hasn’t received the ‘pre-update’ which some people have received. Many people, including myself, are in the same boat and have yet to receive the ‘pre-update’ and a lot of those people are angry that they haven’t got it yet. However, lets clarify what’s missing and put all this ranting into perspective. The ‘pre-update’ provides nothing to the end user. It prepares the update mechanism for the ‘NoDo’ and, presumably, future updates. That’s it. The ‘NoDo’ update is expected around the second half of March, so if that gets delayed, then frustration is understandable because the ‘NoDo’ update actually does provide some end-user features. Until then, stoking the ‘no pre-update’ fire is a futile gesture that does more harm than good. Another thing to think about. Carriers are allowed to block up to one update according to their agreement with Microsoft. By releasing a ‘pre-update’, Microsoft have filtered the carriers that will block any updates. Now, when NoDo is released, the carriers that blocked the ‘pre-update’ should have to release the real ‘NoDo’ update to everyone. Lets not forget, the NoDo update includes the current ‘pre-update’. Where’s the problem?

Paul goes on to explain how iOS has released multiple  updates within short time frames and it is a good point. However, it’s important to remember that Apple don’t have to worry about multiple OEM’s and that they’ve had three and a bit years to perfect their mass updating technique for iPhone devices. If Microsoft keep delaying updates throughout WP7’s lifespan, then that’s when ranting about  it is valid. At the moment, I think it’s fair to give MS some leeway seeing as it’s their first mass update for WP7 and, technically, not a ‘real’ update (since NoDo is promised for second half of March). Also, as mentioned earlier, it helps filter carriers that may block updates.

Now, I’m not saying I don’t mind the lack of updates, but this ‘pre-update’ is being made out as if it’s some holy grail. Save that test for when ‘NoDo’ comes out and then discuss it. I do agree with Paul on certain points regarding transparency. As a user and developer, I’d prefer it if MS showed more of the roadmap rather than releasing small bits of information, which are often ambiguous at times. I think transparency, to a degree which doesn’t compromise competitive advantage of course, should be increased. Now I’ve seen people claim that all this complaining is to get Microsoft to pay attention, but it I think it’s being done in the wrong way. There’s a difference between complaining on specific points and just outright ranting. The latter just gives readers a one-sided view and ultimately that does not help the cause. The more solid devices there are in the marketplace, the more competition. The more competition, the more manufacturers have to do to improve their devices and give a better experience for the end user. By unnecessarily hacking away at the infantile legs of WP7 with rants that have no real basis, and no positive  upshots (e.g. MS taking heed and doing what they can to hurry up with the release cycles), ultimately affects everyone from users to developers.

Well, I could go on about other things, but I think you’ve probably read enough. (Well done if you got all the way through :D). As I say, this isn’t a snipe at Paul, but there are times when someone with such a voice should be a bit more balanced when it comes to writing each post IMO. Criticism should be brought forward, by all means, but at least have a logical standpoint on why you’re complaining. There’s a difference between kicking someone up the butt to get them to work harder and kicking them out the window.

I’m reserving judgement for when ‘NoDo’ does come out and then raising the expectation bar for future updates since MS would have the experience by then and can no longer use the “it’s our first update” excuse. If they start failing on that, then questions should be asked as it would start resembling the fragmentation seen on Android devices, but without the openness of the Android platform.

All comments welcome 🙂

@keyboardP

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9 Responses to WP7 Pre-updates, Rumours and Rants

  1. Vincent says:

    I love my Windows Phone 7, but I feel that Microsoft needs to make enhancements and add missing features quicker. The problem is that they (MS) are hurting themselves. They are not providing any information and they are taking their sweet time to do updates. There are several features that are missing that make this smart phone seem dumb. I mean some of the features are just plain stupid. Where are my custom ringtones? Then there are the problems. I can’t get Facebook photos integrated anymore on my phone. Nothing I do works. I know I am not alone as there are several others with the same problems.

    In order for this phone to succeed, Microsoft needs to get off their butts and start getting updates out faster and getting people more information. It doesn’t matter the different hardware because they use the same hardware specs.

    • keyboardP says:

      Hi Vincent,
      I agree that MS aren’t helping anyone by staying coy and that’s why I believe they should be more transparent on what they’re doing with regards to the WP7 roadmap. I also know it’s not good enough to compare features iPhone had when they launched and features WP7 has right now. However, I’m suggesting that we give MS some leeway until they’ve released their first big update (2nd half of March for NoDo). After that, hopefully they’ll increase the speed of their update cycle because they can’t continue at this pace if they want to catch up.

      I’d disagree with your hardware comment. Samsung had problems with the ‘pre-update’, whereas the others didn’t. Even then, only certain versions of Samsung devices were affected. The hardware is not based on the same specs, they’re based on minimum specs. Regardless, it seemed that the Samsung ROM created a conflict which is the risk taken when you’re not the only OEM.

      I’m sure MS have heard enough complaints by now about how annoyed people are with the waiting, but I’m also pretty sure that they’re doing what they can considering the high amount of control carriers actually have (rightfully or not is a different debate).

  2. richlee111 says:

    Having read Thurrott’s piece this morning, I am in agreement with a lot of what you said. For me, his ranting was quite a disappointment for someone who is well respected in the Microsoft reporting circle. More so, his very first sentence said it all: “I’ll try not to get all emotional here, but … WTF?”

    Moving on, I will share what I know when it comes to the facts of this whole Windows Phone 7 update timeline. It is a fact that at the end of Jan, beginning of Feb, Microsoft released the developer update for the now Windows Phone 7 “NoDo” update. This was at the Mobile World Congress. At that time, Steve Ballmer himself gave a time frame of the update coming at the beginning of March. So given this fact, many people who have not received the pre-update are genuinely concerned because the promised real update was supposed to have come out this week. So it makes sense that people who have Samsung phones, and others who don’t have the pre-update are legitimately wondering how they can get the NoDo update this week without even having the pre-update installed.

    If you look at these ZDNet articles by Mary Jo Foley, another reputable Microsoft tech reporter, you will see where I get the facts from.

    http://zd.net/fjgPgD
    http://zd.net/dHDq9u

    Thanks.

    • keyboardP says:

      Hi Rich,

      I agree, MS aren’t doing a great job on the timing. Latest news is that ‘NoDo’ won’t be here till second half of March. On the bright side, you don’t need the ‘pre-update’ to install the NoDo one because that NoDo update includes the pre-update for those who didn’t get it (source). Basically, people who have the pre-update are still in the same boat as those who don’t, but I think MS should make that clearer.

      Since the NoDo update includes the pre-update, there must be a reason why MS released the NoDo update. My theory is that it will force any carrier who blocks the pre-update to release the actual NoDo to all users. Guess we’ll have to wait and see how it goes in a couple of weeks 🙂

      • richlee111 says:

        You are right. The official Microsoft blog DOES make it clear that the pre-update is not necessary to get the NoDo. Thanks for pointing this out. Also, I found that Mary Jo Foley got an official answer from Microsoft U.S. on the NoDo update. http://zd.net/ec8WZn

        She was also told by Microsoft that the update was never officially promised for this week. Unoftunately, there is just so many rumors circulating around the internet about when and if we are getting it. I give you bloggers who try to get the real facts a lot of credit these days!

        Lastly, a couple more weeks of waiting is not the end of the world. I am a developer myself, and deadlines in the app/software world is just a date(but an important one). Software/app products are a constant work in progress. You get cutoff on coding and fixing bugs for a release because you need something to sell. The reality is that all software/apps are almost always released w/ bugs, have features scaled back, or are missing promised functionality. In the end, you just get it in for the next release. Come’on, even the all powerful and mighty Apple face the same reality as Microsoft and all tech companies. They have had their same share of problems and shortcomings. They are just better at hiding it.

        Good luck.

      • keyboardP says:

        That’s the problem with rumours on the internet. Journalists and bloggers start dropping the word ‘rumour’ and claim it as fact and then that gets passed on.
        Apple’s PR machine is second to none. They could have millions of problems and still have it sell well. Microsoft, on the other hand, don’t have such a good rep on that front and so it’s vital that they don’t assume that just because Apple got away with something, they can too.

        As I say, if the NoDo update doesn’t make an appearance after a couple weeks, then I can understand the frustration because that’s pushing it a bit. Until then, I’m happy to sit back for a bit and see how it plays out 😀

        Thanks for the comments!

  3. Mr D says:

    What’s with the no file explorer?? Any news on that in the future? Overall though i must say im quite satisfied with my (non updated) omnia7. I do agree that MS need to make sure they get these updates right..but im slowly becoming impatient now. I understand that previous release dates were never offically confirmed but i cant help getting a little frustrated..now im hearing mid/late march!!

    Still though, beautiful phone, impressive software even despite current flaws, and im sure ill be with WP7 for a long time. Cant wait for that mango update either lol

    • keyboardP says:

      Hi Mr D,
      Sorry, I haven’t heard of a file explorer in the pipeline. That’s not to say there won’t be one, but no news so far. Having said that, I’ve seen it requested quite a few times, so you never know.
      I can understand the impatience creeping in. It started off with rumours claiming that ‘January’ was the launch date even though MS only ever mentioned ‘early 2011’. I’m hoping that this update is slow because MS are still ensuring that the update process is smooth and works. Then, in future updates, they can start releasing at a quicker rate.

      And, yes, Mango is where it’s at! 😀 I think that’ll really put WP7 on the map once it comes out.

  4. Pingback: Windows Phone 7: The Case for Clarity and Transparency : WinExtra

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