Can we get real about phone updates?

By Kip Kniskern | Posted January 7, 2012 94 comments

cardsYesterday Eric Hautala posted on the Windows Phone blog about the latest Windows Phone update, dubbed 8107, which, according to the Windows Phone website, addresses the disappearing keyboard issue, a Gmail sync issue, the location permissions issue, and a few others.  However, along with news about the update, Hautala also announced that the detailed information on “where’s my update?”, broken down by region and carrier, would no longer be updated, nor would there be weekly updates on the Windows Phone blog about the status of the updates.

A number of tech bloggers and commenters to the post are apparently quite upset about the changes, demanding that Microsoft hold the carriers accountable, and claiming that not holding the carriers to task by publishing their update status will lead to greater fragmentation of the Windows Phone ecosystem.

To that we’re going to have to say…. get real.  It’s time we face some facts, not only as Windows Phone users, but more in general as smartphone users – carriers and OEMs have a vested interest in NOT upgrading older phones to the latest and greatest OS.

Carriers hold all the cards.  You can’t have a phone without a cellular network, and even if Windows Phone had 80% of the market share, the carriers would still hold all the cards.

The “where’s my phone?” update pages were born out of necessity.  After Microsoft flailed at a NoDo update, finding out after the fact that the hardware ecosystem for Windows Phone, even with careful specification rules, was far more fragmented than they were aware.  Microsoft needed to reassure customers that they would be getting updates, and to give them some idea of when.

But now, those pages serve more as a scorecard for carrier/OEM performance, not a particularly smart move when the carriers not only hold all the cards, but have other alternatives, other phones to push.

Microsoft has done quite a bit to try take at least some control of the update situation, and it’s far better here than it is on Android.  And there’s much still to be done, perhaps by separating bug fixes and maintenance issues (a la the disappearing keyboard) from feature updates, requiring the first but making the latter optional.  But for now, carriers are in firm control, and poking them with a stick isn’t doing Microsoft any good.

So bye, bye “Where’s my update?”.  Here’s a reality check for you: carriers are going to be slow to want to update your old (paid for) phones, when they would much rather get you to buy a new one (extending your contract at the same time).  And, *shocker alert*, Microsoft wouldn’t mind selling more licenses of Windows Phone, either.

If you have a first generation Windows Phone (one that say, hasn’t been updated in a while), and now a year later you just can’t wait for that new Nokia 900,  guess what?  Nokia will be happy to sell you a new phone, your carrier will be ecstatic to take your early termination fee, extend your contract, and get a brand new phone in your hands, and Microsoft will have made another sale.  As much as it’s a game, that’s the way the game is played.

Updating old phones is the way the game *isn’t* played.  All those Android 2.0 and 2.3 users, the ones that didn’t buy their way out of their contracts, are coming up on the end of their 2 year commitment.  Do you think they’ll be holding out, waiting for an Ice Cream Sandwich update?  No, they’ll be lining up, somewhat begrudgingly perhaps,  to buy a new phone, updated to the latest and greatest, knowing they’re caught in an endless cycle that makes far more sense for the carriers, the OEMs, and for Microsoft than it does for consumers.  Go figure.

Posted January 7th, 2012 at 10:06 am
Category: Opinion
Tags: Windows Phone
  • Anonymous

    I’m quite happy to live in Europe. I don’t want to hear about this mess. Carriers should be responsible of their network, and nothing else. My phone belongs to me, and the updates belongs to the manufacturer and Microsoft. I don’t see why carriers are involved in that process at all.

    • Anonymous

      It’s not different in Europe. The carriers have their own versions of Android (Vodafone for example) and as I said on another reply: the Deutsche Telekom in Germany was the last carrier to roll out Mango update.

      • Anonymous

        Well, at least you have the right to force the carrier to unlock your phone after 2 years and use the Microsoft+Manufacturer ROM. And, in Belgium, it’s completely prohibited to sell an exclusive phone under contract. It makes the market much better. You buy your phone at the price it really costs and you are free to do anything you want with it. You can change of carrier if you like it. Carriers are struggling for network performance, efficiency(=price) and services, not for phones.

        • Anonymous

          I don’t say that everything is the same here in Europe but speaking about how they handle OS updates, it is very similar. It’s a global problem.

          • Anurag Kalia

            It’s not a global problem. Here in India, carriers have just started selling phones on subsidies. And as far as I know, it is not at all popular. People buy their phones on their own, and get the carrier of their own liking.

            And that’s the way it should be. I still don’t know why people buy their phones on subisidies from the carrier only. The concept is wholly different. :-/

    • 1337

      I live in the US and bought my phone outright.  But most US customers take “discounts” from carriers, not thinking about the future, and then get shafted.

  • FremyCompany

    I’m quite happy to live in Europe. I don’t want to hear about this mess. Carriers should be responsible of their network, and nothing else. My phone belongs to me, and the updates belongs to the manufacturer and Microsoft. I don’t see why carriers are involved in that process at all.

    • tN0

      It’s not different in Europe. The carriers have their own versions of Android (Vodafone for example) and as I said on another reply: the Deutsche Telekom in Germany was the last carrier to roll out Mango update.

      • FremyCompany

        Well, at least you have the right to force the carrier to unlock your phone after 2 years and use the Microsoft+Manufacturer ROM. And, in Belgium, it’s completely prohibited to sell an exclusive phone under contract. It makes the market much better. You buy your phone at the price it really costs and you are free to do anything you want with it. You can change of carrier if you like it. Carriers are struggling for network performance, efficiency(=price) and services, not for phones.

        • tN0

          I don’t say that everything is the same here in Europe but speaking about how they handle OS updates, it is very similar. It’s a global problem.

          • Anurag Kalia

            It’s not a global problem. Here in India, carriers have just started selling phones on subsidies. And as far as I know, it is not at all popular. People buy their phones on their own, and get the carrier of their own liking.

            And that’s the way it should be. I still don’t know why people buy their phones on subisidies from the carrier only. The concept is wholly different. :-/

    • 1337

      I live in the US and bought my phone outright.  But most US customers take “discounts” from carriers, not thinking about the future, and then get shafted.

  • Anonymous

    You are right in the sense of feature updates after a period of lets say 2 years. After that time everybody would understand if MS doesnt update old phones. But the 8107 Update is a bug fixing update and it fixes problems on every Windows Phone, so also for brand new devices as for example the Lumia. So I give you an example: Some guy buys a Lumia, he experiences the disappearing keyboard bug and he googles for that. Then he finds out there is a solution for that BUT he doesnt get it. So another customer will be disappointed and blame MS for theier update politics.
    In my opinion it is absolutly important to release bug fixing updates for every single Windows Phone out there.

    • Anonymous

      And doesn’t forget this is also a SECURITY update. Microsoft should at least be able to issue critical update without carrier approval. (from changelog: “Security. Revokes digital certificates from DigiCert Sdn Bhd to address an encryption issue.”)

  • Jan

    You are right in the sense of feature updates after a period of lets say 2 years. After that time everybody would understand if MS doesnt update old phones. But the 8107 Update is a bug fixing update and it fixes problems on every Windows Phone, so also for brand new devices as for example the Lumia. So I give you an example: Some guy buys a Lumia, he experiences the disappearing keyboard bug and he googles for that. Then he finds out there is a solution for that BUT he doesnt get it. So another customer will be disappointed and blame MS for theier update politics.
    In my opinion it is absolutly important to release bug fixing updates for every single Windows Phone out there.

    • FremyCompany

      And doesn’t forget this is also a SECURITY update. Microsoft should at least be able to issue critical update without carrier approval. (from changelog: “Security. Revokes digital certificates from DigiCert Sdn Bhd to address an encryption issue.”)

  • Anonymous

    I am sorry, but I don’t like the “let’s face reality” resignation. We are a few, but we are the prized few Windows Phone customers that Microsoft has. We need to make sure they hear us, and understand that this lack of transparency is B.S.

    Either they assure us that the carriers are always going to pick up the updates (hence, needing no communication) or they publish the status updates by carrier by phone, at least somewhat regularly.

    Granted, most users won’t care about incremental updates, and granted, the major updates will be picked up by the carriers, it is still not a great idea for Microsoft to offer the insight and then take it back.

    If we accept this lying down, it will only get worse. We have to use all the possible chances we get to voice the displeasure with this move. Let the carriers and Microsoft do the negotiations about how much to expose and so on.

    We as paying customers ($200 for devices, $70/mo for 24 months for the plan with the carrier, $50-$100 for apps) have the right to get our annoying bugs fixed in a timely fashion. Let’s not give that right up so easily.

  • TheRomit

    I am sorry, but I don’t like the “let’s face reality” resignation. We are a few, but we are the prized few Windows Phone customers that Microsoft has. We need to make sure they hear us, and understand that this lack of transparency is B.S.

    Either they assure us that the carriers are always going to pick up the updates (hence, needing no communication) or they publish the status updates by carrier by phone, at least somewhat regularly.

    Granted, most users won’t care about incremental updates, and granted, the major updates will be picked up by the carriers, it is still not a great idea for Microsoft to offer the insight and then take it back.

    If we accept this lying down, it will only get worse. We have to use all the possible chances we get to voice the displeasure with this move. Let the carriers and Microsoft do the negotiations about how much to expose and so on.

    We as paying customers ($200 for devices, $70/mo for 24 months for the plan with the carrier, $50-$100 for apps) have the right to get our annoying bugs fixed in a timely fashion. Let’s not give that right up so easily.

  • http://sushovande.6te.net sushovande

    In addition to the very valid points raised above (this is a security update), there is a bigger problem.

    It seems like Microsoft is trying very hard to be the number 2 player in the phone game. That is probably the worst philosophy to have, as a company. You want to be the number 1 player, or you will never make a half-decent product and a half-decent ecosystem.

    The current number 1 player (in terms of mind share and profit) is Apple, and they update all the phones up until 2 generations ago to the latest iOS version. By not updating phones that are barely a year old, Microsoft is being content by saying “We’re sort-of better than Android”. On the other hand, what everyone else hears is “We’re worse than Apple.”

    Fix this, Microsoft. You did it for Mango, you can do it again. I want my keyboard fix.

  • http://sushovande.6te.net sushovande

    In addition to the very valid points raised above (this is a security update), there is a bigger problem.

    It seems like Microsoft is trying very hard to be the number 2 player in the phone game. That is probably the worst philosophy to have, as a company. You want to be the number 1 player, or you will never make a half-decent product and a half-decent ecosystem.

    The current number 1 player (in terms of mind share and profit) is Apple, and they update all the phones up until 2 generations ago to the latest iOS version. By not updating phones that are barely a year old, Microsoft is being content by saying “We’re sort-of better than Android”. On the other hand, what everyone else hears is “We’re worse than Apple.”

    Fix this, Microsoft. You did it for Mango, you can do it again. I want my keyboard fix.

  • http://livven.me/ Livven

    What about Apple? Even with the first iPhone, when it wasn’t that popular yet, Apple controlled the whole process. Why can’t Microsoft do that?

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Shameer-Mulji/1685212657 Shameer Mulji

      Exactly! Blog posts like this just re-affirm that Apple’s strategy of controlling the end-to-end ecosystem is the right one, for Apple and for the consumer.  I love Windows Phone but this is nonsense.  iOS is improving all the time and at least with the Apple ecosystem I’m guaranteed at least 2 to 3 years of updates whether they’re bug / security / feature updates. That’s what you call support.

      Apple is basically telling the carriers that they’re nothing more than a dumb pipe & frankly I like that philosophy.  MS has enough money & influence to be able to do the same & should.  

      • http://colinbowern.com Colin Bowern

        Carriers should focus on being a really awesome big dumb pipe IMHO and stay out of corrupting the device market.  I’m happy turning over my phone every 3ish years, but not when it’s just barely a year old – sorry.  To keep the carriers in their place I buy my phones unlocked at full price.

        Just because others like to turn over phones every few months doesn’t mean Microsoft should.  Apple’s strategy of supporting up to three generation of devices is the right thing to do and Microsoft should do the same.  I don’t expect to get all the features that require additional hardware but I shouldn’t be devoided of patches and features that don’t require additional hardware.

        Phone manufacturers need to learn from what causes great pain in Detroit. New models every year with minor tweaks doesn’t mean I am buying a new car every year.  If anything they should learn from folks like Tesla which are focusing on a shipping a well designed model for a 3-5 year time horizon.  It allows them to recoup their capital expenditure and design a high quality device. My mom doesn’t care about bleeding an extra half gigahertz out of the phone – she wants a device is well thought out and works.  If the six year old Xbox 360 can still stay relevant so can a phone for longer than six months.

        • http://www.facebook.com/people/Shameer-Mulji/1685212657 Shameer Mulji

          Exactly!! Well said.

        • Anonymous

          Here, here! Kip I’m sorry, but you’re just plain flat out wrong on this one.

    • Anurag Kalia

      Actually I think we should just follow PC system where everybody is forced to give us options. Not here. Why? Cellphones are more than just PDAs now. They are almost miniature computers.

  • http://livven.me/ Livven

    What about Apple? Even with the first iPhone, when it wasn’t that popular yet, Apple controlled the whole process. Why can’t Microsoft do that?

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Shameer-Mulji/1685212657 Shameer Mulji

      Exactly! Blog posts like this just re-affirm that Apple’s strategy of controlling the end-to-end ecosystem is the right one, for Apple and for the consumer.  I love Windows Phone but this is nonsense.  iOS is improving all the time and at least with the Apple ecosystem I’m guaranteed at least 2 to 3 years of updates whether they’re bug / security / feature updates. That’s what you call support.

      Apple is basically telling the carriers that they’re nothing more than a dumb pipe & frankly I like that philosophy.  MS has enough money & influence to be able to do the same & should.  

      • http://colinbowern.com Colin Bowern

        Carriers should focus on being a really awesome big dumb pipe IMHO and stay out of corrupting the device market.  I’m happy turning over my phone every 3ish years, but not when it’s just barely a year old – sorry.  To keep the carriers in their place I buy my phones unlocked at full price.

        Just because others like to turn over phones every few months doesn’t mean Microsoft should.  Apple’s strategy of supporting up to three generation of devices is the right thing to do and Microsoft should do the same.  I don’t expect to get all the features that require additional hardware but I shouldn’t be devoided of patches and features that don’t require additional hardware.

        Phone manufacturers need to learn from what causes great pain in Detroit. New models every year with minor tweaks doesn’t mean I am buying a new car every year.  If anything they should learn from folks like Tesla which are focusing on a shipping a well designed model for a 3-5 year time horizon.  It allows them to recoup their capital expenditure and design a high quality device. My mom doesn’t care about bleeding an extra half gigahertz out of the phone – she wants a device is well thought out and works.  If the six year old Xbox 360 can still stay relevant so can a phone for longer than six months.

        • http://www.facebook.com/people/Shameer-Mulji/1685212657 Shameer Mulji

          Exactly!! Well said.

        • Super2online

          Here, here! Kip I’m sorry, but you’re just plain flat out wrong on this one.

    • Anurag Kalia

      Actually I think we should just follow PC system where everybody is forced to give us options. Not here. Why? Cellphones are more than just PDAs now. They are almost miniature computers.

  • http://twitter.com/dustbeta Dustin Schultz

    Plain and simple, American carriers are evil.  No other carriers in the world treat their customers the way they do in the United States.  Where else charges anywhere near international roaming rates?  No where.  Where else is so restrictive about OS updates?  No where.  I am glad I am moving out of the United States and to be done with these morons at AT&T, Verizon and Sprint.

    • Anonymous

      Deutsche Telekom was the last carrier that rolled out Mango.

      • Jan

        Thats not 100% right, Telekom was on par with other carriers except for the Omnia 7. My girlfriend has a Mozart and she could force her update on day one of the Mango rollout. And I have to add that I received the 7740 update, which was also supposed to be a carrier update. Now I hope they push also 8107 soon.

  • http://twitter.com/dustbeta Dustin S.

    Plain and simple, American carriers are evil.  No other carriers in the world treat their customers the way they do in the United States.  Where else charges anywhere near international roaming rates?  No where.  Where else is so restrictive about OS updates?  No where.  I am glad I am moving out of the United States and to be done with these morons at AT&T, Verizon and Sprint.

    • tN0

      Deutsche Telekom was the last carrier that rolled out Mango.

      • Jan

        Thats not 100% right, Telekom was on par with other carriers except for the Omnia 7. My girlfriend has a Mozart and she could force her update on day one of the Mango rollout. And I have to add that I received the 7740 update, which was also supposed to be a carrier update. Now I hope they push also 8107 soon.

  • Anonymous

    I normally agree with you, but on this one you are so far out of touch you could probably set foot on the moon at this moment, Kip. Unless you’re trying to get hired at Verizon, you will win no one over on this argument.

    There are several user-affecting bug fixes in this release, including a security fix: a certificate revocation. This update should not be optional. If Microsoft is going to concede updates to carrier request, we might as well have bought Android phones because that’s the exact level of communication, commitment, and certainty Google provides. With Microsoft struggling to gain market share, they should be making every effort to get bugs fixed quickly and deploying features to keep the platform on par with Apple and Google’s offerings, so that Windows Phone doesn’t get a reputation for being out-of-date, buggy, and fragmented. And if Microsoft were in Google’s shoes, or Apple’s shoes; they’d have the clout and market share to risk this pro-carrier/anti-consumer change. But they don’t have that clout or market share, and there’s no way that this change brings any benefit or help to Windows Phone.

    I want you to look at the iPhone. It is on three US carriers, and countless others internationally. When have any of those carriers delayed an update, or opted to not deliver one? Never. Because Apple updates go out when Apple says so, not when carriers do. And you know what, the carriers have learned to live with it for four years. So much so, that more carriers have signed on to carry the iPhone over the last four years, and updates are still released for all models of all of the devices in support at the same time. That’s three models of 3GS, 4, 4S, and three generations of the iPod Touch going out all over the world on one day. Microsoft proved they can do it fairly well too with the Mango release, so it’s not an issue of technicality at all.

    What you are suggesting is that Windows Phone should be handed off to mobile carriers who are already doing everything in their power to squash its reach so that the POS that Android is can gain even more market share. We’ve seen Verizon move at a snail’s pace to launch one first-generation device 9 months late, and ensure that it is relegated to the back corner of every store they own. Then they said they wanted LTE support before they would sell another Windows Phone. Nokia shopped an LTE-enabled device to them and they turned it down. If you support the greedy, ogopolistic ways of AT&T, Sprint, and Verizon; then keep talking. But if you support consumers like us at all, you would never say what you just did.

    • http://www.LiveSide.net Kip Kniskern – LiveSide.net

      Nothing has changed about the power of the carriers over Microsoft’s ability to push updates.  MS didn’t have the power to update a carrier’s phone on their own before, and they don’t now. 

      I’m not suggesting that Windows Phone “should be handed off to mobile carriers”, I’m suggesting that we recognize that Microsoft has never, doesn’t now, and probably won’t ever have the power to update our phones without the blessing of the carriers.

      • Anonymous

        If this will not change, they really have a huge problem! Apple can do it. Google can do it (with their Nexus line). If Microsoft can’t do it, they seriously should give up on the mobile market.

      • Anonymous

        It has changed. In 2010, Microsoft promised that all devices would be updated in tandem with Microsoft’s release of a new build. Then they backpedaled and created that “carriers can withhold every other update” policy that has never been officially confirmed or observed since, but bloggers and media continue to reiterate it every time an update comes out of Redmond.

        Now they are officially stating that any pre-conceived policy is coming to an end, any transparency about the update process is going away, and carriers may “request” updates, which when combined with the lack of transparency means that they will never be held accountable to update a Windows Phone ever again by Microsoft, who was the only component of the Windows Phone ecosystem that actually had an interest in getting bug fixes or new features into the hands of customers who could easily defect to Apple or Google.

        Microsoft could easily deploy any software they want through Zune, just as Apple has done through iTunes on its own schedule for years. Instead, they are bowing to carriers for what, a few hundred million in advertising for Windows Phone? Microsoft could afford to do it on their own. I’m sure Apple spends more than that on the iPhone, and it would sell itself without a single ad anyway.

        Ultimately, this change does not help Windows Phone in any way, shape, or form. It simply means we will begin to see the end of uniformity in the platform, bugs will persist indefinitely, and even security flaws will never be patched. With so many people confusing Windows Mobile and Windows Phone, along with Microsoft’s poor consumer reputation as it is, Windows Phone has many hurdles to overcome. Removing transparency to the improvement process and handing that control fully over to the one group of companies 100% invested in shutting down Windows Phone is doing just about everything they can to kill any hope that Windows Phone could compete with iOS and Android.

        • http://www.LiveSide.net Kip Kniskern – LiveSide.net

          In order for Microsoft to self update, it would have to target each individual revision of each OEM’s phone, and each modification by each carrier.  That’s what brought down the NoDo update in the first place, and you could ask the boys at ChevronWP7 what targeting all those variations is like, nightmare-wise.

          Look, I’m not saying I agree with what’s going on, I just think we need to recognize the situation for what it is, and go from there.

          • http://www.facebook.com/people/Shameer-Mulji/1685212657 Shameer Mulji

            If that’s the case then MS should recognize the situation and do something like buy Nokia.  That why they’ll have full control of designing, manufacturing, supporting only their hardware.  This will allow them to bypass carriers in terms of providing updates.

          • Anonymous

            I don’t disagree that it isn’t easy to target every device. But it has been done before without any major incident, as I pointed out earlier regarding 7720. But with Windows Phone in its infancy compared to iOS and Android, which have had years to mature, it is just as important that every update goes out consistently and in a timely manner.

            My issue is that complacency, apathy, and acceptance with the insane policies of wireless carriers is exactly what has allowed them to become the controlling, greedy entities that they are. Marketplace competition doesn’t work because they all collude to charge the same prices and offer the same lousy experience. Part of that mirrors the history of Ma Bell, but I had hoped years ago that Apple had set a new precedent for controlling the software side of the smartphone ecosystem. They told the carriers how it was going to be in 2007 and never let it change. If Microsoft doesn’t follow in Apple’s footsteps, who will? It seems that Google doesn’t really care, and is more interested in getting something, anything onto the market as long as it isn’t iOS. It might sound a bit overdramatic, but when will the tyranny of the carriers be broken if Microsoft is willing to give in? As a member of the media, I implore you and all others to oppose this because it truly is the only hope we have. I agree with you that we have to accept reality as it is today, but that shouldn’t discourage us from fighting what we know is wrong with everything we have.

          • http://www.facebook.com/people/Shameer-Mulji/1685212657 Shameer Mulji

            Amen!

        • http://www.facebook.com/people/Shameer-Mulji/1685212657 Shameer Mulji


          Microsoft could easily deploy any software they want through Zune, just as Apple has done through iTunes on its own schedule for years. Instead, they are bowing to carriers for what, a few hundred million in advertising for Windows Phone? Microsoft could afford to do it on their own. I’m sure Apple spends more than that on the iPhone, and it would sell itself without a single ad anyway.”

          You hit the nail on the head.  This paragraph says it all.

          • Guest

            Apple is a goose that lay golden egg.
            Like you said, they don’t need to spend a single ad and every news source will advertise it. Consumers will buy it no matter what. It’s stupid for the carrier to refuse the name that has such huge power to sway peoples’ choice.

            Compared to that, the carriers can be a jerk and give the “take it or leave it” choice to Microsoft instead of having it said to them.

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Shameer-Mulji/1685212657 Shameer Mulji


         I’m suggesting that we recognize that Microsoft has never, doesn’t now, and probably won’t ever have the power to update our phones without the blessing of the carriers.”

        What a load of BS.  Try telling Apple they can’t update their phones without the blessings of the carriers & see what kind of answer you get.

  • markjonson

    I normally agree with you, but on this one you are so far out of touch you could probably set foot on the moon at this moment, Kip. Unless you’re trying to get hired at Verizon, you will win no one over on this argument.

    There are several user-affecting bug fixes in this release, including a security fix: a certificate revocation. This update should not be optional. If Microsoft is going to concede updates to carrier request, we might as well have bought Android phones because that’s the exact level of communication, commitment, and certainty Google provides. With Microsoft struggling to gain market share, they should be making every effort to get bugs fixed quickly and deploying features to keep the platform on par with Apple and Google’s offerings, so that Windows Phone doesn’t get a reputation for being out-of-date, buggy, and fragmented. And if Microsoft were in Google’s shoes, or Apple’s shoes; they’d have the clout and market share to risk this pro-carrier/anti-consumer change. But they don’t have that clout or market share, and there’s no way that this change brings any benefit or help to Windows Phone.

    I want you to look at the iPhone. It is on three US carriers, and countless others internationally. When have any of those carriers delayed an update, or opted to not deliver one? Never. Because Apple updates go out when Apple says so, not when carriers do. And you know what, the carriers have learned to live with it for four years. So much so, that more carriers have signed on to carry the iPhone over the last four years, and updates are still released for all models of all of the devices in support at the same time. That’s three models of 3GS, 4, 4S, and three generations of the iPod Touch going out all over the world on one day. Microsoft proved they can do it fairly well too with the Mango release, so it’s not an issue of technicality at all.

    What you are suggesting is that Windows Phone should be handed off to mobile carriers who are already doing everything in their power to squash its reach so that the POS that Android is can gain even more market share. We’ve seen Verizon move at a snail’s pace to launch one first-generation device 9 months late, and ensure that it is relegated to the back corner of every store they own. Then they said they wanted LTE support before they would sell another Windows Phone. Nokia shopped an LTE-enabled device to them and they turned it down. If you support the greedy, ogopolistic ways of AT&T, Sprint, and Verizon; then keep talking. But if you support consumers like us at all, you would never say what you just did.

    • http://www.LiveSide.net Kip Kniskern – LiveSide.net

      Nothing has changed about the power of the carriers over Microsoft’s ability to push updates.  MS didn’t have the power to update a carrier’s phone on their own before, and they don’t now. 

      I’m not suggesting that Windows Phone “should be handed off to mobile carriers”, I’m suggesting that we recognize that Microsoft has never, doesn’t now, and probably won’t ever have the power to update our phones without the blessing of the carriers.

      • tN0

        If this will not change, they really have a huge problem! Apple can do it. Google can do it (with their Nexus line). If Microsoft can’t do it, they seriously should give up on the mobile market.

      • markjonson

        It has changed. In 2010, Microsoft promised that all devices would be updated in tandem with Microsoft’s release of a new build. Then they backpedaled and created that “carriers can withhold every other update” policy that has never been officially confirmed or observed since, but bloggers and media continue to reiterate it every time an update comes out of Redmond.

        Now they are officially stating that any pre-conceived policy is coming to an end, any transparency about the update process is going away, and carriers may “request” updates, which when combined with the lack of transparency means that they will never be held accountable to update a Windows Phone ever again by Microsoft, who was the only component of the Windows Phone ecosystem that actually had an interest in getting bug fixes or new features into the hands of customers who could easily defect to Apple or Google.

        Microsoft could easily deploy any software they want through Zune, just as Apple has done through iTunes on its own schedule for years. Instead, they are bowing to carriers for what, a few hundred million in advertising for Windows Phone? Microsoft could afford to do it on their own. I’m sure Apple spends more than that on the iPhone, and it would sell itself without a single ad anyway.

        Ultimately, this change does not help Windows Phone in any way, shape, or form. It simply means we will begin to see the end of uniformity in the platform, bugs will persist indefinitely, and even security flaws will never be patched. With so many people confusing Windows Mobile and Windows Phone, along with Microsoft’s poor consumer reputation as it is, Windows Phone has many hurdles to overcome. Removing transparency to the improvement process and handing that control fully over to the one group of companies 100% invested in shutting down Windows Phone is doing just about everything they can to kill any hope that Windows Phone could compete with iOS and Android.

        • http://www.LiveSide.net Kip Kniskern – LiveSide.net

          In order for Microsoft to self update, it would have to target each individual revision of each OEM’s phone, and each modification by each carrier.  That’s what brought down the NoDo update in the first place, and you could ask the boys at ChevronWP7 what targeting all those variations is like, nightmare-wise.

          Look, I’m not saying I agree with what’s going on, I just think we need to recognize the situation for what it is, and go from there.

          • http://www.facebook.com/people/Shameer-Mulji/1685212657 Shameer Mulji

            If that’s the case then MS should recognize the situation and do something like buy Nokia.  That why they’ll have full control of designing, manufacturing, supporting only their hardware.  This will allow them to bypass carriers in terms of providing updates.

          • markjonson

            I don’t disagree that it isn’t easy to target every device. But it has been done before without any major incident, as I pointed out earlier regarding 7720. But with Windows Phone in its infancy compared to iOS and Android, which have had years to mature, it is just as important that every update goes out consistently and in a timely manner.

            My issue is that complacency, apathy, and acceptance with the insane policies of wireless carriers is exactly what has allowed them to become the controlling, greedy entities that they are. Marketplace competition doesn’t work because they all collude to charge the same prices and offer the same lousy experience. Part of that mirrors the history of Ma Bell, but I had hoped years ago that Apple had set a new precedent for controlling the software side of the smartphone ecosystem. They told the carriers how it was going to be in 2007 and never let it change. If Microsoft doesn’t follow in Apple’s footsteps, who will? It seems that Google doesn’t really care, and is more interested in getting something, anything onto the market as long as it isn’t iOS. It might sound a bit overdramatic, but when will the tyranny of the carriers be broken if Microsoft is willing to give in? As a member of the media, I implore you and all others to oppose this because it truly is the only hope we have. I agree with you that we have to accept reality as it is today, but that shouldn’t discourage us from fighting what we know is wrong with everything we have.

          • http://www.facebook.com/people/Shameer-Mulji/1685212657 Shameer Mulji

            Amen!

        • http://www.facebook.com/people/Shameer-Mulji/1685212657 Shameer Mulji


          Microsoft could easily deploy any software they want through Zune, just as Apple has done through iTunes on its own schedule for years. Instead, they are bowing to carriers for what, a few hundred million in advertising for Windows Phone? Microsoft could afford to do it on their own. I’m sure Apple spends more than that on the iPhone, and it would sell itself without a single ad anyway.”

          You hit the nail on the head.  This paragraph says it all.

          • Guest

            Apple is a goose that lay golden egg.
            Like you said, they don’t need to spend a single ad and every news source will advertise it. Consumers will buy it no matter what. It’s stupid for the carrier to refuse the name that has such huge power to sway peoples’ choice.

            Compared to that, the carriers can be a jerk and give the “take it or leave it” choice to Microsoft instead of having it said to them.

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Shameer-Mulji/1685212657 Shameer Mulji


         I’m suggesting that we recognize that Microsoft has never, doesn’t now, and probably won’t ever have the power to update our phones without the blessing of the carriers.”

        What a load of BS.  Try telling Apple they can’t update their phones without the blessings of the carriers & see what kind of answer you get.

  • Anonymous

    “That’s the way the game is played.” Well, I disagree!

    Microsoft is the largest software company. They aren’t really new to that phone business, only Windows Phone is a new product. Google shows how you do it: release unlocked “superphones” where no carrier is involved and push the updates right over the air to the phones. Please tell me, why can’t Microsoft simply do this as well?

    Another solution would be to split the update process to radio/network related stuff (firmware, kernel, drivers and so on) and customer features/build-in apps.

    Microsoft could simply update IE, the Start screen, every hub, Bing search or the Zune app over their own Marketplace without ever having the carriers involved! Yeah right, Google is doing this! Oh and btw, this is how Microsoft has handled PC updates for ages. They don’t have to ask and wait for HP to update Internet Explorer…

    *sigh*

    • http://twitter.com/bufbarnaby Joe

      I like your take on this situation.
      The whole smartphone game is based on carriers holding all the cards.
      I got rid of mine a year ago , and use a basic phone for less than $30/mo
      Dropped that for now , and been using nothing but Google Voice for free.
      Incoming calls go to voice mail , and are easy to listen to and incoming number can be clicked to call back. And I prefer talking on a high quality Plantronics headset , while I can be watching a car chase on my HDTV tuner with the sound turned down , or surfing the net , checking email , etc. while in a comfortable chair and coffee.
      Steve Job`s “trucks are dead” is the most asinine statement I have heard in several years.
      My “truck” and my cable internet are two things I will never get rid of.
      Upgrade , yes. Get rid of ? NEVER.

  • tN0

    “That’s the way the game is played.” Well, I disagree!

    Microsoft is the largest software company. They aren’t really new to that phone business, only Windows Phone is a new product. Google shows how you do it: release unlocked “superphones” where no carrier is involved and push the updates right over the air to the phones. Please tell me, why can’t Microsoft simply do this as well?

    Another solution would be to split the update process to radio/network related stuff (firmware, kernel, drivers and so on) and customer features/build-in apps.

    Microsoft could simply update IE, the Start screen, every hub, Bing search or the Zune app over their own Marketplace without ever having the carriers involved! Yeah right, Google is doing this! Oh and btw, this is how Microsoft has handled PC updates for ages. They don’t have to ask and wait for HP to update Internet Explorer…

    *sigh*

    • Joe Blo

      I like your take on this situation.
      The whole smartphone game is based on carriers holding all the cards.
      I got rid of mine a year ago , and use a basic phone for less than $30/mo
      Dropped that for now , and been using nothing but Google Voice for free.
      Incoming calls go to voice mail , and are easy to listen to and incoming number can be clicked to call back. And I prefer talking on a high quality Plantronics headset , while I can be watching a car chase on my HDTV tuner with the sound turned down , or surfing the net , checking email , etc. while in a comfortable chair and coffee.
      Steve Job`s “trucks are dead” is the most asinine statement I have heard in several years.
      My “truck” and my cable internet are two things I will never get rid of.
      Upgrade , yes. Get rid of ? NEVER.

  • http://twitter.com/efjay01 Ef Jay

    markjonson, thank you for your comments, they convey practicaly all the thoughts I have on this matter.

    I am particularly disappointed with the article and its message to WP7 users to basically bend over and take it from carriers. I’m not sure how this is any way benefits Windows Phone in its quest to become a viable option to consumers but sending the message that your device can be held hostage by carriers by withholding feature updates and more importantly security and bug fixes is not the message Microsoft (and ultimately, its Microsoft who loses here) should be looking to send.

    One has to wonder if this stance will be adhered to if the SMS bug ever becomes public and users start being affected by it. With no effective way to backup a device, will Microsoft and its “partners” just sit back and watch as WP7 users experience goes down the drain?

    This is all a far cry from what was initially promised back at MWC in Feb 2010 and its quite sad to see WP going down the path where the end users are seen as the least important part of the equation.

    • Anonymous

      I appreciate your thanks. :)

      “One has to wonder if this stance will be adhered to if the SMS bug ever becomes public and users start being affected by it. With no effective way to backup a device, will Microsoft and its “partners” just sit back and watch as WP7 users experience goes down the drain?”

      Regarding this paragraph, I can’t help but think that is exactly what carriers and device makers want. If Windows Phone reputation becomes so badly damaged and Microsoft’s hands are tied by the carriers to release a fix in a timely and comprehensive manner, then people will defect back to the iPhone and Android permanently. There will be no consumer confidence left in Windows Phone at all. We all know that’s what the carriers and device makers want: Android everywhere. Nothing is better than being given “free” software that you can load your bloatware into, lock it down, then never have to update it when bugs are found or new features become available.

  • efjay

    markjonson, thank you for your comments, they convey practicaly all the thoughts I have on this matter.

    I am particularly disappointed with the article and its message to WP7 users to basically bend over and take it from carriers. I’m not sure how this is any way benefits Windows Phone in its quest to become a viable option to consumers but sending the message that your device can be held hostage by carriers by withholding feature updates and more importantly security and bug fixes is not the message Microsoft (and ultimately, its Microsoft who loses here) should be looking to send.

    One has to wonder if this stance will be adhered to if the SMS bug ever becomes public and users start being affected by it. With no effective way to backup a device, will Microsoft and its “partners” just sit back and watch as WP7 users experience goes down the drain?

    This is all a far cry from what was initially promised back at MWC in Feb 2010 and its quite sad to see WP going down the path where the end users are seen as the least important part of the equation.

    • markjonson

      I appreciate your thanks. :)

      “One has to wonder if this stance will be adhered to if the SMS bug ever becomes public and users start being affected by it. With no effective way to backup a device, will Microsoft and its “partners” just sit back and watch as WP7 users experience goes down the drain?”

      Regarding this paragraph, I can’t help but think that is exactly what carriers and device makers want. If Windows Phone reputation becomes so badly damaged and Microsoft’s hands are tied by the carriers to release a fix in a timely and comprehensive manner, then people will defect back to the iPhone and Android permanently. There will be no consumer confidence left in Windows Phone at all. We all know that’s what the carriers and device makers want: Android everywhere. Nothing is better than being given “free” software that you can load your bloatware into, lock it down, then never have to update it when bugs are found or new features become available.

  • Denirma2

    you can alwayd do as i do. my phone makes calls, nothing else, no apps no road map, no nothing. works fine

  • Denirma2

    you can alwayd do as i do. my phone makes calls, nothing else, no apps no road map, no nothing. works fine

  • Panamawise

    Gee… thank you Steve Jobs, I love my iPhone!

  • Panamawise

    Gee… thank you Steve Jobs, I love my iPhone!

  • http://blog.stevienova.com Steve

    iPhone seems to be doing just fine (FYI i have iPhone, Atrix 4G and Samsung Focus) .. The droid and WP7 devices will suffer from lack of updates.. and iPhone will continue to update. 

    • Anonymous

      I hate to say this, but you are right Steve. I have no trust with Microsoft after Windows Mobile 6.1 and 6.5 and I am starting to be dissapointed with Google relying on the couriers to update my phone. It looks like Apple may have this Smartphone game on lock, even though I do not like the iPhone.

  • http://blog.stevienova.com Steve

    iPhone seems to be doing just fine (FYI i have iPhone, Atrix 4G and Samsung Focus) .. The droid and WP7 devices will suffer from lack of updates.. and iPhone will continue to update. 

    • JSYOUNG571

      I hate to say this, but you are right Steve. I have no trust with Microsoft after Windows Mobile 6.1 and 6.5 and I am starting to be dissapointed with Google relying on the couriers to update my phone. It looks like Apple may have this Smartphone game on lock, even though I do not like the iPhone.

  • Asbjørn

    I sure am glad I live in Denmark. Here we have no such thing as carriers controlling phones. They sell standard retail phones with no modifications – they aren’t even SIM-locked any more (they used to be a few years back). The carriers have their stores, but they can only force you to sign up for 6 month contract, then they have to let you go. And there are no such thing as exclusive phones – it is prohibited. I don’t believe that phone companies should sell subsidized phones at all, but rather make you pay up front what the phone actually costs (you’ll end up paying it anyway), so I buy my phones from third-party stores and then sign up for a subscription. That, I think, is the way it should be, and I am glad that I am able to have it this way here.
    It is true that elsewhere in Europe (Germany being a notable example, but probably also the UK) there are carrier-branded phones, but it is also possible to avoid them there, as the same EU law applies, forbidding contracts longer than 6 months and exclusives.
    The US system is sick and it is this system that needs to change and not the way Microsoft (or any other company) deploys updates.

  • Asbjørn

    I sure am glad I live in Denmark. Here we have no such thing as carriers controlling phones. They sell standard retail phones with no modifications – they aren’t even SIM-locked any more (they used to be a few years back). The carriers have their stores, but they can only force you to sign up for 6 month contract, then they have to let you go. And there are no such thing as exclusive phones – it is prohibited. I don’t believe that phone companies should sell subsidized phones at all, but rather make you pay up front what the phone actually costs (you’ll end up paying it anyway), so I buy my phones from third-party stores and then sign up for a subscription. That, I think, is the way it should be, and I am glad that I am able to have it this way here.
    It is true that elsewhere in Europe (Germany being a notable example, but probably also the UK) there are carrier-branded phones, but it is also possible to avoid them there, as the same EU law applies, forbidding contracts longer than 6 months and exclusives.
    The US system is sick and it is this system that needs to change and not the way Microsoft (or any other company) deploys updates.

  • Wittgenfrog

    The carriers are definitely a bad influence on the market in UK.  The Danish system sounds perfect: buy a ‘phone, chose a carrier on the basis of its performance.  This would also make it easier to chose the ‘phone you want, rather than the one the carrier wants to sell you.  In UK O2 has a sweetheart deal with Apple, carries only 1 or 2 WP7 ‘phones, and tries hard not to promote them.

    The problem in UK is that ‘phones are retailed at exhorbitant prices, usually much higher than in USA (for example).  This makes the carrier ‘subsidy’ more attractive.   In fact over the lifetime of a ‘phone you pay at least as much with a ‘subsidised’ contract as you do if you buy ouitright, but spreading the burden over 24 months reduces it….

    This all leads to extensive ‘lock-in’ and back to the ‘updates’ issue.   The fact is that if Apple can bypass the carriers, so can MS.  Sucking-up to O2 and the others will do no good at all, they have far too many vested interests and under-the-counter deals with the likes of Samsung in place.

  • Wittgenfrog

    The carriers are definitely a bad influence on the market in UK.  The Danish system sounds perfect: buy a ‘phone, chose a carrier on the basis of its performance.  This would also make it easier to chose the ‘phone you want, rather than the one the carrier wants to sell you.  In UK O2 has a sweetheart deal with Apple, carries only 1 or 2 WP7 ‘phones, and tries hard not to promote them.

    The problem in UK is that ‘phones are retailed at exhorbitant prices, usually much higher than in USA (for example).  This makes the carrier ‘subsidy’ more attractive.   In fact over the lifetime of a ‘phone you pay at least as much with a ‘subsidised’ contract as you do if you buy ouitright, but spreading the burden over 24 months reduces it….

    This all leads to extensive ‘lock-in’ and back to the ‘updates’ issue.   The fact is that if Apple can bypass the carriers, so can MS.  Sucking-up to O2 and the others will do no good at all, they have far too many vested interests and under-the-counter deals with the likes of Samsung in place.

  • Guest

    This just in: “Nothing has changed in regard to how we work with carriers to deliver Windows Phone updates to our customers”.  Read more:
    http://www.zdnet.com/blog/microsoft/microsoft-its-business-as-usual-with-windows-phone-updates/11584

  • Guest

    This just in: “Nothing has changed in regard to how we work with carriers to deliver Windows Phone updates to our customers”.  Read more:
    http://www.zdnet.com/blog/microsoft/microsoft-its-business-as-usual-with-windows-phone-updates/11584

  • http://twitter.com/Andrew_ww Andrew W

    All the cell phone companies should do is give a phone and access to their network. EVERYTHING else like updates should be up to the user and the company that makes the OS.

  • Andrew_ww

    All the cell phone companies should do is give a phone and access to their network. EVERYTHING else like updates should be up to the user and the company that makes the OS.

  • http://www.michaelmcgovern.co.uk/ Michael McGovern

    Windows Phone has a small, but loyal and enthusiastic, following. We’re the people on the ground spreading the word, letting our friends and family know what a great phone we’ve got. Microsoft can spend a trillion dollars or whatever on marketing Windows Phone, but the opinion of someone you know is still more valuable/influential. They need us right now. We get excited about software updates, so just give them to us. Our excitement is free (as in money-can’t-buy) marketing because we’re gonna tell people what’s got us so happy.

    Maybe in a few years when Windows Phone’s more popular, then Microsoft can play the game the way it’s played on Android, but not now. They need us.

  • http://www.michaelmcgovern.co.uk/ Michael McGovern

    Windows Phone has a small, but loyal and enthusiastic, following. We’re the people on the ground spreading the word, letting our friends and family know what a great phone we’ve got. Microsoft can spend a trillion dollars or whatever on marketing Windows Phone, but the opinion of someone you know is still more valuable/influential. They need us right now. We get excited about software updates, so just give them to us. Our excitement is free (as in money-can’t-buy) marketing because we’re gonna tell people what’s got us so happy.

    Maybe in a few years when Windows Phone’s more popular, then Microsoft can play the game the way it’s played on Android, but not now. They need us.

  • Anonymous

    Can anyone here please explain to a “dumb” customer why and in which ways carriers are at all involved in the updates?!

  • $14196660

    Can anyone here please explain to a “dumb” customer why and in which ways carriers are at all involved in the updates?!

  • Guest

    iPhone disproves your early statement that carriers hold all the cards and even MS having an 80% share wouldn’t change that. Yes, it would, as iPhone’s appeal made carriers do things they have never done for others previously. The challenge is that MS has little chance of creating a phone with the market pull that iPhone enjoys. Not with Apple and Google as competitors. So yes, when it comes to MS the carriers hold all the cards.

  • Guest

    iPhone disproves your early statement that carriers hold all the cards and even MS having an 80% share wouldn’t change that. Yes, it would, as iPhone’s appeal made carriers do things they have never done for others previously. The challenge is that MS has little chance of creating a phone with the market pull that iPhone enjoys. Not with Apple and Google as competitors. So yes, when it comes to MS the carriers hold all the cards.

  • http://www.umbeehosting.co.uk/vps-hosting Virtual Server Hosting

    I hope so we can, after Steve Jobs died I don’t hear any good news about the upcoming
    release of next iPhone. I hate Siri app, the app answers sometimes wrong and disappointing.

  • http://www.umbeehosting.co.uk/vps-hosting Virtual Server Hosting

    I hope so we can, after Steve Jobs died I don’t hear any good news about the upcoming
    release of next iPhone. I hate Siri app, the app answers sometimes wrong and disappointing.

  • #TeamCortana

    Wait, so you’re saying that in order to fix a disappearing keyboard problem, my carrier has the right to expect me to buy a new phone?

  • Anonymous

    Wait, so you’re saying that in order to fix a disappearing keyboard problem, my carrier has the right to expect me to buy a new phone?