What’s happening with Windows Phone updates in 2011

I can finally reveal a number of details about the first Windows Phone 7 update, a future major update, and how Microsoft intends to roll out updates generally. It’s not necessarily great news. But here’s what’s happening.

The first update: “No Donuts”

The first Windows Phone 7 software update, codenamed “NoDo,” will RTM in January, possibly this very week and in time for the CES keynote. But it won’t ship to users until early February, once the carriers sign off on it. This update will include the famed copy and paste functional addition, support for the Qualcomm 7×30 smart phone chipset, a CDMA location stack, and a number of software fixes.

Fun fact: “NoDo” stands for “No Donuts” and could be so named because the a minor Android update was called “Donut.”

Major update: “Mango” … Sort of

While I’m not sure on the timing, the first major Windows Phone 7 update contains a piece called “Mango” internally; this will add Internet Explorer 9 with with the Trident 5 rendering engine, HTML 5 and Silverlight, and gesture support. This is the “75xx” code branch, which suggests that it could be called Windows Phone 7.5. (But probably won’t be … It actually calls itself Windows Phone 7.2 at this time.). Internally, this code branch is referred to as the “entertainment” branch, which suggests other, non-IE functionality as well.

Note that Mango isn’t the “next” Windows Phone update after NoDo. It’s part of a future major update, and there could be other updates between NoDo and Mango.

Updating paradigm

In case it’s not obvious, the first update above, combined with previous information about carriers’ abilities to stop updates for “one cycle” only, suggests very strongly that Microsoft will never (or at least not normally) ship fixes for individual issues. Instead, it appears to be handling WP updates as it does with services packs in the desktop Windows world. This is, in my opinion, a huge mistake. Microsoft has plenty to fix in Windows Phone, and it should be doing so as quickly as possible, one fix at a time if necessary.

Anyway. That’s what I got.

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101 Responses to What’s happening with Windows Phone updates in 2011

  1. apham79 says:

    That’s good to know. Thanks for the info Paul.

    • fred1381 says:

      Thanks for the information Paul! I think I can speak for most early adopters of Windows Phone when I say that we have been anxiously waiting for updates or at least some concreate information on when we will receive updates.

      In the first paragraph you mention that there could be a number of software fixes, which I hope includes a fix to the Marketplace bug that occasionaly causes it freeze, but can this also mean that they will add features to core applications as well. For example, Bing maps on iPhone got a big update recently adding Streetside view to results, that’s a killer feature Windows Phone users deserve to have.

  2. Pingback: News Of Windows Phone 7 Updates - ThinkMobile

  3. interframe says:

    Thanks for sharing this info, Paul. Hope you don’t get into any trouble :).

    This is definitely a huge step up form the Windows Mobile days. You did mention that there could be minor updates in between NoDo and Mango, so maybe Microsoft will ship minor updates despite what you believe. Microsoft is about 2-3 months since launch and I think its pretty impressive that they were able to integrate a OS-wide feature such as copy/paste, i don’t think it sounds as easy as it does, there are security concerns and also functionality concerns and if Microsoft got both correct, then their time was well-spent for making sure it was implemented with quality.

    It seems like Microsoft and listening loud and clearly, and they know what is at stake, but with where they are right now, they haven’t got much too lose, its not like they are losing their monopoly marketshare at a rapid pace, the smartphone industry is still growing and I think there is still hope.

    I do think they need to update faster, but its easier to say that when your sitting on the sidelines. Developing and maturing an operating system is no easy task. Even Google is taking good, long brakes in between “real” releases and it did take the ma good full year to catch up. But surely, MS will get there eventually.

  4. mobilepaddy says:

    No mention at all of Third-party multitasking? I keep hearing about this mysterious native code framework called IRIS for WP7.

    Are the days longer in Mountain View than Redmond? How can google can get so much more of their employees than Microsoft?

    Dont get me wrong I really like my WP7 focus but it feels at the rate of these updates they will always be playing catchup with Google and Apple.

  5. Rafael says:

    Sad news. For those like me that still don’t have WP7 but were very interested, maybe those news will push us to Android.

    I still have the hope you’re wrong Paul, lol.

  6. TorVez says:

    Totally agree with your comment about MS making service pack updates instead of smaller/quicker updates as needed. They don’t have time to wait when they’re quickly losing ground behind iPhone and Android. If an update can be pushed out without reseting the users phone, they need to start getting those out. I love my HD7 but got so frustrated with the slow 3G speeds and crappy apps that I switched back to using Android (or “NANDroid”) on my HD2 (same network, but much MUCH faster). WP7 apps take far too long to load and I would like some basic app switching/multitasking. The HD7 is my 10th Windows phone, but if the update in Jan/Feb doesn’t improve the base OS, I may not wait for 7.2 (Aug?!?).

    • liambresnahan says:

      Although I agree with some of your points it might be worth remembering that this is your first Windows Phone. Due to the ‘reboot’ on the WM team and complete re-write for WP this is a fully 1.0 product and as such should be treated as such.

      Not that this means that we shouldn’t expect multitasking / turn-by-turn directions etc etc ASAP but that bugs in the 1.0 product are expected and MS will, I am sure, try to get good updates out ASAP for these bugs.

  7. paschott says:

    I agree – MS should be releasing updates as often as possible to fix these small bugs. Two updates in the coming year is pretty lame. They should be pushing updates as much as possible so they don’t fall behind Android and Apple. They have so much to do to catch up that they shouldn’t waste the time. I’m all for quality updates, but you can have quality, but small, updates. I’m really disappointed by this information, especially with the Carriers having the ability to delay one update indefinitely until the release of a second update. I don’t have a lot of faith in the carriers to do the right thing – they never have before. Really hoping there will be several updates between NoDo and Mango, especially since the rumors indicate Mango is targeted for a late 2011 release.

  8. lzandman says:

    If you say you can FINALLY reveal something, does that mean it’s official Microsoft info, straight from the source?

  9. This is very disappointing to me, Paul. With all the bugs, they should be rolling out an update every other week.

    This is a very bad idea. I hope they rethink their plan.

  10. bpsmicro says:

    Curiously, I couldn’t care less about copy’n’paste. I want customizable ringtones (and alert tones) to replace the lame ones supplied with the phone.

    Does the Focus have this Qualcomm chipset? Otherwise, I guess I couldn’t care less about that either. :-)

    I’m not sure I’m thrilled about updates requiring “carrier signoff”. I thought the whole point was to make us users less of a hostage to the carriers.

  11. serval23 says:

    What a bummer. I start to believe that I’ve adopted WP7 too early. I really like the OS and its philosophy, but the apps are coming slower than I thought as are the OS updates. The little edges really are annoying over time. I hope this won’t have a bad impact on its perception compared to feature-richer competitors. Sure, the iPhone v1 had its problems, but there was no Android etc. at that time. Anyway, I’ll stick with it and hope :)

    @Paul – On another note:
    Have you ever thought about using http://flattr.com/ ? This service basically allows your readers to tip your articles & podcasts. E.g. I pay a single digit amount of money into my flattr account each month and “flattr” articles I like. At the end of the month the money is devided by number of my flattrs and payed to the respective content creator.

  12. brentgv says:

    I hope that the first or second update includes Bing-powered turn-by-turn navigation. The Google offering for Android is a fantastic selling proposition. I’d like to see Microsoft neutralize that advantage by coming out with similar functionality.

    • nicholas1029 says:

      For me, I could care less about copy and paste. Navigation is something that I do want. I was hoping that at least a third party app would bring navigation to the phone. If Bing’s nav could come to WP7, then that would be great.

      Speaking of Bing, we still need all of the Bing features. As of right now, Bing on the iPhone can do more than Bing on WP7 (on both the web and in the app). It’s kinda strange when a company’s product runs better on their competitor’s platform.

  13. Jas Chiang says:

    does Mango have far eastern language support ? like Mary Jo Foley reported

    thx u

  14. Pingback: Windows Phone 7 ‘NoDo’ update hitting phones in early February, ‘Mango’ coming later with IE9? | techwitted.com

  15. interframe says:

    Something interesting I just found that may or may not contradict your thoughts, Paul. CNET interviewed Steve Ballmer a while back when Microsoft launched WP7. They asked him this interesting question:

    “A: Part of playing catch up is that you have to move faster than the people you are trying to catching up with. With Android, there seems to be a different version every day and Apple is less frequent but they tend to take pretty big steps each year. How aggressive is your schedule moving forward with the phone?

    Ballmer: You will see us with capability that comes out more regularly and then with big annual steps. I think it is probably fair to stay that Apple takes reasonably big steps every year to two years.

    I think a lot of the steps Google is taking are chaotic and not necessarily as well thought through. It doesn’t mean there is not some good stuff there and certainly we’re going to have a rapid pace.”

    I think Ballmer has a good point when he says Google does not think things through well, regarding shipping Android updates ASAP. Sure they move fast, but then again, theres a reason why Android, even today, feels so half-heartily designed compared to WP7 or iOS4, Google cheated to get there, and ultimately provided a dumbed-down version of iOS in terms of design and user experience.

  16. cpdjoe says:

    Hey Paul will these updates come directly to the phone ready for download or in some other fashion?

    • Paul Thurrott says:

      I guess it would depend on the size. If they’re big enough, you’ll need to go through the Zune PC software.

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  18. Pingback: Copy and Paste functionality arriving shortly… « WP7 Connect

  19. Thomas says:

    Do you think that if mango is released as windows phone 7.5 current hardware will not get updates? Because that would certainly be a good reason to wait to buy a phone.

    • Paul Thurrott says:

      The version number stuff is just speculation. That code branch currently reports itself as 7.2 in the browser user agent string, but uses 75xx build numbers. If I were to simply guess, no, it won’t be a new version (or require a new phone). This is just a guess.

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  23. bdn24 says:

    will custom ringtones be apart of the no donuts update

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  26. Peter Mier says:

    I’d like to complain about the lack of actual updates, but my guess is that Microsoft is toeing the line with (especially) carriers, hardware partners, and developers right now. They have nothing to gain by trying to strong-arm them when they are absolutely in the weaker spot right now.

    If they can continue to gain marketshare, mindspace, and developer interest, I would think that eventually they would be in a position to push out updates without the shackles of the evil carriers. Until then, if we’re stuck with getting quarterly updates (is that really so bad at this point) I’m fine with that.

    I doubt that the WP team is not updating code, fixing bugs and adding features daily. We’re just not getting info about it daily (which in the big picture) isn’t that big of a deal. The big Kahuna of Smartphones only “updates” once a year (and they have had their one carrier by the balls from the beginning). Android “updates” much more frequently, but how many actually people get them in a timely manner?

    • Paul Thurrott says:

      I don’t want big updates once a quarter, especially now. I want problems fixed. Immediately. When you have something has unfully realized as Windows Phone, how you could leave it in this state for months is just unbelievable to me.

      • nicholas1029 says:

        I agree with you 100% Paul. As of right now, I have to go out of my way to make WP7 work for me, which isn’t the way it should be. The fact that I have the manually toggle the cell phone data on and off to prevent overages is an inconvinient bug. The fact that I can’t schedule a new appointment because the phone won’t push it back up to Google is a bug. I can go on, but the point is, if these bugs are hampering my experience now, then there should be a fix now.

        If these were minor bugs, then I could care less about when they are fixed. But in my opinion, these are major. I think that MS should have gone the Apple route and handle the updates by themselves. But since they want to make the carriers feel useful, I don’t see why Microsoft can’t prioritize updates for the phone like they do on Windows. Create a system where certain updates are marked as “important,” like bugs and security issues and have the carriers streamline these. Mark the new features as “unimportant.” That way they can push out more updates with less of a risk of a holdup.

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  29. dachevracr says:

    Wondering than if cdma location is just added than will we not see the htc trophy on Verizon network in Jan. Like was thought previously. Been waiting for Verizon to get windows phone 7.

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  32. intodevelopmentnl says:

    Hi Paul! Good to hear there’s finally news on the updates. I personally agree with you that updates should be release when they’re ready. However, isn’t this only true for ‘us’ developers / power users? I think the average person doesn’t really care about updates, and might even find them annoying when they’re constantly notified about them. You might even risk that after one or two minor things they will think updates don’t do anything for them and ignore them in the future. While if each released update is truly an addition, they will remember that and install any future updates as well. It would be ideal if they gave you the option to update only service pack updates or minor updates as well. But I guess that will never happen, since the paradigm seems to be to keep it simple and to not include too many options.

  33. squeakstar says:

    Hey, will those pesky mobile operators affect an unlocked windows 7 phone from getting these updates? …Patiently waiting on a Dell Venue Pro in the UK which doesn’t seem to be tied to any mobile contractor in particular so far – though could pre-order with a contract from a range of networks!

  34. oslik says:

    I don’t see it as a bad news. Apple would definitely consider NoDo a big update. And to have it just three months after the launch… it’s quite OK.

    I’m even not sure if the stream of small daily updates would be better. Updates are annoying and not-so-rarely even dangerous. Quarterly mid-sized updates may be the best variant until the OS reaches the maturity in 1-2 years. MS will then probably switch to yearly update schedule, which would be good enough too (given the OS is mature enough), except for the operator’s ability to block one update step. ;-)

    • oslik says:

      The most important thing in the NoDo update is the list of small fixes. This will decide the real value of the update. If a lot of issues is covered, the NoDo may be a win.

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  36. throndr says:

    Even more important than releasing more frequent, smaller updates to Windows Phone 7 will be officially launching it in other countries (like the Scandinavian countries and the rest of the Western European countries) and enable all related services also for these countries.

    I would consider the lack of this launch to be a more serious show-stopper for Windows Phone 7 than anything else.

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  38. Hal says:

    Any news on additional Exchange Activesync feature support mentioned for any of the udpates?

    • throndr says:

      Are there any problems with the existing Exchange sync? I have right from the start had Exchange sync (push even) available for both email, calendar and contacts on my HTC 7 Trophy through the standard Outlook/Exchange account setup.

      Being located in Norway I had to create a new US Live ID to set up and use my phone, but even that works fine (cannot buy apps though, because I will need a US credit card for that).

      However, as mentioned above I believe Microsoft really has to officially launch Windows Phone 7 in more countries if they want to avoid being left too far behind by the competitors.

      Any information from Microsoft (or others) about such launch dates, Paul?

      • Hal says:

        Yes it has EAS support, but lacks a lot of features that make it inferior as a business tool – for instance you cannot search your email on an exchange server, or set your out of office. Email works fine, it just needs the full set of features.

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  43. Chris says:

    It would have been nice if Microsoft implemented a Windows Update style feature where they could send smaller fixes via this method and only release a full OS when needed.

    I’d also like to see Microsoft pull a Google a la Nexus and make their own phone that they support and update without carrier approval. Pipe dream I guess.

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  49. rohan003 says:

    How does this work with unlocked phones? I know you can buy phones from wireless.amazon.com at full price without a contract. So in that case would it still depend on the corresponding carrier to have signed off? For e.g. would updates for the focus be available only after AT&T signs off even if you have bought it without contract for a full price?

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  51. ggg3sd says:

    Paul – great to hear of the updates. For now I’m most interested in when support for adding a hidden wi-fi network will be included. In my work environment my nice samsung focus is of limited use since hidden wi-fi ssid’s are the norm. It’s killing me man! Have you heard anything on this topic??

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  53. Chris says:

    Paul, does “CDMA Location Stack” mean we will shortly see Sprint/Verizon Windows Phones? Or is that something different?

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  58. tofik65 says:

    I can’t read Arabic websites on my Samsung Focus (For instance BBC). I also hope that the first updates have the turn by turn navigation (for free).

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  60. mezmorized says:

    I’m 47 years old, I have a peeve with WP7 messaging… The font is way too small and doesn’t seem to have an option to choose a larger one.

  61. trekmanone says:

    Will “NoDo” contain on-device encyrption (ODE)? I can’t connect to my companies EAS until that is a feature.

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  66. triadanet says:

    I’m eligible for a smartphone upgrade at Verizon. As much as I want to jump ship from VZ b/c of costs, I’m stuck. So I’d really like to have a Windows Phone as my next phone even though i’ve been happy with my orig Droid.

    I hope its far before June…

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  70. crashfellow says:

    Here’s hoping microsoft revises it’s concepts because i made the switch from iPhone to Windows Phone 7 with much anticipation and as much as i’m happy with the switch i continue to be very underwhelmed.

    Some issues i’ve found:
    - As someone mentioned, i need to adapt my work patterns with my phone to suit, it’s missing so many of the applications i relied on on the iOS platform.
    - Zune while pretty doesn’t (amazingly) have the simplicity and ‘all in one’ of iTunes. Also the Australian version of the store has no access to music pushing me back into iTunes.
    - Sales people have no idea of these phones (i purchased a memory card which i had to return, and doesn’t have tethering despite being told it does)
    - Theres MULTIPLE glitches in the operating system at all levels. Sometimes buttons work, other times they don’t, changing orientation has issues at times.
    - The volume of music is very low even when at full volume. I have senheiser headphones and even at 30, it’s loud? but not even close to iPhone at half way to full volume.

    I really hope Microsoft fixes these issues, sooner then later, because the early adopters, who are your core audience really, are developing a bad taste in their mouths, and if the issues above aren’t fixed (or at least on the way) i’ll be going back to iPhone 5 when my contract expires in 12 months.

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  73. macksit says:

    Thanks for the updates Paul.

    I don’t know about the rest of you WH7 users out there, but I don’t care about Copy and Paste because its so insignificant compared to the amount of bugs in the OS. I’ve been waiting for the update so long now that my view of the phone is already tainted and I’ll be moving straight back to the iPhone as soon as a new one ships in the summer.
    Lets assume I could live without the following apps Skype, LogMeIn, Sky TV and Sky Sports News, Navigon, Google Maps (‘cos Bing Maps just dosen’t work around here) and lots more.
    The basics of the PHONE don’t work, several times when the phone rings I slide up the screen and the answer button won’t work, so my phone rings out and I then need to restart the phone.
    On two occasions the music started playing while the phone was locked one while i was carring my sleeping child to bed, I had to remove the battery to get it to stop.
    While using a bluetooth headset it has several times diverted music to the headset after I end a call. (I couldn’t force it to play music to the headset if I tried on other occasions)
    My screen breaks down into hundreds of tiny frazzling screens then freezes so it looks like a tiled background in windows.
    And finally for now the volume controls are awful, while listening to music or podcasts if I turn the volume down it turns the ringtone and alarm down to. So in the morning after listening to Windows Weekly (wink, wink) down and level one I can’t hear alarm going off. It’s madness.
    I’m a Microsoft guy, A Technet Plus subscriber and an MCP so NOT an apple lover (just so you know)
    It doesn’t matter what Microsoft comes out with now, they have proved they don’t care about their customers once again. I can’t wait this long again to fix bugs in a device which is a necessity not a luxary.
    I’m not sorry Microsoft I’ll be changing asap.

    I also sucks that I had so signed up to wordpress just to leave this comment.

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