I’ve complained again and again about Microsoft’s inability to ship software updates for Windows Phone, noting that the sheer number of missing features and bugs requires a steady stream of hot-fixes. They’re not listening, and are instead embarking on an agonizingly slow update cycle that involves monolithic releases (where each release builds off the previous release) on a slow, slow, slow schedule.
This is exactly how they shouldn’t be doing it.
But then Microsoft isn’t the only company with a modern smart phone. Three and a half years ago, Apple released its first iPhone, and while I instantly grasped the importance of this device, I also recognized at the time that it was a work in progress, especially for Windows users. And so I wrote a number of articles (like this one) in which I complained about missing features and bugs (sound familiar), all back in 2007-2008.
But I did something else as well. As Apple released updates for the iPhone throughout this time period, I documented the updates and changes. And you can look back on this document now and compare and contrast what Microsoft has done with Windows Phone in a similar time period.
Let’s see how they compare, using similar time frames as a comparison.
Microsoft, October 2010 – January 2011 (three months)
Software updates, improvements, bug fixes: 0
This one is easy. Microsoft has done nothing.
Apple, July 2007 – October 2007 (three months)
Software updates, improvements, bug fixes: Many, including:
iPhone 1.01, August 2007 – Bug fixes and security fixes, including stability fixes.
iPhone 1.02, August 2007 – More bug and security fixes.
Major new updates announced, September 2007 – Apple transparently revealed early in the month that coming iPhone updates would add ringtone support, iTunes Wi-Fi support, and Starbucks service support. Apple also announced sweeping price cuts.
Ringtone editing and purchasing, September 2007 – Apple delivered on its ringtone promise just 6 days later.
iPhone 1.1.1, September 2007 – Added the promised iTunes Wi-Fi Music Store, data roaming, double-tap support for the Home button, and much more.
IMAP support for Gmail (added by Google, not Apple), October 2007.
Of course, it didn’t stop there. Apple delivered iPhone 1.1.2 in November 2007, and iPhone 1.1.3 in January 2008. The sheer pace of improvement and innovation there is stunning in retrospect. And it makes what Microsoft has done in a similar time frame—i.e. absolutely nothing—look even sillier by comparison.
To summarize, the Microsoft of 2011 doesn’t compete effectively with the Apple of 2007. How, exactly, are they going to compete with today’s Apple?
It’s a pretty relevant question, I think.