Has Microsoft found the data hog bug?

And if so, why hasn’t its PR department alerted anybody? Not newsworthy enough? Not important enough? Too busy advocating Windows Phone elsewhere, as they do day-in and day-out?

OK, sorry. /sarcasm off.

Responding to a direct question by the Seattle PI’s Nick Eaton, Microsoft actually claims they’ve solved the mysterious rampant data usage problem on Windows Phone. The punch line is that they’re not telling anyone which application caused it.

We have determined that a third-party solution commonly accessed from Windows Phones is configured in a manner that potentially cause larger than expected data downloads. We are in contact with the third party to assist them in making the necessary fixes, and are also pursuing potential workarounds to address the configuration issue in case those are needed. At this point in our investigation, we believe this is responsible for most of the reported incidents.


We are investigating additional potential root causes for the remainder of the reports. A small (low single-digit) percentage of Windows Phone customers have reported being affected.

We are continuing to investigate this issue and will update with additional information and guidance as it becomes available.

Interesting, if true. I’ll light a candle.

Thanks to Mary Jo Foley for tipping me off to this. She wasn’t told either.

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39 Responses to Has Microsoft found the data hog bug?

  1. Ian says:

    What is this third-party solution of which they speak? Is it an app? Is it something the apps use?

  2. paschott says:

    Glad that our family wasn’t affected by this bug, but I wish MS would release details so people can consider uninstalling or tweaking whatever app is responsible. If this is built-in, hopefully it can come out in update 1.1 which follows update 1 by a couple of days. :-) (and forces the carriers to release the first update immediately – I can dream)

  3. steveymacjr says:

    Do you know if this is just an at&t issue? Mathew miller of zdnet has a tmobile hd7 and said he doesn’t have the data hog issue…

    Is this blog an at&t only blog?

  4. Well… otherwise, how could you call the site “Windows Phone _Secrets_”? Shhhhhhhhh!

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  6. steveymacjr says:

    Shoot my finger touched post before i was ready.
    Anyway I ask if this is at&t only because you haven’t mentioned the problems the dell venue pro have been having, and its on tmobile..

  7. davidjkelley says:

    nice… I guess if it was my app I’d want ms to keep it quit. :)

  8. techpunbit says:

    How can it be a 3rd party app? I thought they couldn’t run in the background? Can notification be that large? I didn’t think so.

  9. fearthed0nut says:

    My bet is that it has to do with Facebook integration. It’s the thing that makes the most sense. (What do most people have that has lots of data?).

    I can’t imagine my “Bed Intruder” app needs that much information to download, although I could be wrong.

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  11. dorianmuthig says:

    You wanna know who was the evil phone manufacturer with the bad software, don’t you? I’ll give you a hint, they sold the most Windows Phones and are Korean (mostly).

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  16. jimmyfal says:

    You guys are totally missing the real story here. Did I just hear that MS responded to a particular concern about WPH7? WTF is that all about?

    JF

  17. lsobrado says:

    interesting, so it wasn’t microsoft after all. you’d think people would learn the dangers of jumping to conclusions after the iraq war.

  18. nicholas1029 says:

    I was starting to panic until I saw they sais, “We are investigating additional potential root causes for the remainder of the reports. A small (low single-digit) percentage of Windows Phone customers have reported being affected.”

    My issue is most definitely not with a 3rd party app, but with the way the phone handles the data. As long as they know that there are more than one problems, I’ll keep my fingers crossed. (I’ll keep my toes crossed that we actually recieve an update in the end.)

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  21. jabtano says:

    I’m better that it’s mostly on HTC devices and I think it started when HTC updated there live tile. and that could be the reason as to why MS will not give out a name. the HTC weather tile is constantly updating. thats my bet anyway.

  22. jonahu says:

    I stumbled over something interesting using the new “BringCast” podcast app. I got this warning message when trying to download a podcast:
    “Warning: You are about to download a multimedia file over your WiFi data connection. If you don’t plug your phone in to the charger, or keep the screen on, the download will REVERT TO USING YOUR CELLULAR CONNECTION. Are you sure?”

    This is exactly how it was written including the all caps portion. This appears to be yet another piece to the data bug puzzle.

    • nicholas1029 says:

      I get a similar message using the U-verse app, even when connected to wifi. However, AT&T disables downloads over cellular, so I can’t do anything until I turn off the cellular. I think I might have an idea as to what’s going on. I’ll make a seperate post on it in a moment.

  23. Looks like it may in fact be that Yahoo mail thing, probably a bug in the way they implement either POP or IMAP.

  24. sule9na says:

    I’m pretty sure this is a bug they had in their own OS feedback function.
    A lot of people reported turning the feedback function off fixed their problem.

    What they probably didn’t realise is that it turns itself back on again. I’m not sure if this is when connected to zune or after a certain number of reboots, but it definitely happens to me and others. I reckon that’s what they’ve fixed.

  25. commo22 says:

    I’ve only heard issues from ATT folks. So my guess would be one of those ATT installed apps.

  26. luxsphinx says:

    I guess I lucked out. I haven’t experience extreme data usages with AT&T, and I have the feedback option turned on. I barely hit 75MB in first month I got the phone and was downloading apps, setting up accounts, and generally testing things out. The following month rolled in at 215MB, reflecting my use of YouTube, Facebook, and mapping as I played with the phone (a lot lower than I expected). Right now I’m down to 158MB with 8 days left to this contract month. Still loving my Samsung Focus.

  27. lsobrado says:

    according to ars technica the app at fault is rumored to be yahoo mail. and btw there is nothing wrong with WP7 os. it clearly must shut off wifi when it is asleep to save bettery causing it to use 3G instead. Any app misbehaving while the OS is locked can clearly cause problems.

    the OS shuts down 3rd party apps unless they have a excemption whenever the screen locks so clearly it is one of the bundled apps and not the OS itself sending random data back and forth.

    • jonahu says:

      I, for one, don’t expect my phone to switch over to cellular data from WiFi when the screen times out and especially when i have initiated a download while on WiFi. This is crucial for people trying to manage their data usage. Its unreasonable to expect us to keep the screen on just to finish downloading a podcast. If battery is the issue then leaving the screen on while downloading a podcast is definitely not they way to go.

  28. nicholas1029 says:

    As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve been having problems with my phone using celluar, even when I’m supposedly connected to wifi. I recently did an experiment that yielded interesting results. I decided to unplug my modem from the WAN port on my router. This would mean that devices would be able to connect to the wireless network, but not get online. Then I powered up my Windows Phone and gave it a few seconds to try to connect. Lo and behold, it did “successfully” connect and showed full strength on the wifi indicator.

    I then tried to get online. I loaded up Internet Explorer and navigated to a website. Sure enough, it loaded, even though the wifi connection didn’t have access to the internet. This would an example of the phone being connected to wifi, yet still using cellular. If the phone was truly using wifi, it should have given a page could not be displayed error. It seems to me that the phone is switching to cellular when the wifi connection does not appear to be working or stable. My home internet connection has been kinda shaky recently as well, which could further back up this theory and also explain why other people are having no problems.

    Nevertheless, I’m curious as to whether only my phone is doing this, or if every phone reverts to cellular when the wifi connection isn’t good. If that is the case, then I would like to at least see some kind of notification by the phone that it’s switching to cellular. The phone has already incurred an overage for me once since it switched to cellular without telling me.

    • paschott says:

      It could also be that it’s smart enough to know that even though it’s connected over a wireless network, it can’t get out to the Internet through that connection so uses your cellular connection. If you’re running Windows at home on a PC, try unplugging your wireless router from the Internet and take a look at the Network status. Mine will be very obvious about not being connected to the Internet if that connection goes down.

      • nicholas1029 says:

        The thing is, the phone doesn’t tell you that anything is different. On my PC, an exclamation mark appears next to the wireless indicator. On the phone, everything looks fine and dandy. The phone at the very least should show some kind of indicator that it’s connected but not using wifi. I would prefer if it gave a popup or even just refuse to go online until I manually disconnect if from the network.

  29. ivan006 says:

    I haven’t heard any reports here in Canada about data hogging, but I don’t know too many people who own a WP7. I have a LG Quantum on Bell, and I’ve been checking my data ever since I’ve heard about these issues. It’s O.K. right now, but I’ll be keeping an eye on it. I’m not a Facebook user, so I don’t know if could be an issue. Is the feedback feature (in the phone settings) run by a 3rd party app?

  30. macquerw says:

    Paul,
    If I recall correctly you said on your Windows Weekly podcast that you did not think it could be a 3rd party application because the phone does not allow multitasking for 3rd party apps. This may have nothing to do with multitasking.
    Take Yahoo mail for example. The user configures how frequently to check for new mail. I suspect that after the specified duration the phone OS kicks off a process to go check for new mail. Maybe the same with Facebook.

    My wife’s phone has Facebook and Yahoo mail. I have neither. She has large data transfers aroun 11pm central time most nights while I do not.

    • Paul Thurrott says:

      Sure. I think my over-reaching point is that it’s almost certainly not one thing. I don’t use Yahoo! Mail, for example.

      And I do know that, internally at Microsoft, they’ve pegged that auto-feedback feature as one culprit for this.

      And we all do know that Windows Phone switches from Wi-Fi to 3G when the screen goes dark. This is an OS bug, not a third party issue.

  31. jabtano says:

    I hope that this is corrected when they get around to updating.

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