Just when you thought we had put the Windows Phone update problem saga behind us, it appears that there are still issues that are preventing some early adopters from getting the only real Windows Phone software update, “NoDo,” on their devices.
As is typical with Windows Phone, you really have to be paying attention to find any semi-official Microsoft confirmation of these issues, so I’ve had to rely on external reports (like this one from IDG News) to even discover that Microsoft has, sort of, acknowledged them in any public forum. And there are two problems. (I have separately received several emails about each of these issues, as it turns out, though it wasn’t obvious at the time that they represented a pattern.)
REV1.4 Samsung Focus
The first is that some US-based Samsung Focus users have still not yet received the February 2011 (pre-update)/March 2011 (“NoDo”) update notifications on their phones, or from within the Zune PC software when syncing to their phones. This despite the fact that AT&T
unblocked OK’d these updates for Focus users a couple of weeks ago.
According to a Microsoft support forum, the issue here is that certain Focus handsets—those with a “REV1.4” hardware build version (as opposed to the more common “REV1.3” build version)—are not, in fact, getting the update currently.
To find out which hardware build you have, pop off the back cover of the phone and remove the battery. On the bottom right corner of the bigger of the two white stickers, you’ll see the hardware build version. Mine says REV1.3.
Samsung Omnia 7
The second is that users of the Europe-based Samsung Omnia 7—essentially a Focus without RAM expansion and a different case—are also not getting the updates. According to a Microsoft employee responding to complaints this past Thursday in the comments section of a Windows Phone Blog post, Microsoft has, in a very déjà vu way, temporarily halted delivery of the updates to these phones because of yet another glitch:
We’ve temporarily stopped sending updates to Omnia7s. The team discovered a technical issue with the update package for this model. The work of fixing and testing the package is nearly done, and the team hopes to resume update deliveries soon. When I know more about the timing, I’ll pass it along.
With regards to the general availability of these updates, all US-based phones are now listed as “delivering [the] update[s],” except for the HTC Surround, which is “scheduling.” Internationally, it’s more of a mixed bag, but most phone models are getting the updates. Optus (in Australia) is scheduling NoDo, and Deutsche Telekom (in Austria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Germany, Hungary, Macedonia, Netherlands, UK) is scheduling both updates.
Stating the obvious
So it’s May 1 today, or about five months after Microsoft completed development of NoDo. And yet we’re still seeing issues getting this very simple and non-essential update out to particular phone models. (Remember: Microsoft told reviewers in early October 2010 that it would be “shipping a compelling update very, very soon.”) This suggests to me that while Microsoft’s plan to require handset makers to closely follow a single hardware spec (originally two hardware specs; the second was quietly dropped with nary a public comment) was a good one, it hasn’t actually panned out yet in the real world. And that’s a shame, because the point of this tightly controlled spec was to prevent exactly this kind of problem.
The fault, of course, lies entirely with Microsoft. Though its handset and wireless carrier partners worked to undermine the integrity of the Windows Phone ecosystem—and let’s just speak plainly here: they did just that, by silently changing phone configurations without alerting Microsoft—Microsoft is the one that let it happen, didn’t notice it happening, and then spent months trying to figure out why this first minor update wasn’t installing properly on several phone models. In fact, Microsoft is still struggling with delivering updates, right now, on two different handsets.
This is inept. And coming as it does from the company that updates several hundred million PCs every single month, PCs that have far more divergent hardware configurations than those phones, it’s completely unacceptable.