Sigh. More software update problems

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.

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24 Responses to Sigh. More software update problems

  1. addicted2088 says:

    And I heard Windows Phone will be 2nd on the list in a few years. This is just unacceptable. Google has a LOT more fragmentation with Android, but atleast updates work. (even though they don’t come out on time).

  2. davepermen says:

    Just shows, contrary to what ever you state, that microsoft is not the problem, but samsung is. which was obvious since day one. they have huge firmware problems not only on windows phone 7 based phones, but on android phones, too.

    Microsofts problem now is that they can’t really do much about it, and fix this issue. It’s samsungs fault, and you just continue to blame microsoft for going the save route.

    • Paul Thurrott says:

      My point all along is that Microsoft knew what it was getting into when it decided to branch out with multiple partners, partners that have a rich history of getting it wrong. You can’t blame evil companies for being evil. That’s what they are. But Microsoft was naive to think these guys gave a damn about Windows Phone. No one will respect the platform if Microsoft doesn’t do it first.

      • markps0966 says:

        At first it’s a natural reaction to say that both are to blame but you’re right Paul, Microsoft knew what they were getting into with these “partners” (I use the term loosely since they don’t act like true partners). I once owned a Samsung Epix. That was a total nightmare in regards to updates vs. hardware revisions and that was only on Samsung’s end. I guess the thinking is once you have a phone, you live with it without any or very few updates until you get a new phone.

        Microsoft should have been proactive to find out just how many hardware revisions were out there. It seems like this information was not offered voluntarily from the phone manufacturers.

        Let’s just hope that the relationship between Nokia and Microsoft will be tightly integrated in regards to hardware and software compatibility.

      • darrickwest says:

        This where Nokia fits into their plan…I hope.

  3. sjlyons50 says:

    My Omnia7 updated okay with NoDo. No dramas, just installed itself in 35 mins. OS Version 7.0.7390.0.

    My son always complains about the Android updates (he’s got a Galaxy S handset), in that they don’t come through Swisscom in a timely manner. No problems so far with Swisscom with the WP7 updates.

  4. dafowler says:

    So Paul what should they do? I’ve come to the conclusion that they need to produce branded hardware or have designated OEM’s like Nokia

  5. Chris says:

    Hey Paul do you have details on which of the guidelines the manufactures did not follow that is causing the issue?

  6. tinod says:

    Wait. Does that mean that Microsoft wasn’t testing the update on real world hardware? There are only 9 or so different phones yet. Microsoft is such a large company they could have bought those 9 phones every single week for testing!

    They really need to set the mark with a Zune branded phone every half year just like Google did with the Nexus brand. It seems they are focusing on the wrong things here. What we heard about the Nokia deal gives me a really bad feeling: Ovi Maps vs. Bing Maps, Windows Marketplace vs. Ovi Store and maybe even a different UI and hardware specification for Nokia. Please no!

  7. efjay1 says:

    Seems like this is a Samsung issue, their handsets are the only ones reapetedly having issues with applying updates. LG has 2 models, HTC has 3 that have been receiving updates with no problem (if the surround goes well that will be 4), and even the defective Dell venue pro has not had any problems with the update. And when you see the same problems with Samsung handsets on the android side I think its clear where the blame lies. If Samsung is altering their phones without telling Microsoft its hard for them to know how to address any issues beforehand as there is no way for them to test against firmware they know nothing about.

  8. Pingback: Some Samsung Focus Models Still Without the NoDo Update « Windows Phone Metro

  9. weiterer says:

    Don’t you think you are a bit harsh all the time posting bad news about Windows Phone on a blog called WindowsPhoneSecrets?

    I mean, I really don’t need any more bad news about Windows Phone. I read this blog to find something interesting for my phone or at least one good news. Reading your blog all the time just makes me feel bad about my purchase to the point I considered booting Android on the Samsung Focus I own.

    But then researching this issue I got into tons of nasty surprises, like WP7 is actually good with battery, similar hardware specs running Android get 3 times less time with almost the same phone as the Focus. So Android is not perfect either.

    Also, do you remember Android 1.0? It was complete garbage. They had millions of problems with updates as well and they are still having issues with bugs.

    The only reason I bought WP7 knowing it was not complete was hoping Microsoft would further develop the phone on the go with updates. That is the faith I had and still have.

    They are going to run into problems into the first updates they ever release to the first WP7 phones that where creates to a OS that was just released. Its natural. The phones are completely new on the market, the OS is and the way Microsoft deals with updates is.

    There is something very positive about this. The more mistakes they make the better they will get. They will learn from this and maybe by the time we are at updates number 6 they are going to be perfect from that day on. Everyone has to remember something. Microsoft failed with another phone already and made mistakes in the past regarding mobile. Microsoft doesn’t want to have a market share on phones, they NEED to have one, or they are going to lose relevance. They know it and they are not going to play with something that can possible be the start of the mutilation of Microsoft as a company.

    Windows Phone is their response, and they had to rush it out as fast as possible but they promised and im 100% sure they will expand the phone into the perfect phone with updates and they are behind the phone 100% (I hope) as product. That means WP7 can only get better. The phone is very attractive currently, and imagine when it gets more updates that bring missing features. It will be great. Lets all talk in a year and people like me that regret the purchase will happen to go back to WP7 in case I switches platform. I really don’t have a choice.

    I don’t like Apple as company and their scare tactics. I dont like their products either that are just hollow. I took the juice out of my Windows Mobile but 2011 is almost enough, its a platform that will die so there is no point wasting time on it. Android is not bad, but forcing me Google services, because its basically a phone for consuming Google services is not something im interested as I consume my own services. Android also feels a little hollow in their apps and overall OS, I dont know, I just have a bad vibe on it. So what options I have left? Blackberry, and all my co-workers have one.

    I really like Blackberries. They are nice phones, small, cute, fast, but you cannot find every possible app for it. Most people are just developing for the iPhone and Android, Blackberry is something that is losing relevance fast, specially if they decide to run Android apps, there is no point into having one then is is? I also did not found any hardware choice that was decent like their cameras are way to bad, and the phones are expensive for the low hardware they run. Still it was a choice. I decided to go with WP7, something new, refreshing and that can just bring us more and more with time. But please, give Microsoft a break, there are enough blogs and media putting trash over Microsoft. Yes the updates where a big mistake, specially the delays but once this is sorted out I hope to hear good news.

    • Paul Thurrott says:

      Sorry, this site isn’t about being a cheerleader. If all you want is good news, there are many blogs to choose from. I just write about what’s going on, good, bad or indifferent. And right now, this is the big news. If you want to complain, please do contact Microsoft. I hear they care about what their users think.

  10. Pingback: More NoDo Update Blues for Samsung Focus Rev 1.4 Owners | cell-phones.co.za

  11. tsalakis says:

    I got my (unlocked) Omnia 7 from Germany through Ebay about a month ago. As soon as I connected it with Zune here in Cyprus, it got the first update. A couple of weeks ago, it got NoDo, and all is well so far. Unless there is something wrong with the phone that I dont know about!

  12. Pingback: Boot up: Microsoft’s mess, unsold Android app, tablet shortages and more – JailBake

  13. RastaMouse says:

    Why not get an iPhone? Seems M$ can’t even perform a simple update.

    • Paul Thurrott says:

      I still prefer Windows Phone. This argument is of course getting more theoretical over time. But I do. I just wish they’d get off their duffs and improve the damn thing.

      Case in point: A few weeks back, RIM released an unfinished new mobile device called the PlayBook. This week, they announced two updates they’ll be delivering THIS MONTH.

      Why can’t Microsoft do this? No, seriously: Why?

      • I know what you’re saying, but the Playbook is a little different since it is WiFi only and has ZERO reliance on cellular carriers. For instance, this mornings update was 260MB. Think of the hassles if the cell carriers were involved. Updates for actual Blackberry cellular devices have always been slow, slow, slow….

  14. rgc6789 says:

    Paul, you’ve been right on throughout this whole thing. I’m a MS partner and waited all of last year to buy a MS phone – hearing great reviews from you, Leo and others. Then Verizon delayed and delayed, and I couldn’t wait any longer and went with an Android phone in January.

    I wondered at first if I should have waited, however seeing all these issues, I’m glad I stayed away. However, MS is losing people like me. I have now bought an Android Tablet and am invested in Android so their chance now of getting me back has grown slim at best.

    I’m a supporter of MS and think on the business side of their business – they get it. But they continue to show me that when it comes to consumer products, they don’t have a clue.

    • Paul Thurrott says:

      I do think that Microsoft moves at just the right pace for businesses. But yeah, when it comes to consumers, they are just clueless. The Xbox 360 seems to be a sole exception to this rule.

  15. vhaakmat says:

    There may be a reason for this, but since 2 days ago, My Omnia 7 battery drains like crazy… Maybe it’s an app. I would hate that NoDo would be the reason. I did a clean reboot, didn’t run any app and in a matter of hours (instead of 2-3 days) my battery is dead.

  16. ok.. so i just got my first update yesterday … which i might add was not even found until i took the phone into the actual store and they did a search with my phone… BUT.. that is besides my whole point in commenting. i am having SEVERAL issues with my phone… and i am not the only one i know that is having these issues. i am just wondering if anyone else around the world is too or is it just my area… first: Picture Mail- i am a picture messaging fool sometimes. but.. my mother doesnt even want me to send her pictures anymore because it shuts her phone down! causing her to miss some very important calls a few times too. same with my step dad, my dad, and my brother. all different phones and service providers… and my dad has at&t also… i have a friend who has an andriod, and even the person i share the plan with has an iphone, when i send them pictures… and they try to open it… their phones either freeze till they pull out their battery, or the picture itself is just a grey screen with a silhouette of a camera that says jpeg image on it. 2. i CANT make an actual purchase with the phone. i can get all the free stuff i want but it will not allow me to make a $ purchase. after the update yesterday, my phone randomly shuts off and freezes from time to time… sometimes i will have full signal and i will be texting and 10 minutes later all of my messages i just sent will come back and tell me to try again, simultaneously not letting me make any phone calls! i think the app selection is not so great either… and anything worth having cost $ (so i cant get it) and i could easily get an app just like it or the same app for free with the iphone or apps i had with the iphone dont even exist for WP7. and a creepy aspect of my phone… multiple times i will be in the middle of a text or just sent one off… walk away from my phone and come back to it later, and it is randomly typing on its own… anyone who has this phone.. when you hold down on certain letters other options come up for the letter… ok… so it is like someone is holding down and just picking random letters. one time it was like 3 messages long before i caught it, i thought the first time that maybe there was something on the screen, nope after about the third time it happened i knew it wasnt a dirty screen… it has to be a glitch. when i call to explain these things… warranty… makes me feel like i am lying about these things because “they have never heard of such issues” but when i go into the store they have told me that lots of people come in with this same issue and frustration. but according to at&t and warranty… im basically stuck with the phone. there is nothing more they can do besides to continue to send me a new one till warranty is over i guess… i like the idea of the phone, i love the style of the phone! but if i am going to pay for a d*mn smart phone… dont you think it should be smart?… even just a tiny bit? i take full advantage of having a smart phone… i even use certain apps for work, play, family, anything! but what is the point in paying for something you cant even use? especially when you cant even share a picture with your own mother… sounds whiney but its true and very frustrating at this point. i just want to know if anyone experiences any other issues besides faulty or long awaited updates (that have made my phone less functional might i add… kinda hard to use it if it turns off all the time)

  17. I have Samsung Rev 1.3 Focus and still have no NoDo. Zune shows I have latest update with version 7.0 (7004). Is hacking and doing the manual way the only solution for me?

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