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Microsoft pushes back cut 'n' paste update

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Microsoft is promising to get cut and paste into Windows Phones later this month, a delay brought on by the problems experienced by Samsung users with the last update.

The news comes in what is supposed to be an open and honest blog posting from Eric Hautala – Microsoft's general manager of customer experience engineering. The posting explains the development process, and passes the buck on operator delays to the operator while admitting that the latest delay is down to the problems Microsoft had pushing out the last update.

That update was a tweak to the update process itself, but forced some Samsung Omnia 7 users to roll back after failed upgrades, with a handful complaining of bricked handsets. A second attempt went better, but still caused problems for some, and that has triggered a delay to the latest update, which was expected any day now.

The blog reveals that Microsoft is still dependent on operators to certify software updates, and while Redmond is committed to delivering every update to every customer that process can be interrupted by operators' lackadaisical attitude to certification. Microsoft is keen to emphasise that Apple has to jump through the same hoops: "This carrier testing is a common industry practice that all of our competitors must also undergo. No exceptions" ... which is nearly true.

Handsets do have to be approved by operators, but in the GSM world customers can switch operators with a change of SIM, so operators often don't know what handsets their customers are using*, let alone if they're using the latest software. Changes to the radio stack will warrant additional testing, and operators won't want to sell anything untested in their own stores, but adding cut and paste doesn't warrant approval by 60 different network operators.

But when Windows Phone 7 was launched Microsoft made much play of the fact that it was aimed at the end user, that operators were merely a channel to the user, and that all updates would go out to all customers. The latter remains true, and is reiterated in the blog, but Microsoft is trying to play nice(r) with operators these days and so seems to be softening up users for phased updates.

Which probably doesn't matter – what customers (or El Reg readers at least) really hate is not knowing what's going on: seeing mates getting updates when they've not had them. The blog might be excruciatingly chummy, but it is a step towards opening the update process which will be welcomed by those with a Windows Phone 7 – though not quite as much as the update would have been.

Bootnote

* Operators do know, at some level, the make and model of every phone on their network, from the International Mobile Equipment Identity (IMEI) number, which is communicated during connection. But it is surprising how rarely that information gets out of the radio side of the business.

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