Microsoft Phone man offers guarantee-free glitch pledge
Phones are harder than PCs - who'da thunk?
MIX 2011 Microsoft will try to avoid the mistakes that bedeviled the NoDo update to handsets but Windows Phone chief Joe Belfiore has stopped short of issuing a guarantee.
Belfiore, the corporate vice president responsible for Windows Phone product management and design, said on Wednesday that Microsoft has learned its lessons from the update snafu. Belfiore was flamed and forced to apologize recently for belittling the plight of Windows Phone users still waiting for NoDo, released on February 21.
The company has thrown more staff at the building and testing of phone code and improved methodologies, he told Microsoft's MIX conference in Los Vegas, Nevada, on Tuesday.
But there are fundamental differences in the phone market compared to PCs, he said, and this makes it harder to build and deliver software compared to PCs.
With that in mind Belifore said he is "optimistic" and "expects" Microsoft can avoid a repetition of the problems of NoDo.
"We are optimistic we've gone through that learning process and won't face that in the future," he carefully told MIX prior to unveiling details of the next Windows Phone update, codenamed Mango. NoDo was supposed to pave the way for Mango by adding copy and paste. Belfiore added later: "We expect we are going to get these problems licked and have no problems in the future."
Microsoft might have many years of experience in building and updating Windows, Belifore said, "but phones are different."
One head scratcher was how Microsoft has nailed the Windows Update process for PCs, and moved many Windows people over to phone, but tripped at the first Windows Phone update.
"The OEMs do a lot more of the core operating system code on phones than PCs. Mobile operators play a role in testing and we are still trying to figure out the process for doing that," Belfiore.
Belfiore blamed the three-way set up of software provider, handset maker and service provider for hampering Microsoft's ability to update and to also communicate about the problem. Aside from the delayed updates, it's been Microsoft's lack of explanation about what's happening, why, and when updates will finally arrive that have angered users.
"We are trying to get better about communicating all this. One of the things we struggled with is this involves us, OEMs and mobile operators and it's hard to communicate what other people are doing," Belfiore said.
The problem with the NoDo update was that not all phone users got their updates at the same time - some still have yet to receive them. Further, the update bricked some Windows Phone handsets. Windows Phone is available on handsets from just five OEMs, a deliberate move we were told last year was intended to help get Windows Phone right and avoid problems.
Belfiore told MIX there was not one single reason for the problem with NoDO, but different problems. One was Microsoft tested NoDo on pre-release handsets but the handsets were updated by OEMs for sale. He also reckoned it's up to the carriers to apply the update, not Microsoft, so users on different networks are not getting updates at the same time.
Microsoft felt it best to follow this approach rather than build the update and then wait for all carriers to be ready. "We think things will go faster in the future," he said.
"Have we learned from this and will it get better" Belfiore asked. "I'd definitely say 'yes'." ®
Re: Phones are harder than PCs
I'd tend to disagree: Phone users just haven't been hen-pecked for decades into accepting shoddy crashy data-lossy software as inevitable and acceptable, so are less forgiving of such.
Black Hawk Down
Why does MS remind me of a helicopter desperately trying to stay in the air? You know the scene. The tail keeps on spinning in circles, rotating the helicopter which aimlessly spirals down while the crew tries everything to pull it up, or somewhere, anywhere but down.
I don't understand the problem
That upgrade really did what it said on the can, which is better than usual for MS! Give the man a rest.
Mine is the NoCoat.
It's not Microsoft's fault?
@cornz 1 - you cant hold them responsible for the crap that the network operators insist on putting on the phone..
You can't be serious. After all the millions they've paid in marketing to brand Android as "fragmented" by irregular update versions now we can't blame Microsoft for failing to deliver consistency on their own phones? Why not? Turnabout is fair play. They promised consistency and they didn't deliver it. How are people not entitled to feel cheated? They didn't get what they were promised.
"The company has thrown more staff at the building and testing of phone code..."
They've hired an intern to do "make; make install" (or whatever the Windows Phone equivalent is)
In another article, it says that there are just 5 handset manufacturers of Windows phones. Is it really *that* hard to test against 5 manufacturers ? (OK, I know each manufacturer has more than one handset, but still....)
"The OEMs do a lot more of the core operating system code on phones than PCs"
Surely MS must have know about this when they were writing the O/S in the first place ?
"Mobile operators play a role in testing and we are still trying to figure out the process for doing that"
Er, don't they already have this equivalent problem with all the 3rd party application & hardware developers for Windows on PCs ?
"One was Microsoft tested NoDo on pre-release handsets but the handsets were updated by OEMs for sale"
So, for a product that MS is throwing considerable corporate muscle behind, they couldn't afford (or be bothered) to buy phones once they hit the stores ? I've seen many software vendors say "We'll support the latest Windows version X days after it launches", purely for the reason that MS might have changed Windows code between beta/test versions and the finally released version. Did someone in MS not think that the manufacturers *might* have changed their handsets between pre-release and release ?
All these excuses/mistakes, are the sort of thing I'd expect to hear from a company staffed by teenagers releasing their first product from their dad's shed. Not a corporate software company like MS, who've been around a fair few years. Did the team writing Windows Phone 7 even meet anyone from the PC Windows product team ?