Ina Fried

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Microsoft Offers Apology for Windows Phone Upgrade Slowness

With customers unhappy at the pace with which Microsoft has delivered a promised Windows Phone 7 update, the software maker is offering its apologies.

In comments posted on Microsoft’s developer site, Joe Belfiore apologized both for the slowness of the update and for earlier comments that indicated that Microsoft was further along with the update than it actually was.

“First, I was wrong when I said ‘most people have received the February update,’” Belfiore said in the posting on Microsoft’s Channel 9 site. “There are many of you who have yet to receive it, and I don’t blame you for speaking up and pointing out my mistake.”

The update delivers copy and paste features, along with performance updates and improvements to the Marketplace for buying apps.

Belfiore and others at Redmond have talked about the update in the past tense, though many customers have yet to get it. Part of this has to do with the fact that both Microsoft and carriers have to sign off and schedule the update, a process that is still under way.

Redmond has posted a schedule of when to expect the update in the U.S., as well as in international markets.

The update is already on some new phones, including the HTC Arrive, the first Windows Phone 7 model from Sprint. In addition to copy and paste support, the so-called NoDo update is the first version of the Windows Phone software that supports CDMA networks such as Sprint and Verizon. AT&T is also adding the HTC HD7S phone, which also will run the newer version of the software.

This is not the first stumble Microsoft has had when it comes to updating Windows Phone 7. The company had to delay the roll-out of an earlier update after the process caused problems on some Samsung phones.

The purpose of that update was merely to test the updating process and prepare for future updates.

The copy and paste update has also been delayed a bit, to late March.

Challenges with these updates raise questions about how timely Microsoft will be in delivering a more substantive update to the operating system. At Mobile World Congress in February, Microsoft said it would have a broader update later this year that offers improved Web browsing, multitasking and integrated Twitter support.

Here is the full text of Belfiore’s comments:

Many of you are making critical comments here which are certainly fair. First, I was wrong when I said “most people have received the February update.” There are many of you who have yet to receive it, and I don’t blame you for speaking up and pointing out my mistake. Second, I referred to our updates as “complete” because I was thinking of the internal process where we pass completed software to another group who delivers them – but of course no update is complete until you all have it. Plus, at the time I did the interview we had started the NoDo (“march update”) delivery process and I knew “it was going well” from our perspective: people were officially getting it, the success rate of its deployment on real-world phones was looking good, and we were happy that the process had STARTED well. Still—these are NOT the same as all of you getting it and I’m sorry that I came across as insensitive to that fact.

I am a very, very big advocate for all our end-users and developers, and it bothers me a lot if I sounded out of touch. I wasn’t as prepared for this interview as I should have been—I walked into the studio with an informal state of mind, thinking about MIX and what we WILL be talking about, and I didn’t have the right up-to-date information to give a good explanation on updates which I know to be a very high-interest topic right now.

I have read all of the comments here (and many of them on the other blogs) and so has pretty much everyone in our management team. We know it’s been frustrating to wait for features/fixes and (probably worse) to hear little from us on specific dates. We are sorry the process has been rocky. The “where’s my phone update” table is our first step to try to remedy this in the face of technical problems that have made our first wave of updates take longer than we expected. We know the table would benefit greatly from more detail, and we are hoping to add more to it by working with the Operators who own the “testing” phase to get more clarity. If your phone is shown in “scheduling”, it’ll be worth checking the table next week.

In the spirit of “MIX as a conversation” – I will make sure that when I show up in Vegas that I’m well prepared to give an update in person and to try to answer your questions as best I can. You folks are obviously a very important audience for us and it’s right for you to expect us to communicate and execute better. I know at this point it’s our actions that matter… The main thing we are trying to do is to get the updates out to everyone in a way that is reliable and works, and then make our process better and more transparent in the future.

Thanks,
Joe


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