Microsoft claims to have discovered the source of a mysterious "data drain" on Windows Phone 7 handsets: an unnamed third-party application configured to download unexpectedly large amounts of data.
Microsoft has contacted "the third party to assist them in making the necessary fixes," a company spokesperson told the BBC Jan. 20, also indicating that a workaround is in development. Microsoft is claiming the issue affects only a single-digit percentage of Windows Phone 7 users and that an investigation is under way to uncover any additional causes behind the drain.
Some of those users had previously reported their phones sending relatively significant amounts of data per day-at rates ranging from 2MB to 5MB per hour to between 30MB and 50MB of data within a 24-hour period-compelling Microsoft to look into the problem.
"We are investigating this issue to determine the root cause and will update with information and guidance as it becomes available," a Microsoft spokesperson wrote in a Jan. 11 e-mail to eWEEK.
Reports differed over how many users were affected.
"This is a curiously common problem, and I'm sort of shocked Microsoft hasn't addressed this publicly yet, either to confirm it or offer a fix," Paul Thurrott, curator of the Supersite for Windows, wrote in a Jan. 2 response to one user allegedly experiencing unexplained data drain. "Basically what's happening is that the phone is utilizing the 3G data connection even when Wi-Fi is available. It's not clear what app(s) or part(s) of the OS is causing this, but it's definitely widely reported."
Microsoft is planning a series of Windows Phone software updates that will supposedly tweak the platform for better performance and introduce cut-and-paste. During this January's Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Microsoft executives demonstrated how a Windows Phone 7 handset with the update booted an app twice as fast as one without; however, they cautioned, speed improvements will vary by app or game.
Currently available only on GSM-based networks such as AT&T and T-Mobile, Windows Phone 7 is scheduled to appear on CDMA networks such as Sprint and Verizon sometime in the first half of 2011. Microsoft claims some 1.5 million Windows Phone 7 units have been sold by manufacturers to retailers, although it remains reluctant to reveal how many of those devices trickled down into consumers' hands. In a recent interview with the blog Pocket-lint, an LG Electronics executive termed the smartphone platform's initial launch "less than we expected."
LG Electronics has been building initial Windows Phone 7 devices along with Samsung, Dell and HTC. Microsoft hopes the smartphone's user interface, which consolidates Web content and applications into a series of subject-specific "Hubs," will allow the company to reclaim mobile-device market share from the likes of Apple and Google, which have made aggressive plays in the space over the past several quarters.