Microsoft is delaying a major Windows Phone 7 update until the second half of March, according to the company. That long-awaited tweaking, which will add cut-and-paste functionality and faster application loading, was originally slated for the first two weeks of this month.
"After careful consultation with the team and our many partners, we've decided to briefly hold the March update in order to ensure the update process meets our standards and that of our customers," a Microsoft spokesperson wrote in a March 10 e-mail to eWEEK. "As a result, we will plan to begin delivering the update in the latter half of March."
The announcement doesn't come as a complete surprise. Earlier this week, a French Website owned by Microsoft suggested that the update had been pushed back to the second half of March. However, Microsoft waited until March 10 to officially confirm that adjusted time frame.
"I've decided to take some extra time to ensure the update process meets our standards, your standards and the standards of our partners," Eric Hautala, Microsoft's general manager of customer experience engineering, wrote in a March 10 posting on the Windows Phone Blog. "This short pause should in no way impact the timing of future updates, including the one announced recently at Mobile World Congress featuring multitasking, a Twitter feature and a new HTML5-friendly version of Internet Explorer Mobile."
Those updates are expected to arrive sometime in the second half of 2011.
In February, Microsoft introduced a Windows Phone 7 update designed to help future updates. Within a day of that update's rollout, however, a small number of users began complaining it stalled their smartphones.
As those complaints found their way onto online forums, Microsoft shifted into full damage-control mode, claiming in a corporate blog posting that only 10 percent of users' smartphones had stalled because of the new software. Nonetheless, the company temporarily suspended the update for Samsung phones until it would work out the underlying issues.
In the wake of that snafu, Microsoft seems more cautious about how it proceeds with the next software update.
Microsoft claims its Windows Phone ecosystem has grown to 9,000 applications, with a base of 32,000 developers. While that doesn't compare to Apple's App Store or Google's Android Marketplace, which respectively boast hundreds of thousands of applications, Microsoft executives nonetheless point to Windows Phone's growing number of applications as a sign of the platform's increasingly robust health.
"There are many ways to measure the vitality of a marketplace and I'm pleased to report that we're seeing strong results across several fronts," Todd Briz, senior director for Microsoft's Mobile Platform Services Product Management, wrote in a March 8 posting on The Windows Phone Developer Blog, "from the number of available apps and popularity of our tools, to more tangible developer benefits stemming from monetization opportunities that drive downloads and sales."
But consumer adoption of Windows Phone 7 remains an open question. In a new report, research firm comScore suggested that Microsoft's share of the U.S. smartphone platform market dipped 1.7 percentage points between October 2010 and January, from 9.7 percent to 8.0 perfect. That period overlaps with Microsoft's launch of the platform, which saw its European debut in October 2010 and its U.S. launch early the following month.