Microsoft Investigates Windows Phone 7 Data Issues

Microsoft is investigating reports of Windows Phone 7 owners experiencing unexplained data usage on their devices. The number of affected users remains unclear.

Microsoft is investigating claims of a Windows Phone 7 bug that devours users' data, even when they're not running apps or cruising the Web.

As reported via news channels like the BBC, some Windows Phone 7 users have reported their phones sending relatively significant amounts of data per day-at rates ranging from 2 to 5MB per hour to between 30 and 50MB of data within a 24-hour period.

"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 reports it's looking into the issue. The number of users potentially affected remains unclear.

"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 email to eWEEK.

Windows Phone 7 consolidates Web content and applications into a set of six subject-specific Hubs, including "People" and "Office." Microsoft hopes that the platform, originally released on the U.S. market in November, will allow it to reverse several quarters' worth of declining market-share in the mobile space, where it faces fierce competition from Google Android devices and Apple's iPhone.

Microsoft is planning a series of Windows Phone 7 updates in order to introduce new features to the platform and tweak it for better performance. During his Jan. 5 keynote at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer suggested those updates would result in "significant performance improvements when loading and switching between applications."

During a meeting with eWEEK at CES, a Microsoft executive placed two Windows Phone 7 smartphones on a table-one with the upcoming software update, one without-and activated the same game on each. The smartphone with the software updated booted twice as fast, although the executive warned that performance improvement would vary depending on the game or app in question.

Meanwhile, the increased prevalence of productivity apps on smartphone platforms, including Windows Phone 7's Office hub, has boosted the need for cut-and-paste, at least among a subset of power users. Perhaps more importantly for Microsoft, at least from a stature perspective, the addition of cut-and-paste would bring Windows Phone 7 closer to feature parity with the iPhone and other rival smartphone platforms.

Currently available on GSM-based networks such as AT&T, Windows Phone 7 will appear on CDMA networks such as Sprint and Verizon sometime in the first half of 2011. However, Microsoft executives have declined to discuss details of those potential CDMA devices.

Microsoft claims some 1.5 million Windows Phone 7 units have been sold by manufacturers to retailers, although it remains reluctant to share how many of those devices have ultimately found their way into consumers' hands.