Microsoft has shifted into damage-control mode over its Windows Phone 7 update, claiming in a corporate blog posting that only 10 percent of users’ smartphones have stalled because of the new software. The company will also continue to withhold the update for Samsung smartphones.
“Has the update process gone perfectly? No-but few large scale software updates ever do, and the engineering team here was prepared,” Michael Stroh, a writer for Microsoft’s Windows team, posted Feb. 23 on the Windows Phone Blog. “Of course, when it’s your phone that’s having a problem-or you’re the one waiting-it’s still aggravating.”
Stroh claimed some “90 percent of people who’ve received an update notification have installed the new software patch successfully.” With regard to the other 10 percent whose smartphones temporarily stalled or outright bricked, he added, “nearly half failed for two basic reasons-a bad Internet connection or insufficient computer storage space.”
Windows Phone Update requires space on a PC to create a backup image of the user’s smartphone, in addition to downloading the update.
Microsoft is continuing to withhold the update for Samsung smartphones. “We’re working to correct the problem as quickly as possible,” Stroh wrote. “We are continuing to update other Windows Phone models as scheduled.”
Microsoft originally described the update as a “smaller infrastructure update that will help future updates,” including one scheduled for the first two weeks of March that will add cut-and-paste and faster mobile-application loading. “While it may not sound exciting, it’s important because it’s paving the way for all future goodie-filled updates to your phone,” Stroh wrote in a Feb. 21 posting on the Windows Phone Blog.
Within a day of the update’s rollout, however, users began reporting it stalled their smartphones. The company’s Windows Phone 7 help forum erupted with commenter threads about the issue, with titles like, “WP7 Stuck on Step 7 of 10, how long should this update take?” and “Update error with Optimus 7.”
At February’s Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Microsoft announced further updates for the second half of 2011, including multitasking, Twitter integration with the platform’s “People” Hub, and Office document sharing and storage via Windows Live Skydrive. Internet Explorer 9 will also be added to the platform at some point.
Microsoft claims that Windows Phone 7 has been selling at a rate comparable to other first-generation smartphone platforms, but the exact number of devices reaching consumers’ hands remains unclear. At the end of January, the company confirmed that manufacturers have sold retailers some 2 million Windows Phone 7 units. Nokia recently agreed to make Windows Phone 7 the default software for its smartphones, a move that could increase Microsoft’s presence in the international smartphone market; given Nokia’s relatively small footprint in the United States, however, the deal’s effect here could be more negligible.
Microsoft hopes that Windows Phone 7 will reverse its declining market share in smartphones, where it faces intense rivalry from not only the growing family of Google Android devices, but also the Apple iPhone and Research In Motion’s BlackBerry franchise.