Why Windows Phone 7 is a Footnote

Let me start by saying that I love windows phone. Whenever I am forced to go back to an iDevice, I have to spend a few minutes re-orienting my way around an app driven model as opposed to a task driven model. This is just because of what I am used to, and is not meant as a statement to say that one is better than the other. They are just different.

What this post *is* about, though, is why the Windows Phone ecosystem sucks.

I live in Australia. Because I live down here, the availability of Windows Phones has been, to say the least, spectacularly awful. This is not helped by there being no decent phones. (Yes. Seriously. The only contender is the Lumia 900, and that only managed to arrive on our shores a couple of months ago. Everything else has been less than stellar, though HTC was probably the top of the heap).

So late last year, while I was in the US when the Samsung Focus S was released (remember – the Lumia was still a long way off) I purchased a Samsung Focus S from AT&T. I  unlocked my phone, and was happy.

This is were it starts to go sour. Microsoft released a few updates that fixed a few security issues, as well as the most annoying disappearing keyboard issue. I was kinda hoping that MS were not going to do an Android, and leave their few customers in the lurch, and fast track the updates.

Alas no. All that was heard were the crickets chirping in the night as the tumbleweeds floated by. Nothing. Nada. AT&T, a supposedly “premier” partner, skipped the update.

In fact, they skipped the next 2. Including the Tango update. (Some people seem to have gotten the new version, but I have only seen a few reports of these, and AT&T aren't saying anything)

So I finally got annoyed enough that I hunted down a way to get the updates. I found one (how to update your Focus S) but it did not work for me. At first that is. After a few hundred go’s at it, I managed to get the updates installed.

And what a difference. The phone feels like a new phone. It is performing better than when I first got it. Apps open faster. The animations are smoother, if that is possible.

And when I put a number into the phone keyboard the sounds do not have that 1/4 second lag that makes you feel that the phone is a cheap knockoff from China.

I wonder how many users’ experiences of Windows Phone have been tarnished with small but totally annoying issues that Windows Phone (and to be fair, probably the Focus S may be a contributor to that problem) that could so easily have been fixed?

The answer, for those that are keeping score here, is that AT&T, and the public in general, do not give a flying fig about Windows Phone. That and the fact that the market share is so pitifully small it does not encourage AT&T to spend the effort to update.

And that is a shame. I really like Windows Phone, and am looking forward to Phone 8. But in the meantime, it is frustrating.

Well, it was before I managed to update to a smoother experience.


Richard is a Director and the principal Consultant at Dev iQ Pty Ltd. He specialises in SharePoint, Team Foundation Server/Visual Studio and .NET Development.

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