Microsoft’s stumbling Windows Phone 7 launch – from a fan

Danny Tuppeny’s post on Why I’m Close to Giving Up on Windows Phone 7, as a User and a Developer is worth a read. He describes his experience as a Microsoft-platform developer who is a natural enthusiast for Windows Phone, except that he has been unimpressed with how its launch has been handled.

The first thing he noticed was its lack of visibility on the high street – something I have also observed:

I popped into a Carphone Warehouse over the road from the office where I work on launch day. The staff knew nothing about WP7. I called all the local Orange stores, hoping for a HTC Mozart. Nobody knew when, or if, they would be getting any Windows Phone 7 devices. Wow.

That was not necessarily Microsoft’s fault. It had to convince its operator partners to promote the phone, and they had to convince retailers. All difficult with a launch device, in a market all-but sewn up by Apple and Android between them.

Over to Microsoft then, to convince the world of the value of its device. What would it take? Microsoft needed a start-up mentality. Total commitment to its mobile platform. Regular updates and bug-fixes. Responsive support.

As time went on, cracks started to show. There were bugs. Many bugs. At one point, the SMS message store for my wife got corrupt, which meant I couldn’t send, or read, text messages to/from her. I got in touch with the UK WP7 developer advocate that had sorted out the developer phone for my company, and explained the issue. After many emails going back and forth I was told that there may be logs on my phone that would help Microsoft track down this issue but security procedures do not allow them to share a tool to get the logs off my device. I was instead, told to try a factory reset. This fixed the issue, but Microsoft were no closer to finding/fixing the bug.

So what Tuppeny experienced was the opposite of start-up mentality; rather, the frustration of dealing with a huge corporation.

Next, he was disappointed by delays to the Windows Phone 7 update, promised at launch, that would add copy and paste to the operating system:

The update was delayed. And delayed. There was zero transparency from Microsoft. Despite the rest of the company making huge strides in this area over the previous few years, Windows Phone 7 is a quiet, closed box. Nobody knew what was happening with the update, and more importantly, the bug fixes.

He is not giving up:

I’m not giving up, just yet. I truly believe Windows Phone 7 can be something brilliant, but there are definitely issues that need addressing. To show how seriously I believe Microsoft could make this work, I’ve applied to go and work for the Windows Phone team.

My own perspective on this is that Microsoft as a whole does not convey commitment to its mobile platform. How can this be, when CEO Steve Ballmer makes a point of hyping the phone at events like CES and Mobile World Congress? Well, I ask myself why Microsoft has refused to use the Windows Phone 7 OS in a tablet form factor, for which it seems well suited; and I ask myself how the phone OS can survive if Windows 8 is launched on a multitude of different form factors and device types. Paul Thurrott says it:

I can and have speculated that Sinofsky, as the dominant sub-CEO executive at Microsoft now, will simply swoop in and dismantle WP when Windows 8 is ready, but that is just an uneducated outside opinion, nothing more.

That may well not be the case; but the mere fact that some signs point towards it undermines the platform.

If I were Nokia this would worry me; except that Nokia may also in fact plan to embrace some new Windows 8 thing when the time comes, and one presumes that Microsoft has shared more of its future plans with Nokia’s executives than it has with the rest of us.