Now that we know Windows Phone 8 and Windows 8 share some of their code, I wonder. Will we finally see an update policy for Microsoft's mobile platform that reflects the one we are used to in our PCs?
For years Microsoft has released operating system updates every second Tuesday of the month (second Wednesday New Zealand time). Only in cases of a real treat such as a zero day exploit has Microsoft released an "out of band" update. This policy has been going on for years and still most people I talk to and remind "tomorrow is Windows Update day" say they never knew it.
On top of those monthly updates Microsoft releases Hotfixes, which are patches that fix small problems in specific areas. For example there's a patch that fixes a problem when plugging a USB hub in a specific type of computers with specific drivers and so on. These only need to be applied if you are experiencing a very specific problem.
Every few months or years Microsoft releases a Service Pack for its operating systems, which contains all the previous updates and hotfixes all in one. It's Microsoft's policy not to release new features in Service Packs.
Then there are other software updates targeting applications such as Messenger, Movie Maker, Skype, Security essentials and others which are not essential part of the operating system but offered by the company.
I wonder if Windows Phone 8 would follow the flawed model implemented with Windows Phone 7, or the more advanced and logical model adopted by the company by its PC operating systems and applications until now?
Perhaps Microsoft should separate the applets built-in inside Windows Phone 8 and consider those as applications instead of core, and release them independently of the operating system.
For example a new feature implemented in its mobile email client could be delivered to users around the world with more speed than before. Instead of waiting for the whole Windows Phone 7 process of sending an entire operating system to OEMs then waiting for those to customise each image to different devices, then waiting those to be sent to each mobile operator around the world for approval, then the slow staggered delivery perhaps Microsoft should consider making these updates to apps independent of the entire chain and deliver them directly to end users.
This would speed up adoption of new features, use existing Windows Update infrastructure and get slow OEMs and mobile operators who are not actively supporting the ecosystem completely out of the picture when it comes to happy users. The chain of approval would only ever exist for core operating system functions.
This is completely different from the strategy used by other smartphone platforms too, and could be a differentiating point.
Somehow I think Microsoft would never do that though.
This was supposed to be a long blog post. I have deleted everything and will leave just this: the Windows Phone 7 update experience is terrible. I wish they would at least once actually copy something from another company.
Apparently the problem with Skydrive content not being accessible from Windows Phone devices yesterday is now solved. It looks like for a window of six to eight hours (or even a bit more) Microsoft had some bad redirects that caused attempts to access documents stored on Skydrive to fail.
This only happened when accessing Skydrive from the dedicated Windows Phone app, but it worked fine from the Windows Phone Office Hub.
I have looked at both Skydrive and Google Drive aps and found that they worked practically the same when it comes to managing the files and transfers. However Skydrive gives me 25GB instead of Google Drive's 5GB and the Windows app gives me remote access to all drives of my desktop - very handy if I'm out and about and need anything that's not on Skydrive (music, videos, etc). Also because Google Drive's T&Cs are a "cloudy" business, with words that say customers grant use rights to all content uploaded so Google can use all that for their "product development".
Reading through some Geekzone discussions I've noticed people still don't know about some other cloud solutions and services, so here is a comprehensive comparison of a cloud-based storage and synchronization solutions for the consumer market.
Sorry to break it people, but it doesn't work like this. It seems you can only download images and sounds from Skydrive to your Windows Phone device. All those .docx, .xlxs, .pptx and .txt files you have? Forget about it. They won't download.
*sigh* Why is so hard for software companies to make Things That Just Work (TM)?
UPDATE: after six hours it's working now. Since I know of more people having this same problem, could it be that Microsoft's cloud service was overloaded? Or simply my 5GB uploads had to go through some process to be readable? Who knows. I'm sure moving to the cloud should be more assuring than this though.
A couple of things Windows Phone could do better:
- If I plug my Windows Phone to my PC and use Zune to search the marketplace for an app I have already purchased (but it's not on the handset for whatever reason - uninstalled, new handset, hard reset, whatever), then Zune does not offer a "Reinstall" button. The only option is "Cancel". It tells me I already bought the app, so it won't charge me again, but it's not smart enough to offer to reinstall. I have to go to the WindowsPhone.com website for that.
- Since Windows Live Mesh can sync up to 5GB to the cloud (in addition to the Skydrive storage), why can't Windows Phone see those files? I don't want to create files on Skydrive, but I don't mind synchronising from my PC to the cloud with Live Mesh since it's automatic and transparent.
Such small things that would make a huge difference.
What would you like to see implemented on Windows Phone?
Microsoft has just made official Windows Phone update 8107, with this gem:
The update, available to all carriers that request it...
We all know what happens when we let mobile operators decide which updates come or not to our handsets. Updates are not delivered. Things don't happen as they should. And consumer suffers.
And yes, I remember Microsoft said operators can skip one update, but the next one will always incorporate the missed one. Still, this opens the door to a broken ecosystem.
In the months ahead, we'll continue to send out firmware and maintenance updates as needed. These will be available across the globe-although not everybody will receive or require them. It depends on your country, carrier, and phone model. But remember that you'll never have to guess when a Windows Phone update is waiting: Just watch for the pop up notification on your device.
Yes, because one thing customers don't really care about is updates, right? Wrong, just give them instead of this tiered delivery.
There are also a few changes on the way for the blog and website. As we continue our growth, we won't be individually detailing country, model, and carrier details on the Where's My Phone Update? site any longer. And instead of my weekly blog posts, the official Windows Phone website will be the primary place for news and information about our updates, just as Microsoft Answers is there for your support questions.
Sure, because when everyone is moving into communicating more with customers, someone at Microsoft decided it was time to reduce the options of communication.
Seriously, Microsoft? This is not the way to go ahead with a mobile platform that is not exactly winning at the moment.
This week I met a Microsoft New Zealand person who gave me a Windows Phone Mango demo... Lots of new features, but a picture (movie) is worth a thousand words:
Seriously, the integrated inbox (which allows you to select which inboxes are part of the integrated view, and allows you multiple integrated views) and the contacts groups are beyond anything you've seen in any other smartphone platform. Contacts allow you to see all communications with contacts - email, IM, social networks, etc.
And on communications, you can start a conversation via IM, and if the contact goes offline it will automatically send the next message via SMS, or via Facebook IM, or whatever is available. And you see all in a single thread, single application.
Best of all, Windows Phone Mango will be available for existing Windows Phone hardware.
This is a video demo of Internet Explorer 9 rendering a HTML5 page during the MIX 2011. And winning...
This update is just to prepare the device to receive the first large OS update coming in March.
Users will receive a message in their handset to advise an update is available.
The update comes in two parts: Zune Desktop and Windows Phone update.
First you need to make sure Zune is up to date. You can do this via Windows Update or manually by installing this update http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkId=209174. After the update Zune Desktop will be version 4.7.1404.0.
To update the handset itself, start Zune Desktop, plug in the Windows Mobile and wait for the update to come down and install.
The mobile device update will come in waves, so it may not show up for you just now, but in a few hours or days. Devices will receive a push notification when the update is available.
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