Open letter to MS / Update on my WP7 experience MARCH11
So, with Nodo almost here I thought I'd post a little bit of an update on my experiences with the Focus and WP7, starting with a recap.
As most of you know, I imported a Focus last year - in November to be exact - to Australia as a replacement handset for a business supplied Samsung Blackjack. My company carrier in Australia is Telstra - and the 850 band 3G that the Focus offers is compatible with the fastest carrier mobile speeds available in Aus (until 4G is built). I had it unlocked, configured it with work and home (gotta love separated email accounts) and was up and running.
I chose the Focus for;
- Form Factor (sleek and slim)
- SAMOLED beautiful display
- MicroSD expansion capability
The Australia option (on same carrier) was a HTC Mozart which I passed on.
As far as WP7 goes, the out-of-the-box experience (NOV 2010) could be summarised as;
- WOW factor of the OS/UI - gorgeous and functional. A+
- Able to meet both work and personal social needs - A+
- App Store/Marketplace and Availability - C (started small naturally) improved to B.
- Ease of Use - A
- Emotional/Personality/Positive association with Phone/OS = A+
- Stability of OS - B
- Feeling about update path and MS support - B (optimistic & positive)
- Feature Set (what we can get in Aus) - C+ still many wishlist addons absent (done to death)
- Regional Restrictions - F no Zune pass (Music/TV), no Bing local Voice Search, Marketplace App geoblocks, No podcasts initial support, higher price premiums for AUS even with parity US dollar etc).
- Issue advised re: MicroSD expansion Focus - MS advise working on - C
So these were the out of the box feelings heading into 2011 with the first 6-8 weeks use. The positives far outweighed the negatives - and heck - MS had an optimistic and enthusiastic commitment to regular and smooth updates as they focused 110% on driving WP7 success.
A good start.
Let's fast forward another 6-8 weeks (March 2011). How have things changed IMHO.
- Able to meet both work and personal social needs - A+
- App Store/Marketplace and Availability - A-
- Ease of Use - A
- Emotional/Personality/Positive association with Phone/OS = B
- Stability of OS - C-
- Feeling about update path and MS support - C- (less optimistic & positive)
- Feature Set (what we can get in Aus) - D still many wishlist addons absent (done to death)
- Regional Restrictions - F- no Zune pass (Music/TV), no Bing local Voice Search, Marketplace App geoblocks, No podcasts initial support, higher price premiums for AUS even with parity US dollar etc).
- Issue advised re: MicroSD expansion Focus - MS advise working on - F
So - what has happened over this time;
- App store goes from strength to strength (10K apps this Month!)
- DEV procceses improving and support seems good.
- MS committ to 2011 significant updates - esp Mango in 2ND 1/2 2011
- MS Marketing/promotion of WP7 has been, lets say "marginal"
- MS announce Nokia partnership
- Bugs and issues with WP7 emerge and are yet to be dealt with
- MS push out a FEB "test" update prior to Nodo
- MS push back advised Nodo 1st half March update to 2nd half March ETA (1-2 weeks).
In my experience, what then is driving negative or downward pressure on the former positiveness and optimism I had for this fresh new UI and great V1 MS OS?
There are three main areas in my case:
1/ MS delivery of the key messages for WP7 customers. This is around support, updates and especially transparency of the role Carriers have to play in the update process and openness of MS status of schedules, ETA's and issues.
The "reasonable" WP7/Smartphone community isn't going to crucify MS for advising an update that has had an ETA Wk1-2 March 2011 slip to Wk 3-4 March 2011. However this community expects that (without airing any dirty laundry) MS communicates to us with respect for our custom and support, and provides a reasonable explanation of whether this is a "we want it right, we're fine tuning the process, we had a late bug and we're fixing with a small delay" etc type of reply.
We get that the Samsung handset issue (not on all phones) was both unexpected and unique to them, and would require some work to fix in time for Nodo....we understand that.
However, we get a pre-NoDo update released, without specific detail, with advice of success deployment (user issues aside) of ~95% of phones attempted. Nevermind that the largest carrier in the US (AT&T) and the largest in Aus (Telstra) have not deployed this update to their WP7 customers.
Did these carriers block the initial update ? Did they ever intend to pass it prior to NoDo? Was MS aware of schedule showing this or possessing this knowledge when it rolled out the pre-NoDo update ? Was it MS's decisions that these carrier's WP7 customers would not get the initial update? If MS did know - why would they communicate by the WP Blogs of the update availability WITHOUT advising us all of who and which customer's might expect that - or pass on an expectation that the carriers advise their customer's of this. Wouldn't it show leadership by MS to publish a table of Carriers globally based on who would and wouldn't pass this pre-update prior to NoDo to manage customer's expectations?
These are the questions we would like clarity on and better transparency - and better communication from MS on re this matter of updates. What I see as a poor communication and engagement strategy on the "message" in this matter is at risk of souring other areas of this brilliant OS's experience.
Enough already on this one.
2/ Feedback and co-ordination of issues/bugs and input into MS fixes etc from a centralised portal into MS WP7 support. Where current issues (whether minor or major or common or rare) are listed and acknowledgement, status or other MS comments can be viewed to re-assure the customer base experiencing the issues that MS are aware and looking into it or working on it for future fixes. And by co-ordinated portal/single-site, I don't mean multiple MS Answers threads!
Some examples of bugs/issues I personally am experiencing:
- Pictures no longer allow upload from the camera/pic hub to skydrive or facebook. I just get an error "Pictures are not uploading...we can't...try later".
- Live tiles regularly not updating for days/weeks (weather, stocks and others).
- Memory crashes killing marketplace (expected fixes in Nodo).
- Contacts de-linking or disappearing, including live tiles.
3/ The MicroSD debacle. OK I get it, Samsung built a phone with a feature outside the WP7 design and blueprint - expandable memory. I realise the issues with JBOD memory structures, appreciate this could be considered to be Samsung's issues....however.
- MS knew the Focus was going to market for launch.
- They knew the handset could have memory added.
- They also know the distance b/w the goal posts or how poorly the specs govern microSD memory in terms of peak/random access speeds (both write and read) - and that so much card memory is generic clones of "dubious" specifications.
Worst of all - at release, we were told or indicated that MS were looking at the issue and we might see some forthcoming Certification or Approval process for memory that "...works with WP7".
And we have had Zilch/Zip/Nil/Naught/Nothing. Ouch!
On a final note, MS still have some way to go for many major organisations to feel the OS is widespread and future-proofed enough to support jumping onboard with App development for their sites (citation: personal discussion with snr mngrs in two major Aus organisations re: IT/Technology). And noise like there is now over the updates issues does not help this situation.
So MS - I still <3 my WP7 handset. I still think the Focus was what I wanted/needed. I am still confident that you can get things straight and I remain excited about the future for WP7.
I continue to participate, feedback and engage MS on WP7 and I am now learning programming C# so that I can have a go at writing some WP7 Apps...
You have to learn to walk before you run as the going says, I just ask you MS to put some extra effort and focus into engaging us all (recent WP Blogs and WP Radio podcasts suggest you are hearing this message) better, and handling that final important deployment part to us all with respect and transparency.
Last edited by Strider_Aus; 03-12-2011 at 10:50 PM.
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