A 3 Horse Race? Really?

March 28, 2011

Microsoft is absolutely scrambling folks. Make no mistake about it. Mobile computing is clearly the future and Microsoft has entered the “Post PC” era with extreme tardiness and desperation (thus the deal with Nokia). I have used a few different WP7 devices since their launches in early November (in the US, late Oct in Europe) and the user experience is definitely unique and enjoyable if not complete. I started with the Samsung Focus on AT&T, moved to the Dell Venue Pro on T-Mobile, and just packaged up a T-Mobile HTC HD7 I sold for less than half its original value (at 5 months old).

I was going to wait for the so called “NoDo” update from Microsoft which is to bring copy and paste, as well as performance improvements, but I got tired of waiting. It was originally supposed to be delivered in January. Then Microsoft CEO Steve Balmer assured the crowd listening to his keynote address at Mobile World Congress, “early March” would finally see the arrival of “NoDo” (a Microsoft staffer apparently forgot to bring donuts to the meeting in which they were to decide the name of software update – no seriously). It is now late March and though Microsoft posted an update by carrier on when to expect NoDo, no one knows exactly when the carriers will release it.

Ah the carriers….the benevolent, always deserve the benefit of the doubt, power sharing carriers! Originally Microsoft promised an Appleesque model of software update delivery – unencumbered by carrier approval. One of my favorite bloggers James Kendrick has opined on this Windows Phone 7 update situation and puts the blame squarely on Microsoft:

Microsoft has a real PR problem over the nightmare that is Windows Phone 7 updates, but has no one to blame but itself….. Microsoft screwed the pooch if they have allowed the carrier enough leeway in the update process to adversely affect WP7 customers.”

Isn’t it likely Microsoft had little choice but to give in on this? I find it easy to imagine AT&T in return for being the highest profile launch partner for WP7 negotiated the right to test (and deny) any WP7 update. I also believe Microsoft has utterly failed at delivering an update AT&T or any other carrier could have confidence in rolling out yet….The pre-NoDo test update they rolled out apparently caused issues for Samsung Focus owners, and two European carriers claimed recently they had approved the update and were waiting on Microsoft?

Regardless, Microsoft is clearly losing ground literally by the day in what Nokia’s CEO Stephen Elop termed a “3 horse race” between Microsoft/Nokia, Apple, and Google. There is hope in that also demoed during the aforementioned MWC keynote was the next update code named “Mango” which will bring multitasking, Twitter integration, and more.

But, it was generally projected to arrive by late 2011: which will likely be one year too late.