Microsoft Hit With More Win Phone 7 Update Woes

Microsoft has once again stopped issuing Windows Phone 7 updates to some Samsung handsets

Microsoft is once again experiencing difficulties rolling out Windows Phone 7 updates.

“We’ve temporarily stopped sending updates to [Samsung] Omnia7s,” Michael Stroh, a writer for Microsoft’s Windows team, wrote 28 April in the comments section of The Windows Blog. “The team discovered a technical issue with the update package for this model. The work of fixing and testing the package is nearly done, and the team hopes to resume update deliveries soon.”

In February, Microsoft rolled out a minor infrastructure update for Windows Phone 7, designed to pave the way for future updates. Within days of that update’s rollout, however, users began reporting it having stalled their smartphones. The company then went into damage-control mode, claiming in a corporate blog posting that only 10 percent of users’ smartphones had stalled because of the new smartphones.

Samsung Problem

Eventually, Microsoft’s engineering teams pinpointed the problems that caused Windows Phone 7 devices to stall in mid-update –  particularly ones built by Samsung. By 2 March, the company announced that it would resume issuing the February update to smartphones built by the manufacturer; that same month, it also issued a chart detailing the update status for Windows Phone 7 smartphones in the United States and around the world.

Now, Microsoft is apparently grappling – again – with some updating issues related to Samsung smartphones. In addition to the Samsung Omnia 7, Microsoft has also zeroed in on the Samsung Focus as a potential problem-causer.

“In the last few days, the team has seen reports from a handful of Focus owners in the US who haven’t received an update notification yet,” Stroh wrote. “They’re looking into the situation, but I’m afraid there’s not much to report yet. As soon as there is, I’ll post it.”

Microsoft’s more recent “NoDo” update introduces cut-and-paste functionality in addition to faster app-loading and some bug fixes. Further systemic updates are expected later in 2011, as the company seeks to buttress Windows Phone 7’s capabilities in the face of fierce competition from Google Android, Apple’s iOS, and Research In Motion’s BlackBerry franchise.

Market Battle

Even as Microsoft seeks to gain additional market share in smartphones, though, it faces something of an uphill battle in consumer adoption, at least according to new numbers from The Nielsen Company.

According to a recent Nielsen survey, for the period between January and March, some 31 percent of consumers indicated they wanted an Android smartphone as their next device, up 26 percent from the firm’s July-September 2010 survey. While Apple’s iOS scored 30 percent (down from 33 percent) and RIM’s BlackBerry came in third at 11 percent (down from 13 percent), the combined Windows Mobile/Windows Phone 7 scored 6 percent (a downtick from 7 percent).

Those numbers roughly paralleled with those from research firm comScore, while suggested that Microsoft held 7.7 percent of the smartphone market at the end of February. Smooth and rapid updates could help raise that adoption rate – and it remains to be seen whether some snafus in those updates end up having the opposite effect.