January 06, 2012, 7:59 PM — Microsoft disappointed some Windows Phone users on Friday by saying it would stop providing specifics about who will get software updates and when, and announcing vaguely that a new update is "available to all carriers that request it."
The update fixes a few issues, including one that caused the on-screen keyboard to disappear and another that caused problems with synching Gmail. The update also changes the structure of email thread to include the original message when forwarding or replying to it, for people using Exchange 2003.
In addition to announcing the update, Eric Hautala, general manager of customer experience engineering for Windows Phone, said Microsoft will no longer say when people will get updates based on their country, phone model and carrier.
That's a change from March, when Hautala first introduced the "Where's My Phone Update?" page for Windows Phone users. The page was created in response to customers who said they wanted more information about when they would get updates. At the time, users were eager to get one of the first Windows Phone updates, which added the ability to cut and paste.
"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," Hautala wrote on Friday.
People commenting on the blog post were dismayed.
"As a Microsoft partner that develops applications for Windows Phone, I have to protest this decision," Darren Baker wrote. "This is a mistake of major proportions."
"The overall effort that you mentioned seems to take a step back from clear and transparent communication," said another user. "I never fully understood how updates are deployed (how carriers play a role in it, and whether critical updates are guaranteed for every device), nor was it ever clearly explained. This makes the whole process even more convoluted."
Another asked Microsoft to continue updating the page. "As a windows phone user, it lets me know a crucial piece of information: who to bug if I don't have an update," the person wrote.
Microsoft faces a similar problem with updates as Google, which also offers a phone operating system but not the hardware. Android has been plagued by fragmentation as phone makers and operators decide which phones get updates and when. Microsoft may be facing a similar challenge.