The whole WP7 thing is really starting to become laughable. Between the Jan/Feb/Mar/Apr/May (which month is it again?) update fiasco and stuff like this I am really starting to regret getting a Windows Mobile device. WP7 is so limited even Microsoft's own development teams can't get the apps they want to write up on the platform and are targeting other platforms instead.
In the meantime, the WP7 team has continued to ignore the pleas from from their developers and customers to fracture Mango into smaller updates and announced "status-quo" for Mango at MIX. So much for the original promise of updates coming "early and often" to bring feature parity with the competition.
Oh, cool app though! Too bad we won't see it on WP7 until 2012 (if ever).
@Charles: First I would like to start by thanking Joe for taking the time to write a sincere, honest, and apologetic response to the questions and frusturations being posted here and at the Windows Team Blog. I would also like to thank Charles for reminding posters to be civil and for facilitating this dialog with the Windows Phone Product Team.
I am hopeful that in the coming days (and hopefully not weeks) the team can iron out the problems with this update and get it out of the door and into the hands of their users. I am also hopeful that in the coming weeks the team takes some of the advice and criticisms being leveled to heart and addresses the deficiencies in the product roadmap as a whole.
So, in the interest of furthering the spirit of "MIX as a conversation", and at the risk of sounding like a broken record, below are the major update and roadmap problems that I personally feel need to be addressed quickly in order to keep this product viable.
1) Fix the broken update rollout process. Updates need to be rolled out simultaneously or darned close to it. Customers are rightly comparing your update process with that of your competitors, and the message is clear: Apple's small frequent update model works, Android's fragmented model does not and continues to be a source of frustration for their users.
2) The Mango and future roadmap must change quickly. I can not stress enough how important this is. Many of us feel very strongly that the roadmap as it was announced at WMC and as it stands now is broken. If the product had originally shipped with a feature set comparable to your competitors (Android and iPhone) or even to your previous mobile operating system, you could probably get away with two major feature upgrades a year and out-of-band bug fixes; but that is not the case. What I would propose is this:
Immediately start breaking the Mango update into 2 smaller updates. The first half of the Mango update could come in July/August and include multitasking and maybe Twitter integration; the second could come in November/December and includes IE9, HTML5, and other less pressing improvements and features.
Start, as quickly as possible, releasing monthly out-of-band bug fixes and application enhancements without the full carrier testing cycle. From what I have heard these should at the very least include: International/culture issues, Turn-By-Turn Navigation, Skydrive and SharePoint integration improvements for Office, Remote Desktop, Skype, Zune improvements, and Facebook improvements. These are features which your model prevents your developers addressing for you. One of the big problems you face right now is that your roadmap does not give you the flexibility to address the problems and difficulties your customers are having. Monthly OOB releases which do not impact the OEM or the carrier would fix this.
Do your absolute best to ensure that your legacy hardware is supported by your updates. If there is a particular feature that is only going to work on newer hardware models, make sure that other models get every feature that they can support.
3) There are multiple communications and perception problems that need to be addressed.
Updates should not be announced as shipped until they are ready to go out to all consumers. If beta testers on "real world" phones are needed, Microsoft Connect is an excellent channel for this. This will help keep the level of confusion and frusturation in check. Noone wants to find out that their friend on Carrier A is getting the update next week but that they might never get it. This entire step may be unnecessary if items 1 and 2 are fully addressed.
It was tacky to plug the Kinect/WP7 integration at WMC while at the same time telling us that basic functionality like multitasking couldn't be addressed until the end of the year; if then, and that there are no plans for incremental updates. There are so many more pressing shortcomings to be addressed. Things like this leave me with the impression that Microsoft is more concerned with playing with their toys or coming up with the next selling point than they are with getting basic functionality into the hands of the people who are taking a chance on an incomplete product.
It was insulting to post the update schedule with no dates. A schedule with no dates is not a schedule. If you didn't have dates yet, tell us you are working on that and get them quickly.
The combination of Ballmer's presentation at WMC and this video really, really made the management team seem very out of touch with the reality on the ground. At MIX, I would suggest you put more focus on what Microsoft is doing to remedy the current deficiencies of the platform and less on the "cool, but not important right now" stuff. I am holding my breath and I sincerely hope that you will announce some serious roadmap changes at MIX.
I think many of us are still very hopeful that these things can be addressed by you and your team. You said it best when you stated that "I know at this point it’s our actions that matter". Now is the time for action.
A Windows Phone 7 Customer and .NET Developer who has given this alot of thought.
This is a repost of what I posted to the Windows Team Blog. I am hopeful that Joe will get things together this weekend and respond to some of the criticism that is being (probably rightfully) leveled against the platform and the product team.
There are some things I really don't understand about the roadmap and process that Joe, Eric, and the Windows Phone team have come up with and, if they want this product to be successful, need to be addressed sooner rather than later.
First, why are there no plans to deliver on the promise of small, frequent updates? This whole debacle may have been avoided if they had started releasing updates to minor issues back in November/December 2010. That would have given them an opportunity to vet the update process well in advance of a major feature release. Heck, as a developer, I would have probably released an update right after launch that did nothing; just to work the necessary coordination with the carriers and discover any technical issues with the update process early.
Second, two updates a year is not enough for a platform that is as behind the curve as this one against hardware products with this short of a lifespan. Updates, at the very least, need to be released to consumers quarterly. It would be preferable to have them happenning twice a quarter until they get caught up with features that their competition has had since before the platform was even released. I highly recommend that they go back and revisit the Mango roadmap and future update roadmaps and break everything down into incremental updates, releasing features and fixes as soon as they are finished. I just don't see the waterfall approach this team seems to have adopted being adequate. They are going to have to become much more agile very quickly if they have any hope of success.
Third, the communication amongst members of the team seems to be severely lacking or non-existant. Why was Joe allowed to go on Channel 9 and sing the praises of an update process that is failing miserably? Is he not communicating with Eric and the rest of his team? Why did they trot Steve Ballmer out at the World Mobile Congress to state that the update would be out in early March when there was obviously no chance of that happenning even if they didn't slip the delivery date? Is it not understood that these actions make it appear to the rest of the world that Microsoft's management team from the CEO on down is either incompetent or purposely misleading their investors and customers? When there are problems, why aren't they communicating these directly to their consumers? Consumers are much more understanding when they don't feel they are being purposely misinformed or kept in the dark.
Fourth, why did Microsoft reneg on its promise to control the update ecosystem independent of the carriers? They were warned by many leading industry figures that this would be problamatic at best, and at worst would be a disaster for the platform. Heck, I told a few of the team members this myself and originally we developers and early adopters were assured that carriers would not have a say. This was a colossal mistake. What happened?
Fifth, why is noone addressing concerns posted here and on Channel 9 over the weekend? This leaves the impression that Joe, Eric, and the rest of the product team are not willing to put in the time it takes to address their customer's questions and concerns. Is Joe more concerned about writing his keynote speech for MIX than he is about keeping customers on the platform? I can say that the anger and frustration being expressed on these forums are very concerning to those of us who are partners and/or developers. This has caused us to halt development against Windows Phone 7 and focus our full attention on the Android platform first. My guess is that many other developers will be quickly following suit until these issues are addressed.
I cannot recommend enough that the Windows Phone 7 team get out in front of this before it gets any worse. Pick up the phone, make some calls, and get on top of it this weekend. Communicate with each other and with your customers, partners, and developers. By Monday afternoon I would expect that you are able to produce a table containing actual dates when the update will be released. I would also expect that within the next week that you announce you are going to fracture the Mango update into several smaller updates which will be released over the coming months. You guys have built the start of a great platform here. Now is the time to get your act together. Don't destroy what your company has invested so much time, money, and effort to accomplish.
Yes. It is not going well at all. There are quite a few Windows Phone 7 customers who are very frusturated with Joe and how poorly the update process has been managed, myself included.
I think he may want to consider stepping down and letting someone take over the reigns who can bring some credibility back to the Windows Phone 7 team, especially after trotting Steve Ballmer out at the World Mobile Conference to plug the NoDo update and how it would be released to consumers in early March. It now looks like we may not get it for months, if ever, on the AT&T network. AT&T customer service isn't even aware that they are testing the update from February.
As a result of the debacle which is the NoDo update, it also appears that the number of WP7 handsets for sale on Ebay is skyrocketing. The media is picking up on the confusion and misinformation coming out of folks like Joe and having a field day with it at the expense of the entire team working on the product.