Microsoft: No Can Do on NoDo WinPho Update

Once again, Microsoft has put off the unfortunately named “NoDo” update for its Windows Phone 7 operating system.

This time, the company’s Windows Phone blog said the update, which CEO Steve Ballmer had previously stated would be out during the first week of March, will be available in the later part of the month.

The so-called NoDo update consists of a copy-and-paste function, better Windows Marketplace search, and other functions.

However, only the copy-and-paste function will be delivered later in March, according to Microsoft’s blog.

“After careful consultation with the team and our many partners, we’ve decided to briefly hold the March update in order to ensure the update process meets our standards and that of our customers,” Microsoft spokesperson Jackie Lawrence told TechNewsWorld.

“As a result, we will plan to begin delivering the update in the latter half of March,” Lawrence added.

Is Copy-and-Paste Rocket Science?

We’ve had copy and paste in our word processing applications forever, it seems. It stands to reason that Microsoft, especially, should be particularly familiar with this process. So what’s the holdup with implementing this functionality in WinPho7?

“Apparently, implementing copy-and-paste in mobile operating systems isn’t as easy as it seems,” Maribel Lopez, principal analyst at Lopez Research, told TechNewsWorld. “I believe it took Apple a year to implement in the iPhone; that functionality wasn’t available in the original device.”

Or perhaps the delay is because the NoDo update will consist of more than just copy and paste.

“Microsoft has promised that the update will add performance updates and support for CDMA networks like Verizon and Sprint, and I suspect the problem has more to do with these features than copy-and-paste,” Dmitriy Molchanov, an analyst at the Yankee Group, told TechNewsWorld.

Partners Can Be a Pain in the Update

Another possibility is that problem lies in the process of app development rather than in coding the function.

“The function itself may not be so complex, but the development, testing and rollout workflow and systems are clearly being tested for the first time,” Al Hilwa, a program director at IDC, told TechNewsWorld.

The process may have been complicated by the large number of partnerships Microsoft has pulled together into the WinPho7 ecosystem. In fact, Redmond hints that problems with partners might be holding up the updates.

“With nine handsets on 60 mobile operators in 30 countries around the world, things can get a little complicated,” Eric Hautala, Microsoft’s general manager, customer experience engineering, wrote on the Windows Phone blog.

The handset manufacturers provide Microsoft updated firmware that they’ve created, tested and want to have included in WinPho7. That requires more coding and testing back at Redmond.

After that, the carriers conduct their own tests to ensure the new software works on their networks as well as on the handsets they offer. Some carriers require more time than others to work through this process.

After this is all done, Microsoft schedules an update delivery.

Where Does the Buck Stop?

However, as the software provider, Microsoft is the most prominent target.

Recall what happened when Microsoft issued its first software update with much fanfare in February. The update, which Redmond described as “relatively small,” bricked a portion of the phones it was sent to, hitting Samsung’s Omnia 7 and Focus devices the hardest.

Samsung is a major player in the mobile phone arena and incurring its displeasure could be costly.

“I wouldn’t want to tick off Samsung as a partner,” Lopez Research’s Lopez remarked.

Microsoft’s studying the current update process and plans to apply the lessons learned from it to future updates, Hautala wrote.

“The problems that Microsoft experienced in February likely persuaded its software team to take extra precautions this time around,” the Yankee Group’s Molchanov suggested.

Forget the Tortoise, It’s the Hare We Want

Taking the time to learn from mistakes may not be appropriate for players in the fiercely competitive smartphone market.

“Speed is critical in this space,” Lopez pointed out.

In one part of the mobile space market, at least, Microsoft seems to have been speedy — its Windows app market now has more than 10,000 apps, according to WindowsPhoneAppList.

The Windows app market was relaunched in October with the release of WinPho7, and its rate of growth is apparently faster than Android’s initial rate of growth when it was launched.

“There’s no doubt that Windows Phone apps are increasing rapidly,” Lopez said.

She attributes this to three factors. One, more developers are building smartphone apps; two, Microsoft is leveraging its experience; three, Redmond is pulling out all the stops.

“Microsoft knows how to run a developer program, which guys like RIM found wasn’t easy,” Lopez pointed out. “Also, Microsoft’s making a heavy push in this area, throwing a lot of resources into the developer program.”

However, the Android Market has perhaps 200,000 apps, and Apple has approximately twice that, so Microsoft’s certainly lagging behind in overall count.

“It’s a long way from 10,000 apps to 300,000,” Lopez said.

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