10% failure rate of Windows Phone update is nothing to be proud of Microsoft

By Tom Warren, on 24th Feb 11 12:40 pm with 17 Comments

Windows Phone 7 update error

Microsoft has finally addressed the Windows Phone 7 update issues and says around 90% of devices have successfully updated. What about that other 10%?

The software giant finally spoke out after 48 hours of radio silence after a large number of Samsung users experienced issues updating their devices. The issues stemmed from a seemingly minor software update issued on Monday, to ironically improve the Windows Phone update system for future releases.

WinRumors readers began reporting issues late on Monday with their Samsung Omnia 7 devices. The issues ranged from users not able to complete the update, leaving their phones in a frozen state, to users rebooting their devices after a failed update to find that their phones were unusable. Samsung Focus users were also affected but it appears there’s less cases of “bricked” problems with that particular model. Microsoft has now removed the update for Samsung phones and says it’s working to “correct the issue and as soon as possible” and will redistribute the update shortly.

Microsoft said on Wednesday that “contrary to some of the gloomy headlines out there” the company’s preliminary internal data paints “a very different picture about update progress”:

  • 90 percent of people who’ve received an update notification have installed the new software patch successfully. (So when your turn to download it arrives, chances are good this will be a non-event.)
  • Of the 10 percent who did experience a problem, nearly half failed for two basic reasons—a bad Internet connection or insufficient computer storage space. Luckily, both are easy to fix.

The company appears to be proud of the fact that 1 in 10 devices is failing to update correctly. If we put that into perspective, that’s 200,000 devices out of the 2 million Microsoft claims to have shipped to carriers. It’s not clear exactly how many devices have tried to take part in the update process as Microsoft has not shared that data. However, it’s safe to assume the actual figure of devices is much lower than 200,000.  The software giant says that half of that 10% are “easy to fix”, what about the other half? The other 5% of devices are the main concern in this picture and Microsoft failed to address these users or the “bricked” reports.

Bricked users can try Microsoft’s troubleshooting steps outlined on the company’s support site. Unfortunately the steps for the “bricked” issue simply instruct users to reboot their devices, which isn’t working in a large majority of cases. WinRumors posted an unofficial fix on Wednesday that users have confirmed works well on their devices. Microsoft’s Brandon Watson says the company is “working” on updating the support documentation. Microsoft’s official line is that owners should return their devices for exchange at carriers or stores if the update has caused their devices to become unusable. However, this policy has angered many owners and has left carriers and stores confused.

Some owners report that Samsung and a number of mobile carriers in the UK have refused to swap devices, claiming that the issue is software related. WinRumors is unable to verify these reports but if they are true then it only adds to the lack of clear communication and confusion. Despite the confusion, Microsoft says it’s “committed to learning from our first update and improving the process. We know we have work to do, and we won’t be satisfied until you are.”

Microsoft, learn now. It’s time to open up a clear communication channel with your affected users rather than bragging about your 90% success rate and pointing them to convoluted KB support articles. Software issues will always arise across a large number of devices in the industry but it’s how a company deals with those issues that counts. Apple benefits from owning the ecosystem with a clear channel of support and retail outlets. Despite some high profile iPhone 4 issues, I have yet to read reports where 10% of iPhones failed to update correctly and a small number left unusable. Windows Phone 7 is in its infancy and if you’re serious about this platform then you need to improve that open support channel and respond quickly, now.

  • http://thounsell.co.uk/ Thomas Hounsell

    The problem is Microsoft have an issue with regards to the bricked devices – it’s clearly a firmware problem, but they can’t recommend users update the firmware themselves, because that’d potentially cause more problems than it solves, so they have to recommend that the devices are returned. It’s not so much a Microsoft fault, more a Samsung fault I suspect.

    I also think you’re reading it wrong. Rather than say it failed 10% of the time, you could look at it as 90% of the user base has been able to install the latest revision. Compare this with say, Android, and that is something positive to look at. OK, with Android, it’s not so much because of failures in the update process, but that’s fundamentally irrelevent. I’d rather have 5% failing through user error, and only 5% of devices having a delayed update because of problems, than god knows how many unable to use the latest version because the people responsible consider it not worth their time.

  • captain_caveman2k

    Is there any indication what percentage of devices are getting the update and what carriers are blocking it? I am a Orange UK user with an LG E900, have not received any kind of notification yet and the Zune software says that v7.0 (7004) is “up to date” :(

    • http://www.winrumors.com Tom W

      Unfortunately not. Microsoft isn’t sharing that data and I don’t expect it will in future either.

  • Nick

    “Despite some high profile iPhone 4 issues, I have yet to read reports where 10% of iPhones failed to update correctly and a small number left unusable.”

    That should read more like this, “While not great that 10% of the WP7 updates failed, compare that to the design defect of iPhone 4′s antenna that affects 100% of the phones.”

    • http://www.Nave360.com Sebastian Gorgon

      Every phone fail in the world is compared to Apple iPhone, and to be honest with you… iPhone is overrated piece of crap

    • Laserheart

      That should read more like this, “While not great that 10% of the WP7 updates failed, compare that to the design defect of iPhone 4′s antenna that affects 100% of Windows 7 mobile user’s egos.”

      If this issue, which affects less than 1% of low-cell-coverage users, translates to 100% of the iPhones, I hope Microsoft’s not using that same math in their estimates.

      Maybe you should read the news? That whole problem has been overblown by the Windows, Android, and Blackberry press which have to have some problem to complain about.

      I have yet to find a single person affected by antenna problems on the iPhone. That’s real-world data, not just gossip or bad journalism.

  • GP007

    So of the 10% half of those had a problem because of some outside factor MS can’t control, meaning that 5% was due to some Samsung firmware problem or w/e. Nice title. :)

  • Manish

    One thing to be kept in the mind is that only Omnia failed. Thus some problem with Samsung.

    • http://www.winrumors.com Tom W

      The Focus also failed too.

  • Anonymous

    This is the same sensationalist journalism that PocketNow just did this morning. I like WinRumors, but this is simply not an accurate article.

    The author is forgetting one very important fact. Most of those 2 million were never notified about the update. All AT&T-branded phones and all T-Mobile-branded phones, aside from the Dell Venue Pro, never received the update. I would estimate that between 1/4 and 1/2 of the phones on the market never received the update to begin with. Microsoft says 90% among those who received the notification. So to say that 200,000 phones failed the update process is just gross exaggeration using falsely assumed facts.

    • http://www.winrumors.com Tom W

      You need to read the article before you comment….

      “It’s not clear exactly how many devices have tried to take part in the update process as Microsoft has not shared that data. However, it’s safe to assume the actual figure of devices is much lower than 200,000″

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_WSBMDBBSVOKD7NYOCTSXR6Z57U Joel

    Did I miss something? I have t-mobile and I still haven’t received the notification for the patch!? Any other tmo users that have or haven’t received the patch yet?

    • Lukas

      nope..nothing here either..tmo costumer :(

  • Wourelia

    I love how objective the last paragraph is.

  • http://twitter.com/Paulz0r Paul Paliath

    In Microsoft’s post, the line “you’ve said loud and clear that you want to be kept in the loop” seems like a smart remark towards you and Ed mentioning that MS said nothing about the matter over Twitter.

    Then they say “contrary to some of the gloomy headlines”… gloomy headlines? Maybe they would be just a tad less gloomy if Microsoft actually said something sooner? Even then, this success rate is nothing to be proud of, but I don’t know what’s worse; the bricked phones or how they’ve dealt with it.

  • Kmno2168

    I think this article is a wake-up call for Microsoft. They need to have the communication and not play the 90% success card. They already started behind in the mobile phone world with WP7 reboot. They just need to be open and ensure a quick fix that the user will not have to think about. Plug in phone and fixed. To me it’s perception thing. I think the over all feel of this article states that well.

  • Guest

    Yeah, I thought he could have spent more time upfront on how the team is aiming for 100% success and apologizing for the inconvenience. It did sound like 10% failure is considered acceptable, which for an update aimed at making a future update pain free, isn’t.