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THOUGHT: Blame the Buttons for the Lack of Windows Phone 7 Series Updates?
Posted by Arne Hess - on Wednesday, 10.03.10 - 13:33:01 CET under 09 - Thoughts - Viewed 12248x
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In the recent days, Microsoft made several times clear that none of today's Windows Mobile 6.5 smartphones will get a Windows Phone 7 Series update because today's 6.5 smartphones don't support the 7 Series requirements and users have to wonder why Microsoft is so strict? While the exact feature-requirements are yet to be announced, let us have a look at one of the obvious differences between Windows Mobile 6.5 and Windows Phone 7: The buttons and the button layout. As a matter of fact, Microsoft confirmed in Barcelona that Windows Phone 7 Series devices require the Windows, back and search keys as well as a camera key, in addition to the volume rocker and power button.

However, Microsoft isn't supporting call send/end keys but calls will established through the graphical user interface. Furthermore it was confirmed that Microsoft will distribute operating system updates in the future by itself (doesn't matter if these updates are distributed over the air (OTA) or as a download to the PC (side load)).
Now - if we take the HTC HD2 as an example - HTC's hero smartphone might feature all the technical requirements (CPU and CPU speed, camera resolution, compass, etc.) but it's quite obvious that the HD2 sports a different button layout:

Now, it would be pretty easy for HTC to adopt the Windows Phone 7 OS and customize it to work on an HD2, including the support of the call send/end buttons as well giving the Home button a new sense; while the question would stay which button to assign to the search key but anyway - what's next? As soon as a HD2 is updated to Windows Phone 7, it's a device which Microsoft will/have to take care about in future and it means that Microsoft is responsible for future operating system updates. However, since Microsoft is providing updates on the Windows Phone 7 requirements, the question is how Microsoft should deal with the extra buttons (call send/end, home) or missing buttons (search, camera) since these button assignments were part of HTC's previous customization? As a matter of fact, Microsoft wouldn't be able to roll-out OTA updates for the HTC HD2 but HTC has to release another customized HD2 ROM update which would lead the whole unified Windows Phone 7 Series idea ad absurdum!

Therefore, Microsoft's cut makes absolute sense, even if it's hard for today's HD2 owners. But since Microsoft Windows Phone 7 Series should be a future prove restart, Microsoft had to make some strong decisions which includes to deny update possibilities for devices which aren't 100 % Windows Phone 7 compatible.
At the end of the day it's a question how to support Windows Phone 7 Series devices in the future and users often requested and asked for direct OS support from Microsoft. Microsoft might have specified this to the limit but it seems it happened to the benefit of the future platform strategy.

And as Microsoft said - the current lack of supportable devices doesn't mean that none of the upcoming Windows Mobile 6.5 smartphones will also be unable to get a Windows Phone 7 series upgrade but it means that it's quite easy to identify which device might be able to be upgradeable: It has to feature a Windows start, back and search button as well as a camera key, volume rocker and power on/off button; not more but also not less!

Last but not least please note that the thought above represents my view only! It's neither backed-up by any official Microsoft information nor confirmed by Microsoft. It's just a result of a recent research and discussions with fellow industry insiders and mobile device users.

Cheers ~ Arne


Related Articles THOUGHT:

Posted by Sam W on 10.03.10 - 22:07:35

Microsoft doesn't want anyone messing with its Bing Button. It won't allow ODMs or carriers to change it to another search engine, so it won't want users doing that either. It's Bing for everyone.

Posted by KC on 11.03.10 - 16:55:44

Just don't map the extra buttons. How hard is that? This whole concept is insane to me. Hey MS, would it be OK to map all the extra buttons to Bing???

Posted by Ryan Young on 12.03.10 - 21:02:21

I spoke with a T-Mobile salesperson yesterday concerning the release of the HTC HD2 on 3.24.2010.  I was told specifically that the HD2 will be running the Windows Mobile 7 OS.  I have been trying to decide between the HD2 and Google's Nexus One, which runs the Android 2.1 OS.  If the HD2 will in fact run WM7, I will most likely go with that phone; however, if the HD2 will not support WM7, there is a good chance I will go with the Nexus One.  I have been using MS Windows for a long time, and have recently begun using XNA for software development.  If /both/ are supported on the HD2, I don't think the Nexus One will stand a chance with me.

Posted by Arne Hess on 13.03.10 - 10:47:27

@Ryan: I want to believe but frankly - in terms of future developments I don't trust salespersons too much. Their job is selling tariffs and devices, not the development. Again, I'm pretty sure the HD2 is theoretically capable of running Windows Phone 7 Series but as described above, I have my doubts that it will get an (official) 7 update.

Posted by JohnJHF on 13.03.10 - 23:23:00

I don't know what the big deal is with Windows Mobile 7.  From the little that I have heard about the OS, it does not seem to be that great.  I have heard that it will not (at this point) do multitasking....that is very strange since Windows Mobile already does that.  Also, I have heard that it will not allow you to download and install software except from the Windows Market Place....Kind of silly if you ask me, I don't want an OS that is so limited.  Anyway, Windows 6.5 or 6.5.x will be around for a few years and tons of software is available for this OS.  By the time you come to upgrade your phone, in a year or two, you then can upgrade the OS.   You just cannot continue to chase down technology....there is always something better coming around the corner.  And if you need Windows Mobile 7 on the HD2, go to  Trust me, there will be Windows Mobile 7 ROM available for the HD2 there, even if HTC or Microsoft do not release one, it will be there and available for downloand so you can flash your ROM to your heart’s desire.   

It is just silly to say the HD2 will not get WM7.  But frankly, I don't think I will be upgrading the HD2 to WM7.  it just is an awsome phone as is and I don't want to limit what I can do on this phone. While I think the Xbox intergration, etc...will be great, I still have to remember that it's a phone and micro-laptop to assist me in doing my work (and have some fun with it), but how long will the battery last with all these bells and whistles?? And the better question is, how much work will I really get done if I'm playing games on my phone??  I have an Xbox at home for that stuff.

Posted by MM on 16.03.10 - 04:51:40

Insane MS requirement. Any button function can be done in software. The only thing I need is a panic button, like when you by accident phone a person and want to stop the call (This is happens on the HD2 which has a software call button on the main screen. BTW a "Back" button is a must? Where is the back button on my notebook keyboard? M$ requirement is completely ridiculous. Any OS can be customized, it's just a matter you want to do it. I am so sad the HD2 will not support WM7. There is completely no technical reason for not doing it. MS and vendor made a deal somewhere and MS is going to lose out on the mobile market. Their Windows dekstop tricks will not work in the mobile environment. When will they learn..

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