Job ad: Microsoft looking to offer Windows Mobile updates

Windows Mobile users have complained about having to buy a new phone with each software upgrade

Just days after customers complained on a Facebook discussion about the lack of software updates to Windows Mobile phones, Microsoft published a job ad for a developer who will build an update process for the operating system.

"Have you wished to see your Windows Mobile phone with new features 'magically' show up without you buying a new one?" reads the job ad, posted on Microsoft's career site and first spotted by Ars Technica.

The job description indicates that Microsoft is developing a way to push updates out to Windows Mobile users. "Our goal is to enable customers to anticipate and enjoy a predictable stream of new and improved capabilities for their Windows Phone via a Device Update service that is worry-free and easy-to-use," the job posting says.

The software update process is an issue for Windows Mobile users, who compare their experience with that of users of the popular iPhone.

When the iPhone gets an operating system upgrade, existing users can download it to their phones for free. By contrast, Windows Mobile users typically have to buy a new phone to get the software update. Sometimes a few handsets are capable of receiving the upgrade, but even then the process is often cumbersome because the update comes from a user's mobile operator, not Microsoft.

Competition from the likes of Apple appears to be driving Microsoft's efforts. "With the mobile industry's strong growth and several competitors playing in the field, we are going to have a challenging but fun time to show customers what Windows phones can become in the next few years," according to the ad.

Customers recently complained about the Windows Mobile update situation when Microsoft invited them to ask questions in a discussion on the Windows Mobile Facebook page.

"Why is the next version of Windows Mobile never offered as an upgrade?" Benjamin Rivera Jr. asked as part of the discussion. He was one of many people who posed similar questions.

Microsoft did introduce an update system with Windows Mobile 6.0. When announced in early 2007, Microsoft said it was designed mainly to push out security fixes in the case of a mobile virus. But perhaps since mobile viruses so rarely surface, many users say they've never noticed any updates to their phones.

Microsoft did not immediately respond to a request for additional comment on its update plans.

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Nancy Gohring

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