Microsoft says later, bigger WP7 update on track

Microsoft confirmed a brief delay to the WP7 update but said one that includes an HTML5 browser is on track

Microsoft on Thursday confirmed a delay to the Windows Phone 7 update that includes cut and paste, but the company said it is still on track to deliver an even bigger update by the end of the year.

On Wednesday, the Mobiletechworld blog noticed an entry on an official Microsoft France blog that said the update that contains cut and paste would come in the second half of March. That's a slight setback, because Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer had said the update would come in early March.

In a blog post, Eric Hautala, general manager of customer experience engineering at Microsoft, has now confirmed the delay. He wrote that it was the result of problems with an earlier update, the first one Microsoft has tried to send to Windows Phone 7 devices. Ironically, that update is designed to improve the update process itself. While some phone users have gotten that first update, Microsoft has twice suspended the process due to problems with installing the software, which have plagued primarily users of Samsung phones.

"I've decided to take some extra time to ensure the update process meets our standards, your standards, and the standards of our partners. As a result, our plan is to start delivering the copy-and-paste update in the latter half of March," Hautala wrote.

Some people have wondered whether this delay might affect another update that Ballmer said would come later this year.

Hautala said the update for later this year is still on schedule. "This short pause should in no way impact the timing of future updates, including the one announced recently at Mobile World Congress featuring multitasking, a Twitter feature, and a new HTML 5-friendly version of Internet Explorer Mobile," he wrote, referring to the event where Ballmer spoke about the update.

Hautala seemed to shift some of the blame for the problems onto carriers. Microsoft has to ship its update to carriers, which often add their own software and do their own testing, he said. "But it's still their network, and the reality is that some carriers require more time than others," he wrote.

He also refuted speculation that operators may block updates, a theory that has been rampant in the Android community, typically when certain phones don't get the most recent update. But while operators may ask for a specific date to start an update and may ask that updates get bundled together, "you should ultimately receive all the updates we send out," he wrote.

He confirmed that Microsoft is using Windows Update, the system it has used for years to push out updates to desktop PCs. Still, it's always hard to predict what will happen once software is in use, he said. "Microsoft has been making and delivering software updates long enough to know that the laboratory can simulate -- but never quite equal -- the experience of delivering software to thousands of real phones 'in the wild,' each loaded with its own unique set of apps, pictures, songs, and other stuff," he wrote.

While the practice of issuing software updates to mobile phones is relatively new, Google and Apple have now been doing so largely without issues, and to far more phones, for more than a year. While Microsoft years ago was one of the first to say it would push updates to phones, with its Windows Mobile software, it seldom did.

Nancy Gohring covers mobile phones and cloud computing for The IDG News Service. Follow Nancy on Twitter at @idgnancy. Nancy's e-mail address is Nancy_Gohring@idg.com

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