A month ago, in my initial piece about Windows Phone 7, I was cautiously optimistic about the platform but had some questions about Microsoft’s ultimate intentions. Namely: “will they use their power to try and bend the carriers to their will? Or will they take the Google approach and let them walk all over the place dictating features and bloatware?”
I’m happy to report that at least initially, it looks like it will be the former.
“If Microsoft releases an update for your phone, you get it. Period,” Ed Bott writes today for ZDNet.
In other words, Microsoft is taking more of an Apple approach instead of the Google one. That is, it looks like they’ll be the ones in charge of dishing out software updates to customers rather than allowing the carriers to get involved.
While Google has been quick to iterate Android, the carriers have been slow to roll those updates out to many customers. They have various reasons for this. They’re all pretty much bullshit.
“Microsoft will push Windows Phone 7 software updates to end users and all Windows Phone 7 devices will be eligible for updates,” the company tells Bott. Their very direct phrasing almost makes it sound as if they’re very aware of fragmentation issue on Android and what a headache it is for consumers. In fact, I’m sure they are.
Before Microsoft hit reset on their mobile strategy and came out with Windows Phone 7, their original mobile OS, Windows Mobile, was in largely the same boat as Android is now in. The carriers had the power when it came to updates. And customers got screwed.
So at least in that way, the failure of Windows Mobile may have helped Microsoft. They learned, and can now make a better product as a result.
Google had never done a mobile operating system before Android, so perhaps they didn’t know what they were getting into with the carriers (though you have to believe Android chief Andy Rubin should have). And Apple didn’t fall into the trap simply because they’re control-freaks.
Speaking of Rubin, he believes that the carriers are learning from customers and will eventually get with the program when it comes to dishing out updates. “I think over time they’ll learn what is good business and what is bad business,” he said back in October. Two decades of history suggests the opposite, but whatever.
Microsoft has made the right call here. To use Rubin’s words, the world may not need another platform, but it sure is nice to have another one not controlled by the carriers.
Update: Or maybe not…