It’s been quiet on the Windows Phone front since late 2012, when Windows Phone 8 hit the public markets alongside Windows 8. Since then, Microsoft has aggressively worked to iron out the quirks from Windows 8, while Windows Phone has enjoyed continued hardware updates but less firmware love.
It was a somewhat appropriate response given that Windows 8 sold poorly at launch and thus needed the help that Windows 8.1 will bring it, while Windows Phone 8 was well-received and boosted sales figures for the smartphone line. Still, dedicated Windows Phone users — yes they exist, stop smirking — aren’t too happy about being left to the side.
Microsoft, to its credit, is working to release an update to Windows Phone called GDR2, which will bring FM radio back to its smartphones, as well as some other minor improvements. However, not all are content.
User complaints on a Microsoft forum became concerted enough that Joe Belfiore, currently the corporate vice president and manager for Windows Phone Program Management, stepped into the ring to respond. The thread on UserVoice, “We need Microsoft to listen to our ideas and DO something,” racked up 4,629 votes and 631 comments. Its message is simple:
GDR2 is just a small update, I see no actual features with high demand from customer on this update.
Things need to changed, OR, we’ll leave this OS. Do something, Microsoft, before it’s too late.
Belfiore’s response is familiar, and somewhat telling. Its gist is that, yes, Microsoft knows, but must devote short-term resources to adding hardware support for new devices that can grow the larger Windows Phone install base. With that in mind, the company also has plans for new software features later in 2013. Here’s his note, emphasis my own:
We’re definitely here and paying attention to what you folks are asking for… keep in mind the trick for us is balancing things that make EXISTING devices better for you, our enthusiast users, versus things that create new devices to sell to a broader audience. A lot of the work in GDR2 was around enabling new devices– like the Lumia 1020, devices on Sprint, etc. so that we could keep growing the size of the WP ecosystem. We need to grow the number of people using WP so we get ISVs writing the apps, we get better/more accessories built, etc.
Of course this takes time and energy, but we still do intend to improve the user experience for you via new features. There’s some in GDR 2 (eg. DataSense broadly available, FM Radio) there’s more coming later this year, and still more after that.
Don’t worry – we are listening to you folks!
Microsoft has been, in my experience, annoyingly coy on what is next for Windows Phone firmware. However, we now have confirmation, at last, that more is coming for the platform. This is an anti-surprise in that if the opposite were true, that would have been a shock. Still, it’s always nice to hear that free stuff is on the way.
Let’s not be too kind: The Windows Phone team should have sufficient bandwidth to work on expanding hardware support while simultaneously improving its software feature set; a company the size of Microsoft shouldn’t have to “balance” on a project as key for its future as Windows Phone.
But for now, you don’t need that pitchfork. At least not yet.
Top Image Credit: MIXEvent