Software update puts Phone 7 on two strikes

It’s never a good sign when a company has to write the phrase “contrary to some of the gloomy headlines out there,” but that’s exactly how Microsoft Corp.’s Windows Phone executive Michael Stroh started his rebuttal of this week’s Phone 7 software update.

Stroh said that 90 per cent of users who received the first ever Phone 7 update notification were able to install the software patch without a hitch. Of course, that still leaves 10 per cent of users out in the cold.

For some of those users, especially LG Optimus 7 and Samsung Omnia 7 owners, the unsuccessful update was “bricking” devices, even after some users tried to remove the battery and reboot the phone. It’s hard to argue that a mobile software update was a success when some devices were being rendered unusable.

“Has the update process gone perfectly? No — but few large-scale software updates ever do, and the engineering team here was prepared,” wrote Stroh. “Of course, when it’s your phone that’s having a problem—or you’re the one waiting—it’s still aggravating. That’s why we’re committed to learning from our first update and improving the process. We know we have work to do, and we won’t be satisfied until you are.”

Stroh added that nearly half of the users who experienced problems with the update could attribute the error to a bad Internet connection or insufficient computer storage space.

But these reasons aside, Phone 7’s early adopters can’t be too happy about what they’ve been hearing.

I only decided to blog about this because next month Microsoft is scheduled to release a more significant upgrade. It will add copy-and-paste functionality and boost application performance on the OS.

Unlike Apple, which can apparently overcome hardware problems (see Antennagate) with its new phones, Microsoft does not have any room for error. The company is going to have to win over its user base during next month’s update and finally get some positive buzz going for their OS.

The Redmond, Wash.-based giant is on two strikes right now. The company’s late arrival with a legitimate mobile OS coupled with this early software hiccup presents Microsoft with an even tougher battle to catch iOS4, BlackBerry and Android.

Perhaps of even greater concern is what this software glitch means for enterprise IT shops. If I’m a large enterprise, why would I move away from BlackBerry to a mobile OS still going through its early growing pains?

If Microsoft is looking to get the enterprise’s attention with its phones, these update problems won’t help that cause.