Telstra, Windows Phone And The 'NoDo' Update Part 2: The Response!

Last Friday I wrote an article discussing Telstra's inaction and silence on the issue of Windows Phone 7 Updates, or more specifically the NoDo (March) update. If you wish to reread that article you can view the whole article (which includes the letter I sent to Telstra's CEO) here, but I'll recap the main points here. Microsoft released their March Update to Windows Phone (codenamed NoDo) on March 24 2011 and as of Thursday April 28th (when I wrote the letter) Telstra was still "testing" the update and instead of keeping their customers updated, they were directing their customers to an outdated update chart. Well after that letter (co-incidence or not), Telstra officially approved the update for the HTC 7 Mozart on Friday 29th April and promised to approve the LG Optimus 7Q in early May. Well today I received an offical reply from Telstra detailing some of the reasons why they took over a month to test some fairly small updates and it clears a lot of things up and even opens up some questions that Microsoft needs to answer, so I thought I'd write about that here.

This is the text of the letter I received from Telstra today:

Thank you for your recent correspondence to our Chief Executive Officer, Mr David Thodey. David has asked me to write to you to explain where we are with our Windows Phone 7 software updates. We understand your disappointment with the delay in the updates. We share your frustration.
During our initial rigorous testing phase, we discovered and issue with the firmware for one of our Windows Phone 7 devices. Microsoft reissued the device firmware and we have almost completed testing but this process has taken some time.
Unfortunately this setback has held up the release of the HTC 7 Mozart software as Microsoft's policy is to withhold all device firmware until updates are available across a Telco's full range of Windows Phone 7 handsets.
HTC 7 Mozart firmware is already Telstra-approved and awaiting Microsoft release. We are scheduled to approve all remaining Windows Phone 7 device updates this week after which point we hope Microsoft will swiftly release the HTC 7 Mozart update to customers.
We are working with Microsoft to improve the software release process for future updates.
We are working with Microsoft to improve the software release process for future updates.
We take device security very seriously. Microsoft advised Telstra in April that they were introducing a security update for all WP7 devices. Telstra prioritised the testing of this update and this is included in our March software release.
I appreciate the opportunity to address your concerns.
Yours sincerely
Andrew Volard
Director, Device Management
Telstra Innovation Products and Marketing

So that was the letter I received today. I'll be honest, I thought the letter was a BIG step into repairing the damage Telstra has caused to my opinion of them and I actually wasn't expecting a response back at all, let alone one which actually went into the detail this one has. So well done Telstra on this reply, you've done the right thing here. The only thing is, why didn't you publicly say all this during April when phone operators around the world were getting updates each week and Telstra customers were not and they were complaining? If you had of explained this situation here in a blog post on the Telstra Exchange website, then you would have saved yourself a lot of negative publicity. Silence, useless answers like "Coming Soon" and directing users to charts which really also just say "Coming Soon" don't really cut it for intelligent and keen customers (people asking about firmware updates on phones are obviously very keen about their phone and want it to be the best it can be). So, well done on explaining what's going on, but next time, can you please just tell us publicly what's going on instead of having to have people write to your CEO to get this information?

This response by Telstra now raises a question or two that Microsoft needs to answer now. The big question I think here is, why are there two different sets of rules for phone carriers in the US and phone carriers outside the US? Telstra in their response said that the reason for the delay was that, "we discovered an issue with firmware for one of our Windows Phone 7 devices", which I'm going to assume was the LG Optimus 7Q because it's the one that's still being tested (although should be approved within a few days apparently). They then said that they couldn't release the software for the HTC 7 Mozart because, "Microsoft’s policy is to withhold all device firmware until updates are available across a Telco’s full range of Windows Phone 7 handsets". If that's the case, then why was AT&T allowed to issue the March Update to the Samsung Focus & LG Quantum on April 19 (US time) and leave the HTC Surround until May 3 (US time) because it needed additional testing? On Telstra, the more popular phone is the HTC 7 Mozart, so if there were issues with the less popular LG Optimus 7Q, then why couldn't Telstra just approve the HTC 7 Mozart update and delay the LG Optimus 7Q update for additional testing, just like AT&T did for the HTC Surround? I think Microsoft needs to address this issue, because if Microsoft does have 2 separate sets of rules depending on whether you are inside or outside the US, then they are creating a situation where updates are not going out to phones that carriers are quite happy for them to be installed on and causing the carriers to look like they're deliberately blocking them.

The other thing which isn't greatly significant, but still has been weird from the beginning, is: Why does the US have a completely separate page for their update schedule which lists individual phones, but not the US carriers and the rest of the world has a page simply listing carriers, but not which phones each carrier is selling? Is this linked to the 2 sets of rules that appear to be in place? It definitely makes it easier for US carriers to approve updates on a per phone basis and document that easily, unlike the rest of the world.

So that's hopefully the end of that. Microsoft has finally updated the Telstra entry in their Where's My Phone Update? table to say scheduling now (even though the update was approved last Friday by Telstra), which should mean we will get it either late this week or sometime next week (apparently the new security update will be included in that too, which is very positive news) and then we wait for Mango. One final trend I'd like to point out is that Microsoft seems to be backing away from naming their updates after the month they were first released. This latest security update is simply referred to by it's version number (7.0.7392.0) and if you look at the Update History page, you'll notice they've swapped the release month and version number around, so the month is in much smaller font than the version number as opposed to visa-versa like it was previously. I've attached a cached version of the page from May 1 and May 5 (today) to illustrate this. It's not a huge change, but it does show that Microsoft may be moving away from naming their updates by month after this big update debacle.

The Update History Page (May 1)

New Update History Page (May 5)

Oh, to all those Telefonica Spain customers out there, I REALLY hope your phone company releases the 7.0.7008.0 (February), 7.0.7390.0 (March) and 7.0.7392.0 (SSL Update) to your phones soon, since you're phone company is now the only one in the world to still be testing updates.

Time to answer a few questions I think Microsoft, please? :) Telstra did!