AT&Ts response to adding more memory to WP7: Go right ahead!

In an interesting follow up to the "beware if you install more memory to WP7!" advice from Microsoft, AT&T seems to have no problem with you doing so. If you recall, in the article, the responsibility was basically passed off to the carriers if they want to "support" such behavior. Microsoft had said that many of the microSD cards out on the market were unreliable and therefore may cause problems.

Over in the AT&T forums, user eshudnow emailed Jeff Bradley, Senior Vice President of Devices for AT&T about the issue and this is reportedly his response:

Thanks for your interest in our new Windows Phone 7 devices. We are very excited as well about this great new experience being delivered on some very cool devices on the nation’s fastest network.

The devices will support the addition of up to a 32GB class 2 (or higher) microSD card. You need to insert the card before you power up the device the first time so that the operating system can map it as available memory to maximize its utilization. This is outlined in the Quick Start Guide you receive in the box. I encourage you to read this before you launch the device the first time to have the best experience with a microSD card.

Thanks again for your interest. I hope you like it as much as I do. If you have a moment, please let me know your experience.

So there you go. The max (at this point) seems to be 32GB and AT&T has no issue with you doing this and in fact, they give you explicit instructions on how to go about doing it. Sounds good to us. Hopefully other carriers will take a more lenient approach. Though this still raises the question if there will be a "warranty void sticker" and if so, will AT&T still enforce that or not?

Source: AT&T Support Forum; Thanks, electricbopeep, in comments!


Reader comments

AT&Ts response to adding more memory to WP7: Go right ahead!


So Microsoft was just blowing BS, no surprise there. Give a clear, direct answer, why is that so.hard for MS to do?

It's quite conceivable that poor quality microSD cards could degrade performance and even cause instability. It's the kind of thing which may not be noticeable immediately and may take the card filling up or possibly an OS update to trigger instability. i don't see Charlie Kindel's comments as disingenuous, but simply overcautious given they're pushing WP7 towards consumers. It's really in Kindel's best interest that consumers don't mess with the card slot, lose data, then blame that on the OS. On the other hand, i'm a little shocked that AT&T would recommend that the consumer add larger cards, especially if their devices have the card slots blocked. Of course, they benefit from overpriced microSD card sales.

Shouldn't the author have made it clear that the AT&T email above was from 2 weeks ago? It's quite possible AT&T didn't know about MS's latest stance which may be based on more recent lab test data. I expect AT&T and MS get together and release a formal answer before the US launch.


Why would MS blow BS on this? Wouldn't they sell more if you could add any microSD card like AT&T suggests? I suspect we will find that AT&T jumped the gun a little. If so, I hope AT&T can tell/sell us the right microSD card to use for Focus.

I don't think what MS said the other day was their "latest stance" but rather always their stance. They just finally told us because lots of people were asking questions. If AT&T put the directions in their Quick Start Guide, then I'm pretty sure Samsung, AT&T and MS are all on the same page. MS even said carriers *can* do this, but it's on them. So this is no way contradicts MS's stated (and now public) stance.

MS: "Even with high end cards, we have seen wild differences in IO and performance...In most cases, users *will* have issues."

The only way AT&T's statement cannot contradict MS's stance is if AT&T allows only certain pre-approved microSD card(s) instead of random microSD cards found everywhere.

That may very well be the case in the end although their statement seems to suggest you can use any Class 2+ cards up to 32GB.

Thanks for looking at my comment, Daniel. I'm sorry if it caused further confusion. I didn't mean to imply that the exec's e-mail was "the final word" in response to Kindel's comment; I simply wanted to highlight what had been articulated by a high-level ATT exec in response to costumer concerns about the sd situation.
I personally agree with the points you made and I don't think the exec's statement is necessarily contradictory with Kindal's. It's also possible, as nulldev points out, that ATT might change or further elaborate their stance in light of Kindel's public comments. I don't think Microsoft was BSing us; I think they're erring on the side of caution. I'm looking forward to official documentation clarifying how ATT will handle the expandable storage functionality and the customer service issues that could arise from it.

Microsoft should have prohibited memory card support. If Microsoft's testing holds true in real life this is a disaster waiting to happen.

I'm sorry, I find it hard to believe that after all these years of using storage cards in various devices by milliions of people all of a sudden MS comes out and says storage cards are unreliable and everyone agrees? How many android phones are sold with storage card slots, how many WM phones were sold with storage card slots, how many cameras use storage cards? How come they havent been abandoned if they are as unreliable as MS suggests? How come this is one of the prime reasons a lot of people claim is one of WP7's biggest omissions? And how come, as wshwe says MS did not outright prohibit storage card support in the first place? What does HTC use to provide their onboard storage, isnt it a storage card? PC's use hard drives that fail, should they be considered too unreliable for usage in PC's?

I am not claiming that storage cards are perfect or dont fail, but for MS to make such claims and then turn around and let their OEM's use the same storage medium smacks of hypocrisy of the highest order and will result in the same issues they claim they are trying to avoid by denying the end user the capability to freely add additional storage as they see fit.

i don't agree with Kindel's comment on how unreliable microSDs are. That really sounds like a comment taken out of context, but whatever. As i alluded to above, it's quite conceivable that given the way WP7 sees the internal and external memory as one storage pool that there's a higher minimum on storage. i imagine it would be like running RAID with different drives. It's possible, but not recommended.

And i agree with someone else that MicroSD cards should've been made user inaccessible. Put a "warranty void if removed" label over the microSD slot and let advanced users pull it off if they want to replace the card. The consequence for removing or swapping the card is so user unfriendly that it boggles the mind that Microsoft would let OEMs get away with anything less than i've suggested.

The same things went through my head initially. I've used in many devices, dating back to my Palm Zire, and I've only recently experienced a failure that was attributable to them. However, it occurred to me that perhaps I had been oblivious to the possibility that the SD card was degrading my past device's performance. It also occurred to me that perhaps my past experiences weren't comparable to wp7 devices. Haven't there been statements that wp7 treats memory cards differently than other devices? That seemed like a plausible explanation to me, although I'll readily admit that I don't have the technical knowledge to assess how valid that is. I also remember Paul Thurott saying that memory cards weren't hot-swappable because of digital rights management and that Microsoft originally didn't want any expandable storage at all. So it seems to me that Microsoft is balancing the interests of oems and carriers who want to differentiate and content makers who want to protect their product, all while trying to maintain the performance of the OS and ensure an intuitive user experience. Microsoft's change of tune on OS updates and carrier interference is yet another example of this balancing act. Their vacillating is symptomatic of having to serve several masters while not taking the free-for-all approach of Android (or Windows Mobile). I shouldn't say I don't think they're bs-ing because afterall, I'm not clairvoyant. Kindel's comments could be disingenuous, overly-cautious or some combo thereof. I usually don't take these things at face value but I think the truth probably lies somewhere in between in this case. I just want a clear answer because I'm leaning toward getting a Focus and I would like to add an sd card with peace of mind.

If T-Mobile USA gets the iPhone I'll get one over WP7. Microsoft has sllowed too much manufacturer and carrier interference.

Please describe this "manufacturer and carrier interference". Last I checked, OEMs had pretty rigid hardware requirements (min. 1Ghz cpu, 512mb RAM, GPS, compass, 3.5mm jack, Wifi, 800x480 res) and Carriers were restricted to just 5 carrier-apps, none of which could be shareware. Updates also go through MS not the carriers now.

But please, fill me in about this carrier interference that the iPhone has missed out on (cough, Google Voice, Skype, cough).