She's not wanting your features, gosh darn it.
News of Microsoft backtracking on offering consumers the opportunity to provide requests for features in Windows Phone 7.8 has been circling multiple sources today. This is due to a reply to a User Voice thread that apologises for misleading consumers through a previous reply, which turned out to be badly worded.
A few days ago we covered a member of the Windows Phone team taking to its User Voice page to reveal that consumers can post and vote on feature requests, which would then be taken into account of inclusion in Windows Phone 7.8. This was seen as a positive move by many (including ourselves) to involve the community to shape the next update.
"As you know, Windows Phone 8 is a generational shift in technology, which means that it will not run on existing hardware.
BUT we care deeply about our existing customers and would like to know SPECIFICALLY what features you would like to see on 7.8 and vote INDIVIDUALLY for the one that you want most (vs. one large grab bag of features)."
Now as we look at the post above, there's nothing suggesting the team is actively looking for more features to include in the next upgrade for current and past Windows Phone hardware, but the post itself could have arguably been worded differently. Unless it's specifically stated they want feature ideas, we should always take what's said lightly. The way this post was published led to consumers, ourselves and other sources believing the team is seeking user input.
A follow-up reply was published to the User Voice thread after news sources picked up on the apparent ability to request features for inclusion. The official response was as follows:
"We are truly floored over the excitement about future Windows Phone releases. Unfortunately our earlier response on this post was not well worded. We really do care about your feedback. This forum is intended to seek suggestions on future product features but it is not set up to take requests for specific product versions. We apologize for the confusion.
We would like to reinforce that for this forum to work optimally we would need users to create unique suggestions each with a single idea. This particular suggestion item has many varied ideas and because of that we aren’t able to infer what is the most important to this forum. Please reallocate your votes to other suggestions that have a single idea."
This doesn't mean the company isn't listening to customers and would rather not receive feedback and feature requests, as we're pretty sure they actively read through threads on User Voice and more. What this probably means is the Windows Phone team is working flat out to get both Apollo and 7.8 ready in a timely fashion. We're looking at a combined launch for Windows 8, Windows Phone and the Surface tablets, not to mention pushing the Windows Phone 7.8 update out to existing customers with older hardware.
We're still unsure as to what's included in both Apollo abnd 7.8, and we have to imagine just how many feature requests are submitted by consumers. It's not that Microsoft doesn't care, it's more likely due to lack of time, resource and mounting pressure caused by tight release schedules.