There’s been a common complaint from the Windows Phone community the past few months around a seemingly lack of urgency with Microsoft to release updates. Windows Phone 8 launched at the end of last October and since then we haven’t had much in terms of OS updates. Right now GDR2 is beginning to roll out for a few of you, but other than that not much. Microsoft’s Joe Belfiore recently took to the Windows Phone UserVoice to address some of that criticism.
For those who don’t spend every waking moment online: UserVoice is service that companies can utilize to engage customers. The most common application is to create a forum type setup where users can help provide feedback to the company. In this particular case, the Windows Phone UserVoice is where a lot of your fellow comrades go to provide Microsoft with feedback and ideas for future versions of Windows Phone. You can sort threads through a variety of ways, for example by hot ideas, top, new, the status, and categories. One particular thread was trending in the hot section, so Joe Belfiore stepped in.
It was titled “We need Microsoft to listen to our ideas and DO something”, this was the content inside:
“Ok, we're here after a year of WP8. We're about to get the GDR2 update and we're still not getting anything from the TOP ideas of this forum.
Sometimes I'm wondering Microsoft is listening or not. Or they just simply try to convince us to buy the phone and then leave us here.
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.
Who's with me, please vote!”
Quite a strong post right? Well it caught the attention of the community and was accumulating a lot of replies and votes that helped accelerate it to the top of the hot category. In those replies was one from Joe Belfiore addressing the main thread and the hundreds of replies within. Here’s what he said:
“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!”
He brings up a very valid point and should help bring a few of us off our high horses. It was something we noticed yesterday in the comments for the leaked (and now confirmed) specs for the Lumia 625. Microsoft and Nokia have to find the balance between satisfying two extremes in the market –The tech nerds (you, me, and everyone most likely reading this site) and the rest of the world.
Microsoft and Windows Phone are still in a distant third place when it comes to mobile platforms. So we need to ask what should be higher on the priority list. Satisfying the needs of a few or the needs of many? And right now Joe seems to have answered that for Microsoft. They’re placing a higher priority on growing the ecosystem right now versus implementing ideas that appeal to a vocal minority. And honestly that’s probably the right thing to do. Building up a large user base for developers will be benefit us all and have a positive impact on the platform that lasts longer than simply adding the ability to control media and ringtone volume separately (as much as we all want that!).
You shouldn’t write off Windows Phone if you’re into technology. Joe goes onto promise future updates coming this year. And he’s right. While they won’t go on record, we know that GDR3 is coming sometime in the fall followed by Windows Phone Blue (8.1) early next year. The biggest thing that GDR3 will bring to the table is support for higher resolution displays – like those 1080p ones are frenemies over at Android Central get to play with.
So what do you guys think? Do you sympathize with Microsoft being in a tough position to find the balance between growing the ecosystem/platform versus adding new features every week? Or should they just suck it up and double down? Sound off with your thoughts below, because today we all get to play armchair analysts.