Microsoft Divulges More on Windows Phone Problems

Microsoft is providing additional information about an update to the Windows Phone 7 (WP7) operating system that caused unrecoverable failures in some Samsung mobile phones when it began distribution earlier this week.

Perhaps ironically, Microsoft's (NASDAQ: MSFT) update was meant to make it easier to perform future updates. Additionally, it was the first update for WP7 phones since they became available for sale in the U.S. in early November.

Microsoft said last month that in the first 60 days the devices were available, network operators and retailers bought 2 million WP7 phones. Since those numbers are hard to translate into actual phones from specific makers in users' hands, however, it's unknown how many customers have been impacted by the glitch.

The company began distributing the update in a staggered manner on Monday, but problems almost immediately cropped up with users of some Samsung devices that were rendered unusable or "bricked" after installing the patch.

Microsoft put an optimistic spin on stories of users' experiences with the update in a blog post Wednesday.

"Ninety percent of people who've received an update notification have installed the new software patch successfully. So when your turn to download it arrives, chances are good this will be a non-event," WP7 spokesperson Michael Stroh said in a Q&A posted to the Windows Phone blog.

"Of the 10 percent who did experience a problem, nearly half failed for two basic reasons -- a bad Internet connection or insufficient computer storage space. Luckily, both are easy to fix," Stroh added.

Making sure that both conditions are adequate will alleviate problems for many users, partly because of safety mechanisms meant to protect users.

"Before updating your phone, the Zune software and Windows Phone 7 Connector for Mac attempt to back up your phone data as a precaution," Stroh said. However, he did acknowledge that while those affected appeared to be a small number, he understands the aggravation that users who were locked out of their phones feel.

From a quick scan of Microsoft's own WP7 user forum, one topic entitled "Update Bricked My Phone" had garnered 3,788 views in less than three days.

The company does not yet have a solution for those users who are impacted, and Wednesday pulled the update for Samsung devices out of the queue until the problems can be resolved.

Meanwhile, tech enthusiasts' site WinRumors has come up with a trick to resurrect some users' bricked phones, but cautions that it could void the phones' warranty coverage, or worse.

"Microsoft's official stance is to return these 'bricked' devices to carriers or stores, but if that's not an option for you then you can try this fix with CAUTION. Be warned the process is risky and could void your warranty. The fix is ONLY for Samsung Omnia 7 devices so please don't blame us if this nukes your device fully, steals all your cookies or kills your pet hamster," wrote WinRumors blogger Tom Warren in a post that explains the workaround.

Stuart J. Johnston is a contributing writer at InternetNews.com, the news service of Internet.com, the network for technology professionals. Follow him on Twitter @stuartj1000.


Microsoft, smartphone, Samsung, Windows Phone 7, updates