I recently hit a low point with a particular Windows Phone 7 problem, and wanted some instant answers. The issue was a blurry one - Zune freezing occasionally on the device. Could it be a HTC problem, or a Windows issue? (my money was on Windows). I initially went to Microsoft, since even if it’s a hardware problem - they should be able to identify that (after all, they could have built some awesome debugging features into the OS which we don’t know about, would make sense, wouldn’t it?). The website offered an instant support feature - something I’ve never used with MS, time for an experiment!
I got hold of an agent who reiterated my problem as I described it. I was expecting the usual software reset, update, remove and add everything etc - which came on queue. I decided to go through this song and dance to satisfy all troubleshooting options, but to no avail. All this failed, and the problem remained. The agent went away for a while to consult with a colleague, and later (to my surprise), told me this was a known HTC firmware issue that Microsoft are aware of. Suspecting some kind of fobbing off, the agent then provided me with a forum link explaining the problem, and the exact HTC firmware version that fixes the issue. She couldn’t provide details of when HTC will push the update out - as it first has to be delivered to MS, who use the update service to do this, and that’s pretty much a random process. The forum posts showed that some users had already received the update, and this had fixed their problem. Great! Over to HTC support.
I knew they had provided the patch to MS, so I wanted confirmation of the problem (or better yet, the firmware itself!). I asked them about the firmware version, and their response was somewhat more blunt. “We don’t make any software for Windows Phones, MS does it all”. Knowing this was absolute crap, I asked them to check again - HTC DO make the firmware, otherwise Microsoft wouldn’t have a clue how to interact with the hardware. But my HTC agent was adamant - they have no software to give me, because they do not make any. Epic fail for HTC - I know someone in the company gave MS the update, and it’s being rolled out, Microsoft acknowledge receipt of the update, and it’s publishing to their update service. I accepted HTC can’t know when MS will push it to my phone, but they should be able to acknowledge the existence of this firmware patch. No luck - still HTC insisted the firmware didn’t exist, they also failed to acknowledge the problem (despite hundreds of user complaints in the forums) and they refused to acknowledge Microsoft’s response to me that HTC do have the patch. Well done HTC - you failed miserably where so many phone manufactures do. We’re getting beyond ‘return the device for repair’ now that the software is becoming more important then the hardware, and we need co-operation between vendors.
Being told to return hardware that clearly suffers a software problem was a mistake the computer industry rectified many years ago, the phone industry however, will still suffer from this for a few more years to come (except Apple, who have the good position of controlling both hardware and software). Perhaps when the contract is up, I’ll take a look at what Samsung is producing.