Trender Research™

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Will People be Forced to Purchase a new Phone to Get Windows Mobile 6.5?

I read an interesting article, Windows Mobile Users Complain About Upgrade Policy, by Nancy Gohring of IDG News Service. It appears that Microsoft's facing another challenge brought on by its own business model. Even though Windows Mobile 6.5 was launched a while ago and quite a few of today's mobile devices could use that software, the upgrade has not been made available.

Subscribers point to the fact that Nokia and Apple make it possible for owners to download software upgrades when they're made available. They ask Microsoft when it is going to do the same.

Why is Microsoft tardy? Well, Microsoft has different business arangements with each of the many wireless service providers who are distributing mobile phones powered by Microsoft's Windows Mobile. Each of the service providers has its own policies regarding software upgrades.

Service providers would typically prefer to sell a subscriber a new telephone and a lengthy service contract than to provide new software for an older device. This has proven to work with low cost, low function devices.

If a subscriber has purchased a device that cost over $500, one that combines the functions of a phone, a camera, a computer, an internet tablet and maybe even a coppacinno machine, they're more likely to get angry and go away rather than to buy a new $500+ device just to get upgraded software.

Case in point. I owned an HTC Advantage x7501, a Windows Mobile 6 powered phone. This device offered a large touch screen, a full magnetically attached keyboard, a powerful processor, a large internal memory, 8 Gbyte hard drive and the ability to use large SD cards to future extend the storage capabilities. I loved the device, but hated Windows Mobile 6's clunky, badly designed user interface. Windows Mobile 6.1 was supposed to vastly improve the user interface. Windows 6.5 took it several steps futher. I was rather upset that neither Windows Mobile 6.1 nor 6.5 were made available as an upgrade. The device was sold on eBay when I was able to acquire an iPhone 3G.

Hackers, by the way, were able to obtain and install Windows Mobile 6.1 and 6.5 software on this device. Those wanting support were left wanting and waiting.

HTC only provide the new software to people who purchased the second generation HTC Advantage, the x7510. Part of the reason I replaced a perfectly usable handheld phone/computer/internet tablet was my requirement for the features offered by the updated software. This device, by the way, was never offered by my service provider.

Have you ever replaced a perfectly good phone and walked away from a service provider when software updates weren't being made available?

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