Microsoft VP apologizes for Win Phone missteps

Microsoft's Joe Belfiore offers a mea culpa regarding his apparent indifference to customer frustrations over Windows Phone 7 updates.

Windows Phone 7, perceived as the day-late-dollar-short smartphone competing against the iPhone and Android devices, continues to trip over itself.

A month of missteps with phone updates led Joe Belfiore, a Microsoft corporate vice president, to try to explain the problems in an upbeat video on Microsoft's site last week, only to post an apology over the weekend over appearing out of touch.

Last week, Microsoft began rolling out its newest update, which includes the ability to copy and paste text, a feature that it previewed last October . The feature is also one that its rivals, such as the iPhone, already have.

But the new update is only trickling out, first to so-called "unbranded" phones in Europe--devices that have not been customized for specific mobile carriers. The idea, according to Microsoft, is to "to help ensure the process is as problem-free as possible," Windows Phone general manager Eric Hautala wrote in a blog post.

The pace of the latest launch has upset some Windows Phone 7 customers, who want the features right away.

Microsoft's Joe Belfiore discusses Windows Phone 7 development priorities at the D: Dive Into Mobile conference.
Microsoft's Joe Belfiore Tom Krazit/CNET

Belfiore appeared on a Microsoft Web site, Channel 9, explaining the challenge of getting the update out to every phone. Rather than contrition, though, Belfiore joked with the interviewers, talking about how much people enjoy the Windows Phone 7 experience. "The best thing is that people love the phones," Belfiore said. "Our feedback has been very good."

The same can't be said for his video appearance. Commenters laid into Belfiore and the update process. "There are quite a few Windows Phone 7 customers who are very [frustrated] with Joe and how poorly the update process has been managed, myself included," holisticdetective wrote in comments below the video. "I think he may want to consider stepping down and letting someone take over the [reins] who can bring some credibility back to the Windows Phone 7 team."

The lashing from commenters led Belfiore to post his apology.

"Many of you are making critical comments here which are certainly fair," Belfiore wrote. He acknowledged being wrong when he said that "most people" had received an earlier February update. And he said that although he called the updates "complete" from Microsoft's end and that the process was "going well," he realized after the fact that it was neither complete nor going well for those who had yet to receive the update.

Belfiore also sought to address criticism of a timetable Microsoft released last week, intended to notify customers when carriers would update their phones. But the timetable was vague, stoking even more angst amongst Windows Phone 7 users. "We know the table would benefit greatly from more detail, and we are hoping to add more to it by working with the Operators who own the 'testing' phase to get more clarity," Belfiore wrote.

Belfiore promised another update at Microsoft MIX11 conference in Las Vegas next month.

About the author

Jay Greene, a CNET senior writer, works from Seattle and focuses on investigations and analysis. He's a former Seattle bureau chief for BusinessWeek and author of the book "Design Is How It Works: How the Smartest Companies Turn Products into Icons" (Penguin/Portfolio).

 

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