History of bungled updates and dropped features for Windows Phone as Windows 10 nears

Lumia Camera on Lumia Denim.
Lumia Camera on Lumia Denim.

Microsoft, its OEM partners, and carriers have a history of stiffing Windows Phone users.

Overly eager to please carriers, Microsoft remains largely hands off with the delivery of updates, while carriers show little to no interest in delivering said updates.

Abandoning devices when updates ship, removing features from the OS and hardware, and leaving NFC wallets completely in the hands of carriers who have no interest in Windows Phone. Maybe this is starting to change, however.

Verizon has done something unusual. It actually is very out of character for them – they released an update provided by Microsoft for the Lumia Icon. This was supposed to occur in January, but better late than never, right? Last year, in December, Verizon also pushed the Denim update to two older Lumia handsets. Verizon did not bother issuing the Cyan update however, so other Lumias were left stagnating on the Black firmware.

AT&T has usually lead the pack in the US when it comes to delivering updates to devices running Microsoft’s operating system, albeit not in a timely fashion, but as of yet, not a single device on AT&T has been updated to Denim. In a recent tweet, AT&T said they’d push the update “soon” but that could mean tomorrow or April. And of course, AT&T has demanded custom versions of Lumia phones, halving storage and stripping out Qi wireless charging.

Verizon remains the only US carrier to have pushed the Denim update to Lumia devices. T-Mobile has only committed to applying the update to the 521 and newer devices, leaving the HTC 8X, which debuted with the 920, on Windows Phone 8. (Lumia Denim only applies to Nokia and Microsoft made devices by the way – it’s a firmware update bundled with an OS update.)

Meanwhile, there has been much speculation that Microsoft will launch the beta testing program for Windows 10 on phones this week, perhaps on Friday.

Lumia Denim is of course not required for devices to run the newer OS – indeed, many Windows Phone users have been marooned on Lumia Amber, or Windows Phone 8 after their device was abandoned by their carrier or phone manufacture, leaving them at the mercy of the Preview for Developers program for OS updates – however, should the Denim update ship after Windows 10 Preview, those devices may have to be flashed via the Lumia Recovery app to grab the newest firmware, forcing users to load the Preview onto their device again, assuming they want the device enhancements, of course.

I happen to want the camera enhancements very badly, and I also would like to be able to use Qualcomm Quick Charge 2.0 on my 1520. I even bought a new charger in preparation for Denim.

Microsoft is not going to be shipping Denim alongside the Preview – by stating that Denim is not needed for it, they have left the delivery of Denim totally in the hands of the carriers. While it’ll be great to be testing out a new OS, it will suck to not have 4k recording and a better Glance Screen.

I hope Microsoft stops letting the carriers hold users hostage based either on sales numbers or lack of interest on their part for Microsoft’s OS. Apple issues all OS updates directly to their devices, without any input from carriers. If Apple says iOS 9 ships on June 30th, that is when it ships, even if AT&T raises hell. Why can’t Microsoft be more like that?

Apple Pay was not blocked for any carriers either, and they are powerless to remove it. Google’s OEMs on the other hand have allowed carriers to strip out Google Wallet and Microsoft went even further, bending over backwards to leave NFC wallets completely in the hands of the carriers, which I might add have only recently begun to materialize, and SoftCard is horribly buggy, in addition to requiring a special SIM card. It’s 2015, so why can’t I use my Lumia to pay for my coffee? I used my Nexus 7 to pay for my coffee in 2012!

With all of this in mind, I am left to wonder just when the RTM version of Windows 10 will arrive on phones, and whether devices like the Lumia 620 will even see it, due to some carriers opting to leave it on Amber thus far. Will there even be an NFC wallet in the OS? I am hopeful that Microsoft will take steps to correct some of the wrongs that have been inflicted by the carriers, and also by their eagerness to please the carriers.

We will likely find out much more in the coming months.

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History of bungled updates and dropped features for Windows Phone as Windows 10 nears

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