One of the most anticipated features of Windows Phone 7.5 [Mango] was the ability to use your phone as a wifi hotspot. Like many wifi mobile broad band modems, the internet sharing feature in Windows Phone, enables the phone as a wifi router that can pass it’s 3G network connection to as many as five other devices at one time. Initially the feature did not come, was missing from HTC devices, whether network/carrier locked or unlocked. It’s been evident since the update first hit, and while local carriers have done their best to explain why it’s not there, it’s only just delivering in an update today.
1. Windows Phone 7.5, as a platform, supports internet connection sharing, in which the phone can be configured to share its mobile network connection over Wi-Fi with up to five client devices or computers. We are working with our device and Mobile Operator partners to enable this feature on existing Windows Phones as soon as possible.
2. We are working with our Mobile Operator partners to enable Visual Voicemail as soon as possible.
That response came on the 19th of October, HTC murmured similar information, with basically the reason being that the update came quicker than they could handle, so all features were not enabled in the initial update. Well the update is rolling out today, or at least it’s started, I came home today to an update to my HTC Mozart, it seemed fairly generic, labelled “HTC Update for Windows Phone”
While it’s not widely known if this is an across the board roll out, there are reports around the intertubes of an update coming to phones other than HTC devices, and having a Mozart that updated and a HD7 that has not yet, it would seem this update is being tiered out to users as well. There’s no telling how long this update will take to filter down to carrier branded devices, and considering it was not thought to be available till mid December, it may be a slow rollout.
On the Mozart after the update, the feature is everything that it is meant to be, you can encrypt, password protect the connection or leave it open. I took the sim out of my HD7 and put it in the Mozart, turned on internet sharing and, got great reception via wifi on the phone. It seems fairly responsive and simple to use, I’d be careful about setting it up without encryption though. If you set the sharing to open, anyone can connect and use your 3G Data connection without notification showing up on the phone.
The Mango update rolled out officially in October, and this is the last piece of the puzzle. It’s come to second generation Windows Phones as a native feature, so we know what it does and how it works, deploying it to everyone else, will complete the perceived, up until now, flawless roll out of the Mango update.
In a round about way, this update demonstrates one of the biggest hurdles Microsoft has to get over with it’s new OS, adapting and working with a multitude of OEM’s and a varied range of hardware. Internet Sharing may be the icing on the cake for Mango, but the hurdle is OEM’s, and then more importantly, carriers testing and approving the update. I just had a rainman moment where I could picture, OS multiplied by OEM,multiplied by device, multiplied by carrier, and it would definitely be easier to “buy my underwear at K-Mart, than push an update for Windows Phone. The Mango update worked because it was pushed out slowly, so problems could be dealt with in a timely manner, before the next tier of/ designated region could inherit the same problems and become a widespread issue that gained bad press. If Microsoft continue the same strategy, we might see the internet sharing update finish around mid December, as was thought previously.
In a way this serves the MS ethos of updating regularly and often, and protects them by rolling out gradually, so any hiccoughs can be dealt with on the, long fly. It makes a lot of sense, you can announce regular updates, and then seed them to users as they develop, troubleshooting along the way. This is just a theory, observations, but it looks like MS may have hit on a formula for managing the bad press that occurred during the NoDo update. I hope that is the case.