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Microsoft can't explain away why its communications hardware is deficient

With Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) already punting its plans to sell Windows Phone on the world's biggest market -- China -- to sometime in 2012, it's crucial that it does its best to capture U.S. sales in the meantime.

Recent comments from Verizon Wireless reveal that the dated wireless communications hardware on current Windows Phone models may be a deal-breaker for it.  Verizon Wireless -- a joint venture between Verizon Communications, Inc. (VZ) and Vodafone Group Plc. (LON:VOD) -- controls over a third of America's subscription customer base.  Missing that massive chunk of sales in its largest current smartphone market (the U.S.) would be a huge blow to Microsoft's already struggling Windows Phone project.

Marni Walden, Chief Marketing Officer for Verizon Wireless sounded frustrated in her comment to CNET.  She remarked, "We've communicated to Microsoft that LTE is critical to us. We need to see a timeline that makes sense if we want to continue to represent them."

Verizon LTE
Verizon: "Y U No have LTE, Microsoft?" [Image Source: Android Spin]

Thus far, Google Inc.'s (GOOG) Android has been virtually the sole platform of LTE handsets in the U.S.  With Verizon and AT&T, Inc. (T) promoting their rapidly expanding 4G LTE networks [1][2][3][4] that's been a huge boon for Google and its partners.

The holdup with Windows Phone LTE support appears to be on Microsoft's shoulders, as many Windows Phone manufacturers like Taiwan's HTC Corp. (TPE:2498) and South Korea's Samsung Electronics Comp., Ltd. (KS:005930already support LTE in their Android handsets.  Thus the hardware capability for LTE seemingly exists for Windows Phones, but the software is the limiting factor, thanks to Microsoft's sluggish response.

Microsoft has been on the defensive about its Windows Phone performance for some time now, as flagship Android smartphones seemingly have better specs on paper.  While its argument that Windows Phone runs faster on single core-CPUs than Android on dual-core CPUs is certainly plausible given real world evidence, it's hard for Microsoft to generate a convincing excuse for why its phones can't support the latest wireless communication standards.

Add LTE to a growing list of problems such as poor advertising and poor dealer incentives that have plagued Microsoft, turning a slick operating system into a market dud.

Source: CNET

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Is Microsoft really lagging?
By vortmax2 on 12/6/2011 10:48:39 AM , Rating: 3
It's hard to believe that Microsoft is dragging its feet on this. It's more likely that they don't think adopting LTE at this point is important...maybe they're waiting for the new gen chips that integrate LTE?

RE: Is Microsoft really lagging?
By vortmax2 on 12/6/2011 10:50:02 AM , Rating: 5
With that said, I don't see Verizon complaining about Apple's lack of LTE...just sayin'

RE: Is Microsoft really lagging?
By Arsynic on 12/6/2011 10:54:24 AM , Rating: 5
They've been kissing Apple's ass since the iPhone release in '07.

RE: Is Microsoft really lagging?
By AssBall on 12/6/2011 11:16:00 AM , Rating: 1
I thought i-junk has only been on Verizon for a year or so?

RE: Is Microsoft really lagging?
By WLee40 on 12/6/11, Rating: -1
RE: Is Microsoft really lagging?
By Omega215D on 12/6/2011 1:01:01 PM , Rating: 2
It's been made clear that Verizon didn't want to play ball with Apple until they saw how many sheep were willing to line up for the new phone each and every time.

RE: Is Microsoft really lagging?
By mcnabney on 12/6/2011 4:29:58 PM , Rating: 5
No, Verizon would have been the exclusive from the beginning, but they wouldn't agree to Apple's terms. Apple wanted top dollar for each device and a big chunk of data revenue too. Verizon told them to pound sand, so Apple went to AT&T.

And Apple suffered for it. AT&T agreed to their demands, but required long term exclusivity - which gave Android an opening which it used to steal Apple's crown.

RE: Is Microsoft really lagging?
By Arsynic on 12/6/2011 1:08:21 PM , Rating: 1
They've been trying to get iPhone since then.

RE: Is Microsoft really lagging?
By Omega215D on 12/6/2011 1:02:03 PM , Rating: 2
Not enough people to line up around the block for WP7 or Android phones. sad really as Apple can continue it's douchebaggy ways.

RE: Is Microsoft really lagging?
By Mitch101 on 12/6/2011 1:39:12 PM , Rating: 2
RE: Is Microsoft really lagging?
By DFranch on 12/6/2011 1:06:41 PM , Rating: 5
LTE drains battery too quickly at this point. They're better off waiting for the next gen LTE hardware, which will hopefully be able to get a whole day of use on a single charge. Verizon is just making excuses. They never wanted to support WP7, that's why they've only ever had 1 WP7 phone on their network. Why not just come out and say it.

RE: Is Microsoft really lagging?
By dew111 on 12/6/2011 6:25:18 PM , Rating: 3
I was basically going to say all this. Anyway, Microsoft wants a platform that is consistent, and the 40nm LTE radios suck down power, offering a sub-par battery life. Next year the 28nm variants will be available and hopefully Microsoft will respond with updated support for them. Verizon carries iPhones which don't have LTE, this is just a poor excuse.

RE: Is Microsoft really lagging?
By kmmatney on 12/6/2011 1:19:16 PM , Rating: 2
"We've communicated to Microsoft that LTE is critical to us. We need to see a timeline that makes sense if we want to continue to represent them."

I think its obvious that Apple has given them a timeline...

RE: Is Microsoft really lagging?
By a5cent on 12/6/2011 4:16:05 PM , Rating: 3
You've got it exactly right. If WP7 did support LTE Microsoft would get beaten up for WP7's poor battery life.

Anyway, this is NOT Microsoft dragging it's feet! This is Microsoft standing up to ridiculous requests in the interest of developers (keeping hardware variance low) and the majority of consumers (striking the right balance between features, performance and battery life). This is a really good strategy, but Microsoft would do well to educate the public better. Even tech journalists often fail to understand (you almost need to be a developer to get it).

However, once Qualcomm's Krait is out, which will support LTE without sucking the battery dry, I will gladly join in with the Microsoft bashing if WP8 isn't running on that platform shortly thereafter.

RE: Is Microsoft really lagging?
By supermitsuba on 12/6/2011 4:27:58 PM , Rating: 2
Why is it hard to put in a switch to do 3g, my android phone does it, after i rooted it of course. But seriously, give people the options, dont just say that you cant do it cause of reasons they cant control.

RE: Is Microsoft really lagging?
By a5cent on 12/6/2011 9:35:21 PM , Rating: 2
Honestly, I don't know why most 4G android handsets lack an LTE radio on/off toggle switch (out of the box). Apparently, this also applies to 3G radios. It's certainly not a cost issue. It appears intentional.

Anyway, for 4G phones, LTE transmission speed and decent battery life both constitute core functionality. Having to sacrifice one to get the other is not good. The average user doesn't want to understand or fiddle with such things. For mass market penetration, Microsoft and Apple need hardware platforms that do not force this compromise. That is what both of them are waiting for.

By TakinYourPoints on 12/6/2011 4:32:52 PM , Rating: 2
You are exactly correct. Qualcomm's LTE chips will be smaller and much more power efficient next year. This is the logical reason why the iPhone and WP7 devices are waiting on them. It would be unacceptable for new models to have less battery life than the prior model, or if they increased the size in order to accommodate a larger battery.

LTE...who cares
By GruntboyX on 12/6/2011 11:24:52 AM , Rating: 5
With all the bandwidth caps why do i care about LTE? I cant view Netflix or stream pandora. I will hit those caps ridicously quick. So what application requires LTE, thats right streaming video.

Do yourself a favor, go for the bettery battery life and get a phone without LTE. At least until Verizon implements reasonable datacaps. Give me a 100GB and Ill drop my Uverse connection today. I will gladly sign up for LTE. But 2GB, 4GB on promotion? Please, dont insult me. These caps are lower than the unofficial 5GB 3G caps.

Until then, I will purposely save my wallet and avoid LTE. There is no application demanding those speeds.

RE: LTE...who cares
By x10Unit1 on 12/6/2011 11:37:58 AM , Rating: 3
+1 Gruntboyx about reaching the data cap faster.

However, as long as you can turn off the LTE radio independently from the other radios, you should be okay. Just turn on the LTE radio when you need a fast download speed(assuming you are in a LTE area). Then turn it off when you are done to save battery. Get the best of both worlds!

RE: LTE...who cares
By GruntboyX on 12/6/2011 12:48:08 PM , Rating: 2
That's a perfectly fine strategy to take. I know many of thunderbolt users who simply turn off the 4g radio because.

1. They don't have LTE coverage
2. They don't have an application demanding the speed.

However, my counter point is. You could have gotten the Incredible 2 practically the same phone for 100 dollars less. If the extra speed warrants the 100 bucks to you. That is awesome. I know sometimes with promotions it can drastically sway buying decisions.

However, I think we could do a lot to nudge the data caps higher by simple rejecting Verizon's 4G phones. I think you are beginning to see this with Verizon releasing promotional increases to their data caps. In time as the network matures and capacity is increased the data caps should go up. However, there needs to be a compelling usage model.

RE: LTE...who cares
By Omega215D on 12/6/2011 1:04:45 PM , Rating: 2
No problem here and I am on Unlimited Data. Despite leaving LTE on when out of the house (otherwise it's on wi-fi) I never see more than 1GB usage. The LTE comes in handy when wanting to quickly browse the web for something or using Google Maps and find a point of interest. It also helps to get updates/ maps on various transit lines in NYC in a really short amount of time.

LTE is not only meant for streaming videos.

RE: LTE...who cares
By mcnabney on 12/6/2011 4:38:28 PM , Rating: 2
I watch movies on my Droid RAZR all the time. Charge it every night, but never had it below ~25% battery. I also use Motorola's management software and it surprised me how well it works. LTE and wifi are default off. If a data application starts it checks for known/public wifi and if one is not found it turns on LTE. The 'net affect' is about 3-4 seconds of 3G before it connects to wifi or LTE. When the app exits or 'sleeps' it disconnects. I have been using about 700MB a week so far with fairly heavy use. I really like the phone. The only weakness is the non-720p screen. Otherwise it has been great.

RE: LTE...who cares
By jimbojimbo on 12/6/2011 12:07:22 PM , Rating: 2
That's why I actually got the Droid 3. I didn't care for LTE if there was a data cap at all and most of the time my phone's within a wifi network anyway so my speeds are just fine.

I tend to root for the underdog and I've been rooting for Android but now I kind of want Microsoft's mobile business to pick up. I hear good things about the phone from anybody that's used it but until they get their phones corporate friendly I can't even consider them.

RE: LTE...who cares
By Labotomizer on 12/6/2011 12:51:47 PM , Rating: 3
You're right, they're awesome. But I'm not sure what you mean by corporate friendly.

Their Exchange support is better than any other platform and if you use Exchange 2010 then the conversation layout for mail is sweet. They have a better Office app then the competition, SharePoint and OneNote support. So I'm not sure what features are lacking. VPN? You have to root a Droid to get VPN support and even then it's not that great.

Oh, and you can "root" your WP now with Chevron and unlike the others it doesn't void your warranty and is totally supported and sanctioned by MS. I guess I'm not seeing the disadvantage here. I have one and I LOVE it. So much better than the Droid 1 and 2 I had previously. I know the Droid 3 is pretty nice but it still stutters and hangs, probably locks up and crashes too. My WP7 has been rebooted once and that was when Mango was installed.

RE: LTE...who cares
By Spuke on 12/6/2011 2:50:49 PM , Rating: 2
I know the Droid 3 is pretty nice but it still stutters and hangs, probably locks up and crashes too.
Wife has Droid 3 and it does no such thing.

RE: LTE...who cares
By name99 on 12/6/2011 1:00:52 PM , Rating: 1
Don't be an idiot. The advantage of LTE (to the carriers, yes, but to EVERYONE) is that it uses spectrum more efficiently. The issue is not that you get 20Mb/s (or whatever) as the single user in a cell; it's that when 100 users are using the cell, they each get 200kbps rather than 50kbps. [Numbers made up, but illustrate the point].
The number that matters is that LTE spectral efficiency is around 10x that of 1x EVDO-Rev A. (That factor is probably to high for current devices, and may always be too high for phones, since it may rely on 4 widely separated antennas. But even a smaller spectral efficiency, say 4x, is better for everyone.)

Personally I am glad VZW is pushing this. There's always someone who's a laggard, and the tech world doesn't improve without a pus. If Apple weren't pushing Intel for lower power chips, we'd probably have desktops with TDP envelopes of 150W, and laptops that lasted for 3hrs.

The main question is --- is VZW's push realistic? It doesn't make sense to complain if the relevant chipsets do not exist. My guess is that
- either the chipsets do exist, but right now on the CDMA only side, which means VZW feels it's reasonable to start pushing MS to at least have the relevant drivers in the OS, so that if Nokia wants to use these chips it's practical for it to do so.
(This case is not relevant to Apple given that Apple uses a combined chipset, and has presumably told VZW it will ship LTE when a decent combined chipset exists.)

- the chipsets don't exist yet, VZW is quite aware of that, but they're using this very public bitching as a way to send a message to MS regarding something else. My guess is that they want a return to the good old days when users had to use VZW maps, VZW apps, and VZW crap. They can't get away with forcing that on Apple --- they know full well Apple will tell them screw you, and take its customer base elsewhere --- but the may figure MS is desperate enough that they will cave.
(cf the other announcement about VZW and Google Wallet).

RE: LTE...who cares
By StevoLincolnite on 12/6/2011 9:15:14 PM , Rating: 2
If Apple weren't pushing Intel for lower power chips, we'd probably have desktops with TDP envelopes of 150W, and laptops that lasted for 3hrs.

Apple didn't push Intel. Apple had nothing to do with Intel when Intel decided to go with a more power efficient route.

Hint: It all started with the Pentium M and Pentium 4. Apple was still using PowerPC.

RE: LTE...who cares
By leexgx on 12/8/2011 12:27:55 AM , Rating: 2
most laptops only last 2hrs or less still (unless its an Sony VAIO or apple 3hrs+)

Who cares about LTE...
By djcameron on 12/6/2011 11:22:59 AM , Rating: 3
I don't want LTE because I don't want the tiered data plan, or the crappy battery life, that comes along for the ride. My HTC Trophy is plenty fast for my uses, and my battery lasts all day long. If VZW doesn't get a large screen phone like the Titan soon, then I'm off to a different carrier.

RE: Who cares about LTE...
By Rukkian on 12/6/2011 11:59:17 AM , Rating: 2
If you currently have unlimited (whether 3g or 4g) you currently get to keep it and are grandfathered in. You can switch to 4G and still get unlimited. The only tiered plans at this point are new subscribers.

RE: Who cares about LTE...
By erple2 on 12/6/2011 4:00:54 PM , Rating: 3
I think this marks the very first time in the HISTORY of ISP services/sales that the existing customers get a break, and new customers don't get anything, rather than the other way around.

Going to get a windows phone
By mchentz on 12/6/2011 11:35:15 AM , Rating: 2
I told the wife I will get a Windows phone when someone releases a Windows phone 7 LTE capable phone. So I am waiting :). Im in no rush to get a smart phone.

I want to stay on Verizon because my son uses his Verizon cell phone as his only phone so I need Verizon to keep him from getting crazy phone bills.

By MindParadox on 12/6/2011 2:24:20 PM , Rating: 2
I want to stay on Verizon because my son uses his Verizon cell phone as his only phone so I need Verizon to keep him from getting crazy phone bills.

AT&T and Sprint at least that I know of(I'm on AT&T) allow free calls anytime to any mobile number, so that excuse doesn't fly anymore :)

as to LTE, my windows phone hooks into any AT&T wifi hotspot in the city(I'm in Atlanta) and my wireless network at home, VERY rarely am I outta range of a wifi network

<--- Waiting for a Windows phone
By BigEdMan on 12/6/2011 11:14:09 AM , Rating: 2
My multi-phone cellular contract expired well over a year ago and I'll soon switch to the carrier with the best Windows phones. After all not everybody has to do what the Joneses are doing. Put that in your app store...

LTE on WP7
By trivor on 12/7/2011 2:06:19 PM , Rating: 2
MS needs Verizon more than Verizon needs WP7. They already have iPhone, Android and Blackberry. I'd say in 6 months you will not be able to buy a smartphone from VZW without LTE. I don't think there's been a single new phone from VZW without LTE - they even have the low end covered with the Breakout and Stratosphere. MS has no leverage on VZW and they need VZW if they want to get some market penetration.

LTE on the way
By Digobick on 12/6/2011 11:08:53 AM , Rating: 1
From two months ago:
When it comes to LTE, Andy Lees said that Microsoft and its partners wanted to wait until the faster networks could be supported in a less power-hungry way.

"The first LTE phones were big and big (users) of the battery, and I think it's possible to do it in a way that is far more efficient, and that's what we will be doing," Lees said.

I'm guessing this is the same reason why the iPhone doesn't have LTE yet, but then you won't see Verizon (or Jason Mick) complain about that.

What the *$$%@ Is Wrong With Microsoft?
By Arsynic on 12/6/11, Rating: -1
RE: What the *$$%@ Is Wrong With Microsoft?
By Chaser on 12/6/2011 11:14:30 AM , Rating: 2
LTE is still immature and somewhat gimmicky because:

1) The LTE network is still being deployed by AT&T AND Verizon.
2) Present SOC's with LTE radios are battery hogs. It is estimated that the next shrinks expected early next year will make the battery drain with LTE on less an issue.

This is also why Apple went with the iPhone 4S instead of a 5.

However, I have an AT&T GS2 Skyrocket and while passing through Atlanta I got 14MB/s dl speeds on the speedtest app. But I'll enjoy it while it lasts :)

By Chaser on 12/6/2011 11:23:07 AM , Rating: 2
By the way that was 10 consecutive tests in a row from the airport. With peaks in the 18s at times. Not standing on one foot with a booster antenna next to the cell tower.

By Reclaimer77 on 12/6/2011 12:43:27 PM , Rating: 2
Not saying I agree with the OP, but how is LTE gimmicky because of those reasons? Sure there are drawbacks, but LTE is no gimmick. If there's an all around better standard for high speed mobile data than LTE, I would sure like to know about it.

By jvillaro on 12/7/2011 11:25:53 AM , Rating: 1
FFC IS present in some of the new models and LTE es coming in early 2012...

"Google fired a shot heard 'round the world, and now a second American company has answered the call to defend the rights of the Chinese people." -- Rep. Christopher H. Smith (R-N.J.)

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