Windows Phone Users Wait Impatiently For Updates

While Ballmer talks up the goal of rapid software releases, some Windows Phone 8 users tire of waiting for new features.
At first glance, the 1020's 41-megapixel sensor is more than most people need; the world's most-pixel-rich DSLR, the Nokia D800, has only 36 megapixels. But Nokia's implementation is clever, driven less by pixel-peeping than by versatility.

The camera zooms by cropping the image, for example. Unlike the digital zoom found in most smartphones, this strategy preserves fine details and color gradations. The camera also creates 5-megapixel JPEGS by oversampling the original image. This should lead to noise-free images, even in low light, and better tonal ranges throughout the image.

Time will tell if non-photographers are tempted, but early images suggest the camera delivers.

The 1010 faces at least one potential roadblock: At $299.99, its premium price could dissuade many casual shoppers. Nokia is also producing budget Windows Phone 8 devices, though, such as the recently announced Lumia 625, which packs a 4.7-inch display and LTE support.

These models are still more expensive than the entry-level Android options, however. Many of them also suffer from compromises. The 625's big screen is somewhat subverted by its modest 800-pixel-by-480-pixel resolution, for example.

Still, important as the hardware is, the platform's future still comes back to software.

Steve Ballmer's reorganized Microsoft is dedicated to a rapid software release cycle, with updates pushed out at regular intervals, rather than in huge chunks every three or so years. This goal could help Microsoft compete with Google, Samsung and Apple for consumers and BYOD workers. But it's easier said than done.

Belfiore emphasized that it will take time to develop the Windows Phone platform, a comment that echoes CFO Amy Hood's remarks following last week's disappointing earnings report.

Building a quality product takes time, no doubt. But given that Microsoft is trying to catch up in the smartphone race, the company doesn't have much time to lose.