There is hope for the T-Mobile users of Microsoft subsidiary Danger’s Sidekick smartphone that have been hit with an apparent datacenter disaster – Microsoft’s Roz Ho says they "have recovered most, if not all, customer data for those Sidekick customers whose data was affected by the recent outage." Users shouldn’t expect to get their data too soon however as there is no schedule for restoration other than an update on the availability of a schedule promised for Saturday.
Not unexpectedly class action lawsuits have been filed on behalf of Sidekick users and I am sure that both T-Mobile and Microsoft lawyers are busy scrutinizing whatever service level agreement covered Microsoft’s operation of the Sidekick cloud service for T-Mobile customers. As for the Sidekick itself, all new sales have been halted.
The 1 million users of smartphones from Microsoft subsidiary, Danger, Inc. got a nasty surprise over the weekend:
A server meltdown over the weekend wiped out the master copies of personal data — including address books, calendars, to-do lists and photos — accumulated by users of T-Mobile’s formerly popular Sidekick smartphone.
This computing calamity allows Sidekick owners only a faint hope of backing up the information currently on their devices, and none of recovering anything they’d trusted to online storage. And it leaves T-Mobile and the operator of the Sidekick’s data service, a Microsoft subsidiary formerly known as Danger, Inc. — oh, the irony! — with some serious explaining to do.
Glitches in cloud computing services are not overly rare, but this one was rather unique:
But it is one of the few times a cloud-computing vendor didn’t have any backups — even though the Sidekick’s design leaves users without any easy way to copy their data to their own computers, and even though Microsoft and Danger should have known to run a new backup cycle when a bout of service glitches set in the week before Sidekick users’ data vanished down the bit bucket. It’s one thing for a distracted, inexperienced person at home to forget to back up data until it’s too late; it’s another for a company with the resources of Microsoft to make the same mistake.
Presumably, Microsoft is regretting the rumored US$500 million they spent acquiring Danger, Inc. in February 2008, but they should have done their own due diligence both before and after they bought the company. It may also have a deleterious effect on the rumored Microsoft "Pink" phone which is supposedly based on Danger, Inc designs.
Update: T-Mobile is holding out hope that some user data may still be restored and giving $100 credits to users with a significant loss of data. If you lost your business contact list, calendar, to-do list, and photos, would $100 cover your loss? In the meantime, Sidekick users are instructed not to remove the battery or reset their Sidekicks.
The ink on last year’s Microsoft Zune press releases was barely dry when speculation started about a Zune Phone egged on by CEO Steve Ballmer. Now the rumors are heating up again after John Letzing at MarketWatch spotted a likely FCC filing. However, reading the fine print reveals a strange duck that is “an orthogonal frequency-division multiplexing (OFDM) device to be used for ‘consumer broadband access and networking.’” The general suspicion is that this means WiMAX which is a high bandwidth wireless technology that is just getting off the ground. To add to the mystery, Google, HP, and Intel are listed as a supporters of the FCC application.
However, Matt Hickey at CrunchGear fans the flames with the speculation that a Zune phone would run on a high speed 4G WiMAX network like the one to be built by Sprint/Nextel. This lash-up could provide a mobile VoIP offering plus the likely ability to use ordinary Wi-Fi hotspots. Even better, CrunchGear’s inside sources say that the Zune phone will be announced in March and shipped in May thus neatly upstaging Apple’s iPhone.
All of this is certainly exciting, but the idea of a Zune Phone brings up the more fundamental question of where it would leave Microsoft’s Windows Mobile partners who are ready to show off their new Windows Mobile 6 handsets next week at 3GSM. Microsoft’s Zune crew apparently has license to run roughshod over other parts of Microsoft and their partnerships as evidenced by the hapless PlaysForSure partners (e.g. Creative Technologies, iRiver, Samsung) who got blindsided by the Zune portable media player itself last year. A Zune Phone in whatever form hits right at the phone vendors who have signed up for Windows Mobile (e.g. Samsung, Palm, HTC, Motorola, LG) just when it was showing signs of success, at least in the USA. Beyond the technical particulars, the real Zune Phone question then is whether Microsoft is willing yet again to shutter one of their own projects and cannibalize their partners’ markets in favor of rolling their own.
Update: Microsoft says FCC filing not Zune-related. Fair enough, but as long as the Zune Phone remains a possibility there will still be an inherent conflict with Windows Mobile.
The 3GSM World Congress, billed as the world’s “premier mobile event,” is kicking off tomorrow in Barcelona and the press releases are flying. For Microsoft, phones from Windows Mobile partners, back-end messaging software, and software for service providers are what’s hot:
Feb. 13, 2006 — Today at 3GSM World Congress 2006, Microsoft Corp. and its mobile operator and device-maker partners announced a broad range of services and Windows Mobile®-based devices for business customers to cost-effectively deploy mobile messaging solutions. Leveraging the integration between Direct Push technology in Microsoft Windows Mobile 5.0 and Microsoft® Exchange Server 2003 Service Pack 2 (SP2), businesses can mobilize their employees on a unified infrastructure without the requirement to pay for additional and costly e-mail servers. This same technology is now available for Microsoft Windows® Small Business Server and is also offered as a hosted service by a number of mobile operators around the world.
Note the inclusion of Small Business Server. That’s not a real surprise since it includes Exchange, but the service stream is different.
Cingular Wireless, Orange, T-Mobile and Vodafone today announced free upgrades to the Messaging and Security Feature Pack (MSFP) for all their Windows Mobile 5.0 customers, enabling Direct Push functionality and providing enhanced device management and security for messaging applications. Palm Inc. and i-Mate also reaffirmed their commitment to free MSFP upgrades. In addition, new Windows Mobile-based devices were unveiled today, all of which will ship with Direct Push technology: the HP iPAQ hw6900 Mobile Messenger, the Gigabyte Communications g-Smart (offered by Chunghwa Telecom Co. Ltd. in Taiwan), the ASUS P305 3G-enabled smartphone, and the Fujitsu Siemens FS Pocket Loox. In addition, HTC Corp. has unveiled a new product portfolio of Windows Mobile-based devices that are Direct Push-enabled and will be made available globally to T-Mobile and other operators beginning in the second quarter of this year.
Direct Push technology added to Windows Mobile 5.0 gives customers faster access to all of their Microsoft Office Outlook® information; just like prior versions of Windows Mobile, it communicates directly with Microsoft Exchange Server and Windows Small Business Server without the need for additional and costly e-mail servers and middleware. When combined with a library of over 18,000 specialty applications, Windows Mobile phones — now offered by 47 device-makers and 100 mobile operators in 55 countries — are the premier choice for business customers.
There is a “hardware” press release touting the Texas Instruments hardware platform for Windows Mobile phones, but the back-end seems to get most of the ink with a press release for Vodafone that tells their Windows Mobile push email story, and another for T-Mobile describing how they will also be using the Microsoft Solution for Hosted Messaging and Collaboration to provided hosted email packages for small and medium businesses. Hosting will be provided by IS Interned Services who will jointly market it with T-Mobile.
Finally, for service provisioning there’s Microsoft Builds Momentum in Service Delivery Arena
Microsoft Corp. today announced that its service delivery solution, Microsoft® Connected Services Framework, has been adopted by more than a dozen of the world’s leading communications companies, including Bell Canada, BT Retail and Celcom Malaysia. In addition, France Telecom is currently trialing this solution. Introduced in February 2005, Connected Services Framework is a software product that allows operators to aggregate, provision and manage converged communications services for their subscribers, regardless of network or device.