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Editorial: Windows Phone, where art thou?

November 6, 2011 means a lot of things to different people. For those of us in America, it means we have one more hour of sleep with Daylight Savings Time beginning. For the intrepid followers of Windows Phone, it means November 6th is tantamount to Christmas. Why? November 6th marks the debut of several new Windows Phones! There’s nothing like new hardware that really allows Windows Phone its day in the sun. Unlike last year, new Windows Phones are also price conscious in an attempt to improve market share and satisfy even the budgiest of budgets. Sufficed to today, November 6th is a very important day. It is the lets give Windows Phone another try in the market space to many customers who are thinking of switching or just wants to play with the new windows phones. And what does Microsoft do to commemorate this? In New York, quite a bit as a huge banner adorns metropolitan New York. Does every city get the proverbial 5 star treatment? Unfortunately, no.

I am a Chicago resident, and I can only speak on behalf of Chicago. However, a quick trip to downtown Chicago was a disappointment compared to last year’s Windows Phone launch day. What surprisingly greeted me last year were a line of customers outside many AT&T and T-Mobile ready to try the latest and greatest in Windows Phone. Surprisingly, the trend wasn’t just for one AT&T and one T-Mobile store. It was several stores in the downtown Chicagoland area. And while the T-Mobile stores lacked huge displays that Windows Phone deserved, AT&T gave the first iteration of devices the appropriate coverage required. As a Windows Phone user, it made me hopeful that Windows Phone could actually do some good in the market space.

Fast forward to today and the current “launch” could be anything but that. No lines outside of the AT&T stores, which is alright because it is a Sunday. Walking into the AT&T stores, I wasn’t greeted with a Windows Phone stand that was beautifully displayed like last year at the front of the store. No posters, no banners, and no sign that the Windows Phone launched today. Browsing toward the middle of the store, I finally found a Windows Phone – the Samsung Focus Flash and the Samsung Focus (yes that is the first gen. device). When asked about other Windows Phone, I received an extremely blank look on the faces of the customer service representatives. Some answers changed in each store, but the conclusion was the same. There’s no HTC Titan, there is no Samsung Focus S, and we have no idea when the stores are receiving them. On Windows Phone Mango launch day from premiere launch stores?

Does T – Mobile give a similar experience? Yes. For the five T-Mobile stores I visited, there lacked anything related to the HTC Radar anywhere. But, I am happy to say one store in downtown Chicago did have a HTC Radar on display; albeit a fake plastic one. So let’s recap for a moment – out of the almost 10 T-Mobile and AT&T stores in downtown Chicago, the conclusion is clear. The stores weren’t ready for the Windows Phone launch, and I am eerily reminded of the past. Where customers had to ask for Windows Mobile devices because the devices weren’t on display. And until the HTC HD2, there was no poster, very little commercials about any Windows Mobile devices, and the prices were ridiculous. Granted, the prices have been reduced, which gives a lot of marketability, but we are given two things in downtown Chicago. Uninformed customer service representatives and lack of advertising in the mobile stores. And as AT&T is a premiere partner, there is something dangerously wrong with that picture.

Perhaps there is a reason for the almost silent and uninformed nature of the launch. Microsoft is coming to Chicago Friday and Saturday. Microsoft could be saving the bigger guns for the Chicago event, which would be a good idea. If that were the case, it would mean that Microsoft is essentially rolling out major city launches in a gradual manner much like their update schedule. And if that is the case, then today should not be Windows Phone launch day should it? Chicago could also be an isolated experience; areas may be receiving better Windows Phone fanfares in their area.

Regardless of reason, in my eyes, Microsoft is off to a very rocky start. Actually, no the start isn’t rocky. The story is status quo to what we have come to know about Microsoft Windows Phone; not advertised and inept customer service staff that lack knowledge about your product. Conversely, if you ask about the fruit OS and Mr. Green Roboto, customer service staff does know.

Have our readers’ experiences been similar to mine for the “launch”? Let us know below