back to article Microsoft's OWN tests on Kin 'social phone' foretold its doom

Videos purporting to show Microsoft's internal testing of Kin show just how bad it was, and make Redmond's decision to launch the social phone all the more remarkable. The videos, hosted by Wired, show the two Kin devices that Microsoft lunched back in 2010 being put through their paces, or rather being pushed through them, as …

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Sigh.

2010, and the developers hadn't realised (or bothered to do something concrete about) not being able to type numbers into their new phone.

I know that testing can pull out issues you never considered, things you didn't think to try, and problems that only certain people would ever run into but why bother to even test with a product still in a state that you can't interact with it properly at all.

I find it more laughable they *bothered* to put it through testing without realising that's what was going to happen, rather than that testing revealing such serious issues.

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You still make phone calls on your phone?

I suspected the next iPhone wouldn't actually have a microphone and nobody would notice.

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I suspect it was because the developers of these system either developed and testing using emulators in powerful desktop machines, or hardware boards where they would only test their subsystems rather than the whole package. It's only when everything gets puts together on real hardware is the system really tested.

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It looks more and more

like Redmond has a death wish.

While I've had arguments with managers and developers who believe black is white, up is down and they know what the world wants in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary, it's still remarkable to see a company like MS ignoring blatant user hatred of a risky and expensive product.

MS could do worse than let anthropologists sit in on its meetings. The culture and psychology that goes from user WTF to management buy-in must be fascinating.

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Joke

So it was 'kin rubbish, then?

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What a 'kin pile of crap.

So, they took Danger, burnt everything they were known for, and pissed on the ashes, essentially, all in the name of trying to shoehorn the UI onto a Windows CE back end.

All in a very odd device, with a weirdly expensive data contract, yet it was aimed at the young crowd.

Doesn't take a genius to work out that was going to fail.

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Anonymous Coward

Worst Microsoft product ever

I recall when the Kin was announced. Thought it was a joke. Especially since they'd bought in the people from a company called 'Danger'. Anyone connected with approving that project going to market ought to have been fired.

Mostly, Microsoft products make some kind of sense IMO. I'm even one of the rare people here who thinks Windows 8 is a step in the right direction. But the Kin! Blimey.

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Anonymous Coward

This was the problem with my last Windows Mobile phone

The $#&$%*@^* HTC Touch Pro 2 running 6.5: the testers could cope with slow, but slow-fast-slow was impossible to deal with

On a regular basis the f'ing thing would just stop responding and then jump through all the backlogged input all at once. It was a nightmare... but not as bad as it becoming confused with its mute state. Being muted when it said it was unmuted was bad enough, but when it started being unmuted when it says it was muted finally was enough to justify me getting a new phone from my employer.

Given the choice I don't think I'll ever own another Windows phone.

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Re: This was the problem with my last Windows Mobile phone

To be honest, all problems that even modern PC's have been able to replicate if you slag them hard enough with things to do.

I work in schools and still hear the occasional keyboard "beep beep beep beep" as some computer has 90 copies of Word loaded on it because the kids are leaning on the keyboard, then it gets a full keyboard buffer and doesn't know what to do with it, and the replay of the keyboard buffer after it catches up still affects just about every PC in the world.

The problem is not the exhibited behaviour, but the cause. The only way to have that be a problem (and not have the keyboard / touchscreen input buffers just keep up in real-time) is to have a vastly overworked processor that just can't get round to processing input in time. With MS, I'm not really surprised, they've never really taken the "embedded" space seriously in terms of programming and just try to shoehorn portions of the desktop product into a smaller, powerful device (even the XBox was just a mid-range PC in a box).

There is no magic solution to the input problem that others are using. You can either buffer input, or throw it away, and if you buffer it you have to have a limit before you start throwing away. And getting to the point that you are throwing away input means the machine is just trying to do too much and can't get around to dealing with that input. The problem lies in not checking input often enough, with enough priority, and at the expense of other processes. Something that a lot of programs and OS get right is to just give user input the absolute top priority possible - there's nothing so frustrating as a small pause between input actions and their response. I want the computer to start deleting the damn files I told it to, or move the cursor across the screen smoothly AT THE EXPENSE of the background process actually removing those files from disk. That's how it should always work. If I can't get to the damn icon in the first place, it doesn't matter how multitasking the OS is or how fast it deletes those files, I still suffer a drop in productivity where I could be giving the computer MORE instructions that it can perform for me.

But if you program without consideration of user input, if you don't prioritise it but prioritise other uncertain benchmarks, or if your processor is just THAT damn busy, you end up with those problems. Optimise, rethink, upgrade. And the third option is REALLY expensive if you're building a phone. Methinks they just couldn't get the software down to the point where it didn't bring the whole processor to a grinding halt and have "forgotten" how to optimise things for low-end systems, as a company.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: This was the problem with my last Windows Mobile phone

Says a lot more about HTC's shit hardware than anything. You can find many low end HTC Android handsets with similar problems.

Windows Mobile had flexible hardware requirements like Android did, so OEMs were able to produce devices with inadequate hardware.

Windows Phone 8 has much higher minimum requirements than Android that ensure the OS runs well on whatever device you get.

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Re: This was the problem with my last Windows Mobile phone

Not wishing to turn this into an off-topic flame war but this type of behaviour from my current Android handset is severely tempting me to try Windows Phone 8 when my contract is up for renewal. Nothing more frustrating than inconsistent responsiveness.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: "Nothing more frustrating than inconsistent responsiveness"

That I think everyone can agree with.

Anecdotal: The only mobile OS I've really never seen any of that with is iOS, although I've heard WinPho users claim it. I've seen occasional la-la-la-lands on my Galaxy S2 due to misbehaving apps, but nothing like my HTC WinMob which was very consistently inconsistent (so bad that the wifey would refuse to even try and use it to make a quick call or text). We've had mixed results with the cheap ($100 new, unsubsidized) Android phones we've gotten for the family... more than anything the misbehavior seems to be the result of carrier installed crapware (in our case courtesy of MetroPCS). For the price they're OK though, IMHO.

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Stop

@AC 20:11

Yes but when it comes to the Galaxy S2 how can you blame the hardware when you state that its misbehaving apps? In this particular case if it was the app trying to do stuff it isn't supposed to do or just being coded by a complete amateur just so they could make a fart app then why blame the phone?

While I tend to agree with you on the WinMo issues from HTC when I had the TyTN which pissed me off to no end and even more so when the antenna detached itself internally (granted that was kinda my fault when the cord for it got caught on my chair) the TyTN 2 aka the Tilt was and awesome phone. It felt solid as a brick and was much more responsive than the old one. Every phone will have its strengths and weaknesses its more of a matter of how it affects people.

Hell I've even seen a jesusPhone act up like this as the SO had the 3G and it was horrible when it came to how it acted. When it worked right it was decent but it just felt slow. Seemed like it took forever compared to my phone at the time even compared to the TyTN 2. Just my opinion here.

you get what you pay for unfortunately when it comes to smartphones. If you go cheap don't expect it to be the be all end all of performance. If you want performance than you should look into the phones with the hardware to do what you want. This should be a no brainer. Its the same as if you want a gaming computer but then go out and buy an eMachine from Wally World expecting it to run any game out there with the highest settings. Not gonna happen.

That is all.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: "Nothing more frustrating than inconsistent responsiveness"

> The only mobile OS I've really never seen any of that with is iOS,

My wife's 3gs runs like molasses in winter - it can take 60 secs to launch an app (safari, gmaps are the worst).

It isn't overloaded and we've tried blatting it and restoring. Performance seems to have just degraded to the point where its almost unusable.

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Megaphone

Unbelievable, and yet....

Believable. What kind of company tests a product, the tests clearly show it's a pile of crap, and yet they still put it out. Not only a company that does not care about its customers, but a company that will have no future if it keeps this up. Time for a change of management and culture, time to actually start giving a shit!

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Unbelievable, and yet....

Google?

They seem to quietly drop a lot of projects that fail big time.

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Re: Unbelievable, and yet....

A company that is willing to sacrifice long-term brand damage for short-term sales.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Unbelievable, and yet....

"They seem to quietly drop a lot of projects that fail big time." Which is just what they /should/ do - if a project isn't producing winning product you don't bring it to market in the hope that somehow it will succeed, despite the fact that you know it's crap.

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LDS
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The Register should also tell the tale of "Microsoft Flight"...

... that should have reached "the next 20-30 millions" as its product manager told Avsim - just to be killed six months later because probably just a few bought its DLCs.... while most Flight Simulator users didn't like the product at all. It looks there are too many PMs working at MS who have clearly no clue about how to deliver a good product - and once started once stubbornly decide to deliver it even if everybody is telling them "it's crap, it won't sell!"

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Re: The Register should also tell the tale of "Microsoft Flight"...

You know, Microsoft Flight would have had its place, if it wasnt so damn silly. Time Stone sumarised it pretty well:

http://www.rockpapershotgun.com/2012/03/07/wot-i-think-microsoft-flight/

It would have been a great way for newcomers to get into Flightsims and from there on move up to FSX/FlightGear/XPlane.

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MS decision chain.

Tester 'its shit'

Low management 'its ony fit for use as fertilizer'

Middle management 'it will help things grow'

Senior management 'excellent, lets role it out'

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I found the original/traditional one

(NSFW?) http://www.fprintf.net/isms.html

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Anonymous Coward

The fact they launched it anway

shows that nothing has changed since the Xbox disaster...

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Anonymous Coward

Re: The fact they launched it anway

Suppose it is about Christmas, again. If it's not ready for Christmas then kill it. The Xbox was given, for some reasons, more time (years) and might even finally give some return eventually. Short term, is that even possible to day.

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The Marketing Strategy

So.... you have this phone you're going to sell with a $70/mo data plan. And you're trying to sell it to children and young adults.

What's wrong with this picture?

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Anonymous Coward

Why does Roz Ho still have a job?

The Kin was HER disaster. Don't blame this on anyone from Danger, as they were swallowed whole, borgified, digested and promptly FIRED by the Dragon Bitch herself. The Kin was yet another in a long line of Roz Ho FAILURES. And yet somehow, despite every single bomb she drops, she still falls "upwards" no matter how inept she is.

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FAIL

Re: Why does Roz Ho still have a job?

Hope she is not an affirmative action hire they keep around to fill quotas.

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Re: Why does Roz Ho still have a job?

Good old Peter Principle alive and well at Microsoft. Even Balmer can thank it....

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