back to article New York Police scrap 36,000 Windows smartphones

The New York Police Department will scrap 36,000 smartphones, thanks to a monumental purchasing cock-up by a billionaire's daughter. The city spent millions on the phones back in October 2016 as part of its drive to bring the police force into the 21st century. And the woman behind the purchase – Deputy Commissioner for …


      1. Missing Semicolon Silver badge

        Re: WTF?

        Maybe New York should sue Microsoft under some kind of "lemon" law.

    1. DougS Silver badge

      Re: WTF?

      Since when has any Android phone still got updates five years after sale? Or did you root it and install generic Android on it, which isn't exactly something the NYPD would consider...

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: WTF?

      I wonder how long it will take to get rid of Nadella - he's destroying any value left and heading in directions that make users even less confident about MS.

      Today I would be very careful to start any long-term project on Windows - any version of it.

      1. Tinslave_the_Barelegged Silver badge

        Re: WTF?

        > Today I would be very careful to start any long-term project on Windows -

        You must be a very young AC. In the mid 90s, just after Microsoft "discovered" the Internet, we embarked on a web application suite for a small but global financial services company. It was a $1m+ project. and we and the devopers were in frequent contact with MS during the development. We developed according to MS's strategies, but they kept changing these so fast as reality in the Internet world hit them that evebntually we realised we chose the wring platform. (The clincher was having to snailmail CDs containing 30+ mb of activex software to each global user as downloading the bloatware was too dodgy in those dial-up days, but a bloated client was the only way it would all work.)

        Later in the 90s, I was with a company, that, on my advice, and t my later regret, as at that stage I trusted MS, moved off a greenscreen AIX application to an MS client-server development of Visual Basic against SQLServer. Again, the squirms in strategic approach meant we were forever chasing the latest marketing shifts, and while it worked, it did not leave one convinced of the abilty to extact value from the platform, as the next shiney thing distracted Microsoft.

        I learnt my lesson. After that, if the answer was a Microsoft product, the next question was how to ringfence it. This became more and more difficult over the years as they honed their lock-in skills.

        What is shocking is to to see this approach still in 2017.

      2. Dave 15 Silver badge

        Re: WTF?

        Certainly MS seem to be doing masses of damage to themselves, every time I go to try something I used to be able to do it has disappeared or been hidden in some god forsaken corner. Then they continually try and choose bing and other crud for you.

        However, looking at the info available it should have been pretty easy to move these custom applications, although I suspect some consultants were looking for a huge pay cheque for no real work (probably to make up for under quoting the original job)

  1. Jerry G.

    Choice of Technology...

    Before making such a serious investment in to anything, the first thing to check is the end of life for support, or what we can call support horizon. As for any smart phone, after about 3 to 4 years it will be too obsolete to be efficiently used. The OS and security would be through many updates, and becoming more demanding on the phone's hardware capability. It would not be a good idea to operate without security and bug updates.

    As for custom written software that is OS version sensitive, there should be an agreement with the authors to make sure the software can be easily upgraded, or can be designed to not be version sensitive if possible. It is also apparent, nobody can know specific necessities of an OS that is not yet published or officially distributed.

    Personally, for a Smart Phone of any type I would be going with Android. The reasons are simple. Very versatile, not a closed system as like most of the others, and is not a locked in system. If you require ultimate security with Android. the Blackberry is the most secure phone on the planet. Regular Android using a decent Android phone, if properly set up is very secure.

    1. DougS Silver badge

      Re: Choice of Technology...

      Android is a real problem for security, because the updates take months to get to the phone since they go through the OEM and then the carrier, plus they generally stop getting updates at all after a year or two.

      Sure, if you get lucky and choose correctly you might end up with one that is supported longer, but its a crapshoot. Even Google won't guarantee updates beyond two years for the Pixel.

      1. jelabarre59 Silver badge

        Re: Choice of Technology...

        Android is a real problem for security, because the updates take months to get to the phone since they go through the OEM and then the carrier, plus they generally stop getting updates at all after a year or two.

        At that level of volume/units, they should be able to find/demand units that are not locked down (something properly AOSP-based, or Cyanogenmod/LineageOS) that could have updates implemented and pushed out on a timely basis. Just because companies like VerizonWorthless and the rest of their ilk can't be arsed to keep things up to date, doesn't mean you should have to rely on their lack-of-a-schedule.

      2. Peconet57

        Re: Choice of Technology...

        Mostly you can Root Android phones so that they can be more secure. It does not matter what brand of phone you buy they all have rubbish software on them that some people do not really need.

    2. Nature Lover

      Re: Choice of Technology...

      The issue of a closed system or not really does not impact a large government purchase. In fact I imagine that rooting a phone would be frowned upon at the NYPD.

      Therefore other considerations should come to play.

      What exactly about android versatility should be important to the NYPD? Just asking.

      The penguin just because he's natural...

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    How much impact can one person have on the world?

    Do her children not inherit her earth?

    She should be forced to dump the phones herself, on her property, or even better, to take apart every one and prepare the whole lot for recycling. And pay for it, the phones and the entire project she authorised, alongside anyone else that agreed to cause such a fiasco.

  3. chivo243 Silver badge

    quite simple

    An insider deal... Kickbacks, payola and lies... And quite possibly a complete n00b when it comes to technology.

  4. Delbert

    Swap due to incompatibility to an incompatible OS?

    Interesting that custom applications that work on windows 8 will not work on windows 10 yet it is deemed less expensive to recompile to iOS. Or buying into a by comparison horrendously expensive phone with a none replaceable battery will be a cheaper option than paying M$ for another years support after official support ends after all who keeps phones which are getting kicked around daily longer than three years or doesn't have a service contract that replaces their phones periodically. Perhaps the current IT department or at least whoever signed off on the replacement plan needs a reality check?

    1. DougS Silver badge

      Re: Swap due to incompatibility to an incompatible OS?

      Probably not that it is less expensive to port to iOS, but that they don't feel very confident Windows Phone has any future beyond Windows Phone 10 so a port to that would be throwing good money after bad. If they're going to have to port it anyway, it is probably the same difficulty to go to Android or iOS. You can buy cheaper Android phones, but iOS is supported for much longer after sale and the updates get to the phone the day Apple releases them, versus months or never with Android.

      Some people may whine about Apple being more of a "closed system" but the NYPD is going to lock down whatever phones they get as much as possible, so that's irrelevant to them.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Swap due to incompatibility to an incompatible OS?

        They could avoid Google Play Services and get Android Open Source. Then they could be updated and supported for ever more. In fact you could pay a department to just hack, secure and update Android for the whole federal and state level and then use it as a standard security OS for deployments such as these.

        Could probably guarantee a 6-10 year lifespan if the hardware was good by today's standard. Most android apps still work on later OS revisions as well so unlikely to require re-writing.

        The cost difference between Apple and a decent Android handset (x36,000) would pay for a decent team of programmers covering app redevelopment and OS upgrades.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Windows smartphones? What a waste of money.

    Also, take note that the purchase was done in late 2016, the time when even SatNad's Microsoft had given up on mobile. If it were done during the 'strategic partnership' misadventure between Nokia and Microsoft under Trojan Horse Elop a few years ago, it might have been understandable.

  6. arctic_haze Silver badge

    As Elop would say...

    Now we know what it means to have a burning platform.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Now we know what it means to have a burning platform.

      No, that was superseded by the Samsung Galaxy Note 7...

    2. Dave 15 Silver badge

      Re: As Elop would say...

      Elop moved a company from a burning platform still with the largest market share and hampered more by production capability than sales issues to a platform that had sunk out of trace 15 years earlier. What is galling is after costing so many thousand people their jobs and future the barsteward got handsome pay offs, massive pensions and has progressed on to f***k yet another company over (he has a 100% track record of wrecking companies he gets involved with).

      The only other people even worse were the Nokia board who employed him and the Nokia shareholders who failed to kick the incompetent t**t and his backers out of the company

    3. Toni the terrible

      Re: As Elop would say...

      The boy stood on the burning deck...

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Oh here we go

    The Police probably didn't want to be accused of sexism for anyone reviewing a female's choice, just like UK Police being unwilling to call out mainly Pakistani grooming gangs.

    What is more shocking is that MS sold that many Windows phones, I had no idea that was going on.

  8. Dave 15 Silver badge


    Do the phones and the custom apps work? If so why not just keep them, they are just a tool for a job, I have spanners that are quite old and I have no doubt I could go and buy a more up to date, more shiny spanner... but why bother?

    I guess she got the job because of her outstanding technical ability and massively impressive CV and not the size of her boobs or her bank balance?

    1. jake Silver badge

      Re: thioughts

      Knowing NY, I rather suspect the size of one endowment or another had everything to do with it.

      On the other hand, what with Marketing running most so-called engineering firms these days, I guess a lawyer with an MBA is considered ever-so qualified to make technical decisions.

      Where do I sign up for Mars? No intelligent life left on this planet ...

  9. thermionicvalve


    "the phones are effectively obsolete" ... whose isn't?!

  10. Sil

    It wasn't a procurement disaster, an error at most. Pricewise, a 640XL costs at least 6 times less than an iPhone. So One year of 640XL = 2 months of iPhones, and that's with undiscounted public prices.

  11. wayne 8

    Billionaire's daughter

    You are thinking about Paris or Ivanka, right?

    Jessica is lucky that she's worth a fortune, because she did not get looks.

    1. SpammFreeEmail

      Re: Billionaire's daughter

      Mate, that's really unfair and sexist to comment on a woman's ability based on her physical appearance.

      I'm sure she'd much rather people judged her on the emotion her facial expressions can evoke, it's the right thing to do.

  12. mark l 2 Silver badge

    I doubt they would have paid that much for the Lumia's compared what they will have to pay to move over to iOS as even the cheapest iphones are quite expensive, but i don't see any other option.

    There is really a hole in the the marketplace for a Android phone for businesses that has guaranteed security updates for a number of years like you can get with a desktop OS. Although i am an Android user myself it is really just Apple as a choice for businesses if you need the phones to be kept secure with updates. Even the big manufacturers of Android phones such as Samsung can take ages to provide updates for security holes well after they have been published and fixed by Google if they get updates at all.

  13. Jonathan Richards 1

    Shedload of cheap Lumia phones


    Not sure why all the downvotes...

    I guess that 're-purposing' is ruled out on security grounds. NYPD can't invest in one-by-one updates to Windows 10, and by the same token can't engage in one-by-one sanitation of the devices so that they can be sold outside the department.

  14. adam payne Silver badge

    "At the time, then-police commissioner Bill Bratton specifically identified Tisch as being the driving force for the plan and joked: "She's a terror if she doesn't get her way, so I usually let her get her way. So she's certainly getting her way with this technology."

    So you just decided to let her do whatever she wanted and waste a ton of your funding. Well done.

  15. PeterM42

    But nobody does testing these days

    ".... even an expert panel of one would have concluded that Windows phones were a turn in the wrong direction for a huge police department......"

    Or any other user, come to that.

  16. Christian Berger Silver badge

    Now imagine they'd have done this with a simple text-based unixoid application...

    ... perhaps with an ncurses based UI...

    You could simply log in via ssh, giving you an encrypted and authenticated connection without the fear of cross site scripting or other web-problems. It wouldn't matter what kind of device you have as they all run some form of ssh-client. In case you have bad connections you can even use mosh.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    the NYPD will need to redesign more than a dozen custom apps it created to run on Windows 8.1.

    That means there are actually Windows phone developers out there! Shame on you people, shame on you.

  18. Florida1920 Silver badge

    We'll get back if and when they respond.

    They can't. Their IT system is broken.

  19. dmacleo

    sort of related and funny.

    kitten knocked my galaxy s5 off shelf onto floor where it hit maglite I have stored for the multiple power outages we have here.

    shattered screen.

    so s7 edge arriving today, never was windows phone even considered.

    1. Florida1920 Silver badge

      kitten knocked my galaxy s5 off shelf

      It is a widely held myth in the scientific community that Galileo disproved Aristotle's theory of gravity at Pisa. The truth is, while Gali was having pizza, his cat knocked the jars of parmesan and crushed red pepper off the table.

  20. Webfuz

    London Fire Brigade Windows 8.1 all the way ( to where)

    Just to let you know we are still using Windows 8.1 for all Mid Ranking Officers. Not sure if the apps promised a couple of years ago are still in dev.

  21. oneeye

    But,We Need More Women in Tech?

    Yaaaaa? Right? If I made a list of failed women executives, and world leaders, I think the percentage would be rather high. And before some Commentards say, "more men, more failings" I'm talking PERCENTAGE of groups here. I don't know about you guys, but I get enough grief from the one woman at home. I certainly wouldn't take it at work. This is an example of political correctness writ large. And the resulting wasted tax payer money is always the end result.

  22. YARR

    Why scrap them?

    I agree it's poor of Microsoft to drop support so early, but most Android phones in a similar price bracket only get updates for a year or two after release if you're lucky. Unsupported Android versions are more vulnerable to exploits than a phone running Windows Mobile 8.1 due to security by obscurity. If the phone works and runs the apps you need then just continue using them!

  23. Fred/Barney

    My wife works in law enforcement & as she always says - you can't make up this sh@t. LOL

  24. kb

    They should have kept the phones

    Can ANYBODY show me an Android phone sold in 2016 that gets updates until 2019? Anyone? Beuller? The windows phone was a SMART purchase if they wanted phones that would get security updates for the long haul, instead they'll end up with phones that they'll need to toss every other year if they are lucky.

    And before anybody brings up apple, have you ever used an older Apple phone with the latest OS? Talk about painful! Say what you want about MSFT about windows 10 actually made 8.1 phones snappier and more responsive, not less. I've never sen an Apple phone that ran faster after being updated to the latest and greatest from a previous version, this is why my apple customers simply replace the phone when the new Apple phones are released, not really any point in updating those if you want a snappy and responsive phone.

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re. Poor

    Windows phone is better than no phone.


    In fact scrub that, they should be sent to the "Special Hell" with the endless desks filled with Windows machines all installing 6 of 66 updates and rebooting... over and over and over.

    Come to think of it what about nuking the phones and simply having them do basic functions? Can't be that hard and they have LTE etc so not totally useless.

    Touch screen would be ideal for elderly folks and the large "buttons" handy for visually impaired.

  26. Aitor 1 Silver badge


    Just prevent them to access the internet and have them all using a VPN, lock them down and use the provided apps and lock all external websites.

    Also ask the network provider to block SMS and MMS

    There, sorted, no need to update.

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Reminds me of....

    ....a certain procurement person who purchased a bunch of Android phones for a certain council without realising none of them came with flashes which were required by a number of departments that were going to use them.

    Also because they were trying to save money, bought the oldest Androids available that, a year on, are pretty useless due to their speed and lack of support.

    Nothing was said. Possibly because said person was "seeing" the Head of Digital without the other half knowing.

    Don't think the tax payer would be amused.

  28. IGnatius T Foobar


    Q: how many Windows Phone users does it take to change a light bulb?

    A: both of them.

  29. Salestard

    Well, they could upgrade to WinPho 10s

    Oh, wait... MS have dropped them as well.

    Lumia 950 sat here on my desk has got steadily worse since I bought it - it's marginally more functional than an old BlackBerry on account of the map/nav function still working (for now).

    As for why you'd buy WP8.1 devices - they were actually pretty decent bits of kit back then, and 8.1 was the zenith of the OS, when APIs worked and data slurping wasn't so rampant. I seem to recall MS hinting that moving apps from 8.1 to 10 wouldn't be an issue.

    1. TomG

      Re: Well, they could upgrade to WinPho 10s

      The two Windows phone I have 640XL with 8.1 and 950 with Windows 10 work just fine. Primarily use them as a phone with occasional use to surf the internet, messaging and photography. Will never have an IPhone. Had two and both were junk. Maybe I just not a sophisticated cell phone user.

  30. Spaceman Spiff

    I was a principal engineer for Nokia when MS took it over. Let's just say it was a cluster fuck!

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    The difference between a Windows phone and a brick? A brick is useful.

  32. Peconet57

    She has loads of money.

    Since she has loads of money, and not enough brain cells, could she not purchase another load of phones for the NYPD on her Credit card? Maybe if people started to shout a bit louder so that their voices can be heard maybe then the top WAGS will suddenly take notice.


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