Ok, let’s address some questions I’ve been getting lately about my Microsoft Information Partner Windows Phone mobile app (blank feeds, no Twitter, can’t download), and some questions I expect, given my announcement today: “Announcing the new Microsoft Info Partner Mobile App for Windows Phone.”
If you’ve been a Microsoft Partner for awhile, or following me online for awhile, you are probably familiar with my Windows Phone app that I launched almost 2 1/2 years ago while I was part of the Worldwide Partner Group: Microsoft Partner Information, right on your phone. A new social app. From the moment of it’s launch, there was a lot of fantastic interest and feedback about the app, and over the next couple of years, what a ride it has been on…
From the moment of the app’s launch, I started receiving feedback from Microsoft partners and others about what they liked about the app and suggestions of what they would like to see added to the app in the future. Because of this, I reached out to my community and asked, “Do you want to see product feeds included in the Microsoft Partner Info mobile app? Let me know here!” Sure enough, the community spoke up and let me know their thoughts and wishes. Based on this, the next couple of releases brought these asks to life:
As the app continued to gain popularity and more and more users around the world began using the app, I continued to listen to the input and feedback from the community, and there was even some fun with Apple that users, supporters, and even some channel press members joined in on, in support of the Microsoft Partner Info mobile app when I attempted to launch a version for iPhone. Over time, I continued to make improvements to the app interface itself to deliver a better experience for the users of the app, including a major shift with the launch of version 2.0: Microsoft Partner Info V. 2.0 is here with WPC app integration and more! In fact, the app itself even helped to deliver solutions for many looking for a single place to connect with the many, many, many Microsoft social media and online connections: Help! What/where are the key Microsoft partner social media connection points?
As time continued, additional features, updates, and improvements came to the app, based on input and feedback I received from current users of the app, as well as others across the world who submitted their thoughts and feedback to me: Microsoft Partner Info V2.7 brings pinning, support, more perspectives, a new look, and more. It was fantastic to see the continued growth in the user base of the app, the positive feedback coming in about the usefulness and positive impact of the app, including seeing the app being identified as the Windows Phone app that topped the Redmond Channel Partner list of “Best Mobile Apps for Microsoft Partners’ Internal Use.” Woohoo!
One of the pieces of feedback I’ve received from people, starting shortly after the launch of the app, is that because of the wealth of information within the app and since there is a large amount of information within the app that is relevant to customers around the world, not just partners, the app should expand its focus beyond just Microsoft partners and be focused on all users interested in Microsoft information. Because of this consistent feedback, I made a shift in my Microsoft Partner Information app and rebranded it to the Microsoft Information Partner mobile app, launching it all users everywhere: The next chapter for the Microsoft Partner Info, I mean Microsoft Info Partner Windows Phone Mobile App.
Once again, with the app in market with its new, broader focus for anyone interested in Microsoft information, I continued to listen to input and feedback from my users and community around the world. As always, I love when the community shares their thoughts and feedback with me, and I always work to take the input and feedback to heart and see how it can be used effectively to bring a better experience for all of you. With this, I launched the first broad expansion (over 50 additions/expansions!) for the new Microsoft Information Partner Mobile App for Windows Phone to bring many, many more new information sources into the app for users to consume. In addition, I also decided to extend a tradition I’ve been doing for the past few years, and held a contest at Worldwide Partner Conference this year for prizes; however, this year, I made it available exclusively to those who used my Windows Phone app, feeding hints and rules directly through the app to the users to win prizes: Let’s have some fun at WPC13–A promo feed for you.
Recently; however, there have been two updates that needed to be made: 1) With Twitter’s shift to the v1.1 API, all of the Twitter feeds in the app ceased to work and needed to be re-written to the v1.1 standard 2) A service the app uses was recently retired, which broke the connection between the app and the data sources; therefore, the categories started coming up blank in the app (no data connection, no data). As I was making updates to the app to address the issues (and thanks to Jason, a colleague of mine here at Microsoft for his help diagnosing and addressing the retired service issue!), I received an email stating that my app had been turned in for copyright concerns since it used imagery that was associated with Microsoft, and third parties cannot do that.
A little puzzled by this, I reached out to the person at Microsoft who reported the app for the supposed infraction. Well, within about 24 hours of emailing back and forth and me pointing her to the information on the app, she apologized for the inconvenience. After all, how could she have known about the app? It’s not like it had been around for years or had any public history (oh, wait…) Anyway, it turns out that based on the perceived concerns of Microsoft copyright, they had already de-activated the app and “blacklisted” it. (Ironic, isn’t it???) What this means is, the app is disabled in the store and cannot be updated.
At first, their suggestion was to just publish the app under a new file in the store; however, this would mean that the thousands of users around the world who have already installed the app would not get the update and their current installation would not work due to the retired service. Many emails have been exchanged about the possibility to re-enable the app in the store, and I even emailed them the updated XAP file and asked that it get posted to at least fix the data break error so the existing users could get it fixed while we looked into how to actually re-enable the app. To date, the app remains locked, which means I am unable to update it and no one is able to download it. Because of this, I continue to get questions and comments sent into me reporting or asking about the blank feeds (because of the retired service) or asking why the app is “unavailable” in their country to download and why I’m not fixing it.
Since I do not want to keep my users hanging out without a solution to get the app working again any longer, (did I mention I can’t upload the update to fix it?) I used the update I was trying to submit to re-build the app as a new app. See my “Announcing the new Microsoft Info Partner Mobile App for Windows Phone” post for the full details on the new app. In it, the Twitter feeds are now flowing in again, the retired service has been removed so the data feeds are now fully functional again, I’ve re-branded the app to remove any Microsoft related imagery from it, and I’ve made it incredibly clear where the app is from and who published it (just take a look at the splash screen or the “About” screen in the app). With this, here are answers to some questions I anticipate my current app users may have:
Thank you again for your interest, feedback, and support of the Microsoft Info Partner mobile app for Windows Phone over the past few years. Again, I apologize for the inconvenience this current situation may cause, and I hope you enjoy the new Microsoft Info Partner mobile app for Windows Phone, now available for download in the Windows Phone store. As always, I’d love your input and feedback as you try out the new app, as well as your continued reviews in the Windows Phone store. Oh, and did I mention that I would greatly appreciate it if you could help spread the word and share the link to my “Announcing the new Microsoft Info Partner Mobile App for Windows Phone” post with your peers and communities so that they too are aware of the need to install the new app to address the issues with the former app?
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Thank you and have a wonderful day,
Eric Ligman – Follow me on TWITTER, LinkedIn, and Facebook Sales Excellence Manager Microsoft Corporation This posting is provided "AS IS" with no warranties, and confers no rights