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Windows Phone 7 is Hotel California for microSD cards

Once you check in you can never leave
Mon Nov 15 2010, 11:25

GOOD ISN'T GOOD ENOUGH when it comes to microSD cards for Microsoft's special Windows Phone 7 (WP7) smartphone operating system.

Those WP7 devices that have removable storage - and there aren't many - not only need special microSD cards but once in the smartphone, the card cannot be used with any other device, not even to format it. The news comes after US mobile operator AT&T told customers who had purchased Samsung's Focus WP7 smartphone to hold off on microSD card purchases.

Typically microSD cards are characterised on a "class" scale, used to simplify the marketing of read and write speeds. While the basic read/write speed specification is fine for just about every other device out there, it doesn't cut the mustard with the Vole. No, it cares about random access speed, something that isn't really taken into account in the SD Association's classification.

Obviously the microSD card supplied with the Samsung Focus works fine, but should users want to upgrade, it's either a case of waiting until microSD cards carrying a WP7 premium tip up or chancing the purchase of a card that works fine on just about every other device.

Aside from random access speeds, once a microSD card has been used with a WP7 device, it cannot be read or written to by any other device. It cannot even be formatted for use elsewhere, according to Samsung.

Considering performance metrics aside from throughput is commendable, however given that the SD Association has used throughput as the basis of card classification for a number of years, Microsoft's decision is likely to simply add confusion and ultimately frustration for consumers. As for the SD card lock-in, that's Microsoft harking back to its interpretation of "open standards".

With this level of device lock-in, we're not sure if Steve Jobs will be jealous that Microsoft bested him with a walled garden that's locked up even tighter than his, with it's 'support' for removable storage. µ



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