back to article Windows Phone 7 compass mandatory but broken

The Windows Phone 7 APIs will not include access to the compass at launch, as the next version of Windows Mobile struggles to find a direction. Not that the hardware will lack a compass - its inclusion is one of the requirements to run Windows Phone 7 - but the product manager told Channel 9 (as reported by Mobility Digest) …


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  1. Jay Jaffa
    Black Helicopters

    Another Half-arsed effort from Microsoft

    Yes again in their desire to get something (anything) into the hands of consumers they're pushing a "nearly" finished OS out there. The patching process will then take place and almost inevitably kill your handset after some future update.

    Who in their right monds, having sip'd from their firehose for the last 20 years, would trust them to do this right?

    Will they ever learn?

  2. Jim Coleman

    How is this even a story?

    So what you're saying is that the compass will be present and device-specific APIs will be there and usable, and the device-independent APIs might also be there and usable but you're not sure because Microsoft hasn't confirmed that yet.

    And this is somehow a newsworthy story?

    Come on! Try harder!

  3. mego

    All Windows Phone 7 devices are required to have a compass

    Interesting.. wonder if there will be a backdoor for the feds to track and trace? No freaking way am I gonna be getting one of these..

    1. Tom Chiverton 1
      Black Helicopters

      eh ?

      Why does there need to be a 'backdoor' in the compass (whatever you think that means) ? The police (etc) already have access to tower triangulation and/or operator-specific location systems.

    2. Pascal Monett Silver badge

      And you wonder ?

      Where do you think the compass points to ?

      The nearest FBI office, of course.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I'd be scared

      After all, the direction you're facing is probably far more important, than, say, where you actually are when it comes to tracking you down...

    4. Steven Knox
      Thumb Down

      Compass, not GPS

      A compass tells which way you're pointed, not where you are. So I doubt it would be of much value to snoops.

      Now, since EVERY mobile phone has a location system built into it, you might have a case worrying about that. Best you destroy yours, and any navigation system you have, and since Google did that Wi-Fi snooping, your PC's wireless card. In fact, it'd probably be best for all of us if you just got rid of all of your electronics and went to have a nap.

  4. Lexxy

    Windows Mobile struggles to find a direction

    I just couldn't get a good bearing on this article either.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    The name "Microsoft"

    How can they expect to get back in the game with a mobile phone while they continue to call the company "Microsoft"? I mean, say it out loud and think about it. It means "Small and flaccid". Not a great advert for a cutting edge piece of tech is it?

    How many years now is it since someone used the word "Microcomputer"? And how much software does Microsoft write for microcomputers?

    They've GOT to change the company name in order to get serious in the consumer market at least. How about something like "Orange"? Oh, already taken. "Satsuma"? "Banana"?

    1. Anonymous Coward


      To quote Eddie in Bottom, "Think I'll just put 'bollocks'!". Most apt name I can come up with for the joke that MS has become.

  6. Anonymous Coward

    How difficult can it be?

    A device independent compass API... hmm, that's a real tricky one. Where to even start? Oh wait, hang on, how about:

    float GetCurrentDirection();

    yup, i think that would do it. Now it's off to the patent office I go.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      MS API, remember...

      This is Microsoft we're talking. Try DWORD populateCmpssHdingStruct32(HWND hOwner, LPCOMPASS lpCmpss, UINT **cmpassStructSize, COMPASSFLAGS *flags, UINT reserved1, UINT reserved2, SecurityContext *context, DWORD capabilityBitfield).

      1. Alastair 7

        Re: MS API, remember...

        Presumably not a .NET user, then. Your criticism is a little out of date.

      2. Stu

        Totally, except its dot net nowadays its even more verbose and pointless-

        using System.Configuration.Compass;





        Direction x = new Compass(const PrimaryCompass);

        x.Initialize(hOwner, lpCmpss, cmpassStructSize, flags, reserved1, reserved2, SecurityContext);


        x.Dispose(hOwner, lpCmpss, cmpassStructSize, flags, reserved1, reserved2, SecurityContext);


        ...or something.

  7. Peter 39

    usual effort

    ship first, fix second

    Standard Redmond, isn't it

    1. Robert E A Harvey
      Gates Horns


      Except that in the Winphones I've had before, fixing and updating never happens.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    More to the point

    What the f**k is an 'Augmented reality app" and why does it need a compass?

    1. David Shaw
      Thumb Up

      best augmented reality app

      is "DishPointer Pro" on Android or iOS , uses the camera and the compass to work out exactly where in the sky is Express-AM1 or Skynet 4E or Intelsat 805. It allows an instant site survey , which way do I point the dish?, what elevation? - is there a big tree or building in the way? (YES, quite often!) = move dish.

      NASA/NSA presumably have better systems but theirs will have cost a bit more than twelve quid!

      more details at

      My 3yr old is always searching for Doctor Who on the "Google Sky Map" augmented reality App, so that will get some votes too.

  9. Anonymous Coward

    Who wants this crap anyway?

    MS Phones' only redeeming feature has been Outlook, but all other platforms have managed to bring a solid Exchange client into play. There hasn't been a lot of software for Winphones earlier and not the platform is completely revamped and starts from scratch. I haven't read of any feature that would set Windows 7 Phones apart from the rest.

    Also, my last Winphone was a so-so Samsung some years ago and Samsung couldn't give a rats ass about its software flaws, never releasing a single fix or OS upgrades. So if you buy now a new Windows 7 phone, chances are that the compass feature will never work on your unit.

    Finally, while the compass hardware probably isn't a big cost, why can't they just rely on the GPS? My reliable old Tomtom GPS shows the compass points when the unit is moved a few paces.

  10. Shane Kent

    No standard API...

    Ain't there and app for that?

  11. Pete 8

    Govtards probbly want

    to know who is facing east or west. north, south etc.

    It would assist in locating the pocket easier.

    As you were chaps.

  12. Gary Riches

    @Who wants this crap anyway?

    You answer your own question. You say your tomtom knows it's direction when it's moved a few paces. What if you don't want to move, say when looking at map data and seeing which way you should go... Or when using an augmented reality app and are spinning around to see other data.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      Well if its a mechanical compass then it will only work when the phone is flat.

      If its flux gate then it will only work if you are moving

      I'm not getting started on what happens if you are under cover....

      1. Robert E A Harvey


        I have worked with 3-axis fluxgates that did not need to be moving once they had normalised to the location. But they were jolly odd little buggers, and as you say, the presence of any physical structure will make it worthless.

  13. Jason Togneri

    @ Compass, not GPS

    Erm, it's irrelevant either way, since both systems are passive. Compass communication is one-way (from the magnetic field of the planet, via the hardware, then to the user for interpretation). GPS communication is also one-way (recieving coordination data from enough satellites to triangulate, via the hardware, then to the user for interpretation). GPS does not do two-way communication. There is no way anybody can track you when you are using a GPS device, unless the device is broadcasting its whereabouts via some other channel (3G, SMS, etc) - and this can be done by signal tower triangulation in any case (which *is* two-way). Sheesh. And Reg readers are supposed to be technically literate.

  14. Christian Berger

    I remimber when Microsoft did an ad campaign against Linux

    Back then they campaigned against Linux, claiming all those distributions are far to fragmented to be a single platform.

    Well let's see where Microsoft is now. They have Windows XP, Windows Vista and Windows 7 on the desktop OS side. All three are in widespread use today and not all applications run on all three at once. Then there's Windows CE and Windows Mobile, as well as Windows Phone. All in various versions and all incompatible to eachother. You cannot run a Windows Phone application on Windows CE or Windows 7.

    Now let's look at the Linux side of things. I have Ubuntu desktops and laptops, I have several different kinds of routers and even satellite receivers running Linux. I have the same shell on all of these. I can write shell scripts which will run on all of them without any modification. In fact I can even run the same applications on those devices. For example vi runs on all of them. Just try to run "Pocket Word" on a Windows 7 machine natively.

  15. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Thumb Down

    There is an internal cross-model MS WIndows API

    But developers will not be allowed to see it.

    Oh wait wasn't part of MS anti-trust settlement something about revealing *all* their Windows API's?

    Guess that doesn't apply to Mobile.

    Ho I expect this to play out.

    Divide the competition.

    Watch product launches using this feature (and on what phones) carefully.

    Select features from the best.

    Build cross-model version of product with them in it.

    Destroy competition.

    Start charging.

    Only US phones mandate GPS on *all* models. Elsewhere download-able maps + built in sensors can give adequate position and orientation. For directions *attitude* is more important than location to the nearest metre.

    thumbs down for MS BAU.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Augmented reality = Head Up Display

    For those asking, "augmented reality" is what in aereonautics has always been called Head Up Display, but people in Cupertino had to look for something that would look new and invented by them, not something that has been in use in the past forty years and more.

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