Opinion

How Windows Phone fails at something as basic as USSD messages

You know those USSD messages that you send from your phone to your network operator for stuff like balance inquiry? Ones like *123#, etc.? Yeah, those don’t work on Windows Phone 7. 

Actually, that’s not completely true. They do work, but only partially. For example, certain messages you send has one single response, for example on Airtel prepaid, you call *123# and you get the balance. Such messages do work on Windows Phone. 

There are however, messages that send you a list of commands as a reply. For example, when I call *567# from Airtel prepaid, I get a list of options to activate, deactivate or choose my EDGE data plan. Each option has a number and to select that option you only reply with that particular number attached to it. Once you reply with a particular number, say, 3, the system automatically recognizes that it is a reply to a previously sent message and responds appropriately. Do note that if you were to just send 3 before sending *567# and getting a reply the system won’t recognize it and point it out as the mistake. In fact, if you take too long to respond, the system ‘forgets’ about the previous message it sent and you have to start all over again. 

Anyway, enough about the system. The thing is, Windows Phone does not work with USSD messages that send back anything other than a simple text message. If it were to return a list of commands the phone simply says ‘Failed’. Failed, indeed. 

This is a pretty basic feature and when you think that your ancient Nokia 3310 was able to pull it off, its absence in this supposedly advanced operating system is appalling. 

I’ve already stated my opinion on the OS before. And instead of discovering things that would make me change my mind I only keep finding things that show me how right I was. 

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