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What the hell is wrong with Nokia? It’s as if they got together as a company, identified all they ways their software could suck, and then aimed for the bottom.

I’ve been using some of the latest Nokia handsets at work for a few weeks now. The N97, for example, is awesome on paper. Big, high-resolution touch-screen display. Decent amount of memory, power, battery life. 5 megapixel camera – with a flash even. In person, Nokia’s handsets are still nicely styled – a good size, weight and form factor. But man oh man, the user experience of these devices has me shaking my head every time I try to do anything.

The touch screen doesn’t really work. The phone prompts me 50 times every time I need a network connection. And take today. I fired up my N97 Mini and it prompted me, “Do you want to check for software updates?”

Sure, I thought, and tapped the on-screen button to continue.

Then a dialog: “There’s an important software update for your phone.”

Cool. Go on… [tap].

A message. “Go to http://www.nokia.com/softwareupdate in your browser”

Wait, a message? I can’t just download and install the update using my phone?

OK, that seems dumb, but I fire up the browser and struggle my way through typing out the URL. Which takes me to a web page (not a mobile web page) that has a horizontal scrolling iframe containing all the Nokia handsets. I’m supposed to find my handset model, but I can’t operate the scrollbar/iframe using my N97.

Don’t ask me why I even bother pressing forward at this point, but eventually I find a search box, and I enter “N97 Mini” which brings up an image of my phone.

I click on the image, and I see the following message:

Nokia Software Updater can be used with most Nokia devices listed above and need only be downloaded once.

Requires: Windows Vista or XP, USB cable to connect your device to your PC.

Then a button to download a 23 MB .exe file.

WTF? I have to use a special app installed on a Windows machine (I’m a Mac user) to update the software on my phone? You couldn’t have told me about five steps earlier in this process?

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