Unfortunately as it may sound, today is the day I decided not to take the Windows Phone (or Windows 10 Mobile, or Windows Mobile, or whatever Microsoft decides to call the OS) route, and in this piece, I am going to deeply describe why I decided to do so. This piece is long, yet profoundly incomplete, showcasing the fact that I have so much more things to say about it than I have said. Maybe I’ll elaborate on the subject more if requested, but, anyway, here’s a draft of what I’m thinking right now. Enjoy your read! And don’t forget to tell me your opinion at the end: use the comments section.
Nokia 1680 classic
I have been a Windows Phone user for almost a year now, which is a whole lot of time for me. As a timeline, my first phone was a Nokia 1680 classic I believe it was called, a basic feature phone lacking even Bluetooth. Then, I “upgraded” to what seemed to me like a smartphone, and really it was a remarkable and well-built experience at that time, the Nokia E51 (as a side note, as I am writing this, Word 2007 believes I have misspoken the word “smartphone”, highlighting it as being mistakenly typed – funny how this things never really existed back in 2006 when this software was engineered).
So, I used both of them for like a year, so a year using the S40 platform (on 1680), and a year using the S60 platform (the E51), both remarkable efforts by Nokia, the former leaving me truly impressed. It seemed to me like a mini-PC, with me having the ability to hack it and it supported a wide range of applications able to do pretty much every demanding thing I could think of back then.
Apple iPhone 3GS
Then, some relative offered me an iPhone 3GS, which at first seemed to me as a downgrade, but it was the time when Apple released iOS 5, and the OS could easily be jailbroken, so I also had a good time messing with the OS. I installed tweaks to let me send/receive files via Bluetooth, download/upload through Safari, manage files on the devices, etc. Plus that I could take benefit of all the apps in the App Store, which were pretty much to choose from at that time too. What the phone was lacking was the hardware department: specs were pretty low (600 Mhz single-core CPU if I recon well), but the OS was very optimized for them, and also the camera for example was not stellar, to say the least…
So I decided to “upgrade” to my forgotten love, a Nokia. Windows Phone 7 on Nokia was already out, but seeing how crappy it was back then, and also expensive, I choose to grab a Symbian-powered model, the N8. Symbian was the successor of the S60 platform, it was an adaptation of the platform for a touch experience. Unfortunately, despite the excellent HW the N8 offered, the SW experience was not the same ingenious one as on the old E51… in transitioning the software to touch, Nokia made some mistakes I can speak some other time about. I didn’t give up, hearing that the 808 PureView offered a superior experience, I grabbed one, and it truly was an upgrade, but unfortunately, the better HW was put to rest by the lack of any SW improvements: the application Store ceased to work, for example, Nokia clearly wanting us to transition to the newer Windows Phone 8 which got released that fall.
Nokia Lumia 920
But seeing as how bad my brother described the experience of using a Lumia 920, which lacked basic things like a proper way to handle notifications, a way to download/upload files or manage them, and many more, and what’s worse, the security of the OS was so tight, that it couldn’t be jailbroken (or as it is called in the WP world, interop unlocked), so you were stuck with a crappy experience until Microsoft decided to update it.
LGE Nexus 5
So I switched to a Google/LGE Nexus 5. Impressive experience, there were minor quirks I faced when using it, for almost 8 months, but they were mainly caused by my use of custom ROMs and messing with them, so it was not the phone’s fault. I also wished for a better camera, and wanted to stop myself somehow from messing so much with the phone, that I decided to go after all the Windows Phone way, seeing all the improvements Microsoft bought to the platform with Windows Phone 8.1. Particularly, what made be give up the Nexus 5 was some kind of a bug where I was recording a movie with it, then the phone shut off, because the battery was low, and then after starting charging and powering it on, I saw that my movie was not saved, to the moment I recorded before dying, which was something I counted on, based on my previous experiences with phone camcorders (the 808 could do this, for example).
Nokia Lumia 1020
So, Windows Phone be it then, I chose a modern successor to a smartphone I loved, which signed the end of an era, the 808. I chose the 41-megapixel monster from Nokia/Microsoft, the Lumia 1020. Again, I was impressed by the HW, yet experienced the first big disappointment of Windows Phone: the discrepancy between what HW engineers at Nokia could provide and what SW engineers at Microsoft were able to offer. Inevitably comparing the phone with the 808, the 1020 lacked the Fm transmitter, as a gimmick I could walk over, but more importantly, a decent camera experience. It is a well known fact, despite having that monstrous sensor, the 808 grabbed photos/videos incredibly fast, thanks to an imaging Toshiba co-processor which lifted the heavy task of processing data from the sensor from the modest 1.3 Ghz single-core ARM11 processor. The 1020 on the other hand, featured in 2014, what was obsolete in 2013, a good, yet not spectacular SoC from 2012, the Qualcomm Snapdragon S4, without any additional co-processor on the 808 (partly because Windows Phone also supports only Qualcomm silicone, so you won’t ever see Windows Phone on a Nvidia Tegra, or Samsung Exynos, so you simply cannot hack-install Windows 10 on an Galaxy S6 for example). It took me 4 seconds to open the camera, 4 seconds to snap a picture and be ready to snap another one, and so on. Although, I admit, the output was incredibly awesome, the dated internals spoiled the experience. And it wasn’t also the camera where the phone was slow, the OS worked worse than Android did on the Nexus 5, but hey, I admit differences between the SoCs in the two devices, and made a compromise.
This until I was bored of the slow general performance of the devices, and in February 2015, I upgraded again to the current and for at least 4 months from now, I estimate, the current “flagship” Windows Phone device, the latest Nokia-branded Microsoft best-offering, the Lumia 930, with the same internals as the Nexus 5.
Nokia/Microsoft Lumia 930
Now, let’s start with the things I really loved about the 930: generally, on the Web for example, it was fast, the same as the Nexus 5, which was crucial to me. I discovered this years that most of my time on a phone is spent in the browser, so I needed good performance on the browser and it delivered, significantly better than the 1020, for sure. The design was awesome, the flat edges were the thing I especially loved, since I was able to put the phone on its side on a flat surface to grab photos using a timer. The camera was fast and stunning, supports 4K recording with up to 5 channels (Dolby Digital Plus), nothing to input, it was simply a better offering IMO than the 1020. In 90% of the occasions, the output of the 930 is better, or it is faster, in conclusion, it is more helpful than it was on the 1020. I also loved the fact that it could track steps, motion data as it is called, which proved very useful for me. Again, about the HW, the screen was gorgeous, a full 1080p panel with incredible levels of blacks on an OS where such a thing is needed, more than on Android where black is a rarity. Also, a thing I like about Windows Phone, is that when you restore the phone from backup, it simply restores almost a shadow copy of your phone, with all texts, even the call log being there, all the apps (although not all app data, unfortunately), so this is a big plus for Microsoft. These are the main things I like about Windows, and now let’s speak what I disliked about it.
First, the least concerning thing for me was the app gap. This was one thing I was aware of in the first place, so if it were a problem for me, I wouldn’t have switched from Android to Windows Phone. And it has more apps than Symbian anyway, for example, where I also had most of the things I needed. You may not believe it , but even on Android, I didn’t have a huge number of apps installed, and all the things I really missed on WP from an app perspective were Google Apps, which are absent, plainly absent on WP…
What was more alarming for me, and this inevitably I discovered in time, is the fact that apps on Windows not only are of a poorer quality when compared to iOS/Android counter-parts, but they are updated more rarely, and most of them don’t actually see updates in years. This is the most alarming sign about Windows Phone’s failure. Let me give you some examples.
Uploading to Instagram. In Android (left), the app allows the user to also upload video files. On Windows Phone (right), the development team did not implement the feature in over a year time.
Instagram, or better said Instagram BETA, which is the official name of the app on WP, hasn’t been updated for one year and three months. And it is not like it was on par with iOS, as it lacks video upload for example. For me, it did not matter, as I use Instagram only to my friends’ photos, and I rarely upload something, but I understand how this is a big down point for most of the users which disconsider migrating to WP because of this…
Facebook, which on WP is developed by Microsoft, as Facebook doesn’t see why it should bother creating an app for WP. And why would they choose to develop one, when Microsoft is so desperate to have this app, it is so needed for a mobile platform to function for this app to exist, i.e. the OS cannot even try to compete without one. So Microsoft develops the app. And the app is firstly, slow, scrolling lags, the UI lags, the animations are way too time costing even on the latest and greatest device. Secondly, it is not kept up to date: they also offer a BETA version, but it is the same out-dated experience as the main app. Facebook introduced for some months now a feature were people in groups can sell things and are provided with fields for price of the item, condition I believe etc. The feature immediately made its way on the iOS/Android clients, yet on Windows Phone, there is no sign it someone is working on it… Then there are the usual bugs which plague many apps on the platform: for example, when you receive a birthday notification for some person, the app treats it like an event, and when you tap it, it cannot handle it, instead of walking you to that person’s timeline so you can congratulate him/her. And the bug sits there for almost a year, at least it has been there for the whole time I used Windows Phone…
Messenger, is the official client for the Facebook Messenger platform on Windows Phone, this time being coded by Facebook itself. The ap is good, although it does not feature chat heads like on Android (OS limitation, you’ll hear this a couple of other times in this article too, be prepared), it has some bugs with the interface, but the most annoying thing is that even on a high-end Windows phone, it still lags, and has trouble sending messages and misses typed letters, when the person or people you’re taking to rapidly sent messages, one after another. And in general, the app is slow, and lags, and it was a big disappointment for me, compared to Android where I used the app the same big amount of time, yet it worked flawlessly.
And Messenger made me discover one of WP’s other big flaws. I decided I can try and develop a custom messaging client, which would integrate SMS and Facebook chat, the same way it was in WP8, but Microsoft inexplicably decided to discontinue in 8.1. So I started looking on MSDN for APIs, for means the OS offered me to develop this, to be able to handle SMS etc., seeing that there was a third-party SMS app, Messaging+, which was published in the Store by Microsoft Mobile (the new name for Nokia’s Store account), yet it is exclusive to Vodafone customers I believe. Then it hit me: the API was private, available only for OEMs, not for general developers. The same with custom lock screen apps: there are two custom lock screen apps, both developed by Microsoft, and outdated for quite some time now, so there is an API for it, but it is available only to Microsoft/OEMs… And there are many, many more APIs which are kept private, and developers cannot leverage them… Bummer, again…
Typical setup for JTag interop unlocking a device
This made me inevitably look into interop unlocking the device, as this would allow me to develop the app and distribute it to interop unlocked users. Shame again, Microsoft locked it so tough, that the only solution to interop unlocking a Lumia since WP8 at least (maybe WP7, I don’t know very well), was to JTag it, which meant disassembling the phone and connecting directly to the storage chips and essentially writing custom data there. A process which I didn’t have the neither the HW, nor the expertise and time to mess with… Fortunately enough, a couple of days ago, a full interop unlock solution was released (and I also have to mention that it took so much time because there is simply less interest in this, than in jailbreaking for example), yet again, not available for Lumia 930, as it did not have an SD card. Essentially, all hacks in WP need an SD card, as there is a bug where you could move an app featuring special permissions, like an OEM app for example, to the SD card, take the card out, replace the contents of the app on a PC using a card reader with the contents of a modified app, an app which needs some high privileges to do some magic, and then put it back in the phone and Windows Phone won’t argue a think, misbelieving the app to be the same as the original one. So, they’re exploiting one of the single bugs in WP, which is clearly a no-go for flagship devices like the 930, 928, 925, 920, and 1020. Only the gigantic 6-inch 1520 can profit.
So this made it clear that Windows on phones has nothing in common with Windows on PCs, where you can develop any app you want, performing any task you want, the concept of private APIs does not exist, whereas on Windows Phone, the OS as tightly locked as an iPhone, and there is no possibility of jailbreaking it (I say this because W10, due in the next 4-5 months, will surely made the current interop unlock method obsolete). Windows on phones is a limited experience for developers, and for power users alike, and I simply cannot understand why Microsoft did not put a switch in Settings to let you interop unlock the phone, warning you about security threats and bla-bla, it would have attracted and be useful for a lot of Android-like users.
Even S60 featured applications which could schedule ringer/silent and airplane mode, useful for classes and/or night time. Similar apps are available on Android, while Windows Phone is surely lacking in this department too. The pictured app also works on the touch version of Symbian.
Because the OS is so tightly locked, anything you are looking for more advanced which is not part of the OS, won’t ever be available as an app from the Store. You cannot record calls, you cannot send/receive texts from the PC like you could even on old S60 devices, you cannot backup texts or export them to be used on some other phone, you cannot have a custom equalizer instead of the basic module offered by the OEM, if offered (Nokia in my case offers a seven-band I believe basic EQ), you cannot have an app which can schedule the ringer and airplane mode. As a developer, you cannot do even the slightest utility app to improve the OS in general, and as a user, you have to wait for Microsoft or in rare cases an OEM to implement a more advanced feature. On Android, it is not uncommon for many features in the OS to start as an idea in the form of an utility in Google Play Store, or an Xposed module, on WP this is impossible, you cannot even deploy apps for your personal use which to the phone which use reserved capabilities. Windows on phones is so fundamentally distant and wrong from this perspective from its cousin on the desktop, that I really thing it shouldn’t be called Windows on mobile.
USB OTG on the 808 PureView. Similar functionality is easily achievable on Android devices too.
Then, there is the absence of basic HW features Android, and even Symbian had for ages: you cannot use a Bluetooth mouse or keyboard, or any HID device for that matter, you cannot use USB OTG, you cannot use MHL out or SlimPort to output the screen contents of your phone to the TV. These things fortunately enough will be fixed in Windows 10, although some of them will require new devices.
Design “improvements”: Windows Phone 8.1 (top) versus Windows 10 Mobile (bottom)
Speaking of Windows 10, to summarize it, it proposes a debatable to say the least new UI which I think is a regress over the old one and it almost copies Android, not working as a differentiator it used to work, it is buggy and in a really bad state right now, so it will take at least 4 months until it is released in an incomplete phone, with all the features expanding the roll-out to 2016 for sure. And this will leave the Windows ecosystem with no real flagship for almost a year, the Lumia 930 being initially launched as the Lumia Icon in the US in February 2014, while a similar device, just with a bigger screen, microSD support, and a bigger battery (i.e. better) was launched at Nokia World in Abu Dhabi in October 2013. So Microsoft wants users to buy flagships which are almost 2 years old now…Yeah, and they wonder why Windows Phone share dropped in the US in the latest months, the situation there is even more dramatic, there is no Windows flagship device to buy right now: the Icon is EOL (VZW exclusive), the 928 is EOL (VZW exclusive), the 925 is EOL, the 920 is EOL, the 1020 is EOL, the 1520 is EOL, and the hero device, the HTC One M8 for Windows being the only flagship Windows device available in a store right now… Cool, isn’t it?
So Windows 10 is again about catching up to the competition, right? It surely is, now that Microsoft develops apps first for iOS/Android, then for WP. There is a touch version of Office available for the iPad since almost a year, yet on Windows, there is just a preview only available on the buggy W10… Outlook Mobile is available currently on iOS/Android only, and the list continues. Microsoft treats the OS as a second-class citizen, and today there is almost no differentiator in favor of Windows Phone as opposed to Android. Even the offline HERE Maps developed by Nokia are now available also on iOS/Android. There is a single thing which is still unique to Windows: the Start screen, other than that, Microsoft plans to bring or has brought all the other services to the competing platforms. Even Cortana will be available on Windows 10. Yet, not every single Android app is or will ever be available on Windows 10, and not every feature which can be implemented will be implemented in Windows, because the OS is tightly locked down… So, why would you buy a Windows device today, just so that you will be out-dated when W10 comes out and the new flagships will support most of the new features, while yours won’t?
I sold the 930 because of a HW fault: the second microphone ceased to work, so the phone could only record in mono, and I couldn’t use the speakerphone. I bought the phone off the second hand market, and I did not have a warranty and decided it was not worth repairing it on my own, so I was forced to sell it. But it wasn’t that the only HW problem it had, that was one many people experience, the Internet is full of people complaining about such an issue. Yet, there’s even more. Every single Lumia 930 unit has problems with the display when browsing the Web using EDGE (2G). The display flickers, and it is a design-flaw which cannot be repaired with a SW patch, this is just a physics effect of the bad placement of components inside (the screen interferes with the antennae). And on the Lumia 1020, I gave it away partly also because of problems with the OIS mechanism: there was a persistent screech sound it produced when using the camera, it was easily hearable on video, like there wasn’t enough oil for the OIS mechanism to function properly. Otherwise put, the quality of Nokia devices today, has nothing in common with the quality of their devices years ago. Even though they charge a hefty premium for flagship devices, many times features are omitted by Nokia to keep costs down and make a bigger profit, spoiling the product. For example, the 930 lacks Glance, and I will talk why this is a big issue in a second. The phone lacks Glance even though it uses an AMOLED screen which can beautifully take advantage of such a technology. Yet, it lacks display memory, which they were not even that kind to explain to us, lucky thing there is Internet today, and I found some adequate documentation to explain what this really is…
Glance screen on a supported Lumia model (the Lumia 1520)
And again, the OS is so limited, that the main reason I am not buying a new Lumia 930 anymore is the lack of Glance screen. Glance shows a permanent clock and icons for notifications when you receive them and the phone is locked. This way, the phone accomplishes a basic task phones from 2005 easily accomplished: getting the user notified. You see, for me, hearing a sound is most of the times not enough, as I may be temporarily away from the phone, receive an SMS, the screen briefly flashes the screen one and rings, but this takes at most 30 seconds, so I may miss the event. Furthermore, I am not used and don’t want to become the type of person who checks his phone every 3 minutes for notifications. There were tens of times when I missed an important SMS from someone just because I worked on my PC, went to the bathroom for like 2 minutes, came back and resumed work, and in that time the phone received a message, yet when coming back and looking at it, it looked the same beautiful black glass face, without any notification sign a thing like Glance could have offered. Or better yet, I understand, you may have mistakenly believed that Glance is not useful, or wanted to keep costs down, or did not have a supplier for a comparable screen with ‘display memory’ (Nokia does not manufacture its displays), it seems pretty reasonable to happen from time to time. Yet, when seeing that people get angry because of this, mainly because they cannot be notified properly, a thing all the phones can do, even the iPhone which as a workaround to having no notification LED flashes the camera LED, which is at least a solution, you decide to do nothing at it and tell people to go waste an additional premium on buying the next flagship… Here you discover two additional philosophy problems at Microsoft:
Apple’s workaround to lacking a notification LED on the iPhone models
- They never listen to users – many on User Voice suggested that they could make the Windows hardware key blink when a notification is received, which was acceptable and more than enough for me (I don’t need the always-on clock that much, I also wear a wristwatch), yet they ignore all those users. This is the #2 suggestion on User Voice with over 54,000 votes, yet it is ignored. And most of the ones on top are ignored too – basic things like more than 16 accent colours to choose from need an entire new OS release to be partially implemented. More interesting are suggestions with half the votes of the top ones, like one user who wants to keep the Nokia name on phones instead of Microsoft (I subscribe to that, Nokia has a better reputation and simply sounds better IMO), another one wants Microsoft not to copy the Android UI, another one requests the basic thing known as USB OTG to be implemented in current devices. And all those suggestions are minor ones, why does it take an eternity to ship them?
- They don’t have an OS which can support the many HW possibilities available – for example, currently, besides what I enumerated earlier, Windows Phone cannot print and cannot connect to network drives, and does not offer its contents on a network as a network drive, things real Windows PCs supported for so many time now. Even a blinking notification LED is not supported on Windows Phone. many heard that Nokia left such an LED on the 930 and the 735 which both lack Glance screen, yet it was Microsoft which did not implement LED light support in Windows Phone.
One of Microsoft’s mobile division most successful products, the Nokia 105
And one more thing which I believe will stop for ever Windows Phone from taking off as a platform: in the WP world, OEM is the same as saying Nokia, or Microsoft Mobile as it is called today. You see, the other manufacturers of Windows Phone matter so few, that Microsoft could call Windows Phone as Nokia OS and no one would notice. In most people’s minds, Windows Phone is the same thing as a Nokia/Microsoft. And it is hard to ensure a fair competition to other partners, to entice them to come to the Windows platform, when you manufacture the OS, know every bit of it, and have a monopoly of over 90% of the market of Windows devices. They have the right fear that you discriminate their devices, because they could very well do this and no one would ever tell, the OS is closed source. They can make WP perform worse on HTC devices, so that Nokia/Microsoft sell their own. They can choose to develop excusive features for the Lumia line-up, instead of offering them as part of the Windows Phone OS, just so that they can differentiate. On PCs, what Microsoft gives you is the same for all OEMs. The same on Android. So, Microsoft can offer all the ‘Lumia’ exclusive apps to all OEMs, and make them part of the system, available for everyone. But wait, that way, OEMs would be able to differentiate using exclusive apps, and Microsoft would have nothing to sell its devices. So it wouldn’t work. It does not work in the Android world, that’s why Google produces just series of devices, or better yet gets actively involved on the HW development, which is the Nexus line. Even Nexus devices are manufactured and sold under an OEM’s name, i.e. Motorola Nexus 6, LGE Nexus 5 etc. That’s why Google sold Motorola Mobility, it did not have the position to make both Motorola and Android a productive business. And neither Microsoft does. But you see they were forced to buy Nokia, because their ‘strategic partnership’ was to expire around the time of the acquisition, and Nokia had clear plans of ditching Windows Phone in favor of Android, and without Nokia, Windows Phone was dead: Microsoft would instantly lose 90% of the user base, 3 years after investing in it, so it all meant a big failure, they had no chance of keeping the thing going. So they were forced by Nokia to buy the Devices and Services division. Nokia cleverly exited the game, and received some cash for it, leaving Microsoft to struggle continuing a unprofitable business. Nokia today makes a profit, while Microsoft sells the same number of phones in a quarter as Apple does in a week, and investing 99% of their time in the developing Windows Phone for the Lumia line-up, and 1% of the time for improving the ancient S30 platform it inherited from Nokia, which is used on dumb phones they still produce, yet they sell overwhelmingly more dumb phones, than smartphones…
The home screen and menu of the latest version of Symbian. Nokia became so ashamed of the name, that they called it Nokia Belle instead of Symbian Belle. Again, copying Android did not help Nokia, as Symbian lost the battle of mobile operating systems. Today, it is maintained by Accenture, which should push a fix if the devices experience something like a Y2K problem, nothing more than that.
Today’s Microsoft situation is the same as that of the Symbian OS, which initially was jointly-developed by a couple of big names in the industry like Nokia, Sony-Ericsson, Samsung etc. It was basically the Android of its time. Each party though developed its own interface, which was not compatible with apps developed for some other interfaces. This way, interfaces like S60, Series 80, Series 90, ICQ, MOAP, OPP and others appeared, yet it was S60, which was backed by Nokia, which took most of the market, as Nokia was back then the leading phone manufacturer in the world. So now we had the commonly build Symbian OS, and a proprietary interface, S60, which became synonymous with Symbian itself, as most manufacturers dropped their interfaces and choose to support just S60, for unifications and for familiarity, so that users could switch easily from a Nokia to their phone and find all the applications they needed. Eventually, S60 was renamed as Symbian, and became synonymous with the OS, so Nokia took control of the OS, with other OEMs having little to say about how things should emerge. Eventually, out of a list of manufacturers including Samsung, Sony-Ericsson, Lenovo, LGE, Panasonic, Siemens etc., Symbian was left with only Nokia maintaining it in the end, as other manufacturers felt that Nokia heads Symbian towards a direction advantageous for its mobile phones. Nokia owned the S60 sub platform, so other OEMs couldn’t improve upon it (like in Windows Phone, where OEMs can differentiate only by exclusive apps, custom modifications to the OS is strictly prohibited by Microsoft’s guidelines). And Nokia directed Symbian towards the way they saw mobile, even if others may have had a different vision. For example, they overlooked the rise of touch screens, and concentrated for too much time on classic touchpad phones, so that they lost the start when the iPhone was released in 2007. Other OEMs than embraced Android, where they had an equal starting point to differentiate from, it wasn’t an OEM like Google for example who also developed most of the OS and could offer the most exciting experiences. Today, Symbian is a forgotten OS, the last phone running Symbian, evidently a Nokia, was the 808 PureView, released in 2012, more because it has been in development for so many years, than because Nokia had any market to win with this product. It wasn’t subsidized by operators, and never reached the masses.
I believe the situation is so similar with Windows Phone, as initially there were a good number of partners for Windows Phone (WP7 run on Dell HW for example, today Dell is out of the WP business), and many of them retired or simply left their name there without really getting involved anymore, especially since Microsoft, the OS developer, made the strategic partnership with Nokia, and subsequently bought them. It wasn’t just that, Windows Phone never took off for many other reasons which scared OEMs, but it is also the fact that Samsung simply does not want to market a phone running Nokia, or a phone people would speak of as a ‘Lumia from Samsung’, as Windows Phone today means Nokia/Microsoft Lumia.
Nokia X signaled the imminent entry of Nokia in the Android world. It was released a couple of months after Microsoft’s acquisition, so development clearly started before the buy-out, and its raison d’être changed, from being meant to help Nokia regain the market share, to helping Microsoft introduce their services at even lower price points. It ran a fork of Android powered by Microsoft services, instead of Google’s. The project has been killed after all, in favor of Windows Phone.
What I would do if my name was Microsoft, I was based in Redmond and had piles of cash to play with? Give up on Windows Phone, and improve Android with Windows-like features, with Microsoft experiences, with my custom UI, the Start screen, and the Metro design language, and with the advantage of having access to a billion apps to keep users entertained with. They would easily differentiate, now that I own the great handset division of Nokia, and I would waste less time playing catch-up and spend more time innovating… And again speaking of Android, one more reason even Microsoft does not believe in Windows Phone is the fact they make more money out of Android then out of WP, by licensing their big patent portfolio to Android OEMs.
Windows Phone is also sabotaged by big players in the industry. They failed to secure a safe share of the market in the beginning, and now they cannot because big experiences are not available on the platform. Google refuses to build apps for Microsoft, because they know some users won’t choose Windows specifically because it lacks an official client for Drive for example. On the other hand, Microsoft, in order for people to use their services, has to come where people are, on iOS and Android, that’s why they’re having this new Microsoft-everywhere strategy. Because they’re hungry. People more and more leave their platforms, and they realized the services matter most than the platform, so they’re bringing their services to other platforms. It is just a matter of time until they realize how redundant Windows Phone is today as a platform. This is business, that’s why I don’t call Google evil for their practice regarding apps – I am 100% sure Microsoft or any sane, essentially capitalist player in the market would adopt the same strategy if it were Google. And I value capitalism more, as the engine of development, than I care about Microsoft’s hard time about it or Google being unfair, as I remember the Cold War, which clearly told us what economic method provides growth and what does not.
Sony Xperia Z3
So today, I am leaving Windows Phone for good. I recommend you do so too. I am going back to Android, which I am able to use anyway I like, and have all the niche utilities I can think or be in need of. I chose the Xperia Z3, as it includes most of the features on my old Lumia 930, plus great HW (USB OTG, USB MHL, microSD, waterproof, latest gen SoC)… I am leaving Windows Phone and I recommend you do the same. I will miss some things, but I won’t get nervous thinking about many others too, about how they’re not available/possible/implemented. Microsoft clearly wants to have a platform because of the great amount of money owning a platform generates through the application store. Every sold app in the Google Play Store/Apple App Store/Windows Store gives Google/Apple/Microsoft some money, and that’s the sole reason I believe they are still omitted to trying their luck with Windows Phone. But as it looks to me, money can defeat time, they lost too much time, and it seems to me failure is inevitable. The question I have no time-frame for and wonders me now is: how much time will it take for Microsoft to fail for good with Windows Phone?
P.S. Not sure if you noticed, but I really like that I can form a pretty confident opinion about mobile operating systems, as I have used many if not all of the relevant ones through time. I hope I won’t be accused of having any fan-boy behavior of any sort 😀
- SoC stands for System-on-a-Chip, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/System_on_a_chip
- OEM stands for Original Equipment Manufacturer, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Original_equipment_manufacturer
- OS stands for Operating System, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operating_system
- USB OTG stands for USB On-the-Go, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/USB_On-The-Go
- MSDN stands for Microsoft Developer Network, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Microsoft_Developer_Network
- Windows Phone User Voice suggestions, https://windowsphone.uservoice.com/forums/101801-feature-suggestions/filters/top
- Originally, this feature was written as a Microsoft Word document which can be downloaded in its original form here, https://googledrive.com/host/0BzZ1AE59CpFgVVhLZ2RCeWZ2VE0/Why am I leaving the Windows Phone platform for good today.docx