I admit it. I am a Microsoft fanboy. I love the whole integrated approach they have and I love their innovative, powerhouse products. Microsoft has done a lot of great things over the years and in the last 5-10 years they are really starting to find their groove again.
A great example of this are their Surface products. These tablets have developed into the most useful, mobile devices out there. They run a full version of Windows 10, they use better hardware then what you will find in your laptop, and they have a full range of connectivity options you will not find on other tablets. They are, by far, the best all-around computing product out there and no one else can compare.
But then there is the Windows Phone…
I was turned on to the Windows Phone when they made the move to Windows Phone 8. This was a newer version of their metro OS so I was a little hesitant, but one of my friends recommended it to me and I was hooked.
For me, different is better. I have never liked being the same as everyone else and phones were another way for me to differentiate myself from the masses. Prior to the Windows phone, I was an Android guy and my last phone, prior to the switch to Windows, was the Nexus S. I loved this phone.
In 2011, the primary beef with Android was how “fragmented” it was. Admittedly, it could be argued fragmentation is a bigger problem today then in 2011. Simply put, fragmentation is represented by the number of android phones out there with older versions of their OS which opens them up to security risks. The more phones with older versions, the more fragmentation occurs. Digital Trends wrote a great article about this that does a much better job describing it then I do.
The Nexus S, however, was pure Android. There were no extra manufacturer skins or any other Android forks (like Amazon’s Fire OS). It ran the latest version of Android and promised it would be the first to receive newer versions. To be honest, I can’t really remember why I wanted to stop using the Nexus S. I know I had it for a couple years and if I remember the screen was kind of small and I think it was starting to run slow, but regardless, I switched to the Windows Phone, and it was love at first site.
People who have never spent any time with a Windows Phone will talk about it like it is something horrible, but they just do not understand it. Even today, I still think they are great. I listen to audiobooks on it, watch Netflix, send email, work on MS Office Documents, follow the news and stay connected on Facebook and Twitter. The best part about it is even with my heavy usage, the battery lasts longer than any smartphone I have ever had. If I just use it for texting and phone calls, the battery will last 24 hours easily, but even with my heavy usage, it will last all day without a charge. There are a ton of other great things about this OS, like the ease of changing phones, syncing all of your data with the cloud, and seamless integration with the PC. The problem is the app gap and defenders can say all they want, but the reality is the app support is horrible.
Today the problem for me is productivity. I have an HTC One M8 running Windows Phone 8.1 OS; originally the HTC was going to be able to get the Windows 10 upgrade but it never happened and between apps disappearing and my browser not able to open all sites anymore, I have to move to a new OS. I have become so emotionally invested in my phone I knew moving away from it was going to be a big transition, so I decided I was going to try and approach it logically and to take out all emotion. Who better to model my approach after than Commander Spock. Here are some of his quotes that seemed to resonate the most.
1. “In critical moments, men sometimes see exactly what they wish to see”
As I have been going through this process, I find myself searching for articles and information on things like “the future of Windows Phones” or “Windows Phones are not dead”. And Spock is right; I love my Windows Phone and I continue to cling to articles who preach a potential positive future for the phone. With Windows 10, now all devices run the same OS so apps will grow quickly as developers only have to create on app. Then there was a rumor Microsoft was developing a program that would be able to port an Android or iPhone app into a Windows app but that has not come to fruition yet either. Spock is so right on this one; I keep seeing the good news and not looking at the reality. Here are some key facts I need to remember.
- The future of the Windows Phone will be enterprise focused
- Microsoft develops apps for their software for iOS and Android but not Windows Phone
- Track record of promises for Windows Phone is disappointing
The Surface phone interests me, and it is rumored to be released in April 2017, but I can imagine the price point on it and my guess is it will be largely geared for enterprise customers and not consumer. Best case scenario is another 1-2 years before Microsoft has a competitive phone OS for consumers.
2. “After a time, you may find that having, is not so pleasing a thing after all, as wanting”
This is a pretty deep thought when it comes to Windows Phones. I keep hanging on to my Windows Phone with the hope of better times. I bought the phone with the promise of better things to come, but those things have not come and in fact some of what I had before is no longer available. I need a phone that can do things today. One that has specific capabilities for my daily life. I cannot afford to wait around on the promises of what may happen. Here are just a few examples of apps that I have lost recently.
- All ESPN apps
- Browser not able to access all sites anymore
I know some of these will now work on the Windows 10 OS, but not all of them. Additionally, they are dumping the current windows 10 phones as they are focusing on the Surface phones schedule for release in early 2017.
3. “Change is the existential process for all existence.”
So yes, Windows phones have changed, but there is a difference. Spock is not talking about change for the sake of change, he is talking about evolution, and Windows Phones have not evolved; instead, they have totally reinvented themselves time and again. They are trying to change but instead they are floundering and people like me who depend on my phone to help me make a living, are being ignored.
Look at my HTC One M8, for example. It is stuck in the 8.1 OS. Microsoft is offering their current Lumia Win 10 phones as a BOGO and as we know, they are working on the new Surface phone. What possible motivation would any developer have to work on apps for the 8.1 OS? For that matter, why develop anything for Win 10 when Microsoft has showed over and over again that what is current today, may not be current tomorrow?
iPhones and Android phones, on the other hand, are evolving. They are basically the same OS they started with, but they have grown and nurtured them for years and the apps have grown with them.
Spock would often say this when he was not sure of what else to say. It’s like saying “merp”. It’s how I feel when I read about the history of Microsoft’s Windows Phone from beginning to end. I know you have to break a few eggs to make an omelet, but there is nothing in the phone’s history to make me feel confident a solid consumer version is coming any time soon.
5. “Most illogical”
I think this quote more than any of them is the most appropriate. When you look at the development of the Windows Phone, they seem to have switched gears a few times.
To begin with, they were late to the game. Steve Ballmer, the CEO at Microsoft who started the Windows Phone product, basically dismissed the iPhone and thought it would never reach the market share it has reached today. In fact, they did not release the Windows Phone until 2010; Apple and Google launched in 2007 and 2008 respectively. Microsoft was 3 years too late.
I know the problem really started when Ballmer left and Nadella took over. I like Nadella. I probably like him better than Ballmer, but he is the one who essentially killed the Windows Phone. I know it could be argued it was dead before it started, but Nadella wants to move the company to a more integrated approach to their software and to get away from the hardware. Which is probably the right path.
The proof of this is actually the Surface. This product is so good, there are now a number of hardware companies out there who have created similar devices that can leverage the power of Windows 10. That was their goal. Not to increase sales of the Surface, but to highlight the capabilities of their software and to have hardware manufacturers innovate. The problem is, these leaves the Windows Phone 8.1 out and no one is going to create Windows Phones for Windows 10 until it can showcase its abilities more. Enter the Surface Phone.
I know this was a lot of thought that went into something that should be pretty straightforward, but it’s not. My phone is both and extension of me and a productivity tool. Sure I use it for entertainment, but I spend most of my time working on it and helping my productivity when I am away from the office. I don’t want to carry around a laptop or even a tablet, but I still want the power to be able to do the things I need to do while I am on the road, and I want all the available tools I can get to make that happen. When I look at things logically, the Windows Phone is not the answer.
So it’s time to say goodbye to a phone I love and to say hello to a phone I can use. I just placed my order for a new Google Pixel phone.