When evaluating what I want to write on my blog, I typically write about things that personally upset me for some reason. If I don’t have an emotional attachment, I won’t care enough to write about it. Whether it was a game that I saved up for when I was a kid or some software program I needed to use, there was always a personal connection. The Windows Phone has that same connection for me. As of this writing, I still use a Nokia phone with Windows Phone 8. I never bought a Windows 10 Mobile phone because Microsoft was already showing signs they were giving up as soon as it was released.
In my mind, Windows Phone solved many of the things I didn’t like about the big two: Apple iOS and Google Android. Windows Phone updates were seamless, like the iOS. I had the option of different manufacturers, different styles, and different features and types like Android. I absolutely love the user interface and I prefer it to any other phone OS easily.
The reason that Windows Phone failed is no secret. If you ask anyone why the Windows Phone failed, you’ll get one of two answers. Obviously, the first is, “There is a Windows Phone?” The other one is, “They were way too late to market.” That is very true. Steve Ballmer of Microsoft admits that was one of his biggest failures.
The problem is, of course, it didn’t have to be this way. Microsoft had a mobile phone product before Google was even a household name and seven years before the first iPhone was released. It was innovative at the time it was released, which was, ironically enough, in the year 2000. After that, Microsoft sat on their proverbial butts for the next few years, almost begging someone to come in and take it away from them. Microsoft didn’t innovate for a decade and it cost them big. When Windows Phone 7 came out in 2010, it was way too little, way too late.
If Microsoft wasn’t already fighting an uphill battle in the war with Apple and Google, they had their own internal struggles with the direction to go with Windows Phone. Some (me included) scored the “Metro” interface positive but many people absolutely hated it. It certainly wasn’t appreciated by most in the new Windows 8 Desktop operating system. However, that wasn’t the real struggle. Windows Phone 7 was based on the Windows CE kernel, which was Microsoft’s original compact operating system. By itself, that wasn’t such a bad idea.
Windows Phone 8 was released a little less than four years later. Was it an improvement over Windows Phone 7? Yes, it was, but that wasn’t the inherent problem. Microsoft decided to change Windows Phone 8 to be based off of the Windows NT kernel. That would’ve been a good idea – if they would’ve done it 5 years previous. What was Microsoft’s major mistake? They made it to where NO WINDOWS PHONE 7 COULD BE UPGRADED. It always upset me when Apple wouldn’t support hardware over 5 years old. Here’s Microsoft being incompatible with all of the current Windows Phones, some of which were just released.
If that wasn’t bad enough, anyone writing apps for Windows Phone had two choices. Write it for Windows Phone 8 and take advantage of the new features. Alternatively, write it for Windows Phone 7 and it work on both, but you don’t get the new features. That wasn’t it. In Microsoft’s rush to get Windows Phone 8, they left out features that Windows Phone 7 had. For instance, FM radio wasn’t supported until a much later version of Windows Phone 8 (I believe it was 8.1), even though it was supported by Windows Phone 7.
By the time Windows 10 Mobile (yes, they changed the branding yet again) was released, Microsoft lost all of their steam. In Microsoft’s infinite wisdom, Windows 10 Mobile was mostly incompatible with all of the current Windows Phone 8 devices. Only a few select phones could be upgraded. After billions of dollars spent (including the acquisition of Nokia), and only a fraction of available apps compared to iOS or Android, Microsoft quietly announced the end of life for Windows Mobile.
The only comparison I can make with the Windows Phone debacle was OS/2. I still am an OS/2 fan today, and I wish technology would’ve moved that direction instead of Windows. Nevertheless, I think the comparisons are astounding. Both Windows Phone and OS/2 were rock solid operating systems. In my experience, it was considerably more stable than any Android device I had and probably on par with iOS. Both Windows Phone and OS/2 had massive resources poured into them. Both had little market share. Both have a niche following. However, I somehow doubt that 20 years from now we’ll be having Windows Phone-stock events across the nation.
RIP Windows Phone: 2000 – 2020.