Who else here has been "Microsoft-ifying" their phones?


Hello all. So if you may have seen my recent forum post about this, I recently purchased my first smart phone, an entry-level LG running Android. And although I have nothing against Android per se, my curiosity eventually got to the point where I decided to start piling it up with the Microsoft apps, such as the launcher, Cortana, Bing, OneNote, etc. (haven’t installed their virtual keyboard yet). I was just wondering to what extent everyone here has been doing this to their phones as well, whether Android or iOS, and how you feel about doing that, whether you prefer the look and feel of the Microsoft apps versus the stock Android or iOS experience, etc.

I’m trying to figure out my motive for doing this, and I suppose it’s a combination of the Microsoft fanboy inside of me plus the idea that I’m helping them sustain “some kind of” presence in mobile, even if it’s just a software presence.

But I have to admit, I really think Microsoft’s mobile apps are very nice.

It doesn’t turn a phone into a Windows Phone, of course, but then that brings up that whole other can of worms that has already been discussed here. And it makes you wonder, would a phone that Microsoft sells that ran Android yet was completely replaced with a Microsoft skin actually be considered a Microsoft phone?

One can only ponder.

Comments (24)

24 responses to “Who else here has been "Microsoft-ifying" their phones?”

  1. rmlounsbury

    I use a mix of Google & Microsoft apps and experiences on my Galaxy S8. Though, the thing I miss most from Windows Phone/Mobile was the design language and flow of the operating system. This got me all nostalgic and I searched Google Play and found a recently updated Windows Phone 10 style launcher and installed it. We'll see how that works but the difference between Material & Modern design languages is enough to make the transition from a W10 launcher to a Material styled app a bit jarring.

    Beyond that I normally use the Microsoft Launcher as my main launcher. I also use the MS Office, Authenticator, and Outlook apps for productivity (as well as To Do). I've been debating the greater merits of using Cortana instead of Google Assistant since I straddle both worlds and I'm not sure how effective Assistant is w/o being all in on Google apps & platforms vs. Cortana where much of my data lives in Microsoft's world but my mobile platform (and even my laptop now) are Android/ChromeOS so Cortana doesn't seem like a great choice either.

    But if you really want to get back the Windows Phone style home screen seriously check out Launcher 10 (http://bit.ly/2ADlxsf) it is a faithful reproduction of the W10 launcher and runs fairly well. I have it installed on my S8 right now.

    • ErichK

      In reply to rmlounsbury:

      Yes, there is something to be said for consistency and going all in with one platform. Hopping around between Google, Microsoft/Bing/Cortana and Amazon (I also have a Fire HD tablet and Echo Dot) does get a little messy.

      • jbuccola

        In reply to ErichK:


        We ultimately went Apple and things are much simpler, especially as it relates to household sharing with Apple's first party offerings (locations, "Find my Device", storage, purchases, content, photos, airdrop, messaging, FaceTime, home automation, etc). I don't care much for iOS nor Apple's hardware but it is nice to have the tech basically disappear as we are all on the same platform.

        Noticing in other family Android households that this stuff is a patchwork and ultimately a 'lesser' experience. Not sure if the app fragmentation / confusion has anything to do with it since Google has these platforms, they are just scattered or there are too many choices in each category - especially when you add Samsung to the mix.

  2. maethorechannen

    I really like the Microsoft Launcher. I wish I could put it on the Lumia 950 I still use for calls and photos (pretty much everything else is currently being handled by a Nokia 5) as I really dislike Live Tiles.

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  4. goodbar

    I noticed that having a WHITE icon pack, provides a familiar windows phone feel. It is a small and satisfying change. I use a free icon pack called Flight Lite.

  5. Paul O'Flaherty

    My 950XL is on its last legs so today I held my nose and bought an Android. Went for a Nokia 8 as it seems to be good specs, likely to get updates quickly and above all is (relatively) cheap.

    Just trying to set it up now with my Microsoft accounts and details. Would appreciate any assistance on the following issues:

    How on earth do I get my Outlook.com contacts to sync so they are available when I'm making calls?

    I was doing some work overseas a few years ago and once used a local credit card to pay for an app for my kids' tablet - it now appears my Google account is locked to that region so I cannot install Edge or Cortana. I want to change the region on my account to US or UK (I have a UK credit card) - any pointers on how I do that?


    • yaddamaster

      In reply to Paul_OFlaherty: This used to be a sore point but appears to be largely resolved. In Outlook mobile on Android click on the settings gear in the upper-right. Click the account you want. Make sure that "Sync contacts" is turned on.

      • Paul O'Flaherty

        In reply to yaddamaster: Thanks so much! I wasted hours on that and was getting very frustrated - all the guides I found talked about adding the outlook account to GMail but every time I did that, it came up as IMAP.
        Didn't think to click on the account name in Outlook.

    • maethorechannen

      In reply to Paul_OFlaherty:
      I want to change the region on my account to US or UK (I have a UK credit card) - any pointers on how I do that?

      Have you tried what's outlined here - https://support.google.com/payments/answer/6220310?hl=en ?

      • Paul O'Flaherty

        In reply to maethorechannen: Thanks - my payment profile actually has my country listed as UK, however, I've been unable to answer the following:
        1. What PlayStore market am I in? I don't see anywhere to check.
        2. Is Cortana for Android available in the UK?

        I tried creating a US payment profile as suggested in link. I selected the US profile and restarted the phone, but I still get a message that Cortana (and Edge) is not available in my country :(

        • Paul O'Flaherty

          In reply to PD_OF:
          OK, so Cortana should be available in UK store and my store appears to be set to Qatar as all prices are in QAR.
          I have set up a UK payment profile and credit card, used a UK ip address, cleared the cache and bought an unwanted app (which for some reason I cannot get refunded) and still the @#£&ing play store won't change from Qatar to UK.
          Really regret having bought Android at this point.
          Has anyone successfully changed store?
          Have raised a support request but will take a couple of days for a response.

          • Paul O'Flaherty

            In reply to PD_OF:
            Finally sorted the Store location!
            Steps I took:
            Delete all existing payment methods and addresses from Google Wallet
            Create UK based payment profile and address in Google Wallet
            Add a UK credit card payment method in Google Wallet
            Install and configure a UK based VPN
            Clear cache in Chrome
            Clear History in Google Play Store
            Insert a UK SIM card
            Change the 'home' pin in Google maps to a UK location
            Purchase an app (which can be refunded but has to be done through Google account on the web, not in the Play Store app)
            Phew... with Win10 I only had to alter the region under settings.
            Not sure if every step is required as I was repeatedly experimenting until I finally got the UK store to show up. Would prefer the US store but don't have a US credit card or SIM card, so UK will have to do - at least I can now install Edge, Groove and Cortana (albeit UK Cortana which has a different voice and seems inferior at answering questions).
            Initial thoughts on Microsoft-ifying my Nokia 8:
            MS Launcher soothes much of pain of going from Live Tiles to yester-year icon grids, but some 'widgets' don't seem to size/align correctly.
            OneDrive and OneNote work very nicely.
            Skype is much faster than on my Lumia 950XL - much more usable.
            Would like a proper MS Photos app, but opening OneDrive/Photos is a reasonable substitute for now.
            Likewise, no Windows Maps, so using Here Maps as it provides offline mapping (though, I think, no synching of pins with Windows Maps).
            In all, in the absence of good WinMob hardware and with the abandonment of features and apps for WinMob, once you've Microsoft-ized an Android phone I think is a reasonable substitute for a die-hard windows phone fan and a better option than an iPhone (having experience with my wife's iPhone).
            If this is MS Plan B (having given up on WinMob) then given the grief to get this all working I think MS need to partner with Android OEMs to offer an out-of-the box 'MS experience' with tighter integration to the PC (e.g. Photos and Maps) and ensure that their apps are available in more/all markets. Ideally this would be on top of 'vanilla' Android with a commitment to timely updates.

  6. robincapper

    I'm using mostly Microsoft apps & lock screen but have changed to Nokia Z launcher. It is very different, finger 'ink' based navigation & search and rather lovely. Gets away from the awful grid of icons, folders etc with a fluent and clever UI

  7. Jules Wombat

    My phone is pretty well Microsoft, being a Lumia 650, because I cannot really contemplate a Icon based UI.

    I do have the Arrow Launcher on my Nokia 6 Android Test phone, but it no where as good a user experience as my Lumia 650.

    • Otto Gunter

      In reply to Jules_Wombat: Could not agree more, I too cannot handle a screen full of icons, too retro! I have Microsoft (nee Arrow) Launcher installed on my Galaxy tablet and it works great, but I also picked up the Alcatel Idol 4S, which is on sale right now for $169. Can't be beat! Windows Phone FTW!

    • ErichK

      In reply to Jules_Wombat:

      The smallest device I owned where I got to use the live tiles was my Surface RT. So on a phone it also works very well?

      • arunphilip

        In reply to ErichK:

        Live Tiles are at home on a phone - they are immensely useful to provide information at a glance. As someone who moved from 2 successive Lumias to Android, Live Tiles are something I miss massively.

        Android does have options like always on display, but short of going in for third party apps/launchers, there's nothing there that meets the sheer execution of Live Tiles.

      • Jules Wombat

        In reply to ErichK:

        I would suggest Live Tile works best on Phones, that was the form factor that required Live Tiles. I 'enjoy' simply glancing at my phone and being aware of the dynamic news and information being surfaced to me without invoking any Applications. Live Tiles entices me into opening the App and using the phone. I just like a live home screen. [Obviously Windows Mobile is really weak on Apps, but toe core capability is sufficient for my needs.]

        Live Tiles on the Desktop really pretty pointless, as they are hidden until Windows Button invoked, and on a Tablet ( I still use a Lumia 2520) not so much either, because I typically only reach out to the Tablet for direct browsing or Casual game use.

  8. harmjr

    I too have made a switch to Microsoft Launcher, Outlook and Edge on my Android phone and Tablet. I actually do more web browsing now on my mobile now then before. I only use Groove and OneNote here and there the UI seems to be unpolished or maybe its me. I differently don't like pure android launcher as I was spoiled on Samsung's Touch Wiz but Microsoft Launcher seems to look and feel better.

    I think Microsoft should sell Samsung Galaxy S8 "Microsoft Edition" or another flagship thats been customized for MS apps. However now that Windows 10 on ARM is coming their really is no reason for Microsoft or other PC maker not to make a phone on Windows 10 which they would say has the best experience. Which is not true see the Outlook W10 UWP app vs Outlook on Android...but they will say that.

  9. seapea

    i do use launcher and try to setup Cortona as my default assistant on a MotoX.

    miss the live tiles but really really miss the functionality of the back button that WP had.

  10. SWCetacean

    I've never owned a Windows Phone, only Android phones, but I've also been using Microsoft apps more heavily on Android in the last year or so. I installed the Arrow Launcher, replaced the default Lock Screen with Microsoft's Next Lock Screen, replaced Google Now with Cortana, replaced Google Search with Bing with Bing Rewards, replaced GBoard with SwiftKey, and installed Outlook, the Microsoft Authenticator, OneNote, OneDrive, Microsoft Translator, MSN Weather, Xbox, and Groove Music. When Microsoft Edge entered preview on Android, I started using that too. Basically all of the main functionality of my phone has been replaced with Microsoft offerings.

    I really like the Microsoft Launcher for its design and layout. Next Lock Screen is whatever, and it hasn't been updated in ages, but I don't see a need for another lock screen. Bing is good for my needs and gives those nice Reward points. Groove is nice, even without the music pass, because most of my music is either purchased from Microsoft or is on OneDrive (and my purchases will soon be moved to OneDrive too) and I can listen to the same playlists that I have on my Windows computers. Outlook, OneDrive, and OneNote are things I use on Windows, so it's nice having them on my phone. Authenticator gives me that 2-factor authentication for my Microsoft account. SwiftKey is ok; it's more precise, but less accurate than Gboard in my experience. The things it types out when swiping more closely match the keys that I swiped over, but I found it was less accurate in its predictions than Gboard was. But I like how long-pressing every key provides a different punctuation mark; I found that it was much easier typing those sorts of things compared to Gboard. Cortana is useful for relaying texts between my phone and my computers. It makes me wish Microsoft had an actual SMS messaging app that could provide better syncing between phone and computer.

  11. illuminated

    Microsoft launcher add alphabetical list of apps. Helps a lot.

    I am still missing my old Windows Phone though. There is no clear indication how many calls it received and if there are any messages. Notifications also require some learning. All apps try to send notifications by default and there is no prioritization. Phone beeps the same if I get SMS or some junk "sale" spam. Very annoying.