WindowsPhone Angst


Just over a year ago I became an ex-WindowsPhone user. Right now I am using a Nokia 7 Plus as my daily phone. A pure Android version, crapware free, Android One, but with the Microsoft Launcher and Edge browser. It’s pretty much customised with Microsoft services. However, I hate it. I hate IOS too. It seems an interface of icons changed little since Steve Jobs launched the iphone and started the icon grid, home screen and home button paradigm. That’s probably why I used a WindowsPhone for so long – a fresh and imaginative UI that was somehow Windows in a modern world. 

I thought I was over WindowsPhone angst. The slow mysterious death of WindowsPhone. Killed by neglect but with bursts of hope as Microsoft occasionally launched something new or let a rumour run for a while. Microsoft communication via the blog is notoriously opaque. That’s why you need other bloggers as intermediaries to decipher the cryptic nature of a Microsoft press statement. The new Microsoft was supposed to be about empathy. Yet the death of WindowsPhone was curiously direct and insensitive. A tweet as an answer to one question – Joe Belfriore said it’s dead and I like my Samsung. 

The last week or so had the return of WindowsPhone angst. The re-announcement of the previous end of life announcement to make sure bloggers could write some clickbait. WindowsPhone was declared dead again. It’s new death covered on Windows Weekly.

For one sudden moment of madness I looked at ebay to price a Lumia 950xl. I didn’t click. I am emotionally disturbed by the death not mad. 

Occasionally the muscle memory tries to click the dedicated camera button of the new Nokia I have but I suddenly realise that was a feature of my old Nokia WindowsPhone. I sometimes look for the additional “lenses” in the camera app. I also get annoyed that my calendar app doesn’t exist and I use the considerably more fiddly Outlook mobile app. 

However, the good news is that Microsoft is saving itself for the next wave. It is AI, ambient computing, intelligent edge. Fortunately when I moved to Android I integrated Cortana into my phone for the new promised future. My personal assistant from WindowsPhone transitioned to my Android device. I waited for the home speaker system to complete the world of ambient computing. 

This week also formally announced the death of Cortana and the ambitions for ambient computing.

At least I didn’t buy a Zune (US only), Band, and I migrated to Spotify when the writing was on the wall……

Comments (60)

60 responses to “WindowsPhone Angst”

  1. remc86007

    I too miss my Windows Phone. I don't understand why more of the ideas from it have not been adopted by Google or Apple. Perhaps there are legal obstacles.

    For 95% of what I use my phone for, Windows Phone was superior to my iPhone. It was that last 5% that the Windows Phone couldn't do at all that made me switch.

    I can't help but wonder what might have been if Microsoft allowed Android Apps to run on Windows at the launch of Windows 10 Mobile.

    • Greg Green

      In reply to remc86007:

      MS should’ve been more aggressive in getting apps made. More times than I can count networks or major organizations advertised apps for Android and iPhone, missing WinPhone. MS should’ve just had someone watch tv and every time it happened make a note of the organization and contact them that week. Financial incentives would’ve gone a long way to closing the gap.

      • skane2600

        In reply to Greg Green:

        I agree. They should have let people develop for free from the start and reduce their cut relative to iOS and Android for the first few years. They should have offered all the carriers financial incentives to support it. It might not have made a difference but it's clear they didn't behave like they really wanted it to succeed.

        • hrlngrv

          In reply to skane2600:

          MSFT and Ballmer weren't prepared to accept that MSFT would need to buy its market share in phones back in 2010 and 2011. I suspect they also believed back then that if Nokia had become a huge success with Windows phones, that all other phone makers would beg for Windows Phone licenses. If that were their mindset, it would have been impossible for them to have thrown away the money they believe they could make from the Windows Store (as it was named at the time).

          In short, MSFT wanted to make money (profits) from phones, so it wasn't going to give up any avenues for making money from them. What followed was a hard but necessary lesson for MSFT and its fans to learn: MSFT is not essential to every tech product market. Outside the PC market, MSFT really does need to scramble like everyone else, and the word Windows means squat other than perhaps old and stodgy.

          • skane2600

            In reply to hrlngrv:

            Yes, Microsoft wanted to make money on their investment just like every other company in the smartphone market. No big revelation there.

            I've spoken about Microsoft's blunders with respect to smartphones etc here for years, so you're not telling me anything I didn't already know.

            Yes some tech fans like to think of Windows as "old and stodgy" but I doubt that the average user thinks about it one way or another.

            • hrlngrv

              In reply to skane2600:

              FWLIW, I'm certain I've been expressed my opinions about MSFT and phones as long as you have on this site.

              Simply put, it took too many years for MSFT to realize just how far behind Android and iOS they were. By then, it probably would have cost MSFT an order of magnitude more than in 2011 to buy sufficient phone market share. The magnitude of the lack of vision can be assessed by Ballmer retiring years earlier than he had said he wanted to.

            • Greg Green

              In reply to skane2600:

              Now I think the average desktop user is an employee who dislikes his PC. Either because he’s regularly fighting with it or it reminds him of work. I suspect purely home desktop and laptop users are a clear minority.

    • Jackwagon

      In reply to remc86007:

      "I can't help but wonder what might have been if Microsoft allowed Android Apps to run on Windows at the launch of Windows 10 Mobile."

      Based on past history, I'd say the likely outcome of that would have been that developers still wouldn't have bothered to develop Windows Phone-specific apps (though it would probably remedy the issue people had with not being able to find "That One App"). This is probably an optimistic estimate, and one that assumes that the relevant APIs would not change on Google's end (or at least that they wouldn't change enough to "ruin" the compatibility).

    • skane2600

      In reply to remc86007:

      They would have just been jumping in to the commodity Android phone business. The only reason for buying a Windows Phone over an iPhone or Android phone was that if offered a third choice of OS.

    • hrlngrv

      In reply to remc86007:

      I don't understand why more of the ideas from it have not been adopted by Google or Apple.

      Too few people liked Windows phones for MSFT to consider it worthwhile to continue developing Windows Mobile or making Windows phones.

      Why did so few like Windows phones? Maybe because only a few preferred Live Tile UI. If so, would it really be surprising Google and Apple want nothing to do with the Windows UI or much else about Windows Phone/Mobile?

      As for the better ideas Windows Phone/Mobile did have, they probably are IP-encumbered, so unless MSFT allows others to use them, they're as dead and gone as Windows Phone/Mobile.

  2. hrlngrv

    The new Microsoft was supposed to be about empathy.

    You believe all MSFT's public statements and inferences, do you?

    MSFT was, is, and will always remain focused first and foremost on PROFITS. As it should be for a public corporation based in the US where the law requires board of such businesses to put shareholders' interests before any other interests.

    Windows Phone/Mobile was a money loser for MSFT. It seems MSFT believes nothing would change that. Thus MSFT's foray into phone OSes is done. As Paul wrote some days ago, DEAD DEAD.

    You need to reconcile yourself with the likelihood if not certainty that as good as Windows Phone/Mobile may have been, there are too few people sharing that assessment for MSFT to waste any more resources on it. It's not insensitive on MSFT's part. It's realistic. Putting this another way, it's HEALTHY for MSFT to have no sentimental attachments to their phone OS and to let it die. DEAD DEAD.

    The scary thing for MSFT fans would seem to be that MSFT really has no interest in making much of their own hardware. That they still brand mice and keyboards is a mystery since they can't be particularly profitable. That they're competing directly against their OEM partners with the Surface line shouts at ODM makers of other types of hardware that MSFT really sucks as a business partner. IOW, only an ODM run by morons would eagerly embrace a licensing deal for a non-free OS/services package from MSFT similar to PC OEMs. That means only the likes of Harman Kardon would take a flyer at Cortana smart speakers.

    MSFT would have had to make their own hardware to have had a chance at establishing Cortana, but it seems MSFT has zero interest in being a hardware pioneer. If ODMs won't embrace new offerings from MSFT, and MSFT continues to be too timid to make their own hardware to run anything new, then MSFT may once again wait for something new to become established in the market, at which point MSFT may espy an opportunity to repeat the Windows phone debacle.

    td; dr -- MSFT needs to grow a pair with respect to making its own hardware for its own new software/services.

    • ponsaelius

      In reply to hrlngrv:

      The alternative position is not to believe a word Microsoft say. Maybe there isn't a "new Microsoft" just a vision of profit.

      • Tony Barrett

        In reply to ponsaelius:

        Many don't believe a word MS say - it's all smoke and mirrors. MS have failed at SO many ventures, and have been followers rather than leaders for years. Yes, a very profitable company still, but ONLY because of the enterprise, who they still milk for all they're worth. No other reason. For MS, everything is now about services and subscriptions, and nothing else.

      • hrlngrv

        In reply to ponsaelius:

        No, there's a spectrum of skepticism between fully credulous and disbelieving everything they say. There's also historical behavior. The further a MSFT statement diverges from historical MSFT behavior, perhaps the greater the skepticism one should apply.

    • irfaanwahid

      In reply to hrlngrv:

      I do agree with you that Microsoft is in business to make profits, and that that should be their number 1 priority!

      What most people hate about Windows Phone fiasco is, Microsoft didn't back mobile efforts as they should have.

      Bad marketing, slow updates, slow OS and many more.

      I feel they had the right product but they didn't throw in enough resources behind it.

      • hrlngrv

        In reply to irfaanwahid:

        . . . Microsoft didn't back mobile efforts as they should have. . . .

        I figure in 2011 MSFT didn't believe it needed to do much more than have HTC and a few others release Windows Phones and the MSFT faithful would flock to them.

        Then there was the Seriously ad campaign, making fun of Android phone and iPhone users always paying too much attention to their phones. Oops! People who buy smartphones WANT TO SPEND A LOT OF TIME USING THEM. IOW, MSFT original ad campaign was essentially Windows Phones - the smartphones for people who don't want to use their smartphones much! Yup, that was stupid.

        I figure one of the things which really killed Windows phones was Windows Phone 7.x handsets not being able to upgrade to Windows Phone 8.

        As for US carrier relations, unless MSFT was willing to subsidize sales of Windows phones, ensuring they'd be profitable for carriers even if MSFT itself lost a ton, MSFT had no chance. Why would any carrier have bothered to steer customers towards Windows pones?

        In short, MSFT believed everything with worked for them in PCs would work for them in phones. Oops!

      • Greg Green

        In reply to irfaanwahid:

        At one point their goal was market share, and they did it with windows. Now they seem more interested in profits.

  3. jules_wombat

    I don't miss Windows Phone. I am still using my Lumia 650 as my main phone. Quite simply it is a superior user experience to what I have found on Android Launchers so far.

    The Microsoft Launcher is pants. I am using Square Home and Launcher 10 on my Nokia 6 review Android phone. Both of these Launchers are pretty close to giving me what I want, with customisation better than Windows Mobile. But their few real Live Tiles are not yet giving me the "single glance" experince, that my Lumia gives me.

    Microsoft is being very successful in Enterprise and cloud services, that is their future. No point dwelling upon Microsoft returning to consumer. Ain't gonna happen.

    • hrlngrv

      In reply to Jules_Wombat:

      Ain't gonna happen.

      Certainly not if MSFT can't shake off the lethargy and timidity built up during its former monopoly era.

      If MSFT isn't willing to lose, say, US$5 billion on new hardware for news services, e.g., no MSFT-branded smart speakers using Cortana, then MSFT has no business deluding themselves they have any future in consumer markets outside of home and gaming PCs.

      • skane2600

        In reply to hrlngrv:

        Another way to look at it is that Apple never did very well in the computer market, so they switched to consumer electronics while Microsoft did very well in the computer market, so they don't need to be a consumer electronics company.

        • hrlngrv

          In reply to skane2600:

          Apple seems to be willing to do a lot more to humor its loyal computer customers. In constrast, MSFT seems happy enough to wave by bye to any potential consumer electronics customers aside from PC gaming and Xbox.

          • skane2600

            In reply to hrlngrv:

            I'm not an Apple user but many comments I've seen in recent years from Apple customers don't seem to jibe with your claim that Apple is humoring it's customers. Headphone Jack? Old CPU's? Years without updating the Mac Mini and then releasing an expensive new version that doesn't match the original intent? Increasing iPhone prices?

            • hrlngrv

              In reply to skane2600:

              I did write loyal computer customers. Do Macs no longer have audio output ports? I'll grant that Apple's treatment of Mac Mini users is quite similar to MSFT's treatment of Windows phone users.

              • skane2600

                In reply to hrlngrv:

                I mentioned two issues for Apple's computer customers. According to Apple's ads nobody knows what a computer is these days so who knows where the lines are drawn :)

      • Greg Green

        In reply to hrlngrv:

        In the past they had the energy and courage to take on challenges. Under Gates MS initially dismissed the internet. When Gates realized the mistake he turned the company on a dime and embraced the internet, perhaps a little too much, but successful nonetheless.

        Under Nadella things that are hard are abandoned rather than embraced.

        • hrlngrv

          In reply to Greg Green:

          Re Internet, browsers, and late 1990s, what browsers were available in the late 1990s? Netscape Navigator, those built into AOL, CompuServe, maybe some proprietary offerings from a few other formerly dial-up services, and Internet Explorer. Given that competition, MSFT was the only substantial player. Not surprising they could take over as comprehensively as they did by the early 2000s.

          Now consider the very late 2000s and phones. What were the alternatives? Android from Google, iOS from Apple, BlackberryOS from RIM, webOS from Palm then HP, Symbian from Nokia. Palm before HP acquired it was the only competitor comparable to what MSFT faced with browsers 13 years earlier. Google, Apple, RIM (before 2010) and Nokia were established, and Google and Apple by then were too big to be plausible acquisitions for MSFT. IOW, MSFT had real competitors with 9- or 10-figure annual cashflows of their own.

          I figure MSFT under Ballmer had forgotten what it took to compete against near peers since the last time MSFT had to was in the early 1990s with competitive upgrades for MS Office (though I believe Borland introduced the concept with Quattro Pro shortly after Lotus drove PSI's VP-Planner and Mosaic's Twin out of the market via lawsuit).

  4. Rycott

    The 950XL was just about the worst phone I've ever had. It's what got me to finally switch after going through the LG Optimus 7 -> Lumia 800, Lumia 925 and Lumia 1520.

    The 950XL was buggy, slow, overheated and the WiFi was flaky as hell. Even after the unit was replaced it wasn't much better.

    Yes sometimes I miss the interface of Windows Phone/Mobile but since switching to Android I haven't looked back. It's nice if some app comes out being able to actually use it and there are plenty of things Android just does better then Windows Phone/Mobile ever did.

    • wright_is

      In reply to Rycott:

      The 950 was one of the best phones I ever had, but you are right, they overheated.

      Mine burnt a black spot in the camera sensor after a couple of months.

      • StevenLayton

        In reply to wright_is:

        Two things. Yikes, at the burning of black spot on the camera! Second, who the heck down-voted you for your comment and why?

        • wright_is

          In reply to StevenLayton:

          I dared to say something negative about the holy Windows Phone.

          My daughter had a Hauwei Mate 9 Pro and that had the same overheating problem, she played too many games on it and the permanent heat damaged the camera sensor. That said, I've not had any problems with my Mate 10 Pro.

          FYI, Hauwei simply replaced the phone, no questions asked.

  5. skborders

    I don't long to go back to Windows Mobile, but I do miss the integration and simplicity of Windows Phone. Too Bad it was ignored and allowed to die.

  6. gregsedwards

    I feel you. I reluctantly switched to iOS about a year ago, and it's...fine. I don't love it, but it gets the job done. I've customized it as much as possible to make it a Microsoft phone, but that capability is obviously limited. For me, it's less about Windows Phone/Mobile per se, and more about the idea of a Microsoft device running a Microsoft OS and connecting to Microsoft services. I could care less what they call it. Mostly, I just appreciated (for a while, at least) the consistency of features between my PCs and my phone. Anyway, when Microsoft finally declares their next strategic move, I'll likely be on board with them again.

  7. robincapper

    My fear is not for me, have an tech'phobic elderly relative set up with Win Phone in the most basic set-up. Large tiles for email, photos, a few key family & friend contacts and a pinned nav location for Home. Even then occasionally struggle, how to achieve that on Android?!

  8. kingbuzzo

    This is an epically sad time for me...

    I realize I've been in denial for a long long time but today I purchased an iPhone today for my daughter.

    We have been all-in on MSN Explorer, Media Center, Portable Media Center, Zune, Windows, Windows Phone, Windows Home Server, Surface, AIO, Cortana, Groove, Skype Phone (and whatever consumer scheme they have rolled out) since they were things.

    I was holding on to my 950XL with my cold-dead-hands wishing, hoping, praying they would throw a hail Mary with the mythical Andromeda (and then Satya made his speech last week which basically the final nail).

    Not sure what stage of the seven stages of grief I'm @ but definitely a low point personally. I'm left with the options of evil Gooble or greedy Apple. My only hope now is the EU removes their hooks from Android.

    On the other hand, my professional outlook has never been better (Azure).

    • minke

      In reply to kingbuzzo:

      Embrace the change! Seriously, look at it as an opportunity to expand your horizons and learn new things, try different apps, enjoy the smorgasbord of new experiences available.

  9. bill_russell

    I agree with the grid of icons in iOS is a problem for me, If you could just ahve a clock and weather widgets at least and not have to have the icons in a specific arrangement. This is one small reason I prefer my Pixel phone.

    "a fresh and imaginative UI that was somehow Windows in a modern world."

    Unfortunately most of the mainstream immediately saw this as an uninviting, complex grid of information, like mission control at NASA, and it would be a lot of work to use and understand. It was cool in a technical, nerdy way, like if you had a see-through phone where you can see all the electronics inside. Personally I love that sort of thing. But the average person just doesn't like that - it looks messy and overwhelming and are turned away from it. - they prefer simplicity.

    If you can't find anything beyond hate toward any Android based or iPhone, I suspect you need another hobby or something to put your mind to, rather than obsessing over these rectangular slabs. I hear nothing but praise from people I know about how useful and amazing their smartphones are - and most of them have miscellaneous Android based phones.

    • skane2600

      In reply to Bill_Russell:

      I don't see why you would think than a Windows phone is more complicated than an Android one for the common person. In fact WP's swipe to see an alphabetical list of apps is a much simpler approach than swiping through page after page of icons in no particular order (later versions of Android may have been better organized). And pressing on a letter in the list displays all of the letters so you can quickly zoom to the letter you want. This works identically for the People app so you can leverage the experience you used to select apps. LIve tiles don't add much IMO, but they don't really create any problems either.

    • ponsaelius

      In reply to Bill_Russell:

      It's not a hobby. My principle computing device when I am out is my phone. Hating how it does it's job is a little like hating cars having wheels. Until the flying car arrives you gotta use cars with wheels.

      It's not a "hobby" it's the device I can do my banking on. It's there for quick photos and booking a taxi. I can easily dislike how it does these things but also I can see it's useful in my daily life. I just have to grumble and be grateful.

      • hrlngrv

        In reply to ponsaelius:

        Wheels is a bad analogy since wheels are necessary (OK, unless one considers tracks like tanks and bulldozers as an alternative), and there are an awfully large number of people who use Android phones and iPhones with something approaching satisfaction.

        Better analogy would be automatic transmission.

  10. Bats

    The lesson you need to learn here, moving forward is to avoid all Microsoft products except for the legacy Windows and Office software. Despite what Thurrott and Samms will say, with regards to the future of Xbox.....avoid that too.

    I am like dcdevito, who listed all the Google products that he uses. I've been using it for well over a decade, starting with Gmail, and gradually built a portfolio of products and services that I use and depend on, by Google. Moreover, I've been following Paul Thurrott ever since Episode I of Windows Weekly and I have read all the negative comments and WARNINGS made by him and Supersite/ readers have made for over the years...and do you know what? I don't recall reading or hearing of anyone being seriously "injured" by any of the products and services by Google for over a decade. Everything they have said, has been totally false and wrong.

    To truth is, I am not really "Team Google." I just endorsed their products and services because I have experienced first hand, how great they are. They are the best in market, without question. Like I said, no one has been seriously "injured" by Google, AT ALL and I am talking about injury in a legal sense and not in a physical one where the courts have to be involved. Part of me, wishes it did, so we can see what happens and move on....but nothing.

    My point being is this.....enjoy the tech that is out there. It's fun and can make your life so much easier. It has for me. If you ask me, upgrade your smartphone first. You don't need "Android One" , but you do need the full power of the Pixel. Despite it's launch problems, it's now (arguably) the best phone in the world....until the Samsung Galaxy is released.

    • Xatom

      In reply to Bats:

      I agree with your first paragraph though a case can be made that Windows is also at risk but there is no practical alternative though for the first time i am considering a move to the inferior MacOS over privacy concerns.

      As to your foolish dependency on Google products, well it's just foolish. Some are good, many are poor but whether good or poor, they are strip-mining your information. Diversification of vendors and changing accounts often is critical to safety. None of these vendors are trustworthy and faith in any is as misguided as Paul's love/ trust of Huewai. Well perhaps not as bad but close.

      Horse and buggy, nah. But 1984 never goes out of fashion.

  11. Xatom

    Cheer up. It 's only a phone. It was always half baked anyway. Both phone os alternatives are and have been superior. We don't wind up gramophones any longer either.

  12. dcdevito

    While I'm cautiously optimistic about their future, I think Microsoft is already missing the next wave of computing. It's enterprise or bust. Absolutely nothing they have or rumored to have is going to change the way I work today: I use most of Google's services today and that isn't going to change. Let's see what I use:

    1. Gmail

    2. Google Calendar

    3. Google Drive

    4. Google Duo

    5. Google Photos

    6. A Pixel 2 XL

    7. Google Home Hub and Google Home devices

    8. Chromecast

    9. Chromecast Audio

    10. Chromebook (not primary, we have 2 in the house)

    11. Google Docs

    12. Google Assistant

    13. YouTube TV

    14. YouTube Premium (video and music)

    15. Google Play Music

    16. Google Pay

    17. Google WiFi

    18. Google Maps and Waze

    19. Google Play Books

    20. Google Keep

    21. Google Express (for shopping list integration with Google Assistant)

    22. Chrome

    23. Android Auto

    24. Google Fit

    25. Google Fi (international)

    26. Nest (cameras, Nest Secure and Nest Protect).

    27. Google Authenticator

    28. G Suite (with custom domain)

    Now here's what I use from Microsoft:

    1. Office 365

    2. Surface Pro and PC

    3. Microsoft Authenticator

    4. Outlook (secondary email)

    5. OneNote

    I mean, it's not even close anymore in personal computing. Don't me wrong, I love all 5 of those from them, but let's face it. When it comes to personal computing, Microsoft is done. Case closed. Move on.

  13. jimchamplin

    There is no "next wave" for Microsoft to ride.

    I'm very scared that anyone hoping for that is going to be incredibly disappointed. It honestly feels like Microsoft's entire fiber of being is out-of-synch with reality.

    I mean, for fuck's sake... they can't even fix a single pixel border in Windows, despite some of their core devs being told personally about it.

    They leave important things like the success of their voice assistant totally up to chance! They don't even try to get it onto devices and into the hands of users.

    That seems to be Microsoft's mega fail.

    They just let it all go, expecting it to simply happen without any effort.

    But it's not 2002 anymore.

    • skane2600

      In reply to jimchamplin:

      Well, the first half of your first sentence was right - There is no next wave.

    • jules_wombat

      In reply to jimchamplin:

      Thank goodness Satya is a lot smarter than you. The next wave was Cloud services. How do you explain Satya trebbling Microsoft share price, and being the richest US company over the New Year. Just taken over by Amazon, with their reliance upon Cloud services.

      Microsoft know that Windows client is no longer a priority. Microsoft research into Quantum compute is part of their future ambitions.

  14. cadrethree

    Windows mobile OS for some people was their perfect phone, which I get. I had 3 or 4 devices myself. But, don't let your fear of the new limit your potential to experience beautiful new experiences and ecosystems. Most of us on this site are technology junkies, and we are living in the future we dreamed about as kids. With most phone manufacturers doing their own skins you can get a fresh experience using all Android phones. I think Android 8 is superior to Windows phone in every way, imho. Change is constant and new is scary. Android and Google spying on you? Sure, so is Facebook and anytime you get on the web.

    Microsoft missed the next wave, they are toast. Besides subscriptions the next wave is not very clear at the moment. Possible next generation stuff would be personal ambient computers and sensors, stuff probably not even working in labs. Instead of the size of a Amazon dot, think of it being the size of a pack of gum or quarter. Cpu, sensors, wifi all in one package put in everything. From clothes to walls, everywhere but nowhere to be seen. But that's beyond bleeding edge technology and will eliminate every current form factor computing device out there now. The most likely next "big" wave is the Google glass. That form factor could be the next wintel computer of the future. If you take a pair of regular glasses, throw in Bluetooth, wifi, cellular, CPU, ram, memory with recording features and a full os? That's the holy grail of computers. Sign me up.