In the wake of the latest Windows phone debacle—HERE announced that it was ending support for its location and navigation apps—Microsoft has, tepidly, said that it will improve its own Maps app to make up the lost ground.
It’s not enough.
On Twitter yesterday, I made the following recommendation.
Not that I run Microsoft PR or anything, but this would be the ideal time for them to come out and explain why Windows Maps is just great.
And … Microsoft responded. Sort of.
No, there was no blog post. And, no, Microsoft didn’t reach out to any Microsoft-focused bloggers or journalists to offer up an explanation for why HERE’s sudden and terrible departure from the platform was OK. Instead … they took to Reddit.
Which is to say a single Microsoft employee, who goes by the moniker Dave_MSFT, took to Reddit. Twice.
In his first comment, which was in response to my article about the end of support for HERE apps on Windows phones, he said the following:
We have an exciting update coming soon to insider builds, including an improved drive mode. We will also be addressing other top feedback I have been collecting from you guys as well as the Windows Feedback app in this update and in updates to come. Stay tuned 🙂
He also added, later:
I will try to keep you guys updated as best I can, but for a variety of reasons, this will likely only be as updates are imminent.
Dave from the Maps team here. Thanks for the feedback! Posted this earlier about an upcoming app update. Better drive UI is part of this initial update.
We are exploring options around the arrow on the location marker (compass). Being able to search along the route is a great suggestion that I will bring back to the team. I will take your other feedback to the team as well!
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I’m glad to see any sign of life from Microsoft after such a traumatic event. But I’d still really like to see Microsoft address this issue publicly and with some conviction. As is always the case in the dwindling Windows phone community these days, the shrill cries of “nothing to see here, nothing to see here” are overwhelming the very real problems that these users actually face. The issue isn’t HERE data, which Microsoft uses in its Maps apps. It’s the superior HERE user experiences for maps/location, driving/navigation and public transit. Microsoft doesn’t have any of that.
Look, Microsoft should have purchased HERE with Nokia, and it should have purchased HERE later when it was separately available for sale. Microsoft should likewise have helped HERE keep its apps on Windows. It did none of those things. And it needs to explain to us all why this is just OK. We can’t leave that explanation to cheerleader blogs who are more interested in pleasing the base then getting to the truth.
Microsoft, you need to fix this. You have no mobile payments, no decent digital media solutions, and now have only your own low-quality in-house Map app. Compare that to the juggernaut solutions available in Android and iOS and you see the problem: Windows phone has quickly become less than second rate, and even Apple Maps is a better solution that what Windows phone (and Windows 10) has. And that is not OK.