Saturday, March 19, 2016

Is Windows Phone 7 happening all over again

Déjà vu

It's over for Microsoft, I have somewhat lost faith on the company with this week's announcement mainly because it has happened all over me. Earlier this week, Microsoft (finally) announced the official Windows 10 Mobile upgrade for existing Windows Phone devices. Alongside that announcement is a list of devices that are able to upgrade to the brand new software. That sounds pretty reasonable and all but when Windows 10 Mobile was initially announced last year, Microsoft promised that all Lumia devices running WP8.1 will be promised a brand new software experience. But after multiple delays in releasing this update and several problems along the way in terms of bugs and performance, Microsoft has just pulled the life plug out of nearly half  of the Windows Phone devices currently in the market

If you look at the list of fully supported Windows 10 Mobile devices that Microsoft is touting, devices only include a couple of mid-high end Nokia branded phones released after 2014 and to no surprise, all Microsoft branded Windows Phone devices will be getting the Windows 10 Mobile update right from the first Lumia 535 all the way to the Lumia 435. While my beloved Lumia 630 and Lumia 1020 will not be getting the official Windows 10 Mobile update, I am not particularly bummed out of this but I do feel what Windows Phone 7 users felt when Nokia said that Windows Phone 8 will not be coming to any existing devices like the Lumia 900 or Lumia 610.

Windows Phone right now is in a deadly state if you think that market performance is based on the percentage that OS fills up compared to others, Windows Phone is basically a dead platform. With a mere 1.7% market share as of today, that number is not likely to improve as Windows Phone sales are not going up and the fact that iPhone and Android phone sales are continuing to go off the roof with the release of a brand new phone every year.

Statistic: Global market share held by the leading smartphone operating systems in sales to end users from 1st quarter 2009 to 4th quarter 2015 | Statista
Find more statistics at Statista

Out of the dozens of Windows Phone 8.1 devices currently out in the market, only half of them will be getting Windows 10 Mobile and Microsoft also notes that devices in this list might end up not being upgraded as the company is only ready to upgrade devices that they are confident can continue to deliver a good customer experience.

Devices receiving the Windows 10 Mobile upgrade:

  1. Lumia 1520
  2. Lumia 930
  3. Lumia 640
  4. Lumia 640XL
  5. Lumia 730
  6. Lumia 735
  7. Lumia 830
  8. Lumia 532
  9. Lumia 535
  10. Lumia 540
  11. Lumia 635 1GB
  12. Lumia 636 1GB
  13. Lumia 638 1GB
  14. Lumia 430
  15. Lumia 435
  16. BLU Win HD w510u
  17. BLU Win HD LTE x150q
  18. MCJ Madosma Q501
I have to say, looking back at the announcement that Microsoft made about upgrading all existing devices will Windows 10 Mobile is actually pretty bold one if you think of it as they were basically saying the hardware doesn't matter and that the new software will be as good as before. But due to the bad hardware choices that Microsoft and Nokia made like creating phones with 8GB (even 4GB) of memory and 512MB of RAM is probably the biggest problem of this issue and the fact that they are basically trying to update over 30 devices and making sure that all of them will have the classic Windows Phone speediness is actually a monumental task because nobody in the industry has been able to do yet. This is somewhat like how Android manufacturers like Samsung and Sony try to update devices to the latest and greatest. Likewise, there are significantly more complications in the Android world mainly due to the significantly different hardware options available.

If you think that Apple is outdoing it's competition in terms of their ability to provide iPhone with consistent updates, you are not wrong. But one thing to remember is that unlike both Microsoft and Google, Apple is developing all their phones in-house from the ground up. From the software right down to the choice of internal hardware is in Apple's hands. That is why they managed to update even the iPhone 4S to iOS 9 last year, maybe even iOS 10 this year. Also the fact that every single iPhone is basicallly a flagship device and that is why Apple managed to update that till the latest and greatest version of iOS. Likewise, on Windows Phone in the other hand is a whole different story because the hardware is all over the place. Sure, Microsoft is using only Qualcomm processor which significantly reduces the problem but there is still other hardware configurations like the display technology, cellular modems, amount of storage, and other hardware features like the camera and hardware/software buttons.
To be frank, I don't think anyone has ever succeeded in turning around the entire lineup of devices to a brand new software status. Android manufacturers like Samsung and LG is trying hard to keep their devices with the latest version of Android but that only seems to work with flagship devices. But other than the top of the line Android phones, most of other less known (low priced) devices don't even get support after a year of the device's release but I give Microsoft some credit for trying out this as it could have worked but like they said in the official post, they want to keep their existing customers happy and they probably do not have the resources to complete such a monumental task and that brings us back to the previous debate that how Satya Nadella wants to have a smaller phone portfolio and this is why so that they are able to easily update the devices and when a new major version of the software comes out, it should be a lot easier to push out updates to all devices.
Saying goodbye to Windows 8 and all it's mistakes"the Start Screen was totally geared up towards tablet usage but thankfully Microsoft solved the problem in Windows 8.1 by reintroducing the Start button into the desktop as well as including normal desktop keyboard shortcuts" Continue reading
Again, Windows 10 Mobile is by no means a small update as Microsoft is basically overhauling everything from the ground up and while it looks like some small interface tweaks, the changes to Windows 10 Mobile is actually pretty monumental in a sense mainly due to the UWP (Universal Windows Platform) that is the secret recipe for Windows 10 out there which enables devices to perfectly scale in terms of screen to screen and that is why the update from WP8.1 is bigger than you think.

This is like the third time that Microsoft is rebooting their mobile efforts and I hope this is the last. The current execs make it sound like it is the last due to the Windows 10 being switched to a service kind of thing and that should ease everything. When compared to Windows Phone 7, the Windows 10 Mobile upgrade is much better for existing customers in terms of how many devices get to upgrade. Just remember the pain we had during 2011 when Microsoft announced Windows Phone 8 with the Lumia 920 and said that all existing Windows Phone 7 will be basically dead.

That's the feeling that most of us a facing right now. It isn't by all means a detrimental chase out like before because Windows Phone 8.1 is a pretty solid OS by itself but the problem lies with the app support. Newer titles coming to Windows Phone in the future will most likely only support Windows 10 Mobile and thus leaving a bunch of other Windows Phones left out in the dark.
Take for example the Lumia 520 which is by far the most popular Windows Phones out there and also the Lumia 920. Those devices which account for the majority of Windows Phone's marketshare and they are basically out the game as Microsoft is dropping support with the announcement that these devices will not be getting the latest and greatest. I hope that in the future that Microsoft can make updating Windows 10 Mobile be like a PC and not like Android or conventional smartphones. I ran Windows 10 on my laptop from 2008 and it was perfectly usable. No crazy shenanigans about the bugs and all. That is equivalent to like running iOS 9 on the original iPhone. Maybe when the time comes and hardware becomes more scalable then we will get something like that. But as of right now, even the most entry level mobile processors have pretty good horsepower

Insider Talk

Yeah maybe the first two sentences of this article might not make much sense after saying all this but one thing is for sure is that I have lost some faith Windows Phone after this announcement. I still very much love the idea of Windows Phone but for the last 2 years that I have been using, my life has not been too exciting as all the cool new things like periscope and snapchat is not on Windows Phone. On a daily basis, I still carry an android phone mainly due to two applications that are not on the Windows Store. Snapchat and Clash of Clans. Looking forward at things, I don't see a future where I am putting down the money to buy a Windows Phone to use as my main device other than using it for testing purposes. Unless if Microsoft can wow me with the Surface phone then I will most likely be moving back to android full time. 

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