Can we have Windows 7 UI back then and finally put the damn awful Windows 8 / 10 UI to bed at last.
Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today to pay final respects to Microsoft's last foray into the mobile phone market: the Windows Phone. It should have all been so different. Launched at the dawn of a new decade, Microsoft positioned the platform as a replacement for its ageing Windows Mobile OS, which had suffered a …
Can we have Windows 7 UI back then and finally put the damn awful Windows 8 / 10 UI to bed at last.
Probably not ... because they're unrelated (or should have been).
Microsoft have never understood that a handheld device is not a desktop device. Way back in the prehistoric mists of the turn of the millennium they touted "Windows for Pocket PC", which was a Windows version for PDAs made to look as much as possible like desktop Windows 2000. This was typical of Microsoft's attempts to cover the handheld market, and it was a dismal failure. It failed in part because the Windows 2000 desktop was horrible on a 240x320 display and in part because -- looking, as it did, a bit like desktop Windows -- punters assumed that they'd be able to do everything on it that they could on a desktop PC, and lost interest when they found that they couldn't. Other devices -- like those from Psion and Palm -- were more popular because they worked in a way that was appropriate to the format, and because they didn't raise user expectations unrealistically.
When Microsoft introduced the tiled interface for Windows Mobile it seemed that they had finally got something right -- they'd designed a mobile OS that was appropriate for the mobile format, and that therefore didn't look like desktop Windows. That could and should have been a triumph for Microsoft ... but they blew it. They decided to put the same GUI onto their desktop offering where it was neither appropriate nor welcome. This turned people against the tiled UI format so much that they eschewed it on mobile devices as well as on the desktop, and turned instead to IOS and Android.
Microsoft could have foreseen this, and could have avoided it, had they had any idea how this industry works. There is a lesson here for them to learn, but they won't.
Microsoft could have foreseen this, and could have avoided it, had they had any idea how this industry works. There is a lesson here for them to learn, but they won't.
This is the problem with Microsoft though - they think because they are the 800-pound-gorilla of the desktop, whatever they do has to work, and they can't seem to get their heads around the idea that there's a possibility of failure until it's too late.
As for learning lessons, when corporations get large enough, they stop learning. It takes a sudden drop in revenue to make them come to their senses - something Microsoft haven't had, as yet. I don't see that happening for a while, but when it does, it'll come as a huge shock because they won't have even considered the possibility of it happening.
"As for learning lessons, when corporations get large enough, they stop learning."
It's a physics problem. The more massive an object, the harder it is to change its direction. All it can do is continue on the same heading with very little deviation even if it's pointed directly towards a black hole. Inertia. Smaller companies have less inertia and can turn and dance to meet a changing marketplace. Their executive boards are also small and much more flexible, often guided by a founder or CEO with lots of vision. The larger companies have many layers of management and are staffed by execs that have made their way and fortunes through staying on a straight patch. The only acknowledgment they give to changing markets is through overpaying for smaller companies with new products.
The first step in absorbing those companies is to encourage it's previous management to leave through making them so rich they never have to work again or burying them in the stodge that the bigger company produces as a byproduct. ie, suits must be worn, "here's your time card", be sure you get a manger's signature before turning it in weekly, "The dog leashed to your desk? Ah yes, we had animal control remove it and it's been destroyed. See page 697 paragraph 12 on pets brought to work in your handbook that you signed agreement to. We do things differently here than you may have been used to in your previous role.
Although annoying, it was not that bad as Pocket PC/WinMo 5/Win CE dominated until Apple/Android launched. iPaq, Dell Axim, HTC, HP from PDA’s throughly to phones on the then dominatng Intel Mobile - LOL - StrongARM/XScale platform.
Windows Mobile 7 unable to upgrade was a disaster and alienated massive numbers of users... then Tablet Windows RT happened.. . but it was fundamentally the ‘AppGap’ that killed Windows Mobile 8/10 shone dead. Microsoft should have juaf laid them AppDevwlopers to port to Windows Mobile or offered to do it themselves free of charge.
A fragmented app infrastructure plagued WinCE from the start, and meant that Pocket PC devices were mostly relegated to specific single-function jobs, like scanning packages. In many cases apps had to have a separate build for the specific CPU and screen format of every device, or they wouldn't run; there was very little commonality between different manufacturers' products. The platform persisted mainly because PalmOS was only suitable for low-power tasks (intentionally, since the first Palms ran off alkaline batteries.)
Pocket PC/WinMo 5/Win CE dominated until Apple/Android launched
Eh? Symbian had far more market share in the WinMo era. Wikipedia says around 67% or 73% (depending on source) circa 2006. Even by the end of 2010 Symbian still had around 31% market share, by which time WinMo was down to around 7%. (WinMo market share peaked at 42% in 2007, according to another article, and I think that's US-only. Symbian was still very strong then.)
> Microsoft have never understood that a handheld device is not a desktop device.
To be fair, it wasn't just Microsoft. Once people started putting user-space accessible CPUs into phones - and started to run things like Java on them - a lot of companies decided to treat smartphones as just a shrunk down PC.
Nokia was perhaps the worst bitten by this - I can remember adverts touting the fact that you could use your phone in the same way as a PC, and their user interface (e.g. on the 5800) was very much focused around a Windows-style GUI with tiny scrollbars you moved with a stylus rather than a mouse.
And while their Maemo OS was interesting, it was very much a skunk-work project by developers for developers and was essentially just X Windows running on a relatively high-res (for the time) phone display. Even if it did chew power, as they never got around to making use of the chip's GPU features - it did everything in software and dumped the result into a standard framebuffer.
(TBF, the N800 served me well for years as an ebook reader though; with the CPU downclocked and a few display brightness tweaks, you could get many hours of reading out of a single charge. Great for long distance travelling...)
Smart phones only really gained traction once people started to think in terms of touch-screens and started to streamline the use-cases - e.g. I can remember being highly bemused by the fact that there was no "save" button when making config changes.
Ironically, Nokia should have been perfectly positioned to do this - after all, they'd been focused on the phone form-factor for decades. But for whatever reason, they didn't; by all accounts, their domination of the mobile industry up to that point had left them complacent and prone to stifling innovation under mounds of bureaucracy and internal politics.
Instead, it was left up to various newcomers to the industry - Apple, Google, even LG with their Prada phone - to take a step back and think about how to build a UI tailored to the device, rather than cramming an existing paradigm into a much smaller package...
They did it because of touch.
PC OEMs are still selling laptops with touchscreens, as if that's something people want. Rather than touch screens I want screens that emit 110 volts if touched, so people who think "pointing" means "smear up the screen with your greasy fingerprints" will learn their lesson!
I liked the look of Windows Phone when it was released but as I had already bought into the Android ecosystem I stuck with it. A few years later with Google annoying me more than usual I seriously considered Windows 10 Phone but the app gap and more importantly lack of info from MS about their plans meant I bought Android again. About 6 months later they killed the platform, I'm glad I didn't switch but would have liked an alternative to sucking Google or Apple.
I thought Firefox OS looked interesting, and was gearing up to develop apps for it when they killed the platform.
Part of the problem was Google's anti-competitive terms; manufacturers could not offer phones with a non-Android OS if they wanted access to the Google Play Store, so anyone who decided to make a Firefox phone would have been locking themselves out of the much bigger Android market.
That's why the only two auto manufactures of any size are Nissan and Toyota. Oh, wait.
I suppose if you define "platform" as "something in a market that only has two significant players" then your rule holds.
Auto manufacturers are more analagous to PC manufacturers.
And even at that, just as many manufacturers gave up on PCs to focus on tablet/mobile, so many have abandoned cars for SUVs.
Also, the future seems to be in collaboration, so you'll end up with a handful of manufacturers in the end ie. VW group, Peugeot (Citroen, Fiat-Chrysler brands, Opel-Vauxhall), Renault (Nissan-Mitsubishi-Dacia, potentially Mercedes). Even previous old school behemoths like GM are a shadow of their former self (the IBM of the car world?)
Which I will copiously ignore, since Microsoft has a proven track record of bungling everything it does aside from Office, and letting everything else go to rot.
Honestly, why anyone buys into the Microsoft "ecosphere" is beyond me. Nothing lasts outside of Office, which is now being jacked into the Cloud by every conceivable orifice.
...bungling everything it does aside from Office
You're joshing Shirley? Office sucks donkey balls. It's full of bugs that go back decades as MS dicks around with the awful UI -- making it worse -- and fail to fix basic functionality as it gets ever more expensive.
> Honestly, why anyone buys into the Microsoft "ecosphere" is beyond me. Nothing lasts outside of Office, which is now being jacked into the Cloud by every conceivable orifice.
Could be worse - could be Google ;)
I always get the impression that Google is filled with people who throw mud at walls to see what sticks. But even if the mud does stick, they tend to get bored and wander away, leaving the mud to dry out and drop off after a while...
Most Google projects exist to harvest data from users. The information content of that data inevitably drops as time goes on - in Bayesian terms, each additional input provides less probability mass. So after a while the rate of return isn't worth keeping up support.
Then you have the Google volunteer projects, created by staffers in their set-aside Choose Your Own Adventure portion of the work week. Those are supported until the Googlers involved lose interest, which is usually not long after the project goes public.
I'm in no way a fan of MS, but I would say that their gaming products (including hardware) have ended up being relatively bungle-free.
Is it still true that MS lose money on everything except Windows desktop, Office and games?
As corporations grow into de facto monopolies, they increasingly resemble command economies such as USSR, with comparable inefficiencies.
I loved the WP interface - what a breath of fresh air - and the hardware was very nice. But there were just too many missing things, or things that they made worse in 'updates'. WP7 was beautiful but didn't do much, WP8 had a lot more functionality but watered down the interface, etc.
I clung on to my yellow 1020 as long as I could for the wonderful camera but eventually gave up and switched to OnePlus.
Kind of amazing how badly and consistently they managed to screw the project up.
Ditto. I've owned pretty much every mobile OS (except for RIM) and the WinPho 8.1 interface was the best for me I've ever owned.
Easy to navigate, worked with my man-fingers was very reliable, smooth and fast. It was a great phone which is probably what killed it. It was bought by people that used it as a phone not a toy, a feature phone with maps and camera. But MS wanted it to be owned by people that spend money on crap.
But the app-gap. Yep that's what did for me as well. I moved from WinPho to Apple and enjoyed my device suddenly working with everything without a problem. The UI sucked and was difficult to use with larger hands but the apps were there well supported and as said everything just worked with it.
I'm with Droid now, I hate the UI as much as Apple (I know I can put on an Winpho clone but it's too much effort now). I miss the compatibility of Apple (I was priced out) but still think the WinPho UI was the best by a country mile.
“Too many missing things”..?!
Yes like Apps IOS or Android had.
App-Anxiety if you want.
My Lumia 820 and 740 were kinda ok, it nothing special. Just stuff in different places go IOS/Android.
What killed it for me in the end was the dicking around with Nokia Drive/Here after was hocked it to the German Auto Triumverte of VM, BMW and Daimler.
I had early versions of Windows Mobile and at the time it just worked. The best I had was an HTC P6500 which I wangled for free on contract with Orange (even the contract price was £400). It synched reasonably to Office, had usable GPS which ran TomTom and a decent battery life. It was also robust, surviving a drop onto a concrete step with cosmetic only damage.
Having gone the iPhone route for a while I returned to MS with the Nokia Lumia 1020, still probably the only phone that could genuinely replace a compact camera (especially with the optional camera grip/extra battery). Ultimately though it was the app ecosystem that killed it. When I was using much later and better versions of MS Office on the work phone than on the Lumia I decided enough was enough.
Started off on Windows Mobile 6 (HTC S730, then a Touch Pro), 6.5 (HTC HD Mini), Phone 7 (HTC Mozart) and then 8/8.1/10 (Lumia 925). All were company phones, so wasn't really that interested in apps so the gap never really affected me.
Had a personal 925, then a 950 (which I won from Windows Central). Really liked the interface with the live tiles and also the lockscreen, ended up getting rid of the 950 and going back to the 925 after successive crappy builds (GPS borked and various other issues) and then went to Android when the 925's battery finally became unusable.
Rot set in after Winows Mobile 6 for me as a dev
In (far too typical MS style) Mobile 7 used a very different coding model and MS provided no tools to update old Mobile 6 apps to Mobile 7 (becuse the 2 were so different), and it was essentially a rewrite to create Mobile 7 version.
That irritated a lot of third party devs who looked at other mobile platforms, as if its total rewrite time, then sensible to check out platforms with more users if you have to learn a new coding model anyway.
Not sure if any similar issues for app developers going from 7 to 8 to 10 as jumped ship after mobile 6 as got impression MS not bothered about phone devs.
The mistake wasn't in dropping 6, it was going from 6 to Silverlight on WinCE, then Silverlight to WinRT on NT in version 8. It's that Silverlight to 8.0 breaking change that kicked out many developers - once you were on 8, there really isn't a major difference in targeting 8.1 and 10: I got my reasonably complex 8.1 app running against the 10 SDK in a few days, although UI changes to conform with the UWP design langauge took longer.
Microsoft punished its early WP7 adopters (always the most enthusiastic developers) by landing them with a major rewrite to get their apps onto 8.0, and not providing user-space libraries for some of the Silverlight controls that had no equivalent in 8.0.
As for dropping 6, it had to be done to meet the performance requirements. 6 is a traditional event-loop runtime where apps generally run linearly on a single thread. The only way WP7/8/10 got its incredible responsiveness (and a 40-quid Windows Phone running 8.1 was far more fluid and responsive than a 400-quid Android of the same era) was by making asynchronous programming and deferred tasks a first-class feature of the framework and the C# language - this makes it easy for developers to do the right thing to keep the system responsive, but it's such a divergence from the "old" way of doing things that even if the Windows Mobile API were preserved, devs would have had to do extensive re-writes to get performance, and then re-write their UI to handle touch gestures rather than stylus...
A weird slidery device where a physical querty keyboard could be extended out of the bottom. It was utterly, utterly brilliant. One of the best phones I ever had. I'd probably still have it were it not for the fact that it was a work device and I had to give it back when I stopped working there. I am so sad that Microsoft screwed winpho as hard as they did. It started out so well :(
It not the first time an OS which is technically better than the opposition has died because of a lack of software to run on it. We have seen plenty of platforms die over the years WebOS, Meego, Blackberry 10, BEOS etc. I find it ironic that the huge amount of software is the only thing thats kept the desktop version of Windows going, as if it was all ported to alternative OS' I think the desktop Windows share would dramatically drop. As its certainly not a great OS by any means.
If Blackberry didn't try and command a premium for BB10 it might have worked out better for them (Still the same fate as Windows Mobile), however it was kept as an over priced handset.
Although I loved the Q10, I always hated the price and the fact the price didn't go down, the Q5 was still to expensive.
Agreed. I only left BB10 because work-related apps stopped working on top of the few social/reading/research apps I used.
It's been years and I still suck at touch screen typing. It's funny, I never thought of myself as having large hands until I tried to type on a touch screen. I've tried nearly every keyboard over the years and the only one I've developed any muscle memory for is MessageEase. It's the least frustrating for extended typing and probably gives me the highest net (after corrections) wpm.
I'd still go back to BB in a second if it worked for me.
Quite agree; the main apps keeping Win10 alive are the likes of Adobe CC. And conversely Apple; there's a lot of Mac-only apps that are highly prized.The Linux apps however... is there anything that's Linux-only and not on the other platforms.
As for mobile, I'd love an alternative to iOS. I'll never use Android again, I just don't trust it with confidentiality or security. The most viable option if I drop Apple is a feature phone.
... to formally include customers confidence in the stock valuation of a company. It would prevent many cases like this one, where millions of customers were left out in the cold and the execs involved got their bonuses regardless of the damage they caused to the company.
The Win8 phone interface was by far the best. Clean and customisable. Car mode made it simple to whack a bloody great icon to launch Here Maps (which I still use on Android).
Updates did depend on carriers, but this was easily bypassed to get them straight from MS, so none of the Android abandonware.
A lot of the issues was the lack of apps... review sites (including The Reg) bemoaned the issue, ignoring the fact many add one (think the 10,000 torch apps) were already standard.
Google had no interest in supporting it and people were moaning the could get Google maps...which I never got, Here Maps and the fantastic Here Transit were far superior.
However you knew the writing was on the wall when MS decided to putits own apps out on iOS first, then Android and then maybe sometime later it's own OS.
I still use my Lumia 520 running 8.1 as my only phone. It does everything it did on the day I bought it, namely phone calls, SMS and email. It has some handy things like a calculator and it syncs with my Office Outlook calendar. Easy to use too. I'll keep using it until it breaks or I can't live without a phone that's also a heart monitor or tells me how long it's been since I last looked at it, or one of a thousand pointless other things.
Cortana, for one, has retreated into the depths of Microsoft's productivity suite
Dunno about that. Just last night I was re-installing Windows 10 (don't ask). As well as numerous restarts and requests to create a Microsoft account, I got the "Hi, I'm Cortana, let's set this puppy up!" treatment.
Cortana, for one, has retreated into the depths of Microsoft's productivity suite?
Just rolling out Win10(well, in January), yes, cutting it close. Each new image for testing needs to have it killed! yeah! I read there is a way to remove it via GP, but finding all the necessary files, downloads from M$ and files from Win10 itself, then upload to sysvol, create the GP, apply the GP, and don't forget to move the computer to the OU that gets the Win10 policy ;-} And never run any updates, ever, hell keep the users away from it too!
Get a grip M$, there has to be a saner way...
Windows phone was a ok OS nothing impressive, for me it was amazing Microsoft’s arrogance they arrived too late with a half backed WP7 that has a very little impact then they brought a new OS that wasn’t compatible with the phones using the previous version and then they repeat the same dicky move with WP10, they mocked the few people that trusted them and did something similar with his partners that have to compete in price with Nokia who received special treatment from Microsoft, phrasing pet cemetery “sometimes dead is better”, I can happily say go to the hell you f***g piece of shit and never come back.
Microsoft had a chance with Windows Phone and they fucked it up to such a degree that even as a primary Android user I still feel anger towards them for it. There's a long list of reasons why they fucked it up but I'll include some of the bigger ones (in my opinion) below.
"Smoked by Windows Phone" - the stupid gimmick ads about how Windows Phone was quicker to start after being powered down than Ios and Android. As if that was a legitimate reason to buy a Windows Phone device. Who powers their phone down? Who needs it to start up super fast when it can't do anything?
Windows Phone 7 - a horribly restricted OS, no multi-tasking, no copy / paste of any kind and low-end hardware all hobbled by glacial app approval processes
Windows Phone 8 - essentially killed Windows Phone 7 devices a year after release by being a superior OS that used similar hardware to Android devices of the time thereby pissing off early adopters. Apps incompatible between versions meant double the work for app developers.
OS updates - Microsoft's inability to see that the OS needed rapid iterative updates not annual updates. This applied to both 7 and 8 versions. I know they had some updates through the year but they still kept bit updates for 6+ months.
I'll have to stop there. Each time I type one out I want to rant about how stupid it was and if I continue listing them I'll be typing up a small novel. They treated it too much like Windows and just assumed it couldn't fail but when it was clear it was failing they did nothing about it while maintaining the same course. Fuck you, Microsoft.
They burned users and devs along the way, but eventually Windows 10 Mobile had a decent UI, preferable to Android / IOS. When developers started dropping the platform they should have released project Astoria, so users could get the essential apps they need. With Apps, it might have survived, and slowly regained market share.
That it's all about the apps, stupid (to quote an American president)
Time was, back when physical buttons were still a thing, there was significant hardware variations - from Nokia's infamously indestructible "candy bar" handsets to Motorola's flip-phone Razr and a thousand variations beyond that.
But as touchscreen technology became more prevalent, the form factor slowly reduced down to just a screen with some electronics behind it. At the same time, the march of technology meant that the hardware behind the screen - from the CPU to the camera, motion sensors and various other gadgets shoehorned in these days became more standardised and increasingly Good Enough in terms of both speed and quality. Plus, there was a shift towards apps such as Facebook, Twitter, Whatsapp, Instagram and the like.
And at that point, it becomes increasingly irrelevant what OS is powering the tech. And Microsoft got to the party too late to become one of the standard incumbents.
There were good things about Windows Phone - I picked up a Lumia 1020 at the tail end of it's commercial life to have a play with the camera and I was pleasantly surprised by how useable the "tiles" UI concept was.
But as with BlackBerry, developers didn't want the hassle of supporting additional ecosystems, and attempts to offer a compatibility layer just emphasised how weak their position in the market was.
There's maybe parallels with the late 90s/early 00s when various companies duked it out on the computer OS front - BeOS, AmigaOS, NeXT, SunOS, SGI and the like all fell by the wayside thanks to the fact that they couldn't compete with Linux and Windows running on commodity x86 hardware...
I have no plans to upgrade anytime soon. I don't order anything on my phone and have never logged into Facebook or Google on it.
Security? Bah! I'm in the same boat as the millions of toilers with ancient versions of Android. I don't even have a passlock on my phone. I'll be fine.
Seriously? People actually lament the passing of something that completely awful?
The UI was hideous. And that's before you even get to usability, because it didn't have any of that whatsoever. But even looking at it would make your head hurt.
My only lament about Windoze phone? It took far too long to die. Good riddance to bad rubbish.
It was Ballmer's fault. He ran Microsoft like "we have decided that not only will the users have this, but they'll want it" and plugged their ridiculous tiled interface with touch so much that it alienated the end users. Nobody wanted or needed touch - who's going to sit there at a desktop PC and start touching the screen?
Windows phone or whatever it's called could have survived, but it was too little too late. Microsoft should stick to what they're good at.. oh, wait....