Last week I posted about an ongoing issue that Windows Phone users have had with adding a Gmail account to their devices. The issue was that when a user opened up Outlook Mail and attempted to add a Google account, it would give an error indicating that the browser of the device was not supported. This on again-off again problem has been going on for several weeks but it appears, finally, that it has been addressed. Google indicated in a forum post that the error was not intentional on the part of the company which I personally think is the case. To me, this feels like simple inattentiveness on the part of the Mountain View company.
After months of waiting, the official Starbucks app for Windows Phone has been released. The app, similar to the one available for Android and iOS, allows you to pay for your coffee or food items at participating shops with your phone. This is done by providing a barcode which is connected to your Starbucks account (which in turn is tied to a credit card) that is displayed on your phone and scanned at the register. It is quick and simple and as one who has been using their app on other platforms, it is about time it got to Windows Phone!
If you have been trying to add your Gmail account to your Windows Phone over the past few days and keep getting an error, you are not alone. Currently when users attempt to add their Gmail account to their phone, they get an error indicating that the browser (Edge) is not supported and provides links to download other browsers (Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer). But, as you will know, that’s not an option for Windows Phone users.
The issue, it seems, is with Google and this isn’t the first time this particular issue has popped up.
When I started this site in 2004, it was focused mainly on Microsoft mobile technology, what was then called PocketPC. I had actually started writing about their tech in 1999 for other sites on Handheld PCs but that was clearly dying so I moved over to PPC.
Last year, after a couple of years with iOS, I moved back to Windows Phone as all indications where that Microsoft had finally sorted their scene on their mobile direction. They had bought Nokia, had been talking about the universal nature of Windows 10 on the desktop and phone and I thought, “Maybe this time”. I had, after all, lived through the Windows Mobile 6.5, 7, and 8 reboots so what the heck? 10 could be the magic number.
I was wrong. It became increasingly clear that the muddled path that Microsoft was going down with their mobile platform was as confusing and foggy as ever before. I jumped ship. I ran to Android and I haven’t looked back. Windows Phone market share has continued to decline, fewer phones are shipping than ever before or being manufactured than ever before and Windows 10, that universal platform, is horribly delayed.
Windows Phone is on life support and I suspect that it won’t be there for long. Microsoft is going to kill it for good and with a market share of 1.1% globally, I doubt many will notice.
It is a sad tale and a sad ending of what could have been for Microsoft.
Ultimately I think the death of Windows Phone has come down to three primary areas: Lack of developer support, Microsoft own “Mobile first” strategy and the simple fact the market cannot bare 3 mobile platforms.
There are other reasons of course, a lack of a flagship device certainly isn’t helping, but these three I think sum up the crux of the problem.
First, Windows Phone simply does not have the attention of the developer community. Sure you can find apps in the Windows Store and there are some big name developers there. But not enough and not enough to sustain the platform. Consumers expect to be able to go to the Windows Store and pick up that name brand app they can get on Android or iOS. In some cases they can but in far too many case, they are stuck with a 3rd party app that gets them close but no quite there. I’m not knocking these developers. Far from it. Without them, the platform would have been dead years ago. But there are not enough of the Electronic Arts or Rovio or even TripIt out there. In the app world, perception is often reality and the perception is there are not a lot of apps from known brands in the store.
Last weeks announcements that over 7,000 people were being laid off from Microsoft, mostly in the Nokia acquired mobile division, was the final nail in the Windows Phone coffin. Couple that with the multi-billion dollar write down of the Nokia business and, well, that nail is properly sunk deep in said coffin.
Make no mistake: I love Windows Phone. I have been using a Windows powered mobile device since the Pocket PC days and even before that in the H/PC days. In fact you can still visit one of the last H/PC sites out there, HPC:Factor, a site I helped found. But I left the platform in 2012 because of a lack of apps and direction. I came back in 2014 because it looked like things were turning around.
I was wrong. I’m terribly sad that I was wrong but I was wrong.
Over the course of the last two months you have seen a shift on my site. That shift has been more around Android than Windows Phone. The writing has been on the wall. Windows Phone is dying and Microsoft all but confirmed it was on its death bed last week. Sure there will be a new device or two for enthusiasts and developers but the cutbacks on devices should not be under estimated.
Microsoft flew the white flag last week. The war is over. Apple and Google won.
If you are on T-Mobile here in the US and carry the Sony Z3, you are about to have a good Wednesday. Starting today the carrier is rolling out Lollipop to the device and with the update will also come support for LTE Band 12. The news came via Twitter thanks to T-Mobile’s Des Smith who tweeted the update would be coming via an OTA (Over The Air) update to the device.
— Des (@askdes) June 2, 2015
It’s good news for sure as the Sony Z3 has been a popular device globally and one that is more than capable of running the latest version of Android.
If you have followed my site for the last few weeks you will have noticed a lot more Android updates. It’s partly because I have to use an Android device for my day job but also it is good to expand horizons. I’ve never been a big fan of Android. I don’t really like the UI although it is certainly better than the last time I really tried to use one, circa Ice Cream Sandwich. But it’s still not may favorite. That’s Windows Phone. I love the personal experience of Windows Phone that despite Google’s best efforts – and Apple’s with iOS for that matter – just can’t replicate well.
One factor about Windows Phone that I and many other sites and users have moaned about however is the upgrade process. While an update may be available, it could take months or never for that update to hit your phone depending on your country and if your phone is locked to a carrier. Everyone’s favorite example is Verizon and the Lumia Cyan update which never came out. Instead, owners of the Lumia ICON (Lumia 930 in the rest of the world) had to wait a full year before that got it and Lumia Denim at the same time. A year. It’s unacceptable and is something that Microsoft has said they are addressing with the release of Windows 10 Mobile.
If however you are thinking that the Android grass is greener, guess again. The upgrading of Android devices to the next version of the OS, Lollipop, if fraught with problems, delays and phones that, while can run it, will never get the update. Compounding this is the sheer number of devices that are out there and all the possible permutations of Android that have to be developed to support those devices. By Gartner’s estimate, there are over 18,000 versions of Android out in the wild today. 18,000! That makes a uniform, systematic upgrade virtually impossible.