Windows Phone and Me

I admit it: I abandoned ship.

I don’t apologise. I don’t regret it. As I am fond of saying, it is what it is.  I left Windows Phone and the community I had been a part of for nearly a decade in March 2012. My frustration had finally boiled over. I was frustrated with Windows Phone 7 and at that point it was being made clear that there would be no upgrade path to Windows Phone 8. The devices were slow. The App Store a mess and woefully lacking. All this and the shiny object that was iOS was so much easier to deal with on a day-to-day basis. So I left and I thought for good.

But then something funny happened.

My day job took a different turn.  I moved to England (still here by-the-way) and I noticed a curious phenomenon. There were Windows Phones in the wild.  A lot of them in the wild. All different shapes, sizes and colours.  I had never really seen many Windows Phones in public in the United States outside of my fellow Windows Phone MVPs. Here in Europe however, it is a different game altogether.

So I sat back and watched. For nearly two years I’ve watch Windows Phone slowly gain in mindshare and in market share.  I’ve  also kept watch on the evolution of the platform itself.  Windows Phone moved from a marginal, often maligned operating system to a serious contender in the marketplace.  Then, about six months ago, two key thing came to bear that made me once again pick up the Windows Phone baton.

First was the utter meltdown of BlackBerry in the enterprise. BlackBerry had dominated the enterprise market for a decade but the debacle that was BlackBerry 10 and misery of upgrades for businesses left them looking for alternatives.  The alternatives presented where either Google Android or Apple iOS.  Google, by-and-large, was rejected by many companies because of security concerns while iOS was rejected over cost concerns.  This led some to start looking at Windows Phone and then began the questions of when my company (who makes a mobile application) would begin to support it.  When I asked why the chose Windows Phone it came down to three main reasons:

  • Cost:  Even for the top-of-the-line phone it was less expensive than an entry level iPhone
  • Security:  Microsoft has made it easy to secure Windows Phone and it is natively more secure than Android.
  • Ease-of-Use: End users were able to quickly and easily figure out Windows Phone

Second, was the release of Windows Phone 8 and, now subsequently, 8.1.  This was everything that I thought I was going to see in Windows Phone 7.  It was a true, highly customisable Operating System that kept true to the original idea of the OS:  People Centric.  Even better, developers were now starting to fill the App Store with applications that were actually useful, not just games.  All of the sudden I could actually get TripIt on my Windows Phone. I could get American Airlines, British Airways and now even FitBit.  It seemed that Windows Phone had finally become viable and usable.

All of this convinced me to go out at buy a Windows Phone again.  I picked up a Nokia Lumia 520.  Not the top end phone, I completely agree.  But at £49 unlocked, it was enough of an investment for me to give Windows Phone an honest go while not breaking the bank.  And if I hated it, the phone could sit in a desk drawer with little lost.  I toyed with it for several months, picking up now and again and each time, with each update, I found I liked where Windows Phone was going more and more.

Take what I’ve been seeing with Windows Phone then layer in the changes in Microsoft itself.  They finally buy a phone manufacture in Nokia and have more control over the hardware experience.  They make fundamental shifts in the trajectory of the company with new CEO Satya Nadella and embrace the horror that is iOS.  Office for iPad is simply awesome and it improves with each update.  Microsoft, for all their faults, is making a steady change into what Nadella wants:  An apps and cloud company.  Give them time but they are on the path to success.  I’m convinced.

There will be some of you who read this and will say “You are bandwagoning now.  We stuck with it in the lean years.”  If you have stuck with Windows Phone the last few years, good on you.  You are better than me.  Others will say I was enamoured by the glitz and glamour of iOS.  You would be right & if I’m honest, I still like a lot of things about iOS.  It will still be my primary table OS because A, I don’t have a Surface (and I’m not willing to make that investment just yet) and B, I really like the form factor of the iPad Air.

I’ve still got a fair amount of learning and catching up to do to get myself fully integrated back into the Windows Phone community.

Hopefully you will take me back.

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