How Microsoft killed Windows Phones and How Nintendo Made Me Switch To Android

Well, it’s been a wild 18 months as a Windows Phone user but my towel has officially been thrown. Thanks to Pokemon Go I’ve finally cut my loses and switched my phone operating system to my second least favorite tech company, Google (only behind Apple). While I could go on and on on why I hate Skynet Google it pretty much boils down to the last straw; which was being banned from their ad services for life with absolutely no explanation. However, I need my mobile OS to be predictable and reliable; not an emotional roller coaster like Windows Phone has been.

Windows 10 Mobile

When I first picked up my HTC M8 One For Windows we were already being promised the world. I switched when we still on Windows Phone 8 (WP8) and WP8.1 was the game changer on the horizon. Much like the PC operating system update, Windows 8.1;  was supposed to fix and redefine the genre. It didn’t.

Don’t get me wrong, Windows Phone is still my favorite mobile operating system. Out of the box, everything just works. Customization isn’t as limitless as Google’s Android OS but it is far superior than Apple’s customization on iOS. The styles of the menu, layout, etc couldn’t be simpler. In fact, the first thing I’m going to do with my new Nexus 6P is make it look like and act as much like a Windows Phone as I can.

While WP8 & WP8.1 brought some much needed competition and beauty to the mobile industry, Microsoft was already too busy with Windows 10 & Windows 10 Mobile (W10M) to focus on promoting their operating system. In fact, I remember watching their keynote announcement of W10 & W10M and how it would streamline your devices into one and I honestly considered buying stocks in Microsoft’s court. This was it. This was going to flip the world upside down and finally get developers on board.

Windows 10 Keynote 2015“Universal apps”. The dream still brings a shine to my eyes. Not only was Microsoft going to make it so all Windows 10 apps worked on Windows 10 Mobile but they also released tools so developers could port their iOS or Android apps to either OS in roughly 10 minutes. This keynote was everything Windows users wanted.

Then the radio went silent. Windows 10 was pushed to desktops and laptops across the world. While Microsoft meant good, their development team pushed the update too far and received everything but good publicity. “Forcing” users to update their OS really hurt their expectations. Instead of telling users why they should update and how superior Windows 10 was to the previous Windows 8; they forced people to find out for themselves. Seriously, whoever is in charge of Window’s marketing team should have been fired and shipped to a remote island.

We heard nothing about the future of operating systems since the 2015 Keynote except people’s complaints of being forced to experience change. Which I’m still a little confused about. Everyone hated Windows 8 (with little reason) but no one wanted to upgrade? Whatever. The negative light was back on Microsoft and their bad decisions, they stayed silent. Silent about Windows 10. Silent about Windows 10 mobile.

W10M was quietly released to handheld devices with only a handful of supported devices listed. Microsoft didn’t have to say it but it was pretty obvious they had deal with Nokia because only the Lumia line was getting the anticipated update. Even if the device specs were far from supporting it. At this time, I searched for days for changelogs and bug lists to decide if I should force the update on my HTC device or not. I chose to jump into the Insider program and beta test the official release on my device. It worked flawlessly.

Then updates starting rolling out and started breaking my daily driver. Text messages would no longer vibrate when the screen was off which was only mildly annoying to me since no ever texts me. But I hung in there. The apps we did have were great. Since it wasn’t Facebook or Twitter’s priority; we remained with working apps that lacked the new features I found annoying like ads in the timelines and suggested posts. Every time the world got a new app update they hated, we didn’t get it. It was a double edged sword since Facebook would quietly release things like hidden comments and my app didn’t have a way to control them.

Everyone knows the lack of apps was Windows Phone’s killer but I strongly believe the reason why that is is because of the marketing team. How would developers know they could port their apps to the OS in minutes or that Windows 10 Mobile could be the wave the future? The only people paying attention to Windows keynotes were people who were already following Microsoft and knew the capabilities of the new OS. Microsoft did absolutely nothing to promote this or to get the word out. I saw topics on r/Android and r/iOS when it was first announced and that was it. No traction since. It’s been over a year Microsoft, come on.

While apps weren’t a huge deal to me since we had what mattered. We had Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Feedly, Reddit, the Office suite and exclusive Halo games. Well, the Halo games were ported because even Microsoft knew what was happening. Then the trending wave of Snapchat hit the world by storm. We didn’t get it. In fact, Snapchat went out of their way to make sure no one on WP or W10M would get to enjoy their app. They shut down 3rd party apps and refused to develop their own port. I didn’t mind so much since I barely take selfies. I mean I am a 27 year old man with bad skin and overgrown hair. What you would expect from an angry tech blogger, probably.

Even though I’d be out of the house and in a Target, reminding my girlfriend (who switched from WP to iOS earlier in the year) that I couldn’t get their Cartwheel app; the first real time Window Phone’s lack of apps hurt my ego was when Fallout Shelter was released. I love Fallout! I bought 4 when it came out (although I keep ignoring it for Halo) and I was excited to play it on my phone. Even Bethesda Softworks stated they were working on a Windows Phone release. Finally! A major developer acknowledged us! It was happening! Except it didn’t. It never came and no other mention of Windows Phone was had from this developer again.

This is when I first knew it was over. I had been burned over and over again but this was it. It was a rough year. Going from willing to give Microsoft my kidney to explaining at the bar that there was a third mobile operating system. Literally doing Microsoft’s job without pay. I couldn’t believe it. I saw countless Windows 10 ads, commercials, and even product placement in shows like The Mindy Project. No mention of Windows 10 Mobile. Even Windows 10’s ads lacked must needed information such as capabilities. I knew that I would be going back to Android once my phone carrier allowed an upgrade.

Pokemon Go

Then it happened. Freaking Pokemon Go of all things. I knew it was coming. I was following the development, payed attention to the beta. Then it came out and was everything I wanted short of the social phenomenon it became overnight. Everyone’s playing it and I wanted a part of it. Going out to get food and seeing 9 out of 10 people glued to their phones catching digital pocket monsters hurt. I knew I had to switch as soon as possible. Even though there’s a petition gaining 10,000 signatures a day; Windows Phone users know it’s not going to happen. We’ve petitioned for Snapchat. We’ve petitioned for Fallout Shelter. We didn’t receive the acknowledgement we deserved. Not even an official statement or press release as to why we’re not getting it.

And I blame Microsoft. It’s their fault that the world doesn’t know about the estimated 45 million people running their mobile operating system. They don’t promote it. They don’t talk about. The only people who think we exist are us. Who’s to say they’ve tried to reach out to these developers to try to get us included? I would doubt it even if you told me it was true. I know they offer incentives that a freelance developer would appreciate and tools to port apps; they’re not doing their part of getting it out there. With the 100’s of major brands that have apps, it would speak the world to see a “Available on the Windows Store” banner next to the Apple and Google Play banners you see in every store. That little banner could have changed things. Imagine how many people see those banners for Target’s Cartwheel app. That little detail could have been promotion itself but has Microsoft tried to contact Target to get their OS included? Who knows. That’s the problem.

Microsoft offers amazing products. Between Windows 10, Windows 10 Mobile, the Surface line, Office apps like OneNote (which could have soared with a little promotion since Evernote is no longer free – but they remained silent), and of course the Xbox. Yet, in today’s day and age; Microsoft can no longer slide through the future thinking that their products will speak for themselves. Google and Apple have been a strong competition for awhile and you can see their logos everywhere you go. They’re constantly trying new things and while some are failing, they’re out there telling the world about it. I read most of Microsoft’s news from 3rd party blog sites or Reddit because the people found a new software or details that Microsoft chose to stay quiet about it. Communication goes a long way, Microsoft. It’s amazing in the 41 years the company has been around that they haven’t discovered it yet.