The Windows Phone reminiscing thread / support group

With the announcement of Microsoft making an Android Phone I thought it would be fun to have a thread for us Windows Phone / Mobile fans to reminisce, wonder where it all went wrong, and hope that one day it might even go right again.

My first smartphone was a XDA Zest running Windows Mobile 6.1 in around 2008. In many ways a terrible device, but a comparatively full featured web browser and ability to edit documents on the go was fun in a world still filled with flip phones. It had that Windows Mobile problem of many interfaces having tiny buttons which required the use of the stylus. It also had a rather lacklustre app store. Some thing never change.

I moved on to a Samsung Omia W with Windows Phone 7.5. Windows Phone 7 in it’s prime is probably my favourite mobile OS. The metro design was beautiful. And cool. Live tiles, panoramas, a consistent theme. While the app selection was still sparse, many embraced this design language, and were better than on of platforms as a result. With a Zune branded music player and Xbox branded games hub it felt like MS was incorporating the best elements of it’s other consumer plays. And yes, hubs. Probably my favourite part of the platform. Having all your photos, social media etc in one place was amazing and such a step forward. But you can see why Facebook etc would prefer to have you use their apps, and so it was killed off.

Next up was a Lumia 1020 on WP 8. The ultimate conversation starter. Pull out the phone for a quick picture and the camera sensor would be centre of attention. “Yes, 41 MP!” Some of the metro UI features were phased out in an attempt to make it easier for apps to be ported over. A pragmatic choice, but it did ruin some of the sparkle.

I’ve just had to check the market share stats because thinking back the collapse was so quick. I felt so positive when I first purchased this device. Market share was higher over here in Europe, double digits in some countries. Important apps were present. Even my non technical friends were buying them. It was a viable 3rd platform.

But I guess it was downhill from there. Market share stagnated and fell, as did the app count. Device releases from the newly MS owned Nokia became lacklustre. Then it was announced that a large proportion of WP8 devices wouldn’t be upgraded to 10. The 4th total upheaval in a row, people who had bought into the platform again abandoned and left behind. MS started releasing software on Android and iPhone before WP.

It was at this point that I decided to hop off the train and purchase an Android device rather than something running Windows Mobile 10. It just didn’t feel like the platform had a future. I guess looking back I made the right call. But I do still miss the glory days.

Any other WP fans here? What did you like? When did you decide to move off? Or are you one of the crazy ones still using the platform? Would you embrace a future Windows 10x powered mobile device? Or have you been burned enough times already?

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Long story inbound:

I used Windows Mobile/Pocket PC on Dell Axims when I was in high school, and a Garmin iQue in college, but never had a phone with it. It was all feature phones for me until the Blackberry Storm.

I liked the Storm at first, but it got bugger and buggier, and one day I accidentally cracked the screen (from pulling out keyboard tray with it getting jammed).

I was still on contract with Verizon, didn’t want to buy an expensive phone, and saw that they had the Microsoft Kin. I read the Anandtech review of the Kin One/Two, and despite reviews not being great, I wanted to try it, in large part due to it working with Zune software (had the brown 30GB Zune prior to that from a Woot sale, loved it, eventually got an Zune HD as well that I eventually sold just because I needed money - it was a fantastic device, though).

This was before Apple had a subscription offering and before Spotify got big, and Zune’s streaming subscription and software were compelling. So I went for the Kin One, which I thought was the more interesting form factor.

The UI of Kin - and Microsoft’s early Metro-ish (based on Swiss train station design aesthetic, if I remember correctly) tile system - was evident in Kin One, though apparently it was being developed concurrently with what became Windows Phone, and wasn’t its direct progenitor.

At any rate, as flawed a device as the Kin was (required data plan even though it was more a feature phone, camera was awful, specs were low-end, browsing was slow as molasses) I really enjoyed the size, keyboard (very satisfying slider mechanism), UI/UX, and some of the innovations like unlimited cloud photo storage (promptly killed, my first lesson in not trusting the cloud) made me interested in Windows Phone when it was announced.

At some point I lost the Kin One (don’t remember what I used in the interim), but when Windows Phone 7 came out I was all in, and I was immediately in love (okay, slight exaggeration) with the OS. I didn’t like iOS’ overly bright, skeumorphic, shrunk-down-version-of-MacOS look, and was thoroughly a Windows desktop-only person at that point, so I never considered iPhone and scoffed at it.

Android was buggy and felt laggy (wasn’t until Jellybean/Project Butter and Nexus 7 did I actually start to like Android as well, though I did feel like it was somewhat a real successor to Windows Mobile in customization and doing things like overclocking, flashing ROMs, etc whereas WP was locked down like iOS). Touch targets on Android (and iOS) were too small, the UI clearly not optimized for mobile. But I did think it had promise, after buying a used Motorola Droid from a coworker for cheap and playing around with it. That’s when I started considering Android for the future.

Anyway, from Windows Phone 7 until the release of the HTC One I was largely in the WP universe, and a vociferous proponent and defender of the platform. I had quite a few Windows Phones (this is also when I got into Windows Weekly and then all the other TWiT shows), but usually not more than one or two at once; I tend to buy and sell tech fairly quickly, as opposed to hoarding or collecting a lot of stuff. I like playing around with devices and always have.

Anyway, I had the:

Dell Venue Pro
HTC 7 Trophy
Lumia 710
Lumia 520
Lumia 521
Lumia 920
Lumia Icon
Lumia 1520
Lumia 640 (XL? Cant remember)

And I’m probably forgetting one or two.

Windows Phone was always fighting uphill battle, but I think I started moving away from WP more when Windows 10 Mobile started to get less and less attention from Microsoft. I was already dual wielding Android with WP at that point, and was ready to go just Android.

Still love Metro/Modern design, and it’s evident Microsoft was far ahead with flat design. Android didn’t start looking polished until Material Design, and Apple when they moved away a bit from skeumorphic design.

I still like a lot of Microsoft’s vision and design (and I’m one of those people who liked Windows 8, though I did think 8.1 improved on it in necessary ways, and bought a Surface RT as well as the first Surface Book), and the thing that most excited me from Microsoft was the Courier prototype.

So am I anticipating and excited for the Neo and Duo? Heck yes. :sunglasses:

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On this week’s Windows Weekly (642) there’s an interesting discussion about Windows Phone, starting around 1:40:00. The advantages of hubs and why apps didn’t support them, the issue with lack of apps, and the problem with MS essentially restarting the platform 3 times in a row.

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Yeah, I caught that. It was a good summary of a lot of the issues that resulted in the failure of the platform. Google and Microsoft’s adversarial relationship at the time also didn’t help matters in terms of app availability; it wasn’t just the hub concept keeping a lot of the big names from the platform.

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My first smartphone was a Fujitsu Siemens Loox with GSM module (PDA + GSM = handset). That was 2004 timeframe. That had Windows PocketPC, later Windows Mobile 2003.

My next smartphone was the last of the Windows Mobile devices, the htc Touch Pro, with slide out full, landscape QWERTZ keyboard (hey, it was a German model!).

I did use an iPhone for a while (3GS), but switched to Android, then Windows Phone 7 (htc 7 Mozart) and then Windows Phone 8 (Nokia Lumia 1020 and a Lumia 950 - which I still have as a backup at home, with a late build of Windows 10 Phone).

When the apps became unreliable on the Lumia, I switched to Android (Nexus 5x).

WhatsApp would “buffer” messages, saying for days that no messages had arrived, then suddenly an influx of hundreds of messages would arrive.

FitBit would complain that the Bluetooth stack wasn’t working and to re-start the phone and that 2 - 3 times a day. Interestingly, deleting the FitBit app and re-installing worked just fine - and was quicker than rebooting, so not Bluetooth problem, just shonky coding from FitBit. That carried over to the Charge 3 and the Android app, unfortunately, it wouldn’t sync for days on end. Gave up on FitBit in the end.

My first Smart Phone was a Moto Q. It was Motorola’s version of a Blackberry. I think it had Windows Mobile 5 on it. It worked very well, and I never had any issues with it. The apps were lacking but at the time I didn’t care. I even found a browser that supported flash video, which even the iPhone didn’t have at the time. I remember being the first person at work to watch movie trailers just as they dropped while on lunch. I had people in the break room crowd around my 2.8 inch display so they could see.

After using all manner of Palm devices, from the original Pilot through the Palm VII wireless and the Tungsten models, I picked up a Sprint Mogul (HTC). It was a cool, but clunky, device. Explored development for WinMob a bit, but not too deeply.

After that it was off to an original iPhone and then Android from there on out.

I went from Palm to Windows Mobile 7.5, and I loved both platforms immensely. I briefly tried Android with a Galaxy Note II when that was released, hated it and about six months later I was back on Windows Mobile. Stayed there for years, through several devices, multiple carriers and hopping states repeatedly.

Nearly two years ago my wife had us enter an online competition to get two new OnePlus 5T phones. One was red, she wanted it and I agreed. I still technically have the phone, even. It’s beautiful hardware. I like everything about it except Android, and after 18 months using it I couldn’t stand it anymore and moved back to my old Alcatel Idol Windows Phone.

I’ve currently got my phone number linked to my Alcatel because, for reasons, I am required to have a phone number. I don’t actually use the phone, and opted to give up calling and sms in favor of Discord so I could use my Surface as my only mobile device.

I’m incredibly interested in the Surface Pro X, but I also can’t justify $1,500 for it. I’d put my own drive in it, but as long as I would be spending that much anyway, I’d want the 16GB ram option.
In all honesty, phones have been a real disappointment to me for the past 4-5 years in general, and it’s a real bummer. There’s just nothing on a phone that makes me think it’s worth putting up with using Google on there, when I don’t use any of their services anywhere else, it’s jarring and often unproductive.