After purchasing the Surface RT in October 2012, I was all in on what Windows was calling its Metro UI. The great color scheme, the intuitive touch gestures, and being designed for the Surface were all fantastic indications that Microsoft revolutionized the 2-in-1 market with. Not everyone agreed with me, but the Surface RT was exactly what a college kid needed – lightweight and versatile. A month after my purchase of the Surface RT, I traded in my iPhone 4 for a Nokia Lumia 822, a mid-range Verizon Windows Phone running Windows Phone 8. From then on, I was a total Microsoft fanboy, singing the praises of the Windows 8 ecosystem.
Ah, to be young and naïve…
I followed the 822 up with a Lumia 928 with a great camera for the time, and then with a Lumia Icon (named Lumia 930) with a fantastic metal and plastic design. Throughout college, I only used Windows Phones, despite frequently getting criticized for not having common applications like Snapchat or Uber. My argument to others was that I didn’t need every application, because my I used my phone for texting, emails, calls, and music. There were some difficulties, like not being able to deposit checks through my bank’s mobile app, not having a YouTube app, and apps on the Windows Store were often hamstrung versions of their iOS and Android counterparts. That being said, I powered through.
The experience of Windows 8 Mobile is what mattered most to me. It was easy to get updates from Live Tiles, there was one home screen with an all apps menu just a swipe away, and most apps had a relatively standardized layout that was easy to navigate. When Cortana came along, she quickly became by favorite feature. I still think Cortana on Windows Phone 8.1 was the best virtual assistant, even better in many ways than the modern Siri, Google Assistant, and Alexa. The primary reason for this was the integration with the entire operating system. If you did not deviate from Microsoft apps (Messages, Maps, Bing, Mail, etc) then you could access anything through Cortana and the search functionality on a button on the bottom of the phone.
The dream couldn’t last forever. Despite the free advertising I gave to Microsoft with the Windows Phone, pushing it on anyone who had the patience to listen, it became obvious over a few years of failures and refreshes that mobile was not a platform that Microsoft could compete in. The robustness of the Android ecosystem and the diehard Apple fans were too big of competitors for Microsoft to stomach, so they backed out of Windows Mobile. Not all at once, Microsoft left it on life support for a few years for all of the people like me, but I realized after starting my career that Windows Phone was no longer an option for me.
If you’ve followed along with my story thus far, you likely either are interested in where I am going or you have had a similar experience with Windows Mobile or another platform. Microsoft did not have enough support from both users and developers for their mobile operating system to make sense financially and strategically. While that is frustrating for people like me, I took a big step forward when I moved on to Android. In doing so, I finally had an operating system that I knew would be supported for years and years into the future, but I also learned that my prior experience with Android was not representative of how it is now. Apple and Google have stayed in the market so well because they listen to input and try their best to appease as many people as possible. I am glad I am not still holding on to my Lumia Icon or Windows 10 Mobile. My advice to those out there that still hold onto a platform for the sake of loyalty, you may be doing yourself a disservice.