I’ve always been interested in Microsoft’s Windows Phone operating system. Ever since its initial debut, rising from the ashes of its old, but fairly successful Windows Mobile platform, the new mobile operating system seemed innovative and full of promise. Yet it was always lagging behind the crowd in one way or another.
Having been the owner of a Nokia Lumia 635, one of the current generation handsets sporting Microsoft’s latest Windows Phone 8.1 OS. As someone who’s previously had earlier handsets, I’m still disappointed.
Why Windows Phone is lagging behind:
Lack of third party developer support
This is a big one. While the petty wars of whose app store has the highest number of fart and soundboard apps is (hopefully) behind us for the time being, I can’t help but notice the lack of software support that Windows Phone currently suffers. Only recently did we the struggling platform get an official Instagram client, users have been stuck using third party clients to access many popular services, and even the official Windows Phone versions of apps aren’t given nearly the same update priority or attention by developers. Microsoft has been making great effort to court developers, however their efforts have still proven to be largely fruitless..
“Me too” features
In the early days of the platform, Microsoft spun Windows Phone as being a radically different approach to the smartphone. The mobile version of Internet Explorer included on Windows Phone still chokes when trying to render modern websites. Cortana, while a nice addition is still rough around the edges in comparison to polished alternatives like Google Now and Apple’s flagship Siri. Additionally, the company’s entry into wearable technology though the Microsoft band (and its integration with Windows Phone) left consumers hanging, as it felt like a half-baked attempt at joining the cavalcade of wearables flooding the market.
An Uncertain Future
When Microsoft made the jump to Windows Phone 8, existing WP7 handsets were left out in the cold. Officially, the company has stated that the upcoming Windows 10, which will unify the company’s desktop and mobile efforts will support all existing Windows Phone 8.1 handsets, but given Redmond’s track record I won’t be holding my breath.
In conclusion, these problems are mainly affecting Windows Phone’s feasibility as a mainstream consumer / business smartphone platform. For those looking for an entry level feature phone, Windows Phones still shine and Microsoft may be able to give the developing market a run for its money. But when the choice is between the best of breed iOS, Android devices and Microsoft’s limited choices, Windows Phone 8.1 is a tough sell.