The ball is in your court now, Microsoft

Evan Selleck
Contributing Editor from  Arizona
| August 20, 2013

Believe it or not, I know a few people who switched to Windows Phone. They switched, and they haven't looked back since. They actually switched with a Sprint-branded device, way, way back in the day, too, with the HTC Arrive. Somehow, they've managed to barrel through to now, and they're still rocking Microsoft's mobile OS as their platform of choice.

I haven't tried to sway them to another platform, either. The phone, or phones since it's been awhile, does exactly what they need it to do. No surprises. They tell me over and over again that their phones are buttery smooth, lag free, and they haven't had anything "force close" on them. And, hey, all of that's probably true. No matter what, I'm just glad they found something they like, and they're happy with what they've got.

On the flip-side, I know plenty of people who have tried Microsoft's Windows Phone, switched to something else, tried it again, and then ultimately moved away from the platform (probably for good). I know folks who haven't tried Windows Phone, and who don't ever plan on trying Windows Phone, either.

I've tried to give Windows Phone a real shot. I've tried different hardware, I've tried different versions of the software. I've been excited for new features, and I've been disappointed by certain other aspects of the mobile operating system. I can wholeheartedly see the potential that Microsoft has on their hands with their mobile platform, especially connected to their other properties, but it's just not there yet.

And that has to be a tough situation to be in.

We're on the even of a Windows Phone update that's both big and small at the same time. In truth, the GDR3 update that's scheduled to land on devices later this year is "small" in comparison to the major software upgrades we've seen from Microsoft in the past. However, at the very same time, the GDR3 update is meant to bring support for some heavy-hitting handsets. With that update, you'll get support for quad-core handsets, as well as devices with 1080p displays. There are other fine-tuned improvements as well, but for the majority of spec-mongers, those two specs are where the money gets spent.

Basically, what this boils down to is opportunity. Or failure. We've been watching as Microsoft has stayed right there in the middle area, caught between low-end devices and really, really high-end handsets. But, the argument that Microsoft's mobile OS didn't need quad-core processor is a solid one. It really doesn't. But, people want specs, and they're finally going to get specs.

So we'll start to see smartphones with 1080p HD displays and super-fast quad-core processors, with Windows Phone right there at the front-and-center. Isn't that the dream? In all reality, Windows Phone has been lagging behind other high-end smartphones on the market, and that could be a reason why the platform hasn't really taken off quite yet. One reason, at least.

What now, then? If the end of 2013 sees the ultimate realization for Windows Phone on high-end devices, handsets that can really compete with devices like the One and Galaxy S 4, then what's next? Well, that's an obvious answer, isn't it?

The ball is entirely in Microsoft's court now.

As much control as Microsoft has over Windows Phone, the argument that "the ball" has always been in Microsoft's court is a sound one. However, manufacturers could have done their best with what they had -- as we saw from the likes of Nokia, for instance. And that's why Nokia has the lion's share of Windows Phone market. They worked with what they had, and created as high-end device as they could.

But now there aren't any real limitations, at least not based on the type of devices we have on the market now, and what people are apparently clamoring for. So the manufacturers have the tools to create truly high-end devices, that people want. But, the question begs to be asked: Will people start buying Windows Phone-based devices then?

That will ultimately come down to Microsoft, and their platform. Because now it's not going to be the devices that need to do all the heavy lifting. It won't be Nokia's Lumia devices doing all the work. In the next 12 to 18 months, it is going to be very interesting to see how Windows Phone comes back to the party, with these high-end devices, and really shows off the next phase of Windows Phone.

This is the time that Microsoft needs to really show off the software, on these high-end devices, and make it make sense for all the general consumers out there. Talk to the people who want high-end devices like the One or Galaxy S 4. And make sure that Windows Phone, as a mobile platform, can do all of the talking, and just get carried around on the impressive hardware.

Tell me, do you think Microsoft can do it? Now that the hardware has (or will) catch up to the competition directly, do you think Microsoft can make their mobile platform speak loud enough on its own merits to compete with Android and iOS? Let me know what you think!

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