Microsoft’s Windows Mobile turned Windows Phone turned back into Windows Mobile platform(s) has had a doozy of a ride since the beginning. I remember my first run with Windows Mobile using Windows Mobile 6. I hated Windows Mobile 6. It was laggy and more unresponsive than it was responsive. If it hadn’t been for the Palm Treo Pro (which I loved) I would have nothing but negative memories of the device.
The Treo Pro’s design is what made things tolerable for me. I was always a big fan of Palm’s rubbery keyboard, and the form factor was great. It felt good in the hand, I loved the way it looked, and for whatever reason I still think of it as a great phone despite the fact that I absolutely loathed the software that ran on it.
Let’s fast forward to the present. Windows Phone is slowly living out its final days as the new Windows 10 Mobile rolls in, and not much has changed in regards to Microsoft’s popularity in the mobile space – which is why such a drastic revamp is so necessary. Windows Phone had some decent days back when the Nokia Lumia 920, 925, 928, and 1020 had shelf life, but it still never managed to grab more than a few percent of the market share. The lacking app ecosystem, along with the subsequent lack of developer interest, is often targeted as the main culprits for this setback.
As a result, Microsoft decided that they need to take a universal approach to things, and try to incorporate as much Windows 10 into its mobile space as possible. Thus, Windows 10 Mobile is born. Sort of. Microsoft’s two flagship Lumias, the 950 and 950XL, as well as the lower end Lumia 550, are the only smartphones that presently come with Windows 10 Mobile out of the box. A good majority of users are still waiting for Microsoft to officially release Windows 10 Mobile for Windows Phone 8.1 devices, as previously promised. Until then, they can take advantage of Microsoft’s “Insider Preview” program and download “preview” versions.
All in all, it seems like an unfortunately fragmented situation. A truly competitive app ecosystem that competes with iOS and Android has yet to come to fruition, and a slow roll-out of Windows 10 Mobile seem to be negatively impacting its image. Not only that, but both the Lumia 950 and 950 XL are somewhat lacking when it comes to design appeal. Although they’re both very similar to older Nokia Lumia designs, I think we’ve reached a point in the smartphone industry where flagship devices are expected to have a “premium” look and feel to them – something that the Lumia 950 duo, at first glance, lacks.
Compared to other flagships like the iPhone 6s, Samsung Galaxy S6, HTC M9, and the LG G4, there’s nothing ritzy that helps the 950 stand out; nothing that shouts, “Hey, look at me!” Although it’s been a long time since I’ve been on the retail side of mobile, you might be surprised to know just how many people will choose a phone based on looks (or the presence of a particular logo) alone. I was the same way - I was willing to overlook a lot of things that went wrong with my Treo Pro because I loved the design so much.
For this reason, I think Microsoft – or any other recognizable brand – needs to take the design of a Windows 10 Mobile device by the horns. The HTC One M8, for instance, was a pretty smooth idea. The HTC One M7 and M8 were both well-known for their premium designs, and it was cool how HTC decided to kill two birds with one stone by offering both Android and Windows Phone variants with the M8’s design.
More recently we have Vaio’s Phone Biz, which unfortunately has no plans to come to U.S. So while the Phone Biz seems like just the kind of design that Windows 10 Mobile needs to boost its image, it’s not a device that Stateside hopefuls can look forward to.
I feel like I’m grasping at straws when it comes to trying to find a bright side for Windows 10 Mobile, but I really would like to see Microsoft succeed this time around. I think a premium design could help draw attention, but that’s just to spark initial interest in the platform. Everything else regarding Windows 10 Mobile still needs quite a bit of work to live up to the standards of most smartphone users, and current outlook isn’t looking so hot. I think Windows 10 Mobile has a ton of potential, just like Windows Phone did; I just hope that potential eventually gets noticed.
What are your thoughts on the state of Windows 10 Mobile, readers? Do you have any interest in the platform at all, or do you need to see specific improvements made first? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!