It’s a new year, which means that the tech industry is particularly lively with previews and rumors of all of the good things to come throughout the year. With CES having just come and gone last week, we’re left with our impressions and predictions, along with a couple of other planned announcements coming up as well. One of those announcements happens to be Microsoft’s preview of Windows 10 for Phones on January 21.
I have mixed emotions when it comes to Windows 10 for Phones, or Windows Phone 10, or whatever Microsoft happens to call this iteration of their mobile platform. On the one hand, I believe that the more choices we have on the mobile market the merrier. On the other hand, Microsoft hasn’t exactly given us much of a reason thus far to think that Windows 10 for Phones will be any more successful than Windows Mobile, Windows Phone 7, Windows Phone 8, or Windows Phone 8.1. The platform has made a steady incline in popularity over the past several years, sure, but mostly in terms of bettering itself. Windows Phone has yet to surpass - or even come close - to the popularity of Android or iOS at any point in time.
In that regard, I do have my reserves on how successful Windows 10 for Phones really could be. But that doesn’t mean I think that all hope is lost for the platform.
Support for Windows Phone, from what I can tell, seems rocky right now. Microsoft acquired a big chunk of Nokia, arguably the most renowned manufacturer for Windows Phone at this point. Since that acquisition, Windows Phone flagships are nowhere to be found lately. And then, to top it all off, you have petty problems like Windows Phone’s Snapchat issue. Not only does the platform not support an official Snapchat application, but they’ve also run into problems when it comes to supporting 3rd party iterations of the application itself. Even if you’re not a Snapchat user, that doesn’t necessarily look good to the average smartphone user given how popular Snapchat is. Why bother going through all of that trouble when you could buy a phone where you won’t run into those potential problems?
Windows Phone definitely needs a pick-me-up, and I believe it’s going to have to come from Windows 10 for Phones in order to work. The first area that I think Windows 10 will need to work on, of course, is the application situation.
Snapchat debacle aside, you have a whole slew of other issues that stem directly from Windows Phone’s app catalog: the selection is much smaller than Android or iOS, the official mainstream applications that the platform does have are often less-than-impressive, and the Windows Phone App Store itself is an unorganized mess.
I think Windows 10 for Phones will probably be Microsoft’s last chance at being able to convince people that Windows Phone isn’t completely out of options. Although my expectations are rather low, I am hoping that Microsoft’s vision of Windows 10’s unification will come to the rescue for the mobile version of their platform most of all, especially given that Microsoft has stated that their application selection will be the same across the board for computers, tablets, and phones.
Not only does that open up the possibility of more official applications for Windows Phone, but I think another important aspect might open up for Windows Phone as well - the addition of Google Apps.
Google has, thus far, been able to withhold their services from Microsoft’s Windows Phone platform, which I also think is a big reason for hindrance in adoption of the platform. However, if Windows 10 acts as one unified service across all platforms, I have to wonder if this opens doors for Windows Phone users to have access to Google services. I can’t say if it will or won’t, but I do think that it would help Windows Phone rather than hurt it.
Even without Google services, though, I really do hope that the app store gets more attention this time around. I feel like the rest of Windows Phone is, in the very least, fine for now. The overall design, look, and feel of the platform is unique and (in my opinion) easy to grasp. My biggest problem with Windows Phone, and the main reason that I’ve always ended up leaving after a rather short period of time, is due to the fact that there’s nothing impressive about many of the apps, app selection, or the app store, and that needs to change if Microsoft wants masses of people to really get jazzed about Windows Phone.