3 Ways Microsoft Failed to Beat the iPhone & Android

There were all of these new ideas, and never-before-tried concepts, that made Windows Phone different from Apple’s iPhone and Google’s Android operating system. Sadly, even today, Windows Phone remains a distant third due to failures Microsoft has yet to learn from.

Windows Phone  absolutely set the world on fire when it was announced. Here was Microsoft, the company who unleashed the disaster that was Windows Mobile, bringing an iPhone competitor that had its own unique design. The operating system also had a centralized way for users to post status updates and keep abreast of news about their friends and family.

Apple iPhone 5s vs. Nokia Lumia 925 What To Buy (1)

Slowly, things changed. Today, Windows Phone 8 is still decent. In some ways it’s just as good as the iPhone. In other ways it’s a shell of what it once stood for. It’s a barely living memory to ideas that Microsoft was never able to pull off, or challenges the company hasn’t yet figured out a way to overcome.

Xbox on Windows Phone

Microsoft launched Windows Phone just as mobile gaming was coming into its own. As such, its decision to include an integrated gaming hub that was tied to Xbox Live was a brilliant idea, especially considering that the iPhone and Android still didn’t offer robust mobile gaming systems that allowed users to earn achievements and such.

Windows Phones Have Features the iPhone 5s Just Doesn’t (3)

An exclusive Xbox Live experience is what Windows Phone users were promised, but it’s not what Microsoft delivered. Xbox on Windows Phone games are plentiful, but none of them deliver anything close to the multiplayer experience of Xbox Live. Even worse, Microsoft has removed longtime Xbox on Windows Phone favorites from the Windows Store. When users who’ve purchased those games have to reset their phone, they’ll disappear along with any progress they’ve made.

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Hubs, Live Tiles & Metro Design Language

Windows Phones Have Features the iPhone 5s Just Doesn’t (2)

Long before the iPhone had iOS 7 and Android had Material Design, there was Microsoft’s Metro Design Language. Today, the design language has spread across Microsoft, infiltrating Windows and just about everything else Microsoft makes. When it originally launched, Windows Phones was the only smartphone operating system that placed a big emphasis on making content the center of apps and getting rid of useless design flourishes.

Except for adding new Live Tile sizes, which are those squares and rectangles that show notifications on the home screen, Microsoft has failed to deliver a more mature version of the Metro Design Language. Only recently did it add an option for letting users put backgrounds in Live Tiles and Windows Phone apps still feel stark and less feature rich when compared to their counterparts.

Hubs were the answer to the rampant over use of the home button on Apple’s iPhone, plain and simple. Instead of forcing users to switch between different applications, Windows Phone including the Me hub, People hub and Photos hub. These hubs grouped relevant content together.

So, for example, People was the only place users needed to go to see their address book and monitor their friend’s latest status updates. The People App manages that functionality today, but other Hubs — like the Music + Video, have disappeared. That’s a shame.

Carrier Updates

Windows Phone Mango Update

Hubs were the weapon that Microsoft aimed against iPhone, but it was carrier updates that Microsoft hoped would sway Android users.

Android users have never been able to purchase a phone and say with absolute certainty that they’re sure that device will get updates over two years — well, until the Nexus series of devices came along. Microsoft said that it learned from Google’s mistakes in the space. Originally, updates weren’t something that carriers could block. For hardcore smartphone fans, this was a very big deal.

Today, Windows Phone users wait in limbo for software updates just like everyone else who doesn’t own an iPhone. To their credit, Microsoft created an early upgrade program so that users could upgrade their devices without carrier interface. The problem is that these updates are very much a work-in-progress and don’t include firmware from each hardware maker. Microsoft is leaving users with the choice of downloading buggy early versions of Windows Phone or waiting months to upgrade their device.

Take Windows Phone 8.1 for example. Features included in the update are so good that even iPhone users should think twice before switching. It was announced in April and has been on developers phones ever since. Microsoft still hasn’t started rolling it out to normal users.

Read: Windows Phone 8.1 Review: It’s An iPhone Killer, Almost

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Windows Phone isn’t a bad operating system. Aside from some missing apps, it’s perfectly possible that a buyer could pick up a Windows Phone as their first smartphone happily. Where the problem comes in are those millions of users who already own an iPhone or an Android phone. Each of these three things were designed to address the real concerns of users and help Windows Phone stand out. Without them, why wouldn’t someone looking to upgrade not buy another iPhone or Android device?

Comments

  1. irwincur says

    Huh, I had the option to buy another Android phone. Then I realized why it left my window at 70mph. I was tired of it locking, rebooting, freezing, crashing, overheating, and the half day battery. Took the leap to WP 8 and don’t think I would ever voluntarily go back. I got over Apple a while ago, albeit, the hardware/software is a hell of a lot more reliable than Android anything.

  2. Mark says

    Yes, there are three ways they’re fail-ING at the moment, but your three examples are of one issue: lack of follow-through. The second is bad marketing. Sure, they had a few good ads (e.g. The Wedding), but they lacked confidence and focus. They abandoned ideas far too quickly. The third is fear — perhaps an aftershock of the DoJ from years ago. They got pushed around. One reason the Kin died was that MSFT let Verizon screw them. Verizon had promised MSFT a dirt cheap data plan for teens, but only offered customers the usual, overpriced plans, which defeated the whole Kin strategy. MSFT also didn’t take AT&T to task when AT&T was supposed to make WinPhone the hero in every store, but sales reps & even the AT&T 800# still pushed iPhone first.

    One last note: While it may not be up to today’s standards, Windows Mobile had 47% of the market. MSFT just squandered their lead.

  3. Raymundo says

    I have a Lumia 810 which I bought back in December 2012, and this phone feels like if it was just weeks ago when I bought it. The design does not feel like one of those Android phones, and when it comes to the operating system, it feels the same. It’s true it does not have that many apps and the updates I get are rare, but so far it hasn’t let me down. I’m so happy with it, that the wait for the 8.1 update is worth the wait!

    Too, bad guys so smart like you, get paid to disappoint people!

  4. hitasoft says

    hi ,

    This is wonderful points writing is quality , it is interesting article so good information and useful points , thank you for sharing .

  5. majorrockstar says

    I agree. The disassembling of the hub is has made the WP less powerful and has removed it’s greatest advantage. I hope they reconsider, but based on their reasoning, probably not.

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