A few days ago Microsoft has finally announced that some of the old(er) windows phones would soon get the new shiny OS. That left a few windows phone owners a little disappointed. I remember that only a few months ago it was clear that all (or at least most) windows phone devices would be updated to Windows 10 and now it seems that they would in fact keep running windows 8.1.
As the proud owner of one Lumia 925 – I feel a little cheated, but not surprised. I have used the insider builds of the latest and greatest for a few weeks, and while I enjoyed using the new OS it was not “production ready” just yet.
This is not the first time I’ve tried the insider builds – about a year ago when I just got my phone I immediately installed the newest version I could get my hands on – and then removed it after less than 4 hours (and 3 failed attempts). I was buggy, crashed all the time and basic capabilities (a.k.a calling other people) would not work.
This time around the new version worked better, I got most of the functionality (call app still crashed though) and I liked what I saw and was ready for the next version that would crash the bugs I kept on reporting – which today I know would likely not happen.
Part of being in the insider program was that my phone kept asking me if I’m happy with the current experience and whether I would recommend this particular build to a friend. I would answer that I am happy but a few glitches still preventing me from telling someone else to try it out. My aim was to provide feedback so that the things that bothered me the most would be addressed. Another tings I learnt since is that Microsoft was also using this feedback to decide which devices would get the new OS and which would be left out.
Don’t get me wrong – I think that from a business perspective this is a good path to go. The next version of Windows mobile should be released and decreasing the scope and/or supported devices is one way to do so.
There is another aspect to this decision: One thing I cared about for all of the phones I owned in the past (I tend to break them – a lot) is that no matter the OS I wanted it to get updated.
I want the latest and greatest – even with an older phone. In the past I bought Nexus 4 phone because at the time it that was the only Android phone that consistently got updated and for the same reason I got my latest phone as well. As a user I hate the practice of some vendors – which don’t bother to update the phones firmware just because it’s not economically viable – or is it?
I had some work in the Windows phone 8, then UWP (Universal Windows platform) 8.1 and 10 space. And decision like this that make me a bit worried.
I worked for a company that made an investment and created a windows 8 app. Before we managed to complete it – there came //build announcing that the way to go from now on is to write Universal apps (8.1). We made an effort and managed to convert most of the code to the new platform, and we were waiting for some crucial functionality when the next //Build came along and kindly explained that the old Universal Apps (a.k.a 8.1) were over and there’s a new platform now. At that point the managers got a little worried.
It seemed that every year there’s a change and the new shine we were working on was now obsolete. I guess we were lucky we haven’t started a year before working on Windows 7 apps (remember those)…
I love my phone – it works amazingly, has a good battery life and I love the user experience (tiles!) but when I’m asked about it I feel the need to apologize – because there are not a lot of applications for it. As a developer I completely understand why – companies don’t want to invest in new platform and by the time it seems stable enough – it gets replaced. The low market share of Windows phones doesn’t help either, but users won’t buy a phones that don’t have their favorite app – do you see the magic cycle yet?
The next //Build conference starts this Wednesday – and as a software developer and (a proud) Windows phone owner I’m both excited and worried. I want to learn about the new, cool stuff but I fear that just like the last time I would also learn which technologies are going to kick the bucket.