back to article Microsoft's foray into phones was a bumbling, half-hearted fiasco, and Nadella always knew it

Steve Ballmer as Microsoft chief executive bought the handset business of Finnish former smartphone giant Nokia in 2013. Satya Nadella, who took over from Ballmer in 2014, sold what Ballmer had bought just two years later. That sale came nearly a decade after Ballmer laughed off the thing that promoted Microsoft's decision to …

  1. RyokuMas Silver badge
    Facepalm

    Lack of "cool"...

    Ten years ago, in the pre-iPhone/Android days, Windows Mobile was "the most popular smartphone software in the US"... but it was still Microsoft; it wan't cool.

    Had Microsoft done the same thing as they had in the console market and dropped the "Windows" branding, they might have had a better chance... but I guess that was far too sensible an idea.

    1. mark l 2 Silver badge

      Re: Lack of "cool"...

      I agree with RuokuMas comment, They shouldn't have dropped the Nokia name to brand them as Microsoft phones. The Microsoft name doesn't have the cool factor to attract the consumer buyers.

      They would struggle to ever come back now, what app makers are going to give them another shot by porting their apps over to the platform after the train wreck that was Microsoft last attempt.

      1. Jack of Shadows Silver badge

        Re: Lack of "cool"...

        I long ago lost track of how many different Microsoft technologies were dumped for something "New from Redmond." So don't be too sure that something Mobile based will spring to life only to crash and burn just a few years, no, just a couple of years later. I'd like to know how they encourage such sado-masochistic behavior in others.

    2. Rameses Niblick the Third Kerplunk Kerplunk Whoops Where's My Thribble? Silver badge

      Re: Lack of "cool"...

      I agree also. Regardless of how good or otherwise people think Microsoft's desktop products are, it's clear they are market leaders (certainly in terms of sales volume. Product quality may be debatable) but with that gives them an appearance to the general public of enterprise and business focused. Dropping Windows from the product title and gone with Nokia branding and maybe another name for the OS could well have gone a long way to mitigating the "cool" problem. XBox Phone anyone? Maybe not, but maybe had they named their mobile OS Cortana instead of giving the moniker to an iffy faux-AI assistant / irritant, they could have got somewhere.

      Or not. As the article noted, there is more than just the name which was a problem with this whole programme.

      1. Wayland Bronze badge

        Re: Lack of "cool"...

        Perhaps Microsoft could have lead the market by making the phone have a voice interface via Cortana. Forget fancy screens, the phone should be worn on your ear and you should not need to touch it.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Lack of "cool"...

        "appearance to the general public of enterprise and business focused."

        I don't even know if that is the case. Windows was never designed as an enterprise product. It was made into an enterprise product, painfully, through decades of bolt ons. It was originally the system that people used at home in the early 90s, late 80s... then it just spread into enterprise because it was the only game in town and PC, client-server had some flexibility advantages over mainframe or big iron in general.

        MSFT now claims that stuff like Windows and Office is uniquely suited to the enterprise (read: Apple and Google are not, according to MSFT). That isn't true though. Enterprises just move slowly. They are always using generation old tech just because it takes them forever to move. No reason a company could not replace MSFT with Apple/Google... they just haven't, in broad scale at least, done so thus far... for no apparent reason other than inertia behind the status quo.

        I think this is very much like IBM vs MSFT in the 90s. MSFT was the cool thing that everyone wanted to use in 95. IBM was the status quo for enterprise. People didn't wholesale remove IBM when MSFT became the it thing, but they started moving to MSFT at a glacial pace. Likewise with Google today (and Apple). Google is now the cool thing. It is what everyone uses at home, would like to use at work. MSFT isn't going to be wholesale replaced, but stuff will start moving in the Google/Apple direction more and more... but nothing moves all that fast in the enterprise.

    3. Doctor Huh?

      Re: Lack of "cool"...

      As an unfortunate soul who used a Windows Phone for a month in 2012, when I was still using a flip-phone (I know. I should be ashamed) and 2 years before I would finally buy an iPhone, allow me to explain what the lack of "cool" was.

      The user experience sucked. Hard. The phone required the stylus for fine control. Any given task seemed to require several more clicks to perform than it should have. The phone was slow. Microsoft may have optimized the experience for certain apps, but they optimized the paths that THEY wanted users to take, not the ones that users actually take. I recall the calendar functionality being a special form of torture, and I rely on my phone's calendar heavily. Just entering the settings menu was annoying.

      Perhaps they deserve points for trying to push cheap hardware to its limits; the phone I was using certainly didn't cost anywhere near what an iPhone costs. But the central problem with Microsoft is that they view the Windows UI and user experience as the apex of engineering. That perspective warped their approach to the phone, where they seemed to believe that employing a familiar paradigm was more comforting to users than employing a new approach that better conformed to the constraints of the mobile device.

      The phone experience should have been a warning that Windows was proceeding on inertia.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        "The phone required the stylus for fine control."

        It looks you were using a Windows CE/Mobile phone. Windows Phone never required a stylus, and no Windows Phone was ever sold with one.

        Entering the "settings" menu in Windows Phone in the Calendar app is "touch the three dots and then Settings" - and still there's nothing much you can do in Settings that needs to be accessed so often.

        So it looks you're actually talking about the wrong product...

        1. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

          get a foothold in the market - money talks

          Lets get a foothold in the smartphone market.

          Ok , how shall we do that .

          Easy - we'll buy Nokia

          ok yeah , that should do it......

          1. MyffyW Silver badge

            Re: get a foothold in the market - money talks

            Certainly the appstore did the platform no favours.

            And the hardware was capable, but lacking in zing (although my Nokia 920 always felt like a premium product).

            But where MS totally missed the bus was in providing a long term upgrade path. Having to throw away 3 year old hardware is fine if it's landfill Android, but lethal if you've previously stiffed the punter for a couple of hundred quid. This is something MS could have managed, especially for their own (ex-Nokia) hardware. They didn't, and frankly they deserved to fail.

            1. bombastic bob Silver badge
              Trollface

              Re: get a foothold in the market - money talks

              "Certainly the appstore did the platform no favours."

              you mean CRAPPstore (and that's the point, yeah)

      2. Michael B.

        Re: Lack of "cool"...

        Stylus? Were you using an old Windows Mobile 6 phone that was 3 -4 years out of date by then? Post Windows Phone 7 you didn't need a stylus and as far as I can remember no phones came with them as they used the multi-touch capacitive display instead.

    4. JohnG Silver badge

      Re: Lack of "cool"...

      "Ten years ago, in the pre-iPhone/Android days, Windows Mobile was "the most popular smartphone software in the US"... but it was still Microsoft; it wan't cool."

      Cool or otherwise, in it's day, Windows Mobile/PPC was the only game in town and the likes of TomTom grew on that platform. Microsoft managed to go from 100% dominance to effectively nothing, in a relatively short period of time. Their acquisition and destruction of Nokia (the world leader in terms of handset numbers supplied) came several years later.

      1. Johan Bastiaansen

        Re: Lack of "cool"...

        Indeed. I remember having an Ipaq 3970 15 years ago. With the GSM/GPRS sleeve and TOM TOM it did exactly what any smartphone does now.

      2. Lars Silver badge
        Coat

        Re: Lack of "cool"...

        Cannot see why you mention TomTom as they use Linux. I believe Ballmer simply got obsessed with Nokia. He came twice to Helsinki to persuade them to produce MS phones to no avail as Ollila, the boss then, refused. He was asked on the Finish TV how he felt about it. A rather pissed off looking Ballmer said "I just have to try harder". It's almost like he managed to get his revenge eventually. A sad story, but MS is alive and so is Nokia all the same.

    5. Daggerchild Silver badge

      Re: Lack of "cool"...

      "Had Microsoft done the same thing as they had in the console market and dropped the "Windows" branding..."

      Wouldn't work. How do I know? Well, I hold in my hand a Microsoft phone..

      I stood in a datacentre, showed it sadly to a contractor, dialled the office, then showed him the unexpectedly ironic reboot logo. Sometimes when I receive phone calls, it stutters and lagdeaths because there's something spinning in the background. Sometimes when it gets an SMS it crashes.

      I installed the Lumia camera app, and then lost control of the camera, because it fought with the default camera app, and different triggers started different apps. I had to Google to work out how to switch on the flashlight (download an app, naturally) and how to reset the Exchange plumbing.

      It's not the Microsoft *LOGO* that's the problem. The problem is that if you removed it, you could still tell pretty quickly that this is Microsoft-quality software.

    6. Steve Channell
      Windows

      Re: Lack of "cool"...

      "Cool" had nothing to do with it, Windows Mobile for the Motorola MX200 was better than a nokia feature-phone, but the "pro" version was stupid.

      Steve Bollocks insisted the pro experience followed the failed Pocket-PC and required a pen to click through the start menu like a very small PC.

      Windows Phone 7 was fine, but trashed by switching the kernel in an attempt to be a better games phone than iPhone.

      There is still an opportunity for a very secure smartphone running iOS or Android apps in a sandbox, but there is lots of work to do in Visual Studio before considering whether an NT Kernel can sit at the bottom of the stack

    7. enormous c word

      MS Never wanted to get into Mobile - they were forced

      MS have seen the writing on the wall.

      Linux is chipping away upwards into the premium Unix space and downward into the commodity Windows space), Cloud based Apps are available across all Desktop and handheld platforms.

      Android (which is really Linux in a pretty frock) and iOS (which is really BSD in a pretty frock) dominates the typical users experience of IT - MS is becoming increasingly niche.

      Of course it's true that today the vast majority of business users are working from a Windows laptop (as am I) but the next generation of professionals will have grown up with Android or iOS and will continue to use what they are familiar with in business.

      MS obviously hoped to retain their place in the server space (which they care about) by retaining a position in the mobile space (which they really don't care about). That hasn't happened, so we will see an increasingly rapid decline of Windows as they have to share the server and desktop space between Windows, MAC, iOS, Linux, Android, Unix, and Mainframe.

      I think it was Sun MicroSystems' John Gage who said "The network is the computer" in the 1980's - it was complete nonsense then but after 30 years it finally came true.

    8. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Lack of "cool"...

      "dropped the "Windows" branding"

      True. I think dropping Windows would definitely help as people associate Windows with 1995, constant disruptive patches, bloat. I doubt they will ever do it though as Windows is still the core of the company. Difficult to move away from the foundation of the company.

  2. Whitter
    Unhappy

    What the market wants...

    It's always tricky to reliably determine what "the market" wants, particularly if your own job relies on a getting specific answer.

    In my spectacularly unrepresentative case, I'd like a phone that doesn't spy on me.

    So Google? Hmmm...

    Apple? Hmmm....

    Windows to the rescue? What's that? "Remember Windows 10"? Hmm......

    1. Permidion

      Re: What the market wants...

      if you want a 4th alternative, Jolla is releasing his Sailfixh X OS the 11 october: https://jolla.com/sailfishx/

      1. Ledswinger Silver badge

        Re: What the market wants...

        Jolla is releasing his Sailfixh X OS the 11 october

        Interesting idea of selling a supported image for selected phones at €50 a throw. I hope I'm wrong, but I really can't see this selling in sufficient numbers to make it worthwhile.

        1. Permidion

          Re: What the market wants...

          there is a base of people who dont want to have anything to do with apple or google (or MS but that's not a option anymore anyway) and for these people it will be alright to pay that price,

          I know I will at least

          1. Ledswinger Silver badge

            Re: What the market wants...

            and for these people it will be alright to pay that price,....I know I will at least

            I do soooo want it to succeed. But €50? And even if you're willing to pay the cash, that has to be for a supported phone, of which there is only one at present. Now, got to start somewhere, but when app makers struggle to persuade people to part with a couple of €, what's the chance that a viable number of punters will pay €50 to replace an OS on a phone that already has one, and then how many different phones can Sailfish support? Personally, in their situation I'd look to build a sizeable presence in the Chinese mid range market, just to get the volume and to interest Chinese phone market leaders, but those customers won't pay anything near fifty euro.

            You can of course root your device and load a community image of Sailfish for free - with no guarantees that it will all work, and the risk of bricking your phone in the rooting process. Great for tinkerers, for the rest of the world this (sadly) has as much relevance as Cyanogenmod and LineageOS. And even then, you have to use third party app stores, like Yandex. Now, would any sane person load software found on Yandex?

            1. Wayland Bronze badge

              Re: What the market wants...

              @Ledswinger it depends what you mean by success. If you mean become the market leader in phone operating systems then you could be right.

              However success in business does not depend on being number one. The man running the corner shop could be doing fine in spite of Tescos being bigger. Let's list what would make Sailfish a success;

              1. A decent alternative to the current offerings

              2. Happy users

              3. The business making a solid profit and growing

              4. Happy investors and workers.

              Pretty much in that order because plenty of Open Source projects are not profitable but because the software is good and the users are happy then it's successful.

          2. Wayland Bronze badge

            Re: What the market wants...

            I did not know Sailfish was taking this route. £50 to transform your phone sounds good. They need to get the phone shops on board so that people can pay someone else to do this.

      2. Permidion

        Re: What the market wants...

        why the thumbs down? I dont undertand

    2. Tinslave_the_Barelegged Silver badge

      Re: What the market wants...

      > It's always tricky to reliably determine what "the market" wants, particularly if your own job relies on a getting specific answer.

      Some good analysis in the article. I can't help being reminded of the early 90s, in fact, when Windows 3 came out. At that time Lotus was king. In fact, they were so crucial to the PC platform they could not envisage a future that they didn't dominate. When Windows 3 looked like a step up from DOS, and knowing the backward step Lotus 123 v 3 was, we went to talk to Lotus Development about how they saw the future. Could be DOS, could be Windows, could be OS/2, they said, we don't care. We had the same discussion with Microsoft (yes, customers could indeed go to talk strategy with these companies in those days...) We're throwing everything at Windows, said MS. We know we have work to do to get beancounters to trust Excel, our bought-in spreadsheet. We think we can produce something as good as Wordperfect or Multimate.

      On the basis of those discussions, we moved from the dominance of Lotus to a Windows strategy, and were pleased to have such a clear idea of where we were heading. Within 5 years, MS were starting to deal with the failure of success, like Lotus had. By the late 90s, MS strategy amounted to a mere marketing flavour of the month. The foray into phones shows they have still not learnt the lesson of what gave them their dominant position 27 years ago.

      Makes one wonder about humanity's capacity to handle true power.

    3. Terry 6 Silver badge

      Re: What the market wants...

      I went down pretty much the same line. Android Phone, Google spying on everything I do so they can plough me as a field to grow their adverting business- no thank you.

      iPhone, over priced fashion lead walled garden with seriously dodgy manipulation of specs, so that a slightly better model costs an arm and a leg more,again no thanks.

      So I went with Windows phones. But it was always a bit unsatisfactory. The phones were nice to use, but the models weren't right for me. Some much too cheap with stuff they needed missing (compass, front camera etc). Some too expensive for my needs. My second phone, the 640, was much better - but by then the writing was on the wall. And even though I didn't much want the largely useless "apps" that come with Android, there were some that I did need and couldn't get, especially towards the end. The organisations offering an app to support my interaction with them were offering iPhone or Android only.

      So now I have a One+ 5.

      1. Timmy B Silver badge

        Re: What the market wants...

        "So I went with Windows phones......."

        I could have written the same post. I wanted Windows phones to work. I liked the interface, etc. But I never got OS mapping software that was any good.

        I haven't got a 5 yet as my OP3 is fine.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Hand up...

    who remember all the Windows mobile adverts? The cool product placements, the bloggers over-keenly promoting them, the billboard posters, the online adverts, the non-stop articles promoting the platform?

    ..

    No me neither.

    I do remember the, yes we are committed, sort of, maybe, yes defiantly, no actually we are not making them, or are we?

    Indecision and lack of commitment killed it, not the OS /Hardware.

    1. Zippy's Sausage Factory
      Meh

      Re: Hand up...

      I, do, however, remember how some "research house" (Gartner?) said Microsoft would be 20% of the world smartphone market within 2 years, ahead of the iPhone.

      Yep, that prediction sooo came true...

      1. fredds

        Re: Hand up...

        Yes, I remember that, and documented the whole sorry episode.

        Windows Phone 7 is set to outgrow Android and IOS over the next few years

        IDC forecast puts Microsoft in second place by 2015

        By Dean Wilson

        Thu Jun 09 2011, 15:16

        WINDOWS PHONE 7 (WP7) is set to outgrow the rival mobile operating systems over the next few years, according to a report released by the International Data Corporation (IDC).

        Microsoft’s late-comer smartphone OS is expected to grow its market share from two per cent in 2010 to 3.8 per cent this year, a downward revision of IDC’s previous forecast in March of 5.5 per cent.

        That’s a relatively tiny share of the market, particularly for an OS that many people would consider a potential third rival to join in the battle between Google’s Android and Apple’s IOS, but the real strength of Windows Phone 7 will appear during 2012 to 2015, the report predicts, when IDC expects to see WP7 market share increase significantly to 20.3 per cent.

    2. Ledswinger Silver badge

      Re: Hand up...

      Indecision and lack of commitment killed it, not the OS /Hardware.

      Au contraire, EVERYTHING killed it:

      - Microsoft didn't have a plan, didn't know or care to find out what customers really wanted

      - Microsoft pissed everybody off by repeatedly abandoning older mobile platforms

      - MS/Nokia didn't help themselves by abandoning everything that had gone before in Nokia

      - Microsoft were spending huge amounts on acquisitions that they didn't understand and then struggled to integrate - between 2008 and 2016, they bought about 76 businesses. Microsoft's purpose was nothing more nor less than buying companies, and hoping for the best

      - Buying a hardware maker when you know nothing about hardware is a big bit daft

      - The hardware was mostly crap - particularly the low end stuff bought by IT departments, and even compared to similar priced dogs like the Samsung Galaxy Ace models

      - The OS and UI followed the failed Windows 8 look, and were different for the sake of difference

      - MS failed to understand and offer the Enterprise segment what they wanted, and that was the one area where MS could have profitably owned a worthwhile segment without needing to be a major force in consumer phones.

      There's plenty of other things, many known, some that we can only infer, but I think its clear that when it came to phones, MS made every mistake that was available to be made, and not just in phones. Even today, they're buying up more companies like Altspace VR, which looks to be more of the same "if it moves, buy it, if it doesn't move buy it". And Altspace VR is yet another crap distraction - worth doing a search to see the 1998 educational software graphics.

      1. TechnicalBen Silver badge

        Re: Hand up...

        I'd say the OS and GUI or hardware spec was not a problem as such... but for what price point? That would be a problem. People would not mind a Windows phone for £30/$30, but if it's £150/$150? They might just get an android instead, if it's more? They will get an Apple. They needed to find a niche or do very well at one market point.

      2. Antron Argaiv Silver badge
        Thumb Up

        Re: Hand up...

        - Microsoft were spending huge amounts on acquisitions that they didn't understand and then struggled to integrate - between 2008 and 2016, they bought about 76 businesses. Microsoft's purpose was nothing more nor less than buying companies, and hoping for the best

        3Com, towards the end, did the exact same thing, with varying success

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Hand up...

      I remember this one:

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v-mo_Qpy6eM

      because it seemed to show how much you could get attached to your Blackberry and iPhone. I never understood how it was supposed to make Windows Phone cooler when it showed how devoted people were to their existing phones. Most people I showed it to thought it was an advert for Blackberry right up until they mentioned Windows Phone.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Hand up...

        Hmm

        Less than 30,000 views in 7 years. Didn't attract so much attention

  4. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    Microsoft is suffering from a desperate mind-set of locking people in

    As stated in the article, we already have two lock-in vendors who remain steadfastly incompatible with each other. The difference with Microsoft is that Apple and Android are actually useful and, generally speaking, perform adequately.

    If a new ecosystem is to rise, it will have to be open. Not necessarily open-source, but open. That is the strength of Linux, and the reason why it endures. If another closed-source OS maker tried to enter the market today, it would be a doomed effort from the start.

    Microsoft, with its many, many billions in the bank, could have been the sugar daddy for this kind of phone, but it couldn't imagine not locking people in and Windows-ing the whole thing. Microsoft has the money, but not the intelligence. On this, Nadella was right to scrap the whole thing.

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

      1. Ledswinger Silver badge

        Re: Microsoft is suffering from a desperate mind-set of locking people in

        I think Microsoft should have persevered. Stuck with mobiles and slowly create the brand - but they seem too petulant.

        Looking at their market share in new sales, how could they create a brand when they've got no differentiation now, and when this news merely confirms what everybody else believed years ago, that MS were not in phones with a long game? In the consumer and enterprise markets, they'd need some utterly compelling new feature that Apple and Google haven't thought of, and can't easily replicate, and in all likelihood, the enterprise and consumers wouldn't be captivated by the same USP, so they need two stonking new features.

        In the enterprise space, Continuum was going to be that USP, except that it was never clear that the enterprise customers wanted it, and it hasn't delivered. Microsoft also undermined that potential market with its business tablets. In the consumer space...well, there's nothing. All the old Nokia USP's (better audio quality, better maps, better cameras) were dropped other than for a couple of "show off" models, and now every phonemaker is trying to carve out some profit by focusing on those quality hardware elements (including the reborn Nokia) so doing it now would be too late and undifferentiated. Microsoft could have tried to differentiate on (eg) hardware durability, battery life, enterprise security, consumer privacy, but they didn't, they just made "me too" handsets that offered nothing new, nothing novel, and carried an OS that nobody really wanted.

        Nadella is right, but deserves no kudos for that - all he's done is admit what the rest of the world knew years ago. After spending what, $10-15 billion, MS achieved 0.1% global market share of new phone sales in Q1 2017. For every Microsoft phone pushed largely onto unwilling corporate users, 800 Android phones and 200 Apple phones were sold. I can't see that they'd ever rebuild a brand with such low sales figures - even basic stuff like manufacturing economies of scale are out of their reach on those sales figures, so all the hardware has to be sold at a loss. All the overheads of R&D, marketing, software maintenance all spread out over fewer and fewer phones. Third party phone makers won't touch the OS now, so they are and would be limited to what they could make themselves.

        1. Philip Lewis

          Re: Microsoft is suffering from a desperate mind-set of locking people in

          I haven't been here for a while ... retirement does that.

          Anyway, where are all the Microsoft shills from back then. You remember them, the ones who always had a statistic or an anecdote or some strategy play that was a guarantee that Windows Phone would absorb the world?

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Nadella is right, but deserves no kudos for that -

          He is in my view part of the problem - sniping on the sidelines from the word go, helping to create the complete lck of confidence that undermined the progress of Windows Phone at every step

      2. JimboSmith Silver badge

        Re: Microsoft is suffering from a desperate mind-set of locking people in

        You missed the Zune, Kin, and depending on how you look at it the Sidekick.

    2. JimboSmith Silver badge

      Re: Microsoft is suffering from a desperate mind-set of locking people in

      Microsoft, with its many, many billions in the bank, could have been the sugar daddy for this kind of phone, but it couldn't imagine not locking people in and Windows-ing the whole thing.

      Yeah locking people in is not always a winning solution.

      It buried the death its Groove Music subscription service under an ostensibly chipper headline announcing a partnership with Spotify.

      Does this mean that I will finally be able to get rid of the Groove Music entry on my Win10 start menu?

      On the high end, Microsoft's slowness in adding support for the newest technologies meant that OEMs would never be able to get the specs they needed to be competitive with their Android counterparts. This was made painfully clear with the Lumia 1020, which despite its amazing 41MP camera, came out with a slow dual-core processor, and a 720p HD screen at a time when flagships like the Samsung Galaxy S4 were pushing quad and even hexacore processors paired with full HD screens.

      A good friend of mine had a Lumia 1020 that she was given by her firm. She hated how slow it was but absolutely loved the camera. She now has an iPhone.

  5. JimmyPage Silver badge
    Mushroom

    Awwww shut up and quit your whining.

    Windows Phone was a completely viable contender for a mobile device OS.

    As someone who was forced to use it by his "Microsoft Everywhere" IT department (yeah, hows *that* working out for you now, guys. Boo fucking hoo, you can't force your users to use IE anymore) I actually found it quite a decent OS.

    If it could have boasted the apps of Android/Apple, it would have been perfect.

    Microsofts ludicrous insistence that very increment required a new app is what killed that.

    I am annoyed because the lack of an alternative non-Apple alternative has effectively gifted the mass mobile market to Google. And nobody wants that.

    1. Thought About IT

      Re: Awwww shut up and quit your whining.

      Surely it would have cost far less for Microsoft to pay the most popular app developers to port their apps than throw away their investment in Nokia?

      1. AMBxx Silver badge

        Microsoft to pay the most popular app developers

        I'm sure I recall that happening (at least the offer to pay, nothing really happened)

      2. Kristian Walsh Silver badge

        Re: Awwww shut up and quit your whining.

        That strategy assumes that app developers are rational actors. It is not a safe assumption to make.

        Famously, the owner of Snap, Inc refused point-blank to port Snapchat to Windows Phone, even when Microsoft themselves offered provided the necessary engineering. When third-party clients appeared on the platform, they were threatened with legal action. For an application that required a wide user-base, the decision was bizarre.

        Google also refused access to YouTube via an app on Windows Phones; but at least here there's the explanation of a company engaging in anticompetitive practice to protect its marketshare. The Snapchat decision was purely "I don't like Microsoft".

        Now, I have no use for Snapchat, but it's a "must have" app for a lot of users, and its absence from the Nokia/Microsoft phones prevented their combination of low price and smooth performance gaining traction with younger buyers at a time when Android and iOS could not offer this.

        1. jaduncan

          Re: Awwww shut up and quit your whining.

          In fairness, it does rather appear that Snap have gone on to quite some level of success...unlike Windows Phone.

        2. DougS Silver badge

          You reap what you sow

          Obviously Microsoft's past actions affected the Snap CEO's attitude, his decision wasn't arbitrary. There are Apple haters and Google haters today who don't like the way they conduct their business, but unless you want to reduce your chances of success you won't cut your app off from one of them. With Microsoft's tiny market share, it was a lot easier for him to go with his conscience.

          Beyond that, supporting a third platform has a cost, even if you have a room full of Microsoft employees writing your app for you. What's the recourse if Microsoft sends a bunch of clueless interns who write a slow and buggy app? What happens if you want to add a new feature, which iOS and Android can support, but Windows Phone cannot due to an OS limitation? You either leave one platform behind with that feature, or hold back the feature for everyone. Sure, it is possible you could run into the same situation with just iOS and Android, but why make it more likely to happen just to access Windows Phone's minuscule market share?

        3. bombastic bob Silver badge
          Meh

          Re: Awwww shut up and quit your whining.

          "That strategy assumes that app developers are rational actors. It is not a safe assumption to make."

          From what I can tell, "best and brightest" may NOT actually be working on phone applications (surprise! not...). Sure, you'll find exceptions, especially for niche thingies that do remote device control or data collection or manage banking or inventory databases from the client end. "scan the bar code" "read the credit card" etc.. Otherwise, it's (probably) nearly-all just the same kind of garbage you normally see flooding the "CRapp stores".

          I've done a couple of "clever things" with Android, including one that controlled an Arduino that controlled equipment - the Android application was the front-end GUI, using bluetooth. Those kind of "specialized" things will always have clever developers building them to go along with their hardware, and "look, there's a phone application" - watch window blinds move up/down, TV turns on/off, maybe even with a timer when you're gone. That kind of thing.

          Otherwise, it's apparently a lot like "web development" these days. You know, like using JQuery and Node.js to make yourself look like you're elite, when it's really just n00b-level stuff... especially when a SIMPLE style sheet or table would make the web site look more appealing than "all that".

          same with phone applications. I'm not impressed.

          One of these days someone may come up with something that's truly interesting, innovative, and not just "a fad". well, software in the 80's was kinda like that, too. Eventually it became something worth paying for. But $100 for something that looks like some geek wrote in an afternoon? No. Just no.

          and ads just make the situation WORSE.

        4. Dinsdale247

          Re: Awwww shut up and quit your whining.

          There is nothing irrational about it. I once was talking to a developer that worked for one of the largest video games makers in the world. He point blank bragged that the company killed the Sega Genesis. He said they had an exclusive agreement with another company not to port certain games to other platforms.

          There was NOTHING that could be done by Microsoft. The hardware makers, cellular networks and the developers had already placed their allegiance. I have used most major phone OSes for the past 15 years and Windows Phone 7.5 was and awesome product. Just not one that anyone wanted to support.

        5. robin thakur 1

          Re: Awwww shut up and quit your whining.

          It's not necessarily that the Snap CEO just didn't like Microsoft. He perhaps didn't see the point of porting it to Windows Mobile given the user demographic or sales figures, the cost of supporting another platform, MS's policy on apps updates, MS's previous behavior when it came to their mobile platforms and abandoning them.

          The skills to create a Windows mobile app are also different to those required for a iOS/Android App and might well have diminished their focus, or worse led to a 'poor cousin' app which was missing features.

          He possibly assumed correctly that a lack of apps, was not the Achilles heel of Windows Mobile and in fact its problems lay elsewhere and had a lot to do with Windows 8 being universally hated and bombing, Microsoft/Nokia not refreshing hardware regularly enough to generate buzz and the lack of a sustained focus from MS.

          I fully expect MS to get out of all remaining businesses they are in where hardware is involved in the coming years, meaning Surface, Xbox, and their keyboard/mouse businesses will be sold off or shuttered. The fact that some of them are decent products or have even had some limited success will not be enough to win them a reprieve from Nadella, looking to offload low margin business in favour of a relentless focus on software.

      3. nkuk

        Re: Awwww shut up and quit your whining.

        They tried to pay them, their VP even tweeted that they went so far as to write their apps for them, and they still weren't interested.

  6. DrXym Silver badge

    And yet

    Despite all this navel gazing, Microsoft are still engaging in dumb exercises such as Windows 10 S - shipping premium hardware at a premium price with crippled versions of the operating system.

    1. Kristian Walsh Silver badge

      Re: And yet

      Let's keep some perspective here. Windows 10 S turns into Windows 10 Pro with a mouse-click and reboot. You're prompted to make this change the first time you try something that's not allowed by "S". If you need the features of "full" Windows, that process is not going to be beyond your abilities.

      But if you don't need PowerShell, the Linux Subsystem or Visual Studio, then 10 S is the way things should be done on Windows, or any other OS aimed at non-technical people. "Store" applications install and run in isolated containers, which makes it a hell of a lot easier to manage what's on the computer - deleting an application no longer leaves old registry settings, services or libraries hanging around; and you don't have twenty "update assistant" processes all running in the background - the Store manages the updates. No more needing to periodically "nuke" a system just because it's become filled with old software that was never uninstalled properly.

      10 S also can't be given that un-removeable manufacturer bloatware that makes home Windows PCs so painful to maintain.

      There's no no technical restriction on the vast majority of apps being in the Store, and no legal restriction on FOSS software binaries being there either. Inkscape and VLC are already there; others like LibreOffice (of course) and Gimp are holding out for political reasons ("we don't agree with app stores") rather than doing something that would actually make life better for their users.

      Shipping Surface Laptop with Windows 10 S was a way of raising awareness of the existence of Windows 10 S. Unless you work in Education, you or I would not have heard of it except for the Surface Laptop launch.

      The only problem with 10 S for the vast majority of users is that the software they might want to install is not yet available from the Store. That's not a technical issue, it's something the developers need to look at. And yes, Microsoft also needs to delete the 80% of what's already on the Store that's fake. Nobody cares about "number of apps" anymore, so it should be about the quality of what's there.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        "That's not a technical issue, it's something the developers need"

        Yes, it's not technical - it's not many developers want to share 30% of their revenues with Microsoft - it's a model that can work for mobe indie developer selling apps for 4.99, won't work for applications sold for hundreds or thousands by not so small companies...

        "Unremoveable bloatware" is mostly an issue of the past (because, for example Windows Installer is far better at removing installed apps) - lame applications written by lame developers. Usually hitting the people who spent more time installing and uninstalling applications got heaven knows from, than actually performing useful work on a PC. I call them the "PC hamsters", always busy to pile up icons on their desktop and start menu - many do the same on their phones, littering it with apps they'll never use.

        1. Kristian Walsh Silver badge

          Re: "That's not a technical issue, it's something the developers need"

          Yes, it's not technical - it's not many developers want to share 30% of their revenues with Microsoft - it's a model that can work for mobe indie developer selling apps for 4.99, won't work for applications sold for hundreds or thousands by not so small companies...

          Certainly. There definitely should be a "flat-fee" or at least a capping of that 30% amount. Even $50 a copy would be good value for some of the $600 software packages. That, and finer-grained pricing control would make it possible to get the big-name packages onto the Store.

          But, there's also the existing mechanism of putting the software up on the Store as a free download, and selling the activation key through your own channels. This is very close to how Adobe manages its products right now. The software just a client for using an existing subscription.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: And yet

        "Let's keep some perspective here. Windows 10 S turns into Windows 10 Pro with a mouse-click and reboot."

        For now....it will soon be a £100 upgrade.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: And yet

        "others like LibreOffice (of course) and Gimp are holding out for political reasons ("we don't agree with app stores") rather than doing something that would actually make life better for their users."

        You mean not choosing to use a vendor controlled walled garden as your only outlet? Curse them !

      4. DrXym Silver badge

        Re: And yet

        "Let's keep some perspective here. Windows 10 S turns into Windows 10 Pro with a mouse-click and reboot. "

        Which more or less illustrates it is crippleware doesn't it?

        Microsoft are crippling their own operating system under the guise of an "educational" version of Windows when the vastly more likely reason is they want to shove people into their store and through their browser whether they want it or not.

      5. Richard Plinston Silver badge

        Re: And yet

        > others like LibreOffice (of course) and Gimp are holding out for political reasons

        Or perhaps Microsoft won't allow competition to its own products.

      6. anonymous boring coward Silver badge

        Re: And yet

        The only problem with 10 S for the vast majority of users is that the software they might want to install is not yet available from the Store.

        Presumably another problem is ms charging percentage of the purchase price of any app? Meaning that any more expensive real PC application is unsuitable for the app store.

  7. Tuesday Is Soylent Green Day

    Had a Samsung phone running Windows Mobile 6

    Freakin' awful piece of crap that was unresponsive and equipped with a brain fart version of IE. Not sure if I should blame Microsoft or Samsung for that piece 'o shite but it put me off Windows phones permanently.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I didn't understand the phone market, so I exited it.

    That's basically what Nadella did. He needed "differentiating"? If so, why he turned Windows into a Google-like slurping and ads operations? Why he didn't keep it "different" - as a "personal" operating system without any need to steal people data continusoly? Did he deliberately killed the Lumia line not delivering new models? Just because he couldn't understand it? Does the world need a third and fourth browsers?

    Other MS products took long time to reach the top market share - and quite often just copying the market leaders.

    Nadella shows again he's a very limited executive. He has a very narrow vision. He believes a cloud-centric approach will make MS great again - he will find that without having a firm ground in the endpoints, MS cloud is just another cloud - and Windows just another OS.

    1. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: I didn't understand the phone market, so I exited it.

      Why is he still updating Windows 10 Mobile if he's pulled out of hardware? There's no point having an OS for hardware that doesn't exist.

      If he is exiting the mobile business then he should exit it. If he isn't he should announce what he's doing with mobile devices before everyone writes MS off completely.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: I didn't understand the phone market, so I exited it.

        https://www.theverge.com/2017/10/9/16446280/microsoft-finally-admits-windows-phone-is-dead

    2. anonymous boring coward Silver badge

      Re: I didn't understand the phone market, so I exited it.

      'That's basically what Nadella did. He needed "differentiating"? If so, why he turned Windows into a Google-like slurping and ads operations?'

      End users don't see this, and don't understand these things. All they know is that it's Windows that can run Windows programs on a PC.

  9. GlenP Silver badge

    I had a Nokia 1020, admittedly mainly due to the camera. It was a decent phone and performed acceptably well for what I wanted. In the end it was the ecosystem that let it down. Even when apps were available they were often out-of-date and buggy. The killer was that MS were offering later and better versions of the Office apps on iOS and Android than on their own product.

  10. chivo243 Silver badge

    Showing up late to the party...

    ...and not bringing any booze or snacks. MS should have just stayed at home. I agree with posters above regarding MS NOT rebranding the Nokia kit. That may have helped a bit, but the phenom of the iPhone had made it's mark. I think it was game over by then...

  11. gryff
    Facepalm

    Slow news day?

    I thought we'd hashed this out to death already?

    Initial paragraphs suggest Microsoft bought Nokia. They didn't, they bought the mobile phone unit only. Maps and Networks weren't part of the transaction. Nokia still exists (minus Here maps plus Alca-Lu).

    Flogging a dying business for €$5 billion-ish suggests the Finns know a thing or two about playing an American for a sucker. LOL.

    Satnad's first step was to fire the ex-Nokia Sales and Marketing people who built the marketshare from negligible to noticeable, miniscule to measurable. That was "game over." Product and platform decisions weren't ever going to compensate for that mistake.

  12. ToFab

    The only reason why Windows Phone failed was that apps written for Windows Phone 7 was not compatible with Windows Phone 8. This caused the entire app industry to leave Microsoft behind. There was a growing number of app on WP 7, all the major apps was there, the industry was happy with having a third ecosystem ... and then Microsoft made the all rewrite their apps ... and everybody said .. f*** you Microsoft ... and left without ever looking back. That is the reason

    1. AMBxx Silver badge

      You've missed a step. Windows Phone 7 had also forced app developers to rewrite everything they'd written for 5 & 6!

      As a lot of couriers were using Windows handhelds running Windows Phone 6, developers were then forced to rewrite, so went to Android instead.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Windows CE/Mobile was a dead end. It was designed as a "minidesktop Windows" GUI, and wasn't designed for multi-touch. Anyway, changing the way applications were developed three times in three versions was really too much.

        This time Microsoft was caught too in its ever shifting development marketing - hey VB! No, hey C#! Ooops, hey it's Silverlight! No wait, now it's C++ again! Stop, it's still C++ but with UWP!!!

        Many vertical market handhelds would have moved to Android anyway, it's free, and in some markets (i.e. warehousing) they can even ignore the Google "blob" because they don't need any of the Google services. It's not there you make big money anyway.

      2. Dinsdale247

        You also missed a step: Then after launching WP7 they said they weren't going to support "old hardware" (that was still being sold in the stores) and all apps needed to be re-written AGAIN in Windows phone 8. They effectively isolated 75% of the people who *were* running WP and then screwed the developers. So as a developer, you needed to buy a new phone AND re-write all your apps. "B@llz to that" is what I said.

  13. BobChip
    FAIL

    No longer "cool" - but quickly going cold

    MS were a genuinely great company, back then. They were once THE software company, but no longer seem to care much about that. And Win 10 has certainly not taken off as they had hoped. They have tried being a hardware company - phones, surface, - but have pulled back from that, while losing buckets of money. Now they are going to be a cloud business, and have promised that they will make that work properly. Soon....

    Why am I not convinced?

    1. Jamie Jones Silver badge

      Re: No longer "cool" - but quickly going cold

      Microsoft "THE software company"?

      Microsoft are famous for creating the low-expectation mindset people have in computers. People now expect computers to require certain things, as if it's some sort of fundamental law of physics:

      1) Regular reboots to stop things slowing down.

      2) Complete periodic reinstalls to stop things slowing down.

      3) "Have you tried turning it on and off again?"

      4) Install some software, reboot required!

      5) Virus scanners - computers can't be safe without them!

      6) Huge processing power to perform simple tasks.

      etc.

      There was a time that it was correct to call the profession "software engineering" - software went through rigorous checks and was written by competent people.

      Since Microsoft took power? More like software cowboys. Who cares. If there's a bug, we'll maybe make a patch. If it's too slow, you need a faster computer/more ram. If it crashes? Well, you saved your work right?

      Thank god most SCADA and other critical systems haven't yet succumbed to this influence, and thank god mechanical engineering hasn't either, or we'd regularly here about traffic lights breaking down, power plants rebooting, and buildings and bridges collapsing.

      I remember many years ago, someone in his early 20s on a Usenet forum replying to someone else regarding his satellite receivers unreliability. Paraphrased: "You've got to remember, a satellite receiver these days is basically a computer, and as you know, all computers need to be rebooted every few days or they'll slow down, and eventually crash. Just reboot your box every night and you'll be fine."

      That was the sign the rot had started to take hold.

  14. batfink
    Mushroom

    Does that mean we can now drop the crappy Win10 interface?

    So, because of Microsoft's push to extend the OS onto mobiles, we ended up with the horrible Tiles-based interface in Win10, pissing off all the users of their base, bread-and-butter, desktop business.

    If the mobile business is now gone, can we now drop all that crap and have a desktop interface redesign?

    1. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

      Re: Does that mean we can now drop the crappy Win10 interface?

      There is as much chance of that as there is of Jeremy Clarkson becoming the Pope.

      I'd love to be wrong but SatNad has too much invested in those [redacted] stupid tiles to back down. If he did then he'll probably be out of a job.

    2. FlossyThePig

      Re: Does that mean we can now drop the crappy Win10 interface?

      ...the horrible Tiles-based interface in Win10...

      I don't have any tiles on my W10 machine (an old netbook with the free upgrade from W7), they are easy to get rid of. I have reinstated the "Quick Launch" toolbar because that's the way I like to work.

      Am I a sad old fart because I am quite happy with my 640.

    3. Philip Lewis

      Re: Does that mean we can now drop the crappy Win10 interface?

      From the outset of Win8 (which was a much improved base OS) I have claimed that were Microsoft to see the error of their ways and give Win8 (now Win10) and Windows7 interface, all would be forgiven.

      I still claim that.

      And now that Windows Phone is very certainly dead, the whole underlying premise of the tiles interface (which was sort of OK on a phone actually, different, but OK) now disappears. If there is no need to have a Consistent interface across devices, then there is no logical impediment to going back to an interface people actually liked (Windows7).

      Of course, we'd still have all the data slurrping and crapola that they've invented, but they could ditch that if they wished. Do they even make anything out of all that crap they apparently slurp?

      1. Naselus Silver badge

        Re: Does that mean we can now drop the crappy Win10 interface?

        "And now that Windows Phone is very certainly dead, the whole underlying premise of the tiles interface (which was sort of OK on a phone actually, different, but OK) now disappears."

        Except it doesn't, because Windows 10 is a huge chunk of the touchscreen laptop/tablet hybrid market, and actually does pretty well in it. And the tiles thing actually works rather well for touchscreen, in a way that the 'traditional' windows interface does not.

        Like it or not (and like most keyboard and mouse guys, i'm in the latter camp), the tiles are probably here to stay.

      2. Pirate Dave
        Pirate

        Re: Does that mean we can now drop the crappy Win10 interface?

        "From the outset of Win8 (which was a much improved base OS) I have claimed that were Microsoft to see the error of their ways and give Win8 (now Win10) and Windows7 interface, all would be forgiven."

        Totally agree. MS's subsystem folks did a lot of good with Win8/2012 and beyond, but it was all hidden by the hideous GUI.

        Microsoft - the company that can write an entire "safe" programming ecosystem (.net) from the ground up, but can't figure out how to re-write the fucking "Start" menu from 1995 to work with their latest Windows...

  15. lsces

    It would be nice if ...

    Nokia got back to producing the N900 phones again with Linux on board so we have a REAL alternative to Android. There was nothing wrong with that phone and the crap I've had to put up with since are just getting worse and worse even ignoring windows ...

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: It would be nice if ...

      Yes, because Maemo was so successful Nokia thought it was smart to sell the whole business to MS. I guess they should get back TrollTech as well.

      Also, if MS totally underestimated the iPhone, Nokia made the same big mistake, and it should have known better. The N900 was released in late 2009 - with a resistive touch screen.... later than the iPhone 3G.

      Face it: most phone users didn't and don't need a bash shell, and a physical keyboard to type bash scripts.

      Android understood it, unluckily it was bought by Google...

    3. Philip Lewis

      Re: It would be nice if ...

      I still use my N9. I know, that sounds weird, but I still have to carry several phones, so one of them is my N9. I always liked it, incl. the Lumia shape.

  16. PhilipN Silver badge

    Digital UI

    Recall Steve Jobs was reported to have said (words to the effect) “If their phone has a stylus we have won.”

    Somehow he knew we would all take to using fingers tapping on a screen instinctively. How the f*** to compete with that level of intuition (if that is what it was)?

    By comparison Ballmer in the interview in which he pooh-poohed the iPhone, was stuck on the notion of having a keyboard.

    Remember the time not long ago we would all have felt like idiots jabbing an index finger at the screen. Now it is completely natural, and a primitive form of gesturing which made the smartphone the dominant technology of the 21st Century (so far).

    If anyone knows where Jobs got his insight or inspiration from I shall be happy to hear it.

    1. AMBxx Silver badge

      Re: Digital UI

      I've just switched from a Lumia 950XL to a Blackberry Priv. I have keys again. Proper typing!

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Digital UI

      iPhone killer feature was multitouch. It made a lot of interactions far easier and intuitive, especially for non-text-related features - while avoiding a physical keyboard allowed a larger screen, and a sleeker design. Only a minority of users need to type long documents on a phone. Most are OK being able to read messages, and send back short answers.

      Having used both PalmOS and Windows CE powered smartphones since 2002, I perfectly understood the iPhone UI was going to be a clear winner in the general market - much, much easier to use thanks to the multitouch it acquired, and with a bigger screen to consume contents just right in time when mobile internet connections didn't pierced too big holes in your wallet, and speed became adequate.

      That's, for example, people still worshiping the Nokia N900 refuse to understand. Its resistive touch screen was already obsoleted when it came out, as its bulky design with a sliding keyboard. Sure, maybe some greybeard sysadmin still drools at the idea of opening a SSH session and type some commands, but they are only the 0.0000000001% of the phone market. Heavy text types are a little more, but still a niche in some business markets - and most of them are people who like to show off with the bling phone of the time anyway.

      It would be interesting to know how companies like Nokia could miss the capacitive technology, and the big improvements it could bring.

      Windows Phone entered the market at least with one innovation, a UI truly designed for phones and not still copied from PalmOS 1.0 - just planting it on Windows 8 - outside tablets - was a big mistake and didn't help to make it popular at all. It helped Nadella to get rid of Sinofsky, anyway (Sinofsky was among the candidates to succeed Ballmer....)

      Just, jobs was wrong on tablets - there, a *real* pen - a digitizer, not just a stylus - greatly amplify the usefulness, of course as long as it isn't the only way to use it, but instead a tool to improve input precision when really needed.

    3. Dave559

      Re: Digital UI

      Although I’m now a (fairly) happy iPhone user, I still really really miss the UI from my Nokia E7: a full size touchscreen for most of the usual simple stuff, but complemented by an elegant Psion-style flip-out real physical keyboard for whenever I need to type more than a single sentence (which, let’s face it, is fairly often: being able to write things is where much of the smart in smartphone comes from).

      1. DropBear Silver badge
        Meh

        Re: Digital UI

        "being able to write things is where much of the smart in smartphone comes from"

        Apparently for 99.99999999% of the user base, "smart" means playing whatever the modern equivalent of Angry Birds is and sexting. Oh, and Facebook - but what you need for that is a selfie camera, not a keyboard (at least not the one you might think of, just one with two emoji buttons).

    4. DropBear Silver badge

      Re: Digital UI

      "Somehow he knew we would all take to using fingers tapping on a screen instinctively."

      No. "We" wouldn't. It may be just my personal opinion (and I'm not much into styluses either), but the lack of a proper keyboard is still the very cornerstone of basic smartphone (un)usability for me. And nobody - absolutely nobody - is willing to make another landscape QWERTY these days, even though I'm slowly at the point where I'd gladly sell my soul for one.

      1. Kiwi
        Thumb Up

        Re: Digital UI

        And nobody - absolutely nobody - is willing to make another landscape QWERTY these days, even though I'm slowly at the point where I'd gladly sell my soul for one.

        I know your pain - it's one of the reasons I haven't adopted a smartphone myself (main ones being I have a OK tablet and perfectly good computer (miss my old laptop though :( )

        Would something like this be of use to you? I expect they come in different sizes better suited to other phones.

        https://www.amazon.com/Wireless-Bluetooth-Keyboard-Smartphone-Portfolio/dp/B015S8UR5G/ref=br_lf_m_kckrt34sfmkc7up_ttl?_encoding=UTF8&s=home-garden

      2. Spoonguard

        Re: Digital UI

        https://www.theregister.co.uk/2017/09/11/gemini_psion_alike_pre_production_prototype_handson/

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Digital UI

      If anyone knows where Jobs got his insight or inspiration from I shall be happy to hear it.

      LSD. Seriously.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The biggest mistake Satya Nadella has made since Nokia...

    The biggest mistake Satya has made since is not charging $45/£35 for Windows 10 feature updates and giving back $45/£35 credit to use in the App Store for each purchase.

    If he truly wanted a system in which to run universal apps, he should have created a residual latent pool of money that developers could tap into, from day one of Windows 10.

  18. katrinab Silver badge

    They should have focused on the enterprise market

    i.e. the sort of people who like to have phones with barcode scanners. Put stuff on it to make it easy to integrate with the corporate network, push updates and new apps onto the phone remotely, block the user from doing non-work stuff on it and so on.

    Obviously that sort of phone wouldn't sell in Carphone Warehouse, but sold through the right channels, there would be people who would buy it. Your market is work phones for anyone who doesn't work at a desk.

    1. Franco Silver badge

      Re: They should have focused on the enterprise market

      I've always though that was the problem, they tried to make WP7 consumer.

      Around the time it came out BlackBerry were the Enterprise kings in the UK, at least IME, but they had a major outage that lasted several days and cost them pretty much every customer I had that used them. If Microsoft had focused on providing the same sort of MDM capabilities as BlackBerry they'd have scooped up a huge amount of those customers that jumped ship. Instead a lot went to iPhones (which had to be fudged with IMAP support to integrate with Exchange in those days) and then eventually they licensed ActiveSync to Apple and Android.

      Even now though you need a third-party tool for decent MDM with Exchange, when it should have been integrated from the start.

      1. LDS Silver badge

        "they tried to make WP7 consumer."

        Because, again, they didn't understand the market. They believed all the hype was about Facebook and Twitter on a mobe. Just, the iPhone, wasn't only that. Meanwhile, they removed essentials features like VPN support.

        MS should have delivered a strong integration with its office applications - Exchange, MS Office, etc. to leverage its desktop dominance - the only integration not need was that with Bing - it's incredible Nadella didn't killed Bing already - maybe because Bing was a project managed by Nadella, so admitting it is an utterly failure is out of question?

  19. adam payne Silver badge

    I can't say i'm that surprised that they've pulled the plug.

    Our fleet of Microsoft phones lasted around a year before we got rid of them.

    Nice looking phones but loads of software / hardware problems.

    Auto rotate gets stuck and won't rotate back again, after a call the display doesn't come back on, WiFi dropping out and many others.

    Touch screens that stop working, screens that don't display anything, speakers that stop working and many others.

    1. DropBear Silver badge
      Facepalm

      I find it mildly amusing that as much as I like my Galaxy S2, your description applies almost perfectly (maybe missing "alarm clock occasionally hangs phone instead of ringing"). At any rate, the one driving me positively bonkers* is "screen locks right back up after a failed call" (it's PIN locked - with a LONG PIN).

      * Previously it used to be "media volume is auto-set to zero after each call", but that's okay - it turned out that Mapfactor's Navigator was doing that. Because reasons.

  20. James 47

    It was the network operators who wanted a 3rd ecosystem

  21. ColonelClaw

    My single personal experience of a Windows Phone came a few years ago when my 70 year old dad was sweet-talked (i.e. conned) into 'upgrading' to one by a salesperson in an Orange shop in Birmingham. He tried his best to use it for a week or so, but could barely work out how to make a phone call, much less input contacts or anything else.

    Now, I know many of those reading this will scoff that "he must be some kind of technically incompetent luddite", well yes that may be, but he's a just a normal human being, and he's used Windows for many years seemingly happily. We may be all geeks here, but we're not the norm; what comes easily to us, doesn't to most people. And that, for me personally, was Windows Phone's major failing - the interface was just too alien for your average person.

    Fortunately the story has a happy ending, I bought him a cheapish Android phone, which he figured out how to use almost immediately.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "but could barely work out how to make a phone call,"

      Of course you made the "Phone" icon huge didn't you? Y'know about 10x the size it is on Android and iOS?

      I admit though, the adding contact bit was weird until you got used to it, then it was far superior from memory.

  22. nedge2k

    Windows Mobile (Pocket PC) was an awesome platform and to a degree, is still better than what's out there now. If they had just done the UI refresh properly, keeping the underlying Windows CE base and allowing for backward compatibility with the old .CAB packaged applications and integrated said apps into a proper store, quickly - instead of the gimped abortion that was Windows Phone - they'd still be a player.

    1. Franco Silver badge

      I liked Windows Mobile myself, but to qualify that every device I had was HTC and their UI overlays (Sliding Panels on non-touch devices, TouchFlo 3D on touch devices) hid most of the horrors of the OS from the users. The HTC Touch Pro and then the HD Mini after that were still probably the best smartphones I've had.

    2. katrinab Silver badge

      "Windows Mobile (Pocket PC) was an awesome platform"

      Apart from the fact that it was hopelessly unstable and needed rebooting regularly.

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Buying Nokia in 2013

    MS buying the mobile division of Nokia in 2013 was one of the most terrible corporate exec blunders in decades.

    It was already a dead and decomposed horse and the IOS/Android Cavalry was past horizon already.

    And MS, having with no grasp of the mobile market/technology would catch them, really ? Come on, Ballmer !

  24. Walter Bishop Silver badge
    Facepalm

    Satya Nadellas total recall ..

    'In his new book, Hit Refresh, Nadella reckons he actually voted "no" to his predecessor's proposed purchase of Finland's one-time leader in mobile phones. It was a catch-up play.'

    Retrospective Microsoft® Revisionism™. No one else seems to recall that Nadella was opposed to the Nokia purchase. Microsoft bought Nokia to stop it selling Android phones as part of its ongoing war against Android. That Nokia went later went broke was just a bonus. but not even the Borg could swallow the mobile market whole.

    'The WP7 team had a parade on campus to celebrate shipping.'

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Satya Nadellas total recall ..

      heh yes.

      Who was it who said "mobile-first, cloud-first" - oh yes, he did!

      Perhaps he was talking about what's going to get chopped...?

      And you're right, they where developing Nokia X (based on Android). That HAD to be stopped

  25. Alan Bourke

    I had a WinPho for 18 months or more.

    As an OS it was very slick. Of the two 'walled garden' phone operating systems, I'd take it over Apple's Fisher-Price UI any day.

    What killed it for me was app support. Not necessarily your Facebooks et al, but 'mid range' apps. Your local transport provider's real time updates app. Your local gym chain fitness class booking app. They all have iOS and Android versions, but never Windows.

  26. kensal

    what really peed me off were these so called analyst who get paid a bucket load with their projections and reviews saying at the time that microsoft would become the dominant force in the mobile market. Their so blind to reality and never seem to consider the public trends, only money. hopefully many of them and investor's who decided to invest in MS as a result lost billions.

  27. Stuart Halliday

    Never listen to your fan base

    Typically Microsoft listened to their fan base. These type of people like or are customed to what Microsoft do.

    Every company has them and they're great for getting bugs fixed or existing products made better. But they're rubbish for getting new ideas.

    Most companies realise this and never mix the two. Costly mistake if you do....

    1. jaywin

      Re: Never listen to your fan base

      In this case, maybe they should have listened to their fan base. They were telling MS things were pretty good, expand the functionality, bring back things that got missed in the initial release.

      MS ignored all that, and decided to start from scratch and not have an upgrade path.

      Then they did it again.

      None of the fan base wanted or asked for UWP, apps to need rewriting, or even more functions to be forgotten. When even your fans are recommending not to buy your product, you've seriously messed up.

  28. Eduard Coli
    FAIL

    Here's your problem

    M$ frustrated developers and customers with constant incompatible software upgrades on mobile. So devs just wrote for the more profitable Apple and Google platforms and because the apps were there those platforms got the customers.

  29. Hans 1 Silver badge
    Happy

    Have I lost my bet ?

    Prediction made on 11 Jan 2016:

    WP will not survive 2017, 100% sure, I doubt it will be around in January 2017. I hereby declare that I will donate 50 euro to FSF if Windows Phone survives January 2017, and 100 if it survives December 2017. The donations will be made in the name of the RegisterComment@rds ... please do remind me, should I forget (I won't)!

    Source: https://forums.theregister.co.uk/forum/2/2016/01/07/new_windows_10_phones_coming_from_acer_alcatel_onetouch_continuum/

    So, do I give or keep ?

    1. MJB7

      Re: Have I lost my bet ?

      Over Christmas, check if Carphone Warehouse, Amazon.co.uk, or Talk-talk have any winphones available. If any of them do, FSF gets 100€, otherwise just the 50€.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Have I lost my bet ?

      Well it made it past Jan, so you are out of pocket.

    3. katrinab Silver badge

      Re: Have I lost my bet ?

      Well right now, Carphone Warehouse don't have any Win Phones for sale, so they haven't survived to December 2017.

      Does anyone know when they stopped selling them? I guess the time of death is when the last one went in the Reduced to Clear bin.

      1. Def Silver badge

        Re: Have I lost my bet ?

        I can still buy a Lumia 830 in Norway today. Just old stock if anyone wants it, but it's there.

      2. coolcity

        Re: Have I lost my bet ?

        You can easily still buy them on Ebay, Amazon etc. CPW will have stopped selling them for the simple reason that they have sold out - no more are being produced so they can't restock.

        The Microsoft online store still has the HP Elite X3 (£690 with dock), Alcatel Idol 4 Pro (£420) and Acer Liquid Jade Pro (£210) to buy on the site. The HP and Alcatel are absurdly expensive in the UK though. The HP is the equivalent of £454 in the US and the Alcatel is £150. The Acer is more expensive (£340) in the US but includes dock, keyboard, mouse and case.

        I would buy either the HP or Alcatel if the prices were close to the US ones, but not at those prices. To be fair you can get them a lot cheaper elsewhere.

  30. ratfox Silver badge

    It's interesting, because historically, Microsoft has been quite good at copying the competition, and making their product just a bit better to be preferred. Windows, Word, and Excel were all products that basically copied somebody else, cheaper and as good, or maybe just a bit better.

    I'm not sure how come they did not manage to do it again here, maybe they left it too late, and the network effects of first movers were too powerful this time. And they couldn't undercut on the price of free Android (though they did manage to make it non-free by forcing makers to pay for their "patents on Android"). Or maybe everybody hated them too much by that point.

    1. katrinab Silver badge

      Microsoft (Windows CE) + Blackberry + Nokia (Symbian) were the first movers in the market, and IOS/Android were the ones that came along and fixed the problems that those systems had.

      1. coolcity

        Seriously? Android is a buggy mess even now, and there isn't an iPhone that has been released yet that hasn't come with problems. No thanks.

      2. DropBear Silver badge
        Facepalm

        "fixed the problems that those systems had."

        ...as long as "fixing" syncing with anything that isn't necessarily a cloud (SyncML) and handling "notes" (or "memos") on a system level instead of some-app-and-its-cloud is defined as "we can't do that any more (at least in Android)". And they certainly thoroughly "fixed" my Symbian S60 phone's week-or-so standby time to "less than two days".

  31. Chairman of the Bored Silver badge
    FAIL

    Their analysis is actually half right

    I think there is a grain of truth in the thought that people celebrated the concept of being able to replace the desktop with a powerful handheld...

    ...but what they missed is the apathy and in many cases hatred experienced by users towards their desktops at that point. Remember - this is in the era in which we went from an acceptable win 95 to a rather decent 98 to ... Vista! Desktop computing - unless you had the coin for Mac or patience for Linux (*) - sucked and showed no signs of improving. So when iThing and Droid came along the feeling one had is of pure freedom. With such freedom, why would you re-enter craptivity (**) to MS? When their phone reared its ugly head I felt a shiver of revulsion. According to their market share I'm not alone.

    (*) put down that flamethrower... been using Linux since 1993. Talking about Joe user here, ok?

    (**) Craptivity, n. (1) The state of being one experiences subsequent to expending so much captial on a solution that absolutely sucks, no captial remains with which to purchase a better solution. (2) Any long-term service contract with EDS, HPE, etc

    1. coolcity

      Re: Their analysis is actually half right

      Freedom? With IPhone? You mean the freedom to buy Airpods instead of having to use an old fashioned 3.5mm socket, or the freedom to use your collection of dongles and cables instead of the USB cables forced onto us by Android and Windows?

      No wonder Apple are successful if that's the mentality of their customers.

      1. Chairman of the Bored Silver badge

        Re: Their analysis is actually half right

        Good points, there.

        I meant freedom for me as unofficial support service for colleagues and family who are barely computer literate. The iThings pretty much just work ... at least the earlier versions ... and people leave me alone as they can just do their thing. All engineers are inherently lazy- Im no exception.

        Day job gives me an iphone 5s and its perfectly adequate to shoot my com wherever it needs to go. For playing with apps and app development, have my small fleet of droids.

        As informal support winphones were a disaster for me, then win 10 started infesting desktops. Not good.

        I did like the old Nokia phones. Awesome products. Shame they got bent.

        -CB

  32. beep54
    Happy

    "Microsoft's foray into [anything] was a bumbling, half-hearted fiasco. FTFY

  33. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    They know how to shoot themselves on the foot.

    Microsoft don't know anything or they let their ego get in the way. As soon I heard about MS phone I thought..""oh that is going to go down in flames." I would I would not touch it with a ten foot pole. When windows 10 came out I tried it. Not a bad OS until the spy ware and me not able to get my own patches and decide which ones I installed. I told myself, nope this is not acceptable. Clean the drive and put my last image of windows 8.1 and moved on with my life. The problem with Microsoft is that they are trying to be like APPLE. They have such an Apple envy. Years ago I had a friend that work for Apple and what he told me made me laugh. Here at Apple we tell the customers what they need and how to think and the masses fall into step. They have an incredible machine of psychology. MS don't have that. If MS wants the masses to accept Windows 10 they have to make it an OS like windows 7 and 8.1. They have to stop calling people stupid, brainless by forcing them to automatic updates. They have to stop spying by eliminating their damn spyware. I will be first in line to install windows 10.

    1. coolcity

      Re: They know how to shoot themselves on the foot.

      I've read some nonsense in my time but yours is almost an alternate reality. First of all the masses didn't like Windows 8.1 which is how we got to Windows 10, which is considerably better all round. Where 8.1 was effectively two operating systems, with the choice of using the Windows 7-like desktop or the Metro interfaced, 10 has combined the two so it's usable for both touchscreen and non-touch users.

      If people DON'T update to fix the bugs and holes then they are stupid and brainless. It's not usually the computers that have been updated that are hit with malware etc. Get with the program. They have backed off a little which is understandable, but the updates are for YOUR benefit. As for spyware etc, have you used anything Google lately? They have turned it into a fine art.

      So Apple are great at marketing and telling people what they need. So like the rest of the sheep you think it's fantastic that they should dictate to you what you want to be buying, yet you don't think it's good that Microsoft are dictating to you that you should update for our own safety and security? You couldn't make it up!

      As for being first in line to install Windows 10, I think there are around half a billion people ahead of you already. Why am I not surprised?

  34. JuJuBalt

    Nadella is playing a dangerous game. He's betting on the cloud income, and office to be enough to keep the money rolling in....but with no presence in the mobile space, well that is a huge chunk to give up in influencing. Remember, he isn't consumer focused AT ALL, just a grey suit (and oodles of management speak that makes you want to go to sleep).

  35. Bob Vistakin
    Happy

    Wahay!

    Cheerio.

  36. Anonymous Coward
    Unhappy

    Microsoft's foray into ${anything} is a bumbling, half-hearted fiasco. No idea whether SadNad knows this or not. Perhaps he's just counting his pile of money.

  37. Howard Hanek
    Childcatcher

    Casting Doubt ABOUT Previous Doubt

    ....we must cast doubt on the belief that MS will suddenly abandon Surface because well, they've done THAT before.

  38. Def Silver badge

    It would not be meaningfully different and would, in fact, be just another me-too device.

    That hasn't stopped any Android manufacturer.

    The unfortunate fact is Windows Phone *was* meaningfully different. In lots of ways. Most of them good.

    I still don't ever want to buy an Android phone. (Not because I dislike the hardware, but I hate the clunky, sluggish feeling of every Android I've ever used.) Nor will I waste money on an iPhone. So when my Lumia dies, if there isn't a new Windows phone available, I will seriously consider getting an old feature phone.

    1. coolcity

      Yes, absolutely correct. As a mobile phone retailer the ONE big thing that we found people shied away from the most was the unfamiliarity with the interface. nothing to do with the perceived lack of apps which was just something the media jumped on early days and was then copied by every writer for the next few years.

      As a retailer who has seen just about every phone out there I also have no intention whatsoever of switching to either Android or iOS. Hopefully the new Windows LTE Gigabit devices will come along before I have to think about it.

  39. forcing_you_to_think
    Boffin

    Here's where Microsoft went wrong....

    Microsoft went wrong long before the phone. To see what ultimately doomed the Windows phone, you have to go waaaaaay back to when Windows first became the desktop king of the world.

    Windows wasn't the first graphical desktop and it certainly wasn't the best graphical desktop either, but it finally got one thing going for it that nobody else had - Visual Basic.

    For all of it's flaws, Visual Basic (before .Net screwed it up) was a RAD (rapid application development) tool that just about anybody could use to write applications. And write applications they did!

    As more and more people bought PCs, more and more of them found that they could write just about any app that they needed with Visual Basic. Not only that, they could sell their VB apps to other people that needed to do the same stuff.

    Visual Basic is what built Windows. It is just that simple.

    Fast forward to today. Microsoft killed the goose that laid the golden eggs when they replaced VB6 with a bastardized version called VB.Net. (It should have been called VB.NOT.)

    VB.Net killed the RAD tool that had helped Microsoft first gain dominance on the desktop. No longer was is it a user friendly syntax with readable code. Nope. Now it was looking more like C# and had lost the readability and ease of use that enticed MILLIONS of people to learn to code in Visual Basic.

    In fact, when VB.Net was released, the number of Visual Basic programmers rapidly dropped from over 7 million to less than half that number. And the decline of Visual Basic programmers (both for hobbies/fun and office applications) has only continued to decline.

    Now, here comes the next desktop. But what tools do everyday people (the same hobbyist/coders that made Windows a raging success) have to do the same on this new platform? They have nothing. they have nothing akin to the old RAD tool (Visual Basic) with which to code apps for this new platform.

    So, Microsoft was stuck with professional programmers. The problem was that all of the pros were already writing apps for Android and Apple, and even they did not want to support a 3rd code base for their apps.

    So there was nobody really writing apps for Windows phone, and that's why it failed.

    Make something people want to use. Make it easy to use and mold for their own purposes, and your success is virtually guaranteed.

    Microsoft has never really seemed to learn this lesson, and I think it will be its ultimate downfall.

    1. jaywin

      Re: Here's where Microsoft went wrong....

      > So there was nobody really writing apps for Windows phone, and that's why it failed.

      But, there were.

      Until MS decided to break away from the WP7 platform and introduce a whole new way of building apps with WP8. While many of the WP7 apps would still work on WP8, they couldn't interact with any of the new OS features, and various APIs stopped working (which in lots of cases meant you app was now useless). So the app developers, given the choice of rebuilding their apps from scratch or giving up, started giving up.

      Then MS decided to break away from the WP8 platform and introduce a whole new way of building apps with WP10. While many of the WP8 apps would still work on WP10, they couldn't interact with any of the new OS features, and various APIs stopped working. So all the developers gave up.

      The WP7 app store was developing nicely. MS killed it by moving the goal posts just as it was finding it's feet, not by getting rid of classic VB.

      1. Brass knob

        Re: Here's where Microsoft went wrong....

        They did this twice - first time was the incompability between Windows Mobile 6/6.5 apps and Windows Mobile 7.

  40. BaronMatrix

    So can I have my Aero Desktop back now you nutjobs...?

  41. Doug 3

    The Road Behind

    That should be the title of his book since all he keep talking about is how he knew X was doomed or some other thing about the past which Microsoft missed or failed at. Trying to look good by using hindsight makes a CEO look flawed.

  42. coolcity

    Thanks for the entertainment...

    I've been a mobile phone retailer for nigh on 16 years now and have a deliberately small (because I'm disabled and can only cope with so much) but successful business. I always have a good chuckle when another "expert" decided that he's figured out what Microsoft's problems are, followed by hundreds of other "I know where they went wrong" posts. It's always entertaining that so many people know what one of the world's most successful businesses is doing wrong, while it's clear that most of them know nothing about business and in many cases probably even less bout Windows phones, because they have never owned one.

    I mean, "It would not be meaningfully different", and would be "woefully uncreative when trying to differentiate its product." Seriously? The one thing you CAN say with confidence about Windows phone is that it is different from the endless stream of me-too Android junk out there, the design of which obviously aped the iPhone, which itself aped the grid icon design that had been seen on feature phones 10 years ago and even now still; ironically a design mostly credited to Nokia.

    If anything Windows Phone's problem was that it WAS different and people like familiarity. Forget the much-vaunted app situation. Hacks with nothing better to do picked up on it early on and it continued throughout the life of Windows phones. It was very easy to come away from a Windows phone review believing that there were virtually no apps. I've even seen so-called professional writers, i.e. writers employed as such for a salary, state that you could not watch a YouTube video or access Facebook on a Windows Phone. That's how bad it was. Those endless reviews, many of which simply copied a previous one, must have done untold damage to potential sales. People would often come into our shop believing that there were perhaps only a dozen apps or so on a Windows Phone and believe that they were like feature phones.

    Likewise with the processor size. People buy into figures. They want more. Windows phones often had smaller processors because they were less power hungry than Android phones, but the writers didn't tell you that - we saw it again in this article - they simply told you they had less power. I owned a 1020 and never had any significant lag issues. I've seen many far more expensive Android phones that do, even now. But again people came away with the misconception that they were not powerful enough.

    But the one big thing that scared people who saw the phones was the unfamiliar interface. They wanted icons because that's what they knew and understood. So many stuck with Android or iOS. I can honestly say though that those who DID switch to Windows were usually delighted and often stuck with them. They had most of the apps most of the people wanted but it's still a misconception that won't go away.

    This of course, you're going to say is just my opinion, which is fair enough, but it's my take from my experience. The fact is you're all wrong about why Windows Mobile failed. Most of you would be anyway, because obviously a thousand different opinions can't be right, but the one simple fact is it didn't fail. It was reigned in by Microsoft, which is not the same thing. Oh I know it's not as glamourous to say it was, or will be, discontinued, it doesn't give you the same buzz as telling us all "See, I told you it would fail". But much as most of you hate to admit it, that wasn't the case as such.

    There are a few things nobody has considered, and one of the main points is that Nadella wasn't interested. Had he been "up for it" Microsoft might well have done better had they continued. You can tell from everything he says, right from the fact that he didn't agree with the acquisition of Nokia in the first place which in many ways was essential. Nokia were struggling anyway and had Microsoft not stepped in they might have gone under, leaving Microsoft without a major vendor for their OS. There is no doubt in my mind from listening to what Nadella has had to say, that he couldn't wait to get rid of Windows Mobile. I think the guy has done fantastically well for the company, but mobile clearly isn't his thing.

    Sales were on the increase in Europe in particular and just a couple of years ago they were outselling the iPhone in some European countries. There's no reason why that could not have continued if they had continued to release new phones and had Microsoft chosen a different CEO it might well have happened.

    But what needs to be considered is the fact that most, if not all, low end phones don't make any money. In fact in most cases only the flagship models turn a profit, and even then only the most popular ones. Sony, LG and even Samsung have lost serious amounts of cash in recent years via their smartphone divisions. Those criticizing the Groove closure too also need to remember that even Sony, who are heavily into music and movies, couldn't make that work either.

    I'm also not sure the Microsoft branding helped a lot, but get rid of that and you alienate the enterprise customers, and that's where the real money is. But throwing good money after bad is bad business and putting an end to that is the only sensible thing to do. Nadella recognised that, and that is to be admired, not derided.

    1. tim 13

      Re: Thanks for the entertainment...

      As someone who has had a several Windows phones foisted on me by work, I disagree with you about the lack of apps situation. It wasn't just made up by hacks, it is true. Thinking of the apps I use most. FB app? Well out of date. eBay app? Skin of the website without any of the notification features. Youtube App? Nope. GTA San Andreas? Nope. iPlayer? Nope. More specialist apps from smaller companies/developers? Nope

      Also, the browser is awkward with no forward button. The one techie thing I wanted to do wasn't possible (manually set DNS server on wireless)

      I forward all calls to my personal phone, turn them off and a couple of years later return them in 'as new' condition.

  43. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I use widows phones. My 2 pennoth

    I bought a Lumia 1020 for the camera, as I had a Nokia 808. I got to love the windows phone 8 and 8.1 interface.

    I got a second phone, a Lumia 640 free from my carrier. In my experience, my Lumia 640 is one of the best phones I've ever had. There was a shortage of apps, but you could get by with the big screen by using the mobile internet in most cases. Like a lot of Windows Phone users, I began to think about the post-app world.

    It's hard to remember now, but Windows phone was successful for a while, approaching iPhone for market share.

    But Microsoft are masters of the Osborne effect. 8.1 was doing well but Windows Mobile was going to be better.

    There was disappointment that so many Lumias couldn't upgrade.

    Developers had to rewrite apps again and again (or didn't bother)

    And there was a huge time gap between the announcement of Windows 10 Mobile and the first W10M handset you could buy.

    Windows Phone 8 was really smooth and logical. Once you accepted it wasn't Android or iphone and looked at how it actually worked, rather than how you expected it to work, it was consistent, powerful, and easy to use.

    When W10M appeared, it was underwhelming and unreliable. My Lumia 950 ran hot, and the battery was down to 65% after an hour on the net.

    After 18 months of bug fixes, even a fansite like All About Windows Phone could only say the W10M experience was 'bearable'. Way to go.

    Since the last Microsoft Lumia was withdrawn from sale about 2 years ago, the remaining user base has been wondering what Microsoft's intentions were for the mobile OS.

    Microsoft built this culture of 'insiders' testing advance builds of the OS. No one knew what for, but the speculation was, something special, a game changer, was in the works. Now we know what the insider builds were for - nothing. They were to give the illusion of activity. All that feedback - leading to nowhere. Microsoft's supporters have been let down by Microsoft.

  44. Outcast

    Took a long time coming.

    Karma for Sendo !

  45. TomG

    two phones

    My wife and I have Windows phones. Other than lack of apps they work great. We use them for text, and get this. phone calls with a little bit of web surfing. My wife had two Iphones and both were crap. Both kept dropping calls.

  46. JLV Silver badge

    Plenty to show!

    >Microsoft left the mobile market, with nothing to show for it

    Totally disagree. The Windows 8 UI <sarcasm>we all love and cherish</sarcasm> is a massive legacy of that little adventure.

    As to there not being a spot for a, well-executed, #3 spot in mobile I disagree with the theory. Yes, in practice it would be fiendishly difficult to carry out - everyone wants all their apps. And online know-how and howtos make it very hard for a new arrival to gain traction and get new users up to speed when they don't know how to do something - Android and iOS have millions of pages telling you how to do things.

    Still considering how many people loathe either Apple or Android, or both, a 3rd choice would eventually find a good niche.

    It's easy to rewrite history and argue that it was inevitable that MS would fail at mobile. I don't think it was - their screw ups were all their own.

    Hubris - incompetence - lack of commitment : Metro - general software on their phone* - recurring tech dead ends between Winphone versions and Winphone models.

    In 3 decades of MS dominance in desktop and office software, we've witnessed umpteen attempts by MS to use its cashflow to diversify out of those 2 fields. Most have been failures. Most have been without even a clear business rationale for the intent to enter those fields. Until Azure, the only marginal win here has been the XBOX.

    The first time entering a new market did matter, with mobile, MS managed to eff it up massively, despite having the cashflow and, one would hope, operating system knowledge, to pull it off. To top it off, foisting Metro onto Win desktop drove people to Macs. Yes, it was Ballmer's stupidity that launched the whole fiasco, but methink Nadella is protesting too much that it was inevitable and not his fault.

    I still respect what Nadella's doing on Azure**, but abandoning mobile may very well cost MS dearly in the long term. Esp if you think that cloud + mobile == mainframe + terminals, giving up the user endpoints may end up a deadly mistake.

    At the end of the day, abandoning Winphone is just another example of MS's inability to commit meaningfully to new product lines.

    * On my son's Lumia 640, using Win 10, you need to install extra, non-MS, apps for mp3 playback, that's not included in the base install 8/(

    ** not so much on Win 10 telemetry, that's again his personal leadership failure to put an end to it.

  47. MarketingTechnoDude

    Wrong branding ...

    Another point often overlooked is the decision to name the product Windows. The last thing most consumers wanted was a phone running Windows. You have just spent all your working days experiencing windows crashing on all the pcs you have owned and cursing it! Why would you want the same experience on your own personal mobile phone?

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: Wrong branding ...

      Except by now it's not the name Windows that turns people off, it's Microsoft. When your very identity becomes synonymous with bad product, as can be seen when even Xbox takes a hit, you're in for a tailspin.

  48. Brass knob

    My Samsung Omnia II running Windows Mobile 6.5 was actually quite good back in 2009 - I thought it was better overall than an iPhone and had some good hopes for Microsoft after owning a couple of nice HP Windows CE PDAs (remember those Microsoft ?!). However, when Microsoft announced that none of the apps I'd purchased for 6.5 would be compatible with Windows Mobile 7, I was furious, switched to Android in protest and never looked back.

    And amazing, this was the second time it had happened to me......I used to be a faithful fan of Palm. The original Treo phones were reasonably, despite most people laughing at my phone with it's large colour touchscreen with icons and apps - I mean who would want that in a phone ?!!!

    The huge failed opportunity in my opinion was that Sony didn't buy Palm and release a true smartphone before Apple did. Sony Clie PDAs were lovely. I owned a Sony PEG-UX50 back in 2004. It was amazing hardware for a pocket device: Wifi, bluetooth, rotating touchscreen to flip between 'laptop' and 'tablet' mode, camera, memory card slot, charger docking station, qwerty keyboard, and Palm had a amazing app development community. In that same year, Sony purchased Ericsson as it saw a future in mobile phones, and was really productive in brining out excellent Sony Ericsson devices which were at least as good as anything Nokia were doing. I then purchased the latest Sony Cybershot phone - the camera was a revelation for a phone device. I pleaded for Sony to merge the UX50 tech into it's Ericsson phone tech, transfer its Symbian engineering resource into Palm development, and create the most amazing phone ever.........nothing happened.

    And then Apple released the iPhone a year later.

    My only consolation is that I've now owned each most of the top Sony Xperia devices (now on an XZ Premium) so at least Sony finally caught up with Apple and Samsung. But it could have destroyed them both......

    Hey, Microsoft, Sony, I'm just a nobody in the world of IT - but I could have run your companies better than you....WTF ???!!!

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