Re: Sympathy for The Beast?
"Didn't they try to have an alternative Android stack to the Google stuff at one point? Didn't they have a good map application?"
You may be referring to Nokia X, which was Android but all the Google services were redirected to Microsoft services. Note that they therefore couldn't use the Google Play store but had to use their own app store (I believe there was also a cooperation with Yandex).
It might have been a viable alternative to Google's stack but Microsoft killed it approximately one femtosecond after they bought Nokia. Unlikely that a revival could now stop the Google juggernaut.