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I’ve got a new phone, and it’s made me sad.

25 Sep

So, it’s finally done. The new phone, a Lenovo Moto G5S Plus has arrived and I’m currently setting it up.

New technology and toys always make us happy (at least for a short while), and while I’m pleased to have it, what the move over to Android represents that makes me sad.

That is the fact Windows Phone is now in maintenance mode, but it could have been so different.

The Windows Mobile OS offered so much and delivered on most of it. But incompetence at Microsoft in marketing the devices, dis-interest and arrogance towards the consumer market (especially outside of the United States) by Microsoft, and a general mocking but consumers who’d never even used the phones to any extent lead to poor take-up by the public. This, in turn, meant companies had little incentive to invest in writing apps for the platform, so in turn, developers had little incentive to learn or target the OS themselves.

This, in turn, meant companies had little incentive to invest in writing apps for the platform, so in turn, developers had little incentive to learn or target the OS themselves. So without the array of apps offered by competitors, who would choose a Windows based device?

Now I’ve had my hand forced and had to move back to Android on my phone. I’ve always had plenty of Android-based devices around the house, most notably several tablets, but nothing phone based since my Desire HD.

Ironically, it’s been my Lumia 950 phone itself that’s made me move now rather than later. Stability has been terrible on the 950 of late (possibly something hardware related since even a device recovery didn’t help much). It’s ironic because I move away from Android 5 years ago due to the reliability issues I was having on several devices.

So at least now I’ll be able to load a few of the Apps I’ve been finding myself missing due to their absence in the Windows Store.

Why the G5S Plus though?

Well, you’d think I’d go for a top end phone, but I thought about what I actually use it for and came to the realisation that I’d do OK with this one for £259, rather than something from OnePlus/Samsung/Google for somewhere between £650 to £1000.

I don’t play games very often. I’d like to do VR, but can wait until my next refresh for that. The screen is bigger than some of the higher end choices out there without being silly. It’s a capable device for a decent price.

But it is a step back in several areas, for example:

  • The camera isn’t anywhere near as good as the still impressive L950 camera (although I’ve been finding night shots particularly disappointing of late, even with a clean lens).
  • No wireless charging. After 5 years of carrying Qi capable phones (welcome to the party Apple) I’m going back to solely wired charging. It won’t make much difference day to day, but grabbing the phone to do something and not worrying about wires, especially from bed, will be missed.
  • No compass. Sounds like a small thing, and may well be if general GPS duties are not affected, but this one has me a little worried.
  • No NFC. Now that’s a real shame, especially with the presence on Android Pay on the OS. I guess I’ll just have to get a FitBit Ionic 😉
  • I’ll miss the OLED screen (again, welcome to the party Apple), but the reduced resolution will be fine I’m sure. I’ve never been a fan of screens of such a high DPI that nobody can tell the difference between them… apart from battery life.
  • It’s Android. That gets me lots of apps, but what I consider an inferior OS.

However the phone is scheduled to get upgraded to Oreo, so hopefully the OS will get better.

Of course, I’ll end up installing several Microsoft Apps due to the way my life is now organised, but I’ll be spending more money with Google that would have been destined for Microsoft. I won’t make a lot of difference to their bottom line but add in the millions of other users that have or are making the switch, and it surely can’t be seen as a good thing for the company.

Oh well.

Anyhow, I’ve got a phone to continue setting up. No doubt I’ll let you know how I get on…

Watch Out!

13 Sep

With the market for wearables being currently much smaller than anyone expected, I admire Apple for sticking with it.

Microsoft didn’t, and yet again abandoned a promising product line in the band, rather than investing in it.

I wonder what Satya’s master plan is?

Probably just cloud everywhere.

Not a bad plan I suppose, but ask Apple how it feels having the vast majority of your income come from one product.

You’d think Microsoft would already be wise to this having stood by to watch Windows become less relevant as the world moved on to the mobile platforms they largely overlooked.

Band was only ever going to be a bit player, but it could have been another piece of the services puzzle to pull people in.

Possibly a bit like Apple is doing with their watch.

Now we’ll never know, apart from watching Apple continue to innovate and iterate with their Watch.

Haven’t we seen this happen before?

It’s Started…

3 Aug

So I made the first step towards moving back to Android. I ordered a Moto G5 Plus for my partner (one day before the G5S variants were announced, typically) to replace her two year old Lumia 640XL.

I managed to find an online store selling them for £50 less than anywhere else, but I’m not going to tell you the store name as it’s been a few days now and the order is still in “processing” status (so I’m beginning to get a little bit concerned about the site being just a scam).

For years I sold family members on Windows Phone/Mobile as I still genuinely believe that for non tech savy people it’s the simplest mobile OS out there. But Hayley was increasingly asking about apps that didn’t exist on the platform. These same apps are not going to magically appear even if the C-Shell variant of Windows ever appears either. And what with Microsoft yet again seemingly abandoning the platform, using an alternative is now regrettably a no-brainer.

Good work Redmond.

So now I find myself going into the Google play store and seeing what’s new, checking what I already have in my library, and what I can spend my money on.

That’s money that Microsoft won’t get to see…

The loss of my beloved OS will be a bitter pill to swallow initially, and I mourn the loss of the one app running everywhere future, but I’m actually starting to look forward to the change in some ways.

Right now I wonder if I’ll ever find a reason to go back to a Mobile Microsoft solution.

Perhaps if they really do have something magical up their sleeve. But right now I very much doubt it.

Time Gentlemen, Please…

28 Jul

Windows Phone/Mobile is dead.

This time it’s for real.

Now it’s only the die hard fan boys remaining, as we wait for each new security and bug fix to arrive.

Windows 10 Mobile itself will be supported for several more years to come, and with devices like the HP Elite X3 it has to be, but as far as new features go, for all intents and purposes, that time has passed. I am aware of only one new feature in the Mobile Fall Creators update.

Microsoft has moved on, and now it’s become undeniable that I have to do the same.

I’m not happy about this. Windows Phone had a tiny usage share inside the U.S. In many places in the rest of the world however, usage hit or was close to double figure percentage.

I’ve always been able to survive with the lack of apps, but recently there’s been time after time where something I need just isn’t available. On top of everything else, that has now turned into one time too many.

It appears that Microsoft will follow yet another reboot to their mobile strategy with the release of full desktop based on C Shell at some point (I thought Windows 10 had already more or less achieved this already), but at this point I’m beyond caring. The apps I’m missing aren’t in the full Windows Store, so they won’t be on the mobile devices either, by the very definition of the platform.

Perhaps if one day the apps arrive, I’ll take another look, but I only have a limited amount of money, so making the switch each time becomes increasingly hard to justify.

I love the Windows Mobile OS and don’t relish the thought of moving back to Android, but this time my hand has been forced.

And once I’m in, I’ll be all in.

If Microsoft aren’t using Xamarin, why should I?

4 May

Microsoft, in a move that many developers were hoping for, purchased the really rather brilliant company Xamarin. Xamarin provides a tool to write cross platform apps from one code base, namely C#. Brilliant! Now the promise of being able to develop for iOS, Android and Windows from the one code base could become a reality without costing a fortune!

Microsoft also purchased Wunderlist. This will gradually be retired in favour of their new application, Microsoft ToDo. Microsoft recently released clients for Windows, Windows Phone, iOS and Android.

None of which were written in Xamarin apparently.

Why?

I can’t find any details of which Microsoft first party apps for iOS and Android are written in Xamarin, but I suspect it’s not many.

It should be a case that virtually all Apps from Microsoft should be written in Xamarin (with the possible exception of those requiring a significant of low level access, and even then I’m not convinced they couldn’t be coded partially in Xamarin if it’s as good as portrayed).

Microsoft used to be the best at eating their own dog food. If they are indeed doing this, isn’t it time we were told?

Microsoft is blocking Linux installs!

22 Sep

That’s the headline I’ve seen in a number of places.

Unfortunately, more surely it should probably read something like:

Linux fails to install on some PCs with SSD Raid drives, due to driver’s not yet being available.

(source)

Move on, nothing to see here.

Windows on phones is dead…

22 Apr

… or is it the next big thing?

Well, since few people even at Microsoft are using it the outlook does look grim at the moment.

However this article makes a case how Continuum could be the future. Perhaps.

Of course my concern is that I just purchased a display dock to test out Continuum, but I can’t get it to work.

Colour me disappointed.

Aside

David Cutler

22 Apr

A brief interview with a genius.

Read more at http://news.microsoft.com/features/the-engineers-engineer-computer-industry-luminaries-salute-dave-cutlers-five-decade-long-quest-for-quality/#sm.00001mwq8ils3ad4ny3qdf0w01ba7

So I decided…

18 Apr

Well, it did take a bit of soul searching, but eventually heart won out over head.

I went for the Lumia 950XL, finding a refurbished model for £299 online. It arrived quickly and seems perfect so far, so hopefully nothing goes wrong with it going forward.

Price did play a part in my decision. I couldn’t find a Nexus 6P for anywhere near this, which could be a good sign as it may show people are holding on to them or snapping them up quickly when they do come up for resale (which would also push the price up, or hey, they may not be quite as popular as I thought…).

But overall I’m just happy with Windows Mobile. Not having used an Android [mobile] device for a few years now I find Windows Mobile does everything I want. Of course, this may well be a case of not knowing any better.

It also falls into the “justifying my decision” category that we are all unknowingly guilty of. For example, if I made the decision to purchase an Android or iPhone device, I’d be naturally inclined to recommend them, since nobody wants to admit they made a wrong choice unless it’s staring them in the face.

Of course, many will say buying another device on a dead platform is a wrong choice staring me in the face, but I don’t believe this is entirely the case.

A part of me would still like to see Windows Mobile take off, but I realise this is never going to happen, certainly not for the next few years. But I don’t think we’re dead either.  Windows phone is essentially just Windows 10 compiled to ARM with a few phone modifications, and as such it’s relatively simple for Microsoft to continue to support.

More importantly, Microsoft needs to continue this support phones to fully flesh out the “Windows Everywhere” mantra that the company is following for universal applications. Lose phones, lose some of the appeal of keeping developers interested in your entire platform.

And it’s UWP that I believe will keep the platform alive and what, as a traditional PC user, makes it interesting to me. The fact I can buy an application on my phone or PC, and it will provide me with the same application on the other device for no extra charge (as it’s the same app, same code, etc.) is great.

Windows 10 is pushing the quality and quantity UWP applications in the store up gradually, so I hope desktop Windows will essentially keep Windows Mobile viable for the few of us die-hards that remain.

Will this result in an increase in Windows Mobile market share. Possibly, especially in the enterprise, but probably not for consumers (and probably not in the enterprise with DYOD being a huge factor, but it can only help).

The fact that Windows Mobile is not a priority for Microsoft at the moment is totally understandable, but worrying. Still, if UWP lays the groundwork, and they carry on developing the system (and most of that will be down to work being done on the other Windows 10 variants) then there is still something to look forward to, and it lays the groundwork for if Microsoft should ever decide the time is right to make Windows Mobile a priority again.

Remember, Windows Mobile is just Windows now, with just a few minor modifications.

It just remains to be seen if that is enough to keep it going.

In the meantime I’ll just enjoy using my new phone.

Decisions, Decisions…

7 Apr

So I’m very happy with my Lumia 550 purchased at the end of last year…

…but it is starting to feel a little slow and underpowered.

Since it looks like Microsoft won’t be releasing any new Windows Phone hardware this year, it leaves me with a difficult choice:

1. Stay with the L550 for a while
2. Get a 950 XL (shopping around I’ve seen £299)
3. Get a Nexus 6P (more expensive than the L950)

So why option 3?

Well, I like to think Windows phone is hibernating rather than dead, and that once all those lovely UWP apps have built up with the introduction of Windows 10, Microsoft will go full throttle on this great phone OS…

But that’s clearly not going to happen in the near future, if at all.

So that leaves Android as my preferred alternative, and with the recent news around Xamarin, it could be useful to have an Android phone to develop against (and I’ll still have the 550 to test mobile UWP issues)

But then the L950 will let me play with Continuum… and I do love Windows Mobile.

I need more money so I can just by both.