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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.

Cutting Edge Technology?

6 Jan

I’ve just purchased a new Windows Phone (OK, we’re calling it Windows Mobile again now we’ve hit Windows 10 everywhere, I’m sorry). It’s my third Windows phone device (I’m referring to the device, not the OS, so it’s a Windows phone – with a small ‘p’) and the ninth Windows phone device I’ve been responsible for purchasing.

This phone is for me, and it will be used for development purposes as well as a daily driver.

So what did I get?

The new flagship Lumia 950XL that I’ve had my eye on for months?

No.

I went for a SIM-Free Lumia 550 for £49.99 (plus £10 top-up).

Yep. My main phone for (at least) the next few months is about the cheapest device Microsoft is churning out at the moment. It’s also about 1/8th of the price of the 950XL I had my eye on.

I’ve had it a week, and so far I’m impressed… stunned when I consider how much it cost.

The 550 doesn’t do everything I want, the biggest omission being Continuum support that I plan to look into developing against, but I feel this functionality requires a bit more work from Microsoft before it is ready for prime time so I’m OK holding off on that for a while.

Then there’s things like the camera which isn’t a patch on the beast on the 950 variants (but surprisingly seems to be able to knock out better photos than my partner’s Lumia 640).

The speed is also nothing to write home about, but then Windows Phone/Mobile have always been very responsive so it’s quite zippy, and it’s still better than my aging Lumia 920.

Oh, and it already runs Windows 10 natively, by which I mean the device is supplied with Windows Mobile 10 out of the box, and doesn’t require the current workaround of signing up to the Insider Preview required by all the other handsets other than the 550 and 950 variants (of course, that’s likely to change in a matter of days as the rollout for prior devices should start commencing very soon).

Otherwise the phone is very good. Windows Mobile 10 is still a work in progress, but very good with only a few little gripes (why did my screen go blank for a few seconds earlier today?) which are more than outweighed by the new functionality available. I decided to start fresh with this device and not install any backups from other devices so this is probably helping the stability side, and fortunately for me I’ve not encountered any serious issues… so far.

The SD card slot is a godsend. I’ve put a 128Gb Micro SD card in the phone (Amazon Black-Friday deal), and almost all apps and data are installed on this, so even though the phone only comes with 8Gb of internal memory, I’ve still got almost 3Gb of that free (more than I typically had on my Lumia 920), with acres of space left on the SD card for me to fill up with my media, etc.

So all in all I’m impressed with this cheap little device, and can see myself using it for a while. Longer term I’ll be tempted by something a little more powerful (be that the 950 XL when some of the issues are sorted and the price has dropped) or should a Surface Phone arrive that actually offers something new (X-86 and desktop apps under Continuum? Yes please!)

Then again I should be impressed, I have just come from a handset that was released over three years ago, a lot has changed in that time.

But still, £50!!!!

It’s a steal.

You Really Should Be Using Office Lens

20 Oct

I regularly use Microsoft Office Lens for scanning in receipts and tickets as it’s remarkably good at automatically cropping and correcting skew, and the results are usually very impressive.

Yesterday I used the whiteboard option for the first time in quite a while, and I’d forgotten how good that is too. It managed to process this photo:

Office Lens_20151019_120648

into this:

Office Lens_20151019_120648_processed

Yes, the second image is the automatically processed version of the first.

Microsoft Office Lens is available for free on Windows Phone, iOS and Android.

Cheap as chips

5 Mar

I’ve just seen this advert on the front of a free newspaper somebody left on the train:

The Lumia 435 is the lowest specified Windows Phone available, but for £25 you are getting a stunning amount of hardware.

This would make a brilliant back up phone or a first phone for a child.

There is a catch though, you need to be an existing customer for 3 months which is the biggest downer, otherwise the phone is £60 from Carphone warehouse, in which case I’d either pay the extra for a Lumia 635, or wait for the Lumia 640 to arrive.

Still, I’m impressed with the aggressive pricing.

Mobile Woes #1

4 Mar

As expected Microsoft failed to announce a new flagship phone at the recent Mobile World Congress, leaving the Lumia 930 (announced in April 2014) as their flagship device. Apparently they are waiting until the release of Windows 10 before releasing a new phone.

Yet at the same time they have released the mid-level Lumia 640 and 640 XL, with the promise that these devices will be upgradable to Windows 10.

To me, this makes a nonsense of holding off releasing a flagship now, especially since many who purchased the only reasonable selling Windows Phone flagship device, the Lumia 920, will be up for renewal. The 920 was released a little under 2 ½ years ago, most contracts are 24 months, so this would have been a perfect time for a new flagship.

Then there’s the other issue. I’ve been trying to hunt down the other high end Windows Phone, the Lumia 1520, but according to suppliers it has been discontinued. Really? Of your two high end phones you no longer make one of them?

So what to do?

I will probably wait until the new models arrive as I want a high end phone on the Windows ecosystem for personal reasons, but I fear I’m the exception.

When I started working at my current client I was surprised at the number of Windows Phones in the office. That is visibly changing though as I witness one colleague after another switching to Apple or Android devices, and I can’t say I blame them.

All is not lost, yet, but Microsoft definitely seem to be making life harder for themselves, and the loyal users. I’m sure they have their reasons, but it’s almost enough to make me look elsewhere. If I’m honest, if it wasn’t for my desire to be involved writing cross platform Windows 10 applications I would have jumped ship myself by now.

Don’t get me wrong, the new 640 and especially the 640 XL look like excellent devices for the price. I’m seriously considering upgrading my partner’s Lumia 920 with the 640 XL as it’s all she, or indeed 90% of the public would require. But it’s not the flagship device many of us are crying out for.

I do hope Microsoft get this situation sorted before too many people lose patience, but unfortunately I’m doubtful this will happen.