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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.

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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.

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.