Windows Phone 8 Developer Summit is finally over and has many early adopters who recently purchased a second generation device left unsatisfied, to say the least. As an early adopter myself who bought a Nokia Lumia 900 about 8 days ago I can fully understand the rage that is going through the community. But I still have some common sense left that tries to find explanations for why Microsoft chose to take the decision the way they did.
First of all Windows Phone hasn’t been the top seller many of us would have liked to see it becoming ever since its release in October 2010. WP’s marketshare is still low enough that Microsoft is willingly taking the risk of pissing people off who already bought into their still new ecosystem. But who are those people who feel let down by Microsoft? Is it the average customer that has just jumped on the smartphone bandwagon? Or is it rather the tech savvy geek who is never really satisfied with what he currently owns and is always longing for newer, better hardware and more features? My assumption is that in at least 7 times out of 10 it’s the latter. And I bet that 3 or 4 of these 7 would have bought a newer device anyways when it hits the marketplace. Even if their current devices would have been upgraded to Apollo.
But why did Microsoft take that risk in the first place anyways? From my understand they didn’t even have a choice to take a different path. When they realised that Windows Mobile was going down big time, it was pretty much too late as Apple and Google already had taken control over the mobile market. What Microsoft needed to do was two things:
- Come up with something so different from everything else currently available and unique in many ways, that it would be noticed and gain some traction even though it would lack many features commonly available on competing platforms.
- They needed to do it as quickly as humanly possible in order to not let the already existing gap between them and their competitors become even bigger.
Besides the fact that hardware that was available when Microsoft began development of Windows Phone wasn’t by far as good as it is today and thus most definitely not even capable of running an NT based kernel, what was Microsoft supposed to do other than taking an existing and as being reliably proven system (aka Windows CE) and give it an overhaul?
From a business point of view it’s the only way that makes sense to me. From a consumer point of view though I have to admit that I’m of course not actually happy with what was announced yesterday. Even though I have to admit that it was a Summit meant for developers which of course unvealed mainly things relevant to these. It has yet to be announced what features both, WP7.8 and WP8 will bring to the consumers. I still believe that WP7.8 will not be all about the redesigned homescreen. Being a bit speculative here I assume that every single feature that Win CE and our single core Snapdragon CPUs are capable of, will be delivered with this update.
To sum things up: am I pissed off? Do I feel screwed by Microsoft (and Nokia)? Certainly. Does this mean I close my eyes before things that were pretty obvious and most definitely inevitable? Heck no! What Microsoft announced yesterday may feel like a slap in the face for many, but they couldn’t really have done it any other way. And as a matter of fact: I enjoyed Windows Phone 7.x and my Lumia 900 before yesterday. How the hell could that Summit have changed that? It didn’t. I still enjoy the experience of WP on my device. And I will continue to do so for as long as it may take until I can get my hands on a dedicated Windows Phone 8 device.
Just a quick last note before I save this post and have it published. Many WP users are pretty much concerned with the marketplace situation that is ahead of us. Sure, Microsoft promised that all existing apps will run just fine on Windows Phone 8. But what will happen to people who use Windows Phone 7.8 then?
Without diving too deep in technical aspects, Windows Phone 8, regardless of the new kernel, still supports XAML and C# (aka managed code) which was, is and will be absolutely sufficient for most apps. All these apps should run without any issues on WP7.x as well and thus certainly be available on this particular marketplace. Apps that make use of WP8’s newer hardware or are natively coded won’t run though. That again is speculation as there’s no WP8 SDK available right now to play around with. Once it’s available will see if there are differences or not.
That’s it, I’m done. Call me a blind fanboy, but I still believe Microsoft took the right decision. As unpopular and fucked up it may seem. Period.