I love my Windows Phone. I have never owned an iPhone or Android device, but not even for a moment have I thought to myself that I have missed out on anything because of this.
It’s true that the consumer reception to Windows Phone has been slow. Part of it is because users are exercising caution, which you can’t really blame them for, considering that Windows Mobile was not something to write home about. No, that OS wasn’t terrible, it just didn’t measure up, though it could have. Well, the past is past. No point dwelling on it.
Another reason for the slow adoption (which I believe is the main reason), is the lack of awareness amongst the general consumers. Despite the marketing efforts from Microsoft and now Nokia, the reality is that not many people know that Windows Phone is nothing like Windows Mobile, that Windows Phone is a strong challenger to Android and iOS!
Yes, things like the Smoked by Windows Phone campaign did help, but those kind of things are for the power user and rarely heard of by your average everyday consumer, the people who need to see a Windows Phone device and go “Wow! This is pretty good! I should get one!”.
Microsoft along with Nokia and the other hardware partners (those who care anyway), need to figure out a way to reach more everyday consumers. Do I have an answer? May be I do, but that’s for another time. The answer is not spending millions of dollars on fancy ad campaigns either.
When Windows Phone 7 was released, it was missing a lot of features that users have come to expect. Microsoft remedied that when they released Windows Phone 7.5 (or Mango) and won many people over, including yours truly! Many, dare I say everyone, was sceptical, but Windows Phone 7.5 proved everyone wrong!
Now, everyone (supporters and detractors alike) is waiting to see what Microsoft is about to unleash in Windows Phone 8.
I am certain that it will have a lot of cool features! I am certain that it will be even more Metro than Windows Phone 7! I am certain that it will contain more goodies for businesses and enterprise!
What I am NOT certain of, along with everyone else who currently own a Windows Phone device, is what has Microsoft planned for us when it comes to Windows Phone 8.
The big question is: Will Microsoft allow current Windows Phone devices to be upgraded to Windows Phone 8?
The question has been raised enough times in the tech community, but Microsoft has been very quiet. Of course, the silence can be taken either way, but to be honest, it’s more discouraging than it is encouraging.
What Microsoft could do…
One must assume that Windows Phone 8 will not be Windows Phone 7 with some minor changes, but a major update. with a slew of new software features as well as the latest hardware improvements/innovations. Therefore, it’s understood that Windows Phone 8 will best run on new devices that are designed for it. Thus, for those of us who own a current generation Windows Phone 7 device, it’s unrealistic/silly to assume that IF we were to be able to upgrade our devices to Windows Phone 8, our experience would be limited by the capabilities of our device.
Truth is, I’d be happy if this were true! I know my phone does not have the latest and greatest hardware! But if Microsoft were to code Windows Phone 8 in such a way that the OS would optimally run on my current generation Windows Phone 7 device with certain functionalities limited or disabled (reflecting the missing/non-compliant hardware), I wouldn’t complain! I’d still get to enjoy Windows Phone 8 (albeit a limited experience) until I am able to get a newer device, be it when my contract runs out or when I can afford one!
This is not a revolutionary concept really. Microsoft has been doing this with their Windows OS for years! I have installed and used Windows XP, Windows Vista, Windows 7 and now Windows 8 (Developer Preview) on my 6 year old Toshiba laptop! Every time I installed the latest OS, I knew that my experience wouldn’t be the same as it would be on the latest and greatest hardware, but I was just glad that I could still use the latest OS and not be left behind or not be able to enjoy at least some of the new features available.
Personally, I hope that this is what Microsoft is planning to do with Windows Phone 8.
What Microsoft shouldn’t do, but could anyway…
Microsoft could make Windows Phone 8 exclusive to new devices, assuring Windows Phone 7 users that they will continue to work on Windows Phone 7 to improve upon it and fix issues and so on.
The problem with this approach is that most wouldn’t buy it. I know I wouldn’t. Why? Because I don’t believe Microsoft is willing to assign resources to support both Windows Phone 8 and Windows Phone 7. It just doesn’t make sense.
If Microsoft were to go down this path, the backlash would be disastrous. Everyone who bought a Windows Phone 7 device, especially in recent months, would feel cheated. I know I would. Even after all these years, people have not forgotten Windows Mobile and the bad taste it left in their mouths. Could Microsoft really afford to add salt to those wounds by angering the existing Windows Phone customers? I don’t think so.
What about the developers…
Microsoft has struggled to get developers on board to build quality apps for Windows Phone. Even now, though there are over 90K apps in the Windows Phone Marketplace, it is still far below the number of apps available for iOS and Android. Yes, quality is better than quantity, but try selling that to the average consumer.
If Microsoft were to bring out Windows Phone 8 and make it exclusive to new devices, it could possibly cause existing users to bail on Windows Phone (because they can’t upgrade their brand new Lumia 800/900 or HTC Titan II and so on). If this does happen, do you think that any developer would be interested in staying onboard a sinking ship? As a developer (and staunch Windows Phone supporter), I have to be honest and say that I would think twice about continuing development efforts on the platform.
The ball is in your court Microsoft.
So, what’s the answer to the big question: Nobody knows but Microsoft!
Windows Phone 8 is coming. We will know more details about the OS in the third week of June.
Windows Phone 8 devices are not expected until the end of 2012.
There’s still time for Microsoft to not only make the next version of Windows Phone even more amazing than what it is now, but to also ensure that all current Windows Phone users/supporters will not be given the cold shoulder and left in the dark without an upgrade.
It’s up to Microsoft to blow us all away or to blow everything up!
Thanks for reading. I would love to hear your comments and thoughts.
SriThank Sri 🙂