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Microsoft focusing on increasing Windows Phone volume with GDR2; features coming later

One area where it’s always difficult to please your audience is in regards to technology. Between hardware and software advancements you have a public who not only yearns but demands frequent updates for their devices. Some of it is rational and some of it resembles the tantrums of children. But somewhere in between, there is the truth.

Microsoft is in a precarious situation with Windows Phone as they have a lot of so-called 'chicken versus egg' problems to solve. For instance, they need more mainstream apps. But in order to get more apps, they have to have enough devices in user’s hands to convince developers to get on board with Windows Phone. But how can you convince people to buy your phone if you don’t have the apps (either real or perceived)?

With Windows Phone 8 build 10327 (GDR2), Microsoft is pushing out their second minor update for their new operating system this year (the first was GDR1 aka Portico). The concern for a lot of current users is GDR2 doesn’t really bring much to the table in terms of new features. Sure FM radio and an improved Xbox Music library are nice to have, but it’s far from the dozens of features people are demanding on Microsoft’s UserVoice forum.

The GDR2/GDR3 gambit—grow device availability

Part of the problem is also a misunderstanding of Microsoft’s strategy: GDR2 is less about new features and more about enabling new hardware.  Same thing with the GDR3 release, expected around October, empowering next generation Qualcomm chipsets and 1080P displays.

More specifically, devices like the Nokia Lumia 1020 are built around GDR2. Sure, current Windows Phones will benefit from GDR2 but the Lumia 1020 needs it. Things like “dual capture” were not possible before within the OS, but Nokia wanted it badly in order to bring their 41MP vision to Windows Phone. As a result, Microsoft had to devote development resources to make that happen. In fact, a lot of the camera ability is a result of the Microsoft-Nokia partnership e.g. setting the default camera app.

This is one reason why Nokia is happy with the Microsoft deal, because they can focus on building great hardware while Microsoft worries about the OS.

That’s not to say everything is great between the two companies, as recent comments by Nokia vice president Bryan Biniak to the International Business Times suggest. Biniak publicly criticized Microsoft for dragging its feet on getting big name apps to Windows Phone. While Redmond seems content on getting apps on a schedule, Nokia is more about the right now. As Biniak states:

“To give you a reason to switch, I need to make sure the apps that you care about on your device are not only on our phones, but are better. I also need to provide you unique experiences that you can't get on your other devices."

“We are trying to evolve the cultural thinking [at Microsoft] to say 'time is of the essence.' Waiting until the end of your fiscal year when you need to close your targets, doesn't do us any good when I have phones to sell today."

Nokia gets it, but evidently Microsoft is still adapting. Still, as a whole, the two companies are working together and shaping the ecosystem based around what Nokia and the other OEMs want. Think LTE, think low-cost devices. Windows Phone was shockingly not going to get LTE support until Windows Phone 8 and Nokia is clearly eating up the entry-level handset market with the Lumia 520, Lumia 620 and Lumia 625. Both of those changes in strategy are partner-influence in action.

More boats for more passengers

It should now be clear that Microsoft’s strategy in 2013 is about enabling more hardware options for their OEMs partners. More chipsets, more display options, deeper level access to the OS plumbing, etc. The idea is to flood the market with many levels of devices, from mid-range to high end “wow” gadgets like the Lumia 1020 to what actually sells en masse, the Lumia 520.

Is the strategy working? At least one analyst thinks so. Dominic Sunnebo, over at Kantar Worldpanel ComTech notes in today’s market report:

“While flagship Windows handsets such as the Nokia 925 and HTC 8X grab the headlines, it is the low and mid-range models, such as the Nokia Lumia 520 and 620, which are quietly driving its momentum. It is vital for Windows to be seen as a mainstream alternative to Android and iOS rather than a niche platform. Selling large volumes of lower end smartphones is a good way of getting Windows seen in the hands of potential customers’ friends and family, convincing them there isn’t a risk in choosing the operating system. The majority of people are trend followers, not trend setters, so Windows needs to get as many smartphones to market as quickly as possible.”

Microsoft’s corporate vice president and manager for Windows Phone Program, Joe Belfiore, admitted as much when responding to a recent complaint on Twitter about the company not moving fast enough with OS updates:

“Different people want lots of different things.  Most of you want apps like Instagram…for that we need to increase volume.”

Ding ding. While it has always been speculated the reason Instagram won’t release an app is due to low Windows Phone market share, it now appears to be confirmed. Microsoft needs to get more phones in more people’s hands if they want those apps.

That’s why Microsoft is devoting so much to GDR2 and GDR3, seemingly paying more attention to their OEM partners than current customer demands (we say “seemingly” because we know Microsoft does care, but priorities, folks).

The tradeoff

Lumia 520

And that’s just it: In order for Microsoft to focus on enabling new hardware and radical innovations like the Lumia 1020, they had to take their resources away from straight up “feature updates” akin to what Windows Phone 7.5 Mango did earlier, packing 500 new functions or improvements.

Mind you, we’re not trying to justify their strategy, but merely explain it as we see it for a better understanding.

Windows Phone 8.1 Blue appears to be the big overhaul of the OS, where new features and functionality to bring it closer to Windows 8.1 desktop will become evident. Things like syncing of Accent color across devices, more location services, actionable notifications for developers, notification center and more are all being considered for that update due in early 2014.

So what's better: Have Blue's features on fewer handsets earlier or Windows Phone Blue on more devices, but later? That's an interesting question.

But why not do both, you say? We’re not privy to how Microsoft operates, their budget nor how their strategy meetings progress, but it seems to us from observers on the outside that like most organizations, they have limits on resources preventing them from doing everything at once.

Clearly some market research firms, like Kantar, see the benefit of going for entry-level devices before Apple gets in there (see our earlier editorial “Nokia well positioned for approaching smartphone price wars as costs plummet”). Others though will disagree, noting that Microsoft should beef up the OS and that will sell devices.

Microsoft does have a lot of problems to solve with Windows Phone. The user base is rightly getting frustrated with the lack of frequent feature-packed OS updates, the delays from carriers approving those updates and the seemingly far off Windows Phone 8.1 Blue update. It also gives a lot of ammo to critics and detractors. Will Microsoft prevail? We hope so, but some recent market share numbers suggest they still have a long way to go.

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Reader comments

Microsoft focusing on increasing Windows Phone volume with GDR2; features coming later

319 Comments

Is the WP team understaffed? Are they treated differently (than the Windows and XBox teams) because they are less profitable? Looks like the WP team can't justify more resources to work on a. feature updates and b. enabling new HW simultaneously. Hope the recent reorg changes things for the better.

I always thought the Windows Phone team was a subset of the Windows team. I.E., when Windows (desktop) needs more work on it than normal they take from the Windows Phone team or something like that (kind of like Apple does with the Mac OSX Team and iOS). At least, that's how I imagined it.

I don't think that was the case. Both teams had different execs reporting to Steve. Now, after the reorg, they're all under one roof.

Actually no WP team is not understaffed, the GDR Teams are! You have to keep in mind that most of the WP Staff is working on WP8.1 full time, while the rest of those are working in smaller Teams on the GDR updates AFAIK.
PS: I didnt read the Article so lets read. :)!

 
I for one hope MS realsies the mistakes they are making and everyone is pointing out to them and fixes the upgrade pathto something that attracts people to WP8 not encourages them to look at a different OS.

Sorry for stealing your comment but.
WP7 was trying to catch up with features.
Now WP8 is trying to catch up with features and then story will continue with WP9.
Im not sure what MS is thinking, i wish Nokia and other OEMs would have more impact on MS speed, creativity.

i disagree to a certain point
WP7 was the begining -> WP8 was the feature catchup -> GDRs are spec catch up -> Blue reach 90% feature parity +what we have that others don't (eg: live tiles, buttery smooth, updates that generally don't destroy your phones performance, etc...)

WP8 has less functionality than 7! In 7 I had an FM radio, Zune, wireless syncing, and a Web browser that could load NextBus.com. Now I have none of those things. Indeed, there hasn't been a major update since NoDo that was unequivocally an up/grade/. I find it astonishing that in many ways my Arrive was a more capable phone than my 920 is (in bright light, it even took better pictures!).

MS seriously need to get off their duffs and fix this OS. They can start by opening it up so that developers can write functional apps.

Will GDR2 fix the Live tile issues?
Other than my email, calendar, phone (messages and missed calls), and text tiles the "live tiles" do not work 99%of the time. The forums show many others with same complaint. I love the idea, but MS needs to fix this if they want to use it as a selling point and something that differentiates them from other operating systems.
Is anyone else frustrated with MS not addressing this?

u will have to wait for GDR2 comes out to find out, i wouldn't know (i haven't seen the live tile issue though so i can't speak on that part)

Yes I agree the non real time update (or in a lot of cases, anytime actually) of tiles is very frustrating and a huge time waster. How can I glance and go, when I have to second guess the tile and open the app to get the updated info. This includes the WPcentral app/tile. On my Nokia 920.

I had the live tile issues ever since I did a soft reset. I tried all of the suggestions in the forums and other websites. Nothing worked, until I finally did a hard reset. (But while doing the hard reset, the phone got stuck at the "gears" screen. I tried several tricks mentioned online for this issue, but they didn't work and I finally went to my nearest Microsoft store to reset the phone for me. That worked.) Now my live tiles work perfectly. I love my 920 once again.

Wasn't that a teal pain reinstalling all the apps and customizing all the apps? We shouldn't need to wipe the phone to fix. I've been trying to avoid that. :-(

I have Lumia 920, Amazing Weather HD will never update the live tile, there are issues with background tasks for sure, it is not reliable. And i agree that windows phone 8 was not an upgrade, may be an upgrade at Kernel level, but feature wise it is backwords, syncing music is a disaster.

Agreed. Music handling is terrible and a feature I hope they really work on. I still can't believe how hard it is to make a simple playlist

WP8 was a core kernel change which a lot of time/work went into so they lost feature momentum there and from the sound of it, GDR1/2/3 are still catching the NT kernel up on older features (some new) while Blue will finally bring a lot more of the stuff we have been asking for throughout the WP lifecycle.  I'm ok with the lull in big new features if we see payoff on the backend with more synergy with Windows 8.1, Skype, Skydrive, etc...

I agree that WP8 was a core kernel change which took much effort, but I think MS has enough capital and should have enough personell to take care of several issues at the same time.    Growing their market share is very important, but as is keeping their current customers happy.   Oftentimes we are the evangelicals for the OS, if we are not happy, we won't be talking to our friends and co-workers about WP.

^^This. Microsoft keeps acting like they're a small mom and pop shop. They have hundreds of programmers that could easily knock this stuff out. Why do we not have a notification screen? Why are most live tiles poorly functional? This is unforgivable for a company desperate to remain relevant in mobile.

You can't grow marketshare easily if people have to, in many ways, downgrade to move to your platform.

That's rather succinct Bloobed, I agree.  Of course anyone who's looked into purchasing a WP phone would likely realize that the platform may not have all the applications that iOS or Android would, but for god's sake why should the OS have the same volume for ringing as it does for music or customizable notifications?
 

It seems to me that Windows Phone is moving about as slow as when Blackberry was moving before 10. I'm all in with Windows, but it seems they're marketing and communications and resources is not being prioritized since it's moving pretty slow with updates and all that. I don't know what Microsoft is doing, but I see why it seems like Nokia is doing all the work and Samsung & HTC half-ass their phones for WP.

People say windows phone is playing catch up. While I think there playing another ball game. I have been an IOS and android user, and while I like both of them, windows phone just has the look and feel that I like. The keyboard, ecosystem, the consistency of the UI, and the Lumia 920 and nokias dedication to providing to there customers.

Microsoft would rather do one than both. And their budget is possibly a limiting factor.

I think the report is right along these lines, but Microsoft need to get a grip and needs to get back to basics, they're the richest company on earth, the highest software developer, and windows phone is in the marketplace. Invest as much as required to rework the OS and upgrade the features together. Then market the hell out of it. Otherwise, what is the point in continuing in the industry? If they don't gain serious momentum soon, then all the money invested thus far, in WM7, then WP7 and now WP8, may as well be burnt as the limited budget will hold back future popularity of the OS and thus hold back revenue.

Bill Gates never got to where he was without serious investment, loss-making, giving windows away for free etc, first rule of business is you speculate to, the current strategy is clearly not working as desired, so imho, its do or die time for windows phone over the next 12-18 months, either they go for it big time, or they wind the project down, either way they're going to lose a lot of money over the whole affair, so you may as well lose it today for long term gain, than not save it today but throw all the previous investment down the drain.

Eh?
MS never gave Windows away. Bill Gates is no longer running the company.
Windows Phone isn't losing money, it just doesn't make as much money as the Android patent payments :)
Ballmer has just totally re-orged the company for speed.
Microsoft are in this for the long haul. They seem to be pretty certain RIM/BB will fail, and lose the enterprise (and I can tell you lots of BB houses are moving to WP in my sector)
They do appear to be frustratingly slow, but I suspect they are also waiting for iOS 7 and its non-eventfullness to blow over before telling the world what it has to offer. I really hope custom tones, better calendar, notification centre, better Xbox Music app, proper DEEP skype integration and proper DEEP Xbox live messaging (and working live tiles for once) all come to the platform. Or I may find myself moving to iOS (I'd never move to Android, its horrible)
 
 

Hwangeruk, whilst i admire you positivity with regards microsofts management of the wp platform, and i live in hope, its just the same old story I've been reading for years and years. We were meant to have everything you mention as part of ep8, none of it materialised, they heavily promoted skype integration, and yet, its absolutely woeful! Microsofts own company!! The response always seems to be... "the next update will be the gamechanger for wp".

In truth, the only gamechanger in the history of WP, was the deal with Nokia. Nothing else has wowwed enough, or changed the course of history. If Microsoft are in it for the long term, invest heavily right now, not in three years time when the platform is dying an slow and painful death and your biggest jewel, Nokia, has been forced to open up to the competition. Blackberry is irrelevant within the future of smartphones, a number of the lingering bb enterprise customers will undoubtedly be attracted to the wp platform, but most have already, and will continue, to jump ship to iOS. Its nice to desire the enterprise sector, but for now Microsoft need to be working on all bases, not just fannying around at the sides playing hermits, whilst the competition starts to catch up with what's good about wp, and even surpass it in some areas. Lets face it, since mango, the new start screen aside, nothing huge, no real change etc, has come through in terms of usability within the GUI. WP users are all to quick to level that argument against the iOS interface, but the truth is, iOS has a lot more features that wp users are crying out fir and Microsoft are intent on ignoring them, and iOS whilst on the back foot to android now, is leaps and bounds ahead of windows phone in terms of mindshare etc...

Missing features do nothing but annoy users, and updates that appear to add nothing (to the average consumer) are irritating to say the least, when your friend with his droid/iOS device has been checking their notification centre for the past few years.

I have a 620 atm, potentially looking at a 1020 when they release in the uk, come from a 710 etc... But for me, if Microsoft are still fannying about this time next years, playing catch up but not actually doing aything about it, ill be off to iOS. And i hate apple, but wp needs to either put up or shut up its been far too long now. The excuse "its still a new platform" wore out a couple of years back!

I think so. There's little of the love of technology that seemed to spur on Gates (or the equivalent love of product that Jobs had) - WP is just seen as another market to enter, and they'll do just enough to get them to the point where the graphs of effort and profit intersect, and then they'll stay there until some competitor prompts them to do better.
See also: IE6 until Firefox, WM6 until iOS, Xbox One original plans until PS4, etc etc. Except in moments that rarely last, and generally exist while a product is Ballmer-free, this is what happens. It always feels as though they're trying to make cash cows, and not just great products.
Windows 7, WP7&8 user.

Improvements on the security for both GSM and Qualcomm based CDMA networks on the US side, as required by the FCC.  It also becomes Qualcomm CDMA compliant in order to gain attraction from CDMA carriers outside of China (China Mobile CDMA code will only be used in China from this point forward).

It does, but since people interpret things differently there is no point in explaining it. Or Why people interpret it differently or why people use one smiley and not a few dozen - as that also could be misconstrued aswell lol.

Phew, I'm not the only one! I misinterpreted the article title as the sound volume too! :D

+1020, especially the confirmation why Instagram won't life a finger. But heck we have several great apps from third party devs - I'd rather support them than some egoistic company but wait... then again by using their service you still support that egoistic company!.. ah well.. can't win that argument lol.

Very well written article Daniel. As an insider, there is a lot that I can't say on a public forum but would really, really like to say (even notwithstanding "the opinions expressed..." caveats). As such, it's very nice when someone like yourself puts voice to those same thoughts, especially in a concise and common sense way.

Knowing some of the stuff ending up on the cuting room floor (shortly) before WP8 was released makes one wonder though.
 
Watching the keynnote on the 2012 WP devcon now is almost like watching a 'what could have been'. So much mentioned there simply never made it in or was so watered down it was not even funny. One of the biggest ones was how OTA would free you from carrier dependencies.. That now turn out to be one of the biggest jokes of them all together with the claim made that developing apps between W8/WP8/RTwould basically be a matter of a different setting on the compiler.
 

This is just stupid. Does Microsoft have TWO developers working on WP?
We're not talking about pie-in-the-sky features that the unreasonable public demands, basic dumbphone/media device stuff is missing! How on earth does one intend to attract audiences with a screamingly subpar software offering? It looks like Microsoft thinks that promises are enough. Just you wait, we'll rewrite the OS to another kernel and then all the cool stuff is going to happen. Just you wait, we'll gather a critical-mass level of device support, then the cool stuff is going to happen. Well, guess what? Nobody cares to wait that long! In the mean time, Google's EAS/CalDAV curfew is running out and in two days I can't sync my calendar to Google. The deadline extension was known for six months! But no, the GDR2 will arrive "any week now".
But no, sir Steve-Jobs-Wannabe-Joe feeds us more promises and prances around preaching meaningless blabber about "shut-up-and-ship mode", timely updates, that there are enough "apps" to go around...
Sorry to say this, but I feel mighty stupid for buying into all these great promises and "potential". Not sure if I have the patience to wait for the next "cool stuff" deadline in "the first half of 2014".

I think it's more complicated than this. Windows Phone believe it or not is often not criticized for lack of features. Read any recent reviews from major tech sites and you'll be hard pressed to find lack of features a frequent complaint. 

Also, while MS does have a lot of money, it's not all about throwing dollars at the problem. Clearly you need to hire talented people and have a manageable team.

Either way, not being a part of the process, I'm remiss to condemn it too much as I'm just an outsider looking in. Everyone I've spoken with who develops on the WP team says they are hard at work and have a lot of things coming.

First of, really nice article Daniel, truly well written, with a nice  point of view. 
I peronally think that windows phone doesn't lack a lot of stuff, but my problem is particulary GDR2, for one reason, and one reason only, and that is new google protocol support.
Support for AciveSync is nearly over, and the update is not on everyones phone, which in practice is not a big problem you can sync to outlook and all, but it shows a lack od responsobility from MS, because it's been a long time coming, they knew about it, yet they did nothing. 

Im relatively new to wp8 but not to the cell phone industry Ms has been makin promise like this since the old windows mobile Samsung code when I sold metro pcs and I hate to be so negative but Ms money is not in wp8 but in windows hardware and Xbox. it took about a week before Xbox changed its DRM policies only a week of complains and wham there makin big changes well never see that kind of response on wp8 but I guess we have to accept that .worst case wp8 does not deliver .the program gets axed the worlds not over we will still have iPhones and androids but im sure Xbox will live for ever so I'll live ....sadly

The problem is that this is the same story we've heard since 2007.    It seems like the wheels came off after WinMo 6.5.   I can't actually think of a single instance since 2007 where WinMo/WP has taken a major leap forward without an additional "wait until the next release for features X, Y, Z).
2010 - WP7 Release.   "Tango" and "Mango" fixes with major upgrades coming....Fall 2011 - WP7 "Mango" release - "Apollo" coming with major upgrades..Fall 2012 - WP8 Release.   Wait until WP Blue/9 for major upgrades....
Not to bash on Microsoft as I love the WP O/S, but they need some help with thier marketing and setting expectations for their customers.   I feel kind of silly to have recommended WP8 to a few friends who want to know why certain apps aren't available, or why the alarm, music, and ringer have to be the same volume.   Regardless of the validity of many industry/customer complaints, MSFT does a fairly poor job of communications, regardless of the high quality of the O/S. 
And where are the ads for WP?    Why does every store rep (ATT/VZ) I speak with steer me away from WP and to Android/iOS.   Last time I was a BBY I heard that song and dance, pulled out my WP8, and they said "Wow I didn't realize it was like that, and that you could do X, Y,Z with it".    Again, these problems easily solved by MSFT.    Some of us are brand evangalists and want to help, but find it difficult due to lack of support by MSFT on many levels.

THANK YOU WES D.

Yes, there's a list of features that MS should be VERY aware of that needed some sort of prioritizing and "why the alarm, music, and ringer have to be the same volume" is certainly in the top five. Another I would suggest is REALLY resolving the "Other" Storage issue. We will see if GDR 2 has really done that for many people.

I also agree that MS has a significant problem with communicating with their customers.

Hi Daniel, we know that there are a lot of awesome features lined up in GDR3 an WP8.1. Now the question is not what is going to come but when it is going to be available. Timing is very important.
As a layman who doesn't understand the software development, I'm just wondering why should we have a GDR3 and a WP8.1 update. Why can't they come as one single update during this fall?
I agree that WP8 can run smoothly with a dual core processors. But, think of the possibilities the quad core could bring in. That will give the OEMs an upper hand in developing products like phablets for which the market is still open.

Good point.. My buddy Mike B. has a nephew who is on the WP Team, and although he couldn't say anything specific his nephew did say that WP8.1 will blow us away... I've know Mike, as a WP fan, for awhile now, and he wouldn't lie about this.

If you have the money then buy the nexus 4 or wtvr android you want and leave and see how windows phone plays while you wait and save your WP device somewhere. Good? Good

Do you not have your phone set up with Google yet? That only applies to new devices. Existing EAS accounts are still supported.

Yeah, well, that's mighty comforting the next time I do my factory reset to remedy the famous "other" storage...

It is, as it would only cause and issue if you opened a new google account and tried to sync it.

I would also remind you that google are the duchebags that are moving the goal posts. Its not MS fault google are ballsacks.

Although not a power user like some here, I get your point.  For me I'm ok with the # of Apps already in the Marker Place and the OS as it does what I need it to do.  However, I do get it that todays' youth is tomorrow's professionals, and we need to get those folks on board sooner rather than latter.   I'm not sure what's so great about Instagram for example, but hey, business is business and I for one find a little happiness knowing that what people want can some times still break/make a company/business succeed...not counting wallstreet...that's an entirely diff monster we still have to deal with.
But yes, MS needs to committ now, we know right now there must be lots of turnmoil within the walls at MS due to all the staff changes, but just like my old captain used to say: "son, get your sh#^* together and do your Job, if every soldier stopped firing 'cause his buddy just got shot we'd all be speaking german".  It still baffles my mind that first we lost Zune and then we couldn't even get something even descent looking for WP8.  I always felt that if Microsoft's marketing team was half as good as the Zune team was at theirs we'd be in business right now.  Here's to Windows phone not going the Dreamcast route. 

There is nothing great about instagram. Its a "pictures only" version of Facebook. Alot of stuff I saw had tags not even related to the image itself, like a guy standing on a bridge tagged as batman.....was not wearing a costume. Just hipsters being hipsters. Not sure why facebook wasn't good enough to post pictures, or tumblr/flickr/etc.

One of Windows Phone's biggest problems is i think a very bad marketing job, in Belgium i do not even see 1 add on tv about a Windows Phone ..... That's really sad ... Nokia needs a better marketing team, like Samsung has, i know Nokia can't spend that much money like Samsung does but if Microsoft would provide the money they would sell a lott more device's ... That new Lumia 625 video on Youtube on Nokia's channel is an awesome example of how they should market the Lumia's on tv ..... great device, great design, great background music that make's teenagers go crazy etc .... 
 
 
Best regards!

Yes, I believe marketing could be much better,, although it is light years ahead of what it used to be... Nevertheless, it still has a lot of room for improvement.

I really hope that your buddy his nephew is right about the fact that Windows Phone 8.1 will blown us away, i really can't wait for that .... Makes me go crazy becouse of the wait but at the other side it makes me excited :) 
 
Best regards! 

I have no idea why it's so bad. They should be able to afford the best advertising agency many can buy. Can anybody inform us on the strategy /rationale behind MS' WP advertising campaign?

Without the features the devices are unable to perform the tasks people will expect when buying the hardware. And how will people feel when they buy the latest whiz bang WP with quad cores and HD screens and they find they cant even edit a playlist or watch any Xbox video movies on their new screen. Sounds like a backwards strategy which so far has not worked at all.

Exactly, once the honeymoon period wears off you start to really notice these missing semi-basic "features" which becomes frustrating. But we waited this long for features and fixes; what's another couple months? Right?

If MS really takes 10 months to add dual-capture support to their OS or add support for Sprint, they should just fold up shop and hire another company to write their code.
 
No, they have had plenty of time to add features to WP8 but they have chosen not to. They are pushing ALL features for a future update. Why? Probably because the update is too radical to split into earlier releases. It's all or nothing. It sounds a lot like what they did going from WP7 to WP8 but hopefully this update will be truly new instead of a rewrite of the same functionality from 2010.

I agree.  Nokia seems to be running the WP shows. Without them, my Nokia 810 would be my last WP.
Sometime I wish Stephen Elop is the big guy in MS.  He's doing a great job in Nokia.

It would not at all surprise me if he will be 'the next big guy' in MSFT. And I am very serious here. I often get the impression he is being groomed for the big seat in Seattle..

support for sprint? like really...? u realize it's sprint that's holding things up not the tech right? aside from that, dual capture is not exactly easy to code to begin with, plus there is always a design phase then QA and working with other partners such as Qualcomm and Nokia to figure out the in and outs to get it going

Are you saying that adding support for dual capture and support for Sprint hardware is a reasonable amount of work for the Windows Phone team to have accomplished in the last 10 months? You think that filled their plate?

pretty sure I didnt say thats the only thing they did, u did that, may be you should try and actually understand what they mean when they say they are trying to make more hardware work on it or just go learn to program and apply for a job at MS if you think you can work that much faster

I think we underestimate the complexity behind the features we enjoy and take for granted on Smartphones. Apple took years before they implemented "cut, copy and paste" on iOS.  Android took years to get to 10% market share.  WP has yet to reach its heyday. That day will come.

Interesting. Daniel, tell me how does Microsoft intend to address questions asked by potential customers like - "can I manage ringtones individually? or can I see notification list? or can i have folder options? "etc etc...
so it does look like MS's strategy is to just put a huge pile of devices at all price points and hope customer would pick one of them.
Are apps the only question potential customers are asking? or is that the main question?
Just wondering.

Well, for this "can I manage ringtones individually?" you can of course do that already, but I think you mean alerts, fair enough.

While I think that's a valid complaint, my *guess* is market research shows those aren't the top things people are looking for in a smartphone. Right now, the main driver of smartphones appears to be apps and services, followed next by price (as market analysts have been pointing out lately).

No one will switch to Windows Phone if an app they rely on is missing. Custom SMS messages? While nice, I don't think it's a deal killer for many, though I could be wrong.

It's not a question of if they should do X but rather the order in which they do them. The thing is, as soon as you have an order/priority list, you're going to tick off some people who's feature is pushed down. It's a tough business. Could they do it better? Possibly, but it's hard for me to say without being on the inside.

thanks Daniel. Fair enough. As long as they have some market research that backs their decision, I'm cool with it.

Yeah, I meant alerts. Thanks for reading my mind.

The way to resolve app situation is to consolidate the UI and app ecosystems from 3 to 2 (and to aim for 1). MS has a terrible strategy there.
GDR2/3 enable high end not low end, they don't enable any volume whatsoever.

I agree polish features are not what is keeping people from buying new devices however whatever market research or development strategy they are employing is obviously wrong judging from results

Custom SMS and lack of independent ringer volume (some way to set it to solid 100% with no risk in loosing incoming calls despide the disadvantages) ARE deal killers for many.
It is a way for average Joe to make his mind on OS capabilities: "Your "smartphone" OS cannot do such a simple things? It must be really-really primitive". And minimalistic live tiles only adding value to this suggestion.
These are point in OS where developers are largerly overidealising their customers and usage cases for their smartphones. Plainly saing they a missing points.

hahahaha
 
Average Joe cares about power user features like custom sms and independent volumes, calls it a smartphone OS and primitive when buying a phone. That's funny.

People care about the hot new apps, a few cool selling points, if they can afford it, if it's fast, and if it doesn't keep losing connection. Most likely in that order. Now - after they have the phone they may notice some things missing if they had a up to date phone before. I doubt they would return it over something so small. My cousin is still using an OG Evo and I don't believe that has independent volume levels. it's better to discuss what should come next and not hyperbole with "OMG MS IS FAILING SO FAST" nonsense all over your keyboard.

Almost every dumbphone on earth has ringer volume independent to music volume. You can try it on your OG Evo(never heard of it) and write here the results. Sms tones may be a "power" feature, but it is OLD, so everybody had learned to use it and there are many people who can set sms tones, but have no clue about all the "mobile apps" and "apps market" stuff. So there we have two features that will suffer downgrades while going to WP from 50$ phone. This is not god.
I am not talking about the existing wp users, is is about percieved OS capabilities for those who consider the way to go (android, wp, or ios) When you hear such basic things are missing will you even try to dig deeper? Many would not, they have no time.

While I understand what you are trying to say and really like the article I also really see a problem if they don't get moving on feature updates. There simply are functions missing that all other major systems have.
e.g. how should I suggest windows phone when it's the only OS that can't connect to many secure WiFi protocols. And the fact that MS might get a fix out (in 2014) sure doesn't help.
On one hand I'm sure it's great getting new customers on board and enabling newer devices to be built, but to have people recommend the system to new users involves making the current users happy too and not throwing them out (wp7) or suggesting great new features that take years to come (wp8).

Oh Microsoft, I understand what and why your doing updates the way you are, but I'm on the bring features to sell phones not high end hardware bandwagon. The 1020's camera is great and all, but not that many people are going to buy that compared to cheaper phones which features sell. Oh and thanks for the informative article WPcentral!

And just like the article stated, there is work required to even get to that low end point. Which is what Microsoft have been focusing on instead of new features.

The issue I have with Microsoft is that they don't appear to know how to leverage their resources and strength. Making the necessary adjustments to enable lower-cost hardware from OEM partners should've happened much sooner. I've been saying since WP7.5 that the lower end prepaid/pay-as-you-go market needed to be attacked vigorously. Android has had that market to itself and leveraged it to keep their marketshare figures higher. The Lumia 520/521 has proven that people are responding to an offering for these markets.
I also disagree with those who say that Microsoft shouldn't pay for apps for their platform. I would have launched a 10 million dollar campaign to drive the absolute best apps & games and built an unmatched exclusive stable of games. Couple that with targeting the lower end of the market and the results i have no doubt would have been a lot better.
Now the deal with Best Buy in the U.S. can be substantial as they get to control the narrative to customers but they have to focus on that. I would've hired former Apple exec Ron Johnson to head up that initiative.

Developers, that are not interested in WP, will take your 10milllion gladly ... to make better android apps.

The marketshare will not radically increase as long as major features, like notification center or even custome sms\notification tones are missing! If you had an old Nokia 3210 back in the late 90's, you know even these antique phones are capable of custome sms tones :D if you tell this someone who is new to WP, he is never goeing to buy one...

"The marketshare will not radically increase as long as major features, like notification center or even custome sms\notification tones are missing!"

I'm not convinced that's the reason why Windows Phones aren't selling, not that I don't see the importance of those features for the platform.

it's not only about the missing features, its also about the badly implemented ones.
And if you're a google-service user, you get discriminated for useing those.
And trying to force me to use M$-services "only" is not the way you should treat your customers.
 
If you let me choose a new phone now i would'nt buy a WP again.
I could develop in C# on all other plattforms too, all major features are there already and if you want something "special" you can do it your self.
At the moment i do'nt see any advantage of a WP, and if they're not getting their ass up soon - i'll switch plattforms when my contract runs out.

Do you really want to make us believe that Google is not forcing their customers to user their Services? srsly? are you kidding or just dumb? guess how Google makes Money...

Shure they want you to use their services, but you don't have to, in order to take full advantage of the features.... if its not supported by android directly, there are a buttload of nice, tightly implemented 3rd party alternatives you can use to achieve your goal.
And stop offending me, just because you've got anoter opinion.

Would you mind listing the basic hygiene features that Windows Phone forces you to use a Microsoft account for, and how this differs to Android? Back up your argument a little?

*hint* Google is being the dick here, not MS, I think you are becoming a puppet for google unknowingly....

Hello Daniel, maybe those are not the reasons why WP are not selling, but are basic features that should have from the beginning. If I'm a developer and I'm designing a new OS, there are basic options that should be included to prevent customers do not feel that with your previous OS had more and better features.
I think Microsoft thought they could handle WP8 as W8 and forgot basic features required of all mobile, even to update the OS, this is not a PC, I do not want Windows Vista on my Lumia920...

Seems to be easier for Microsoft to write off almost a billion dollars on products than, you know actually give the customer what they want  now.

For the average user/consumer, and some power users, its all about the apps. Plain and simple.

Who is developing the apps we love on WP?
Its the indie developers, geeks, and power users.
And if you don't get these ppl. on your plattform, or make them stick to your plattform,
because its missing major features, you wont get the apps.

Once upon a time, Android was a laughing stock to most 1st party developers. Who developed the apps then? Indie devs. Then when there were enough, people saw that they could still do what they wanted to some extent on Android, so they switched. Then once enough people switched, the 1st party devs woke up and took Android seriously.

We will never break that cycle no market share...no apps.....no apps no users....no users no market share....no market share no apps.... Should I go on????????

if they have so few resources that they had to "pull them off for radical things like toe 1020"  Then it is GLARINGLY OBVIOUS that Windows Phone is just a hobby for them and Nokia needs a plan B now.  Plan B should be buying WIndows Phone OS from Microsoft and just developing it themselves. 

I fart in their general direction, their mother is a hamster and their father smells of elderberries. 

Not sure why everyone thinks MS is so slow to update. Do Google or Apple push big feature updates more than once a year? Nope!

I mean, for some people that wish to switch it might be like, oh I miss this, I miss that, I don't want windows phone. 
I personally don't have problems with WP8, I really love, and the only thing I miss is multiple volume profiles, like the ones on Symbian. 

No, but they already have significant market share. Microsoft actually NEEDS to be more competitive if they want to steal away some of that market share. They can't get away with doing what Apple and Google are doing. They need to take more risks, or they'll get left in the dust.

Google used to do twice a year. They still two but one of those has been watered down. The other one remains bigger.

They moved quickly in the beginning. MS is not catching up, its falling behind, the gap is *increasing*. WP7 was very compeitive in 2010, ok in 2011 with Mango and ok again in 2012 with WP8. Now it seems archaic against 4.3 and iOS7 (the UI might be polarising, the added features that catch up to Android are welcome).

Not to mention the update situation. I get updates within one week on my Nexus and iOS devices. Within 1 quarter on Samsung flagships.

My WP7.5 devices never got an update to 8
My 920 is still on GDR1 (GDR2 phones were launched 2.5 months ago and released in market almost 2 months ago).
By objective updating track records (WP7-7.1-7.5-7.8 & 8-GDR1-GDR2) both Nexus and iPhone seem waay ahead and Samsung flagships on par.

AAPL is king of providing the latest features to previous generation devices.   Thus someone with a 4s and 5s are running very similar code and features.   Then they deprecate their oldest devices (no iOs upg for 3 Y/O devices).   This keeps their customer base happy, but not obsoleting their devices prematurely while providing a hardware upgrade to those who desire it.   MSFT used to do this (WiMo5/6/6.5).  

I just have to agree with Mr. Rubino though. The overall market share is more important than us "rich" Americans that want to be on the cutting edge. Competing for peoples techno-hearts feature for feature with Android and iOS won't be easy, especially when carrier sales-people don't know anything about or care about Windows Phone. Gain market share, push a larger variety of devices to a larger audience, including cheap ones that will far outperform similarly priced Android devices, market share will grow, developers will come. Once that's polished, they can cram in features we all dream of. It seems we all forget MS is involved in much more than mobile. Their software still runs over 90% of computers in the world. Of course they want to break into mobile in a big way, but they can't sacrifice what they already have.

Good article.
 
Still, I think they should have at least taken the time to implement a calender which isn't just a joke in all the time since 2010. Or real IMAP folder support. Just basic features, I'm not even talking about fancy stuff like screen rotation lock or notification centres.

I call B.S. It is ridiculous at which rate Google has added features and merged their tablet and phone OS with honeycomb and gingerbread joined. Meanwhile MS has one approved chipset and enabled fm radio which I'm sure they had code for from the WP7 days and fixed the "Other" storage bug. The latter isn't even completely fixed. What ate these new low-end phones that are gonna get us the volume necessary to attract the big name apps going to do, when 6 out of their 8gb of internal memory is used up and they can't install apps onto their SD ? Complain and abandon the platform. All we gave to do is be better than android in low end and this glaring problem is still nagging the platform rendering some phones useless. I'm a little frustrated to say the least... This situation needs to improve - in a hurry.

Though i can see where you are coming from, I think its hard to compare Microsoft and Google in this situation. Microsoft has to adhere with many OEM's where Google just thinks 'fuck 'em'. The result being the huge fragmentation with Android. Imagine Windows would be as fragmented. Businesses would be buying Macs

The Biniak comment ab "giving you a reason to switch" is exactly the point. People want the apps they love, and they want the best version of those apps.

This seemed more like Microsoft pr trying to explain why their os is improving very very slowly than any reasoned justification. How is it that both Google and Apple are able to cram a lot of new features into their respective os:es a lot faster than Ms? Especially since Android has to work with a lot more variety of devices than win phone. So I am calling bullshit on these constant excuses.When you are last it does not help explaining why you are not as good as the others.

Google doesn't really care about the devices, they just do what they want and if the devices aren't compatible then it's up to the manufacturer to fix or limit the feature.

Apple has only a few devices to test on.

Microsoft has to do right by the OEMs, and achieve high stability and low fragmentation across many devices.

I had high hopes for 2013, and I have been thoroughly pleased.. I have even higher hopes for WP in 2014... Say I'm crazy, but I think well hit the 300,000 app mark before the end of next year...

Alot of these comments seem out of touch. I think Nokia has got it right saying we need all the apps and we need them now.

Well, I never said that its all about the apps, but the reality is that substantially more official apps will help to bring more credibility to our platform.

The problem is that MSFT management doesn't communicate with customers.   You seem to understand as well as I do that the number of apps means nothing.   43 of the top 50 apps, while accurate, doesn't resonate with the customer base.
I prefer to do everything possible in the browser, but to a public that has been conditioned that they "need an app for that" it won't fly.
 
 

The number of apps is irrelevant (up to a point). What counts more is the number of GOOD apps. And WP is severely lacking in that department unfortunately. Most apps (even the better ones) are barely better than glorified web pages.
And the (seemingly) artificial and stupid restrictions Microsoft has applied to the app developers combined with the smaller userbase means that there's even less incentive for the developers to sweat over WP apps.

First of all,, apps are only one aspect of things I think WP will improve on in 2014.. Second, while its true that app count isn't the defining point of how robust an ecosystem is,, I'm looking at what's going to most likely be included in another 100k apps being added to the marketplace.. The reality is that within that number there will be more banking apps, popular/fad apps, useful enterprise apps, games, and utilities.. The amount of official apps will greatly increase as well.. So, while you look at 300k apps, and say the number doesn't matter, I see the extra functionality, and credibility, that it will bring to the platform.. I've graduated from that early WP way of thinking, and so has Microkia..

I had high hopes in 2011, even higher hopes in 2012, then like they say, the higher you are, the harder you fall.  I switched to an HTC One in May, and the experience has been, and is, bittersweet.  First, despite all the articles and comments I'd read about how "beautiful" Android 4.x is, I don't see a whole lot of difference from 2.1 that I had before joining the WP Nation.  THAT was disappointing.  HOWEVER...  I now have all the hot apps, which is fun.  I can now connect to my corporate Exchange server, while all of my co-workers with WP8 still can't.  Our server requires device and SD Card encryption - not sure why MS can't get their phones to comply with their email server...  I dearly miss the WP interface though, and am 100% honest when I say that I hope in 2 MORE years, MS has gotten their act together. 
 
I have a nephew who works on the WP team, and he has assured me that 8.1 Blue will blow me away.  He won't break any NDA with me, so I don't have a clue what is actually coming, but unless it finally gets the attention of (1) the public and (2) developers, I don't see much changing here.  So my high hopes from 2012 are currently very low, having been replaced by High Cynicism and a longing for delivery on the promises of years past.

Hey mike❕❕
See, that's just it right there... WP needs to improve on the enterprise side seriously❕... With that said,, everyone sure has a different expectation, and use, for a smartphone.. I respect your choice, which you've been threatening for years, because you have more serious needs than the average smartphone user... I hope I, and your nephew, are right about this coming year, and what to expect from WP... It would be nice to have you back at some point..

I've been pointing this GDR thing out in the forums for some time now. The features won't come until WP8.1 and that's been known for some time. It would appear all the newer users are the ones confused by the MS system. That and the dates keep being pushed out.
Saying that though there are a lot missing on the OS that in my opinion should ahve been there in the first place. Simple tihngs like attachements in reply email, document attachments via email. Sound profiles, custom sms tones. Stuff like that. I don't get why these things are missing in the first place.
Sure there's lots of flashy things that would be nice but in reality I would have just been happy with some of the basics.

Besides custom message alerts, separate volume and orientation lock (which I find it kind of ironic the next word prediction on the WP 8 keyboard didn't even suggest "lock" after the word "orientation" haha), the one missing thing that always baffled me in WP is the lack of a decent call log. Not being able to see the times and durations of calls...say I made/received 3 calls from someone in a day. How long did the second call last? Not a freaking clue, and no way to find out...that's something that should have been there from the beginning.

Those word predictions are crowd sourced, so maybe it's an indication of how many people actually talk about it? ;-)

Perhaps lol. Its not a feature I can say I have ever used or found myself wanting personally, but it seems an oft-bitched-about feature on WPC, especially from users who have switched from iOS or Android. It just made me smile a little when I had to type the whole word "lock" because it didn't come up at all...

Great article, I can't wait for wp8.1 I feel that windows phone will eventually surpass ios and become a top competitor with android.

Personally, I don't think Windows Phone can survive another 7.5/7.8 debacle. If the platform is to survive, every WP8 phone needs to see every upgrade that will drop over the next 18 months. With many of the carriers implementing JUMP! like options, screwing around with updates can actually cause MS to bleed users a lot faster. If you tell me I can't get an upgrade that will essentially determine my ability to viably remain in the ecosystem and you don't have a suitable replacement coming down the pipeline on my carrier, its more likely I will drop the platform than remain loyal based on promises.

Apple releases feature updates every year. WP8 came out last October. It hasn't even been a year yet. Why are people complaining so much? I fail to see why MSFT should be treated with different expectations than other competitors.

Because WP7.5 was missing a lot of features that many people wanted. And that was two years ago. Since then not a single one of the top ten requested features has made it to WP7.8 or WP8 and we are told not to expect anything until early next year. That is two and a half years of not getting a single top-requested feature on a platform that is already missing many features of it's competitors, past and present.
Actually, high-res screens were probably a top requested feature in 2011, so we did get that.

Ridiculous that they are so constrained that there is no one to assign for basid features like rotation lock, customisable notification sounds, independent volume controls etc.
The existing userbase is screaming that they're being left unsatisfied and they want to focus on new customers.
Take a hint, first create a complete competitive OS.

This strategy doesn't make logical sense since GDR2 doesn't enable any volume sellers, neither will GDR3. Nokia nailed the low end already. Both GDR2/3 enable high end experiences which should have been enabled from the start with switch to NT. EVERYONE knew 1080p and multi core support beyond 2 cores would be needed somewhere down the line. Why is RT has support for things like BT4.0 when WP doesn't.

The massive lie was the one OS thing for developers. The "ONE OS" was meant to help app ecosystem and speed up updates. Yet 2013 is the year of disappointing updates. The core reason as a developer is that while Apple and Google have 2 OS platforms each. MS has three. They lie to your face by saying "one OS spanning 3 screens".

They have 3 different *current* UI paradigms on different sized screens.
The WP UI
The Metro UI (Windows 8 and WinRT)
The Desktop UI (Windows 8)

They also have 3 different app ecosystems
The WP apps
The RT/8 Metro apps
Desktop apps

No other company follows this nonsense. They are either leveraging their efforts in mobile or desktop (mostly mobile). MS has a nonsensical tablet strategy with their only chance of success coming from........Intel (and when Intel enables ARM like tablets with Bay Trail which can run full Windows, full Office and not be compromised in thinness and battery life).

MS is going to obviously do the stupidest thing possible again this year and release an RT and a Haswell tablet.
Hopefully Nokia releases a Windows 8 Bay Trail tablet and rescues the Tablet ecosystem. It should give Nokia some breathing cash too

It is indeed the case that they are trying to unify the APIs behind the scenes. However, why CREATE the mess in the first place. RT was entirely unnecessay. If they wanted an OS with a TOUCH UI running on ARM processors, there already was one: Windows Phone. Should have scaled that up and scaled Windows 8 onto Atom. Why RT?

Also the transition should have been a one off with a clean break (so either completed with Apollo or delayed till your could do it in one swift go). 

How is this different from Apple?

3 UI paradigms: Desktop, iPad, iPhone. While iPad is similar to iPhone it's still different.
4 ecosystems: iPhone/iTouch, iPad, Desktop app store, standard desktop software

No

Apple has only 2

1. iOS with adustments to UI for iPad but largely the same code and same APIs.
2. Desktop (the store and the desktop apps are not different, delivered in different ways but not different unlike Metro apps and Desktop apps on Windows 8). Some developers change the Store apps slightly to comply with regulations but its the exact same codebase with less than 1% change.

MS has different code and different APIs across the 3 app ecosystems. MS vs Apple is 3 vs 2 ecosystems.
Google arguably has only one: Android which scales across everything. Chrome OS is a second OS but that's web based, you don't have to "target" it.

Basically WP is unlike RT/Metro which is entirely unlike Desktop. 
iPad and iPhone are infact almost the same (indeed they both run iOS)
OS X is just one ecosystem.

 

 

To clarify, I'm speaking as a developer not user.

RT and Windows might look similar to you and iPhone and iPad might look different. That is a user perspective.

As a hypothetical developer of the next big hit 'Candy Birds Ninja Run' (lets assume its an app and not a game).

To target Google's Phones and Tablets:
I code once for Phone and Tablet and slight adjustments is all I make.
I publish and target one ecosystem to get my app in front of people

To target Apple's Phones and Tablets:
I code once for Phone and Tablet and adjust the UI for the tablet (90% of the code is the same, in fact almost 100% of the core code is the same, only the UI is adjusted)
I publish again to one single unified iOS ecosystem

To target MS's Phones and Tablets:
I have to code for WP, I cannot reuse the UI for tablets. I cannot reuse most of the code (the API calls and everything are different, the way the OS works with the hardware is different, the way it grants me access to features is different)
I have to publish for WP.

I then have to code for RT (ARM). Different code. Different UI. Can recycle minimal code.
I have to Publish in RT store separately

I then have to recompile and rejig it for Metro (x86/64). Different processor. Same UI. Almost exactly same code

I then have to code entirely separately for desktop. Different code. Different UI.
Publish it separately again.

Infact, MS has 3.5 ecosystems, not just 3

WP - ARM Touch
RT - ARM Touch
Windows 8 Metro - x86/64 Touch
Windows 8 Desktop - X86/64 Mouse and KB

WP, Metro have separate stores and Desktop is separate again. It's nothing like Apple and certainly nothing like Google.

I'm also speaking as a developer. One who is nearing release with a large-scale app for both WP and RT, based on local-network restful API calls and media consumption. I currently have 90% code reuse between UI and codebehind, because I am doing things the right way and building all the business logic in shared libraries and making the XAML UI automatically adapt to screen size. Sure I will have to publish twice, and the app I'm building doesn't suit Desktop (so I've skipped that) but going by your description above you're doing it wrong. And in your Apple description you completely missed publishing for OSX.

I din't miss OS X. I was merely clarifying that iOS is a single ecosystem across iPad and iPhone. I did mention earlier Apple has 2 ecosystems. OS X is that other one. But it has nothing in common with iOS and doesn't pretend to.

It's possible for your app you are able to reuse a lot of the code. That is not unusual. But it isn't case for all apps either. If every category is included, code re-use is rather minimal as I indicated. May I enquire what kind of app you are building? (if that is not confidential).
You still would have had to make modifications to certain bits and parts of your code beyond just UI layout. This will likely be the case until at least 2014. This has not been the case for Android or iOS since 2011.

The devil is in the details and implementation. If it truly was so easy to to build WinRT apps across WP8/Windows RT/Windows 8, every developer would publish across all 3 to get maximum exposure. That simply isn't happening. The *potential* synergies are not being realised.

You are infact dealing with two different sets of APIs. RT is useless since it is Touch UI/ARM architecture, the same as WP but without any ecosystem or competitive advantage. To make matters worse, its APIs are actually better than WPs. So which one should supplant the other? Clearly they need to merge. RT was DOA from the very beginning. WP8 wasn't done the way it should have been. It should have been everything RT was from an under the hood standpoint and this idealised WP8 (or call it 8.1 or Blue or indeed RT) and full Windows 8 should be the 2 ecosystems.

The discussions here are enlightening:

http://wildermuth.com/2012/11/5/Clarifying_Windows_Phone_8_HTML5_Apps

http://winsupersite.com/windows-phone/windows-phone-or-windows-rt?page=1

http://social.msdn.microsoft.com/Forums/windowsapps/en-US/4ce9416d-da08-413d-a687-1accf88d00e8/metro-ui-and-windows-phone
 
MS is close to the one ecosystem promise. But it implemented it in a half assed way in late 2012 when it should have achieved it in one swift conversion. Now we have a painful transition of about 24 months instead and perhaps 2 clean breaks. Clearly the way forward is for Windows RT to move down and replace WP (from a developer perspective). From a user perspective, it will look and behave just as current WP does..

Exactly, WP7.8/WP8/WRT/W8/XBOX ecosystems mess is the biggest jokes in Microsoft's history and I'm pretty sure it's the biggest mess in computer history too. It's fucking ridiculous. Microsoft must be extremely dumb to have done something like this.

Too many excuses from MS. That Nokia exec is correct - they have phones to sell right now, and we needed these updates yesterday. Just get it done or go home.

MS needs to fix their corporate culture and the corporate reorganization is yet another unimaginative waste of time that will not solve any problems.

It's good that Microsoft is "focusing" on the lower end of the market, but I doubt that side of the market is enough to sustain Nokia. Perhaps if Microsoft were making phones themselves, they could do this as they have other businesses than can cover their losses. Nokia doesn't have that . They're already shipping over 40 to 60 million lowend phones per quarter even without the help of Windows Phone. Where they need to hit it the high end of the market where the profit margin is high. 

In fact you can apply the reverse 80/20 rule here. Speaking from experience (I used to work at Nokia in sales) their real cash cows are the lower end phones, not the high end flagships. Flagships are to make them look competitive, bring accolades, and experiment with new tech. But the real money is made in the mid to low end.

I find it funny that Microsoft has to beg these small outfits like Instagram, 13 people, to develop for Windows Phone.  I bet some of the old timers there would love to squash them like a bug like they did to companies during the 90's.  My how things have changed.

I've tried so hard to convince my friends, work colleagues, my teenage son's friends etc that WP is an amazing phone & platform, but the thing that makes them walk away is the word Microsoft! I now tell them about my amazing Nokia Lumia and then they start to listen....

I really only need Orientation lock, Custom notification tones and of course the notification center for when you "miss" a toast that does not effect the live tile.

What they should do is throw people a bone with the next update. Add the most requested feature. I believe it is probably a notification center. If that takes too much work, then throw in something down the list like orientation lock. Just show people there is progress happening. They should also leak some of the features that are scheduled to be released. We find out things about ios and android months before they are released.

Yeah, It's sort of this kind of thing that brought me to WP to begin with but also while I would look elsewhere when it's time for a new phone. I was a BB user and also owned a playbook. I grew tired of hearing the "update coming soon" thing and then in the case of the PB it never came. It get's old being stuck with a phone for two years and missing some really basic features and then to keep having update schedules continually slip. While android and IOS may not get updates after you buy them,They seem to be far more useable without needing updates. (I have a cheap droid as a second phone that runs gingerbread that frankly has many more basic features then my L820 does. 
 
I expect more from Microsoft.

On one hand I agree that MS does face a chicken and egg problem, on the other they need to move a brisker pace.
 
They collected my money and got a handset on the streets. Their #1 goal is to move more phones, so my concerns are probably much lower on their radar. Keeping carriers happy is probably #2.
 
We've had the User Voice forum for quite a while, but that hasn't really gotten us tangible results. Instead of notifications in WP8, we got DataSense. Did anyone vote up DataSense and ask for it to be locked to Verizon for the first 8 months of existence? I didn't think so.
 
Unfortunately, no one walks into a store and says, "How's the notification framework on this phone?" So it always comes back to apps. Personally, I can't recommend WP until it has Instagram. I think Instance is great, but I'm not going to tell friends to spend more money on apps that aren't even guarenteed to work in the future.
 
But certain lacking features are just mind boggling. They could have easily put "App close in card view" in GDR2. Battery percentage? Disable auto-rotate? Disable haptic on Windows key? It's kind of insane they're not already there, let alone in GDR2.
 
At this point I'm more of a Nokia customer than a Microsoft one. I use a Lumia because it's the best camera I can get on a phone. If an iPhone had OIS, I'd probably go back to it.

So i'm whining because not having seperate volume controls is a problem for me? That's just dumbassed engineering on a smartphone.

Biniak is right. MS doesn't really take WP seriously.

That "we need to enable more devices" justification is bullcrap. Yeah, they want to "enable more devices". They want to FILL the market with devices. So what? Do they think THAT will make it grow? Here's the thing: you can have 100 Lumias. If people keep picking them and notice how far behind the OS is when compared to Android and iOS, they won't buy it. You can have plenty of offer...but word of mouth is essential to sell phones. You didn't bought your iPhone because of the specs. You bought it because a friend recommended it. You didn't bought your Xperia Z or S4 because you are absolutely fascinated by the big specs in them. You bought it because you heard good things about them from your friends who have them.

What about WP? Honestly, only fanboys will recommend it to their real friends. Even today I was showing a L620 to my personal trainer. He liked the phone (he currently has Android). When I told him all the features missing from the OS (separate volumes, lack of personalization of tones, no notification centre, etc) he immediately stepped back.

What MS is achieving with these GDR2 and GDR3 is nothing more than pissing off their current users who see them dragging their feet and more concerned with flooding the market with thousands of variations of the same phones instead of providing a solid and always improving OS. Who can seriously recommend an OS like that to their friends?

I'm honestly sick of MS slacking behind. Biniak is absolutely right. And if MS doesn't get their sh*t together with GDR3 and WP9 in 2014, by January 2015 I'm leaving Windows Phone as soon as my L920 warranty expires and moving to iOS or Android (hopefully by that time Nokia will also be releasing their first Android phones after the demise of Symbian and I won't have to leave Nokia which was the reason I moved to WP in the first place)

Great article Daniel! I understand the situation but I think a little bit more features on GDR2 would shut up many mouth...
They must do it with GDR3. Ok new hardware but a little bit more new features for us until 8.1 comes.

Rumor has it they may back port some WP8.1 features into GDR3 to help with that situation, so we may get our wish. I can say, the MS team does listen, so it's not falling on deaf ears even if the results are now what you want.

I REALLY hope they do so. Sure they have theyr own strategy and with the hardware focus and all. But if they would just throw little feauture enhancements to the users now and then, it would greatly improve the communitys mood. I think it's actually more a psychological problem with the userbase. For example implemention of orientation-lock could be coded in like a day - it's not a very important feature for many users. But it's implemented fast and would be a nice addition in GDR2.
BTW: Great article, appreciated the read.

Will there be any surprises, or just the radio? Don't see how radio puts more devices in customers hands. But hey sounds like s good strategy to me. What he said.

I feel like I read a really long post on this same exact thing on Reddit yesterday...
oh wait

Sounds like a really tough situation. People won't come to WP because the apps they want aren't in the store (although I would say there's only a few that I can think of out of the hundreds of thousands of apps), and those app makers won't develop for WP because there's not enough people on the platform. Tough situation.

There are some features they really need to get out the door, though. A notification center would go a long way to alleviating some user frustrations and improve the user experience. They could push out a few small updates that add much needed functionality and keep their current users from leaving, while possibly attracting a few more who were holding off because of limitations of the OS compared to their chosen platform.
WP8 is not a bad platform, but it's barely competitive in its current state. And Microsoft NEEDS to be competitive. They are the underdog.

@Daniel, I repeatedly hear how carriers are reluctant to push updates. GDR2 supposedly has been ready for a while and its nowhere in sight for current customer with older wp. While GDR3 is almost ready for RTM. I'm not sure how much of that is true. But if carrier push is whats holding back some of there updates what do you think is a reasonable thing to do. There are still devices that have not received 7.8 like Samsung Focus and I am hoping with wp8 it gets better. Apple has it down, but then I know apple just as one hardware spec (or just one self manufactured product) to worry about. I do think flooding the marketplace with cheap wp devices (before apple comes out with their cheap alternative which wiil happen end of sept or so), could prove be a success just like android. Difference will be that user will have better experience. I would however like Microsoft to show some urgency and try to push the limit.
Great article by the way. This site has been voice of people and I am hoping Microsoft is ready how people feel here because this is a hard core wp peeps.We all want wp to succeed.

GDR2 is complicated by Nokia's Amber firmware update, which will go at the same time. Thing is, GDR2 is ready, Amber is not (for current devices). So that's the hold up. Updates have a better chance of getting through if they're "all in one".

Of course HTC and Samsung are still slow getting their updates out as well, but we know from the 8XT that even HTC is toying with the custom camera stuff now as well.

Hm.. It sounds like you knew what's behind. Which I doubt. Also, you're talking about very different areas. It's not like when one group works on drivers another cannot work on built-in apps. And this is one of the biggest companies. They could justify the costs. And many things people ask / complain about are not that difficult to fix. So problems seem to be somewhere else.

Amount of interest I have in my accent color syncing across my desktop and phone: ~0; amount of interest I have in being able to access my work email from my phone: +174947395950647^9999

Let's think of this in terms of the current shift in the phone market which has taken place as of only about month ago (which I'll go into later [teaser!]): Microsoft needs more Windows Phones out there in order to get big apps (hence GDR2/3 which should allow for both better halo phones and cheaper but quality phones); Also, big apps are needed to get more customers interested in Windows Phones.

 

They could focus on getting the big apps, but the big app devs need users to justify devoting resources to it. Focusing on allowing more devices of varying specifications to be made seems like the safer bet though as it allows for the platform to better compete in the minds of the spec-focused customer -- you know, the person who thinks your 925 is outdated and ignores the fact WP is optimized to run just as well on lesser specs.

 

Clearly they need the GDR updates to open up the floodgates to all sorts of devices that can allow manufacturers to put out phones that make use of the latest technologies just as much as they need the major apps (which honestly seems to be all Nokia-driven at this point), and it's nearly impossible to decide which is the right approach to go all-in on at once. You could say why not split the focus to do both at the same time, but let's face it: that will delay things even more as with a company this large it's usually better to go all-in on one project then move to the next. Splitting the focus creates what could amount to being a perceived half-speed or half-assed effort.

 

However -- and I'm going to bring in something out of left field but worth noting into the mix to bring it all together -- carrier programs like T-Mobile's JUMP! might present a bigger challenge to holding onto WP users (specifically). It's one thing to get more phones into people's hands, but if the customer can change phones after just 6 months, you have a potentially major problem: if you haven't gotten enough of the big apps to the platform by the time they could switch, any frustrations they had with WP's ecosystem could directly translate to a shrinking customer base.

 

It's certainly a mixed bag they have here and I don't think anyone would envy their position. Whether or not these early upgrade programs will hurt them will be seen in 6-12 months when people can begin taking advantage of it.

 

So if I had to say what they should do, I honestly don't know. On the surface it seems broadening the types of devices available makes sense, but at what cost? It also boils down to this: one way or another, Microsoft cannot afford to lose market share and the wrong choice could be devastating. The truth is that most people are content with an either-or, this-or-that scenerio and if Microsoft messes up I think most customers will be content with going with Androids or iPhones. It's not likely Blackberry or someone else could claim third, but they could and would it even matter? Get enough people frustrated with one 'third' or alternative option and it could sour the bunch to the point where you see third being no bigger than it is now. If that happens, good luck getting new big-name apps or updates to the ones already available.

 

EDIT:  Just noticed someone else pointed out the possibilities that carrier's early upgrade options could have on the platform. While I wouldn't say it's a total doom scenerio, but there's definitely something to be said about it.

Well, in fairness, the opposite could be true... I know several people I work with are increasingly frustrated by iPhone, don't use any apps at all other than Facebook and email, and they are constantly impressed by the Lumia 920 and now the 1020 that I've been carrying around. They would upgrade right now if they could afford it.
 
So the low end of the spectrum is just as important as the high end in terms of gaining appeal, and if the apps continue to flow the way they have been then awesome, what's the reason to leave?
 
Honestly, if anything, it compels the competition on all sides to work that much harder and faster, because customers can (at least in theory) upgrade much sooner and sooner and on a whim of "zomg this phone suckz!" Although, honestly, I don't think people are going to pay double/triple pricing to have the luxury of upgrading sooner. Only the gadget junkies like us.

I'd agree, but I believe that's more anecdotal rather than something that reflects the average consumer. Most people put up with the frustrations once they've become comfortable enough with the platform itself.
The apps flowing is the major problem. They're coming, but they're far from flowing. Yes, some big and essential apps have come out and the landscape looks much better than it did nearly a year ago, but Instagram isn't out, Snapchat isn't out, Vine isn't out (the most likely to come out soon), YouTube isn't out (if ever), on and on. That doesn't even include games. The phone market is increasingly younger and younger, so also by focusing on bringing key apps and games to the platform, you appeal to the younger 'buyer' (or the one who yells at their parents to by them that awesome new phone) who is more fickle than, say, you or I. It sounds kind of crazy to put emphasis on that, but I believe by proxy if you focus on appealing to the younger people who mostly Snapchat and whatever else that drives these other platforms, you'll grow the market share for this one as well.
And with the early upgrade and paying more just to upgrade sooner, it's very important to note the appeal of programs like JUMP! goes far beyond "gadget junkies" -- I'm not sure about the other carriers, but T-Mobile's $10/mo program doubles as insurance on the phone in case the phone breaks (etc). For what is just insurance, you're looking at $8/mo, so for an extra $2 you have the option to upgrade your phone early. That's appealing to most people who will view that as a nominal price to pay for protection and the ability to upgrade whenever they want without penalty. I opted into the JUMP! program for that reason alone when I got my 925. I wouldn't have normally, but when I held it I was worried that if it fell I would definitely be screwed (despite Nokia's reputation for indestructable phones). I just wanted the insurance but it made sense to have to option to upgrade sooner for just a few bucks more per month just in case another high-end WP device came out in that time (I'm not counting on it at least).
Side note: my un-cased 925 fell off the side of my standing desk the other day, an approximate 4.5ft drop, and after a bit of cleaning the polycarbonate it was surprisingly near-perfect (the aluminum has very minor but nearly unnoticable damage). Despite it holding up amazingly (but not surprisingly), I'm still glad I got the insurance because that scared the hell out of me.

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