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Help, my wife wants to switch from Windows phone to Android!

The only barrier between me and buying devices on other platforms is money. So I stick with my favorite one: Windows Mobile. As a fan of the platform I have been quite vocal over the years singing its praises (and lamenting some losses).

As a result, I have been successful with encouraging about fifteen people within my circle of friends and family to give Windows Phone a whirl. My wife is one of those people. As a successor to her Samsung Focus, in 2012, I bought her a Lumia 920. She wanted that phone just about as badly as most Windows Phone fans did at the time. That device was replaced with a Lumia 640 XL when the 920's screen was shattered as a result of an unfortunate drop.

Of the fifteen people I won to the platform, accidents with devices, changes in service plans and simple preference have led about eight of those people to Android and at least one to the iPhone. My wife, who prefers Windows phone, loves the Live Tiles, enjoys Microsoft services and is both a Windows phone and Microsoft fan, may be the next to defect. She wants an Android phone!

When I asked, she shared several reasons with me regarding her decision. Some of these reasons echo what many of you have experienced. As a Windows phone enthusiast, a writer for one of the most popular Microsoft focused sites and one of the most publically optimistic analysts of Microsoft's strategies I now share with you why my wife is getting fed up with Windows Phone and Microsoft.

Jason, there's no app for that

Social media and the comment sections of articles are not the only places where I hear about the app gap between Microsoft's and its rival's ecosystems. My wife (and my own mind) remind me of the numeric and quality disparities between these platforms often. In fact, my wife and I often discuss the glaring absence of Windows phone from among the App and Play Store labels when users are encouraged to download the app for an advertised product or service.

Of course, we understand that low Windows phone market share has a detrimental effect on developer support, but as I acknowledged in "The untold app gap story" series, there are times when the app gap just hits home. Now of course, as I asserted in that series, most of the time and for the average user, the impact is minimal. But when it does hit, it is admittedly a disappointment. This occasional collision with the app gap is where my wife, who loves the platform, is beginning to lose patience.

She shared that she has no adequate or available app for her freelance job, banking, pharmacy, or money management. Apps like Wyzant and Mint (which were discontinued) are simply not available on Windows phone. As a result, she has to use her Android tablet to get certain things done. Sadly, the lack of these apps in my wife's case, and some of yours, is a direct contrast to Microsoft's broad mission, to help people, at least in this respect, "to do more."

Though the Windows Store is seeing growth many developers are still hesitant to develop for the platform.

Of course, Microsoft is limited in their ability to bring apps to the platform. Though Redmond is working hard to bring apps to the Windows Store, developers have a choice of where they will invest their time and money. And though we've seen growing investment's in Windows from the likes of Bank of America, Facebook, Spotify and many other big and not so big names, it is clear that many developers are still hesitant to develop for the platform.

Sadly my wife's concerns don't end there. In addition to the effect of missing apps, she is also frustrated by the mobile web that is often a substitute for apps. In part three of "The untold app gap story" I shared data reflecting that the mobile web, for all smartphone users regardless of what platform they use, is engaged at much higher rates than mobile apps.

The mobile web is the path to bots

For my wife, the need for this deference to the web, when an app exists on other platforms and not Windows, however, is yet another point of frustration. She articulates it this way:

"When I go online on my phone, and it says "download app for iOS or Android," it's frustrating so then I have to use web-based viewing and everything messes up."

Of course, there are many Windows phone users with similar stories.

The app gap mind trap

Allow me a moment to share an anecdotal story of the effect, on a user's mind, of missing apps from the Windows Mobile platform. The fact that many apps are missing is so common that it affects how even I perceive app availability. Consider this:

I recently borrowed a Roku Stick from my sister. With the Stick, she also gave me the remote which had a broken directional button. She gave me a tip on how to operate the broken remote then shared that I could just download the Roku app and use my phone as a remote instead. My response? I reminded her that I have a Windows phone, and there probably wasn't a Roku app for the platform. "Oh yeah," she replied.

Missing apps are so common on Windows Mobile that it affects how even I perceive app availability.

I went home, hooked up the Roku and told my wife about the remote and my sister's advice about an app. I proceeded to clumsily navigate through the Roku UI as I fumbled with the broken remote. In the meantime, my wife was standing to the side fiddling with her phone. Suddenly the Roku began doing things that I was not commanding it to do via the broken remote. How?

Well, my wife had quietly downloaded the Roku app for Windows phone and was happily controlling the device. I had pessimistically assumed the app did not exist and, therefore, didn't bother searching for it in the Windows Store. Of course, I later visited the Store and found that not only was there an official Roku app but third-party Roku remote apps were there as well.

Sadly, my wife shared that she also sometimes assumes that there is no app for a particular service in the Windows Store. She put it this way,

"…when I try to search for one, it's normally not there, or there's some weird version [instead]."

The fact that many infrequently engaged apps beyond most of the big name and highly engaged apps like Facebook are absent from the platform subtly caused me to have a lower expectation of the Windows Store than I should have had. I wonder how many of us one-percenters sadly forego searching the Windows Store for an app for that same reason.

On the outside looking in

My wife has six sisters. Needless to say, this lively crew did quite a bit together while growing up. I've often heard stories of how they made up games, sung songs and did all the crazy things sisters do. Since I've started hanging around the family, I encouraged five of those sisters (not counting my wife) to purchase Windows phones.

With so many of us on the platform, we've used the now defunct Rooms function to plan an event, share ideas and family photos, and just be a family. The "girls" even set up their own Room, cutting me, the guy who introduced them to the platform, out of the picture. It was all good. They were enjoying themselves and the platform. That is until a couple of mishaps with shattered screens, and lack of Windows phones on Verizon forced a couple of them to Android.

According to my wife, app gap frustrations such as user-to-user services and multiplayer gaming may have affected others to defect. As a result, my wife reports that only two of her sisters still use Windows phone.

Only two of my wife's sisters still use Windows phone.

This shift of my wife's siblings to other platforms has affected how they had come to communicate when the bulk of them were using the same platform. For my wife this "being on the other platform" frustration is further compounded by the fact that much of the smartphone using population plays games that are not available on Windows phone. Here it is in her own words:

I get sent interactive game playing requests all the time, but Windows phone doesn't have much of that either, so once again I'm back on my android tablet.

I'm not much of a mobile gamer. But millions of people are. My wife included. Much of the time when I see her playing a game, it is on her Samsung tablet, rather than her Lumia 640 XL. The barrier to some of the social aspects of mobile gaming is certainly one of the detriments that some users have shared as a concern in regards to Window phone. And as we see here, these concerns are echoed in my own home.

That said Microsoft is evolving gaming on Windows 10 in a big way as it expands its Xbox platform and more. Will the Universal Windows Platform position Windows 10 Mobile to`reap the benefits of Xbox and Windows as successful platforms for gaming? Time will tell.

Problems with perception

My wife likes tech and, though not a techie, she is tech savvy. Of course, she is married to a tech writer that produces long-form analysis about Microsoft's strategy; she reads virtually everything I write and often endures my "talking shop." As a result of her own tech interests and "osmosis", if you will, she is more aware of the tech industry and the challenges Microsoft faces and opportunities available to the company than the average smartphone user.

That said, Microsoft has long been recognized as a company that offers products and services that help individuals and businesses be productive. Satya Nadella put it this way as he broadened that view of productivity{.nofollow} in his 2014 Bold Ambition and Our Core memo:

We will shift the meaning of productivity beyond solely producing something to include empowering people with new insights. We will build tools to be more predictive, personal and helpful.

It is a shame that Microsoft's dependence on developer support in a world where mobile apps, for now, are central to personal computing's position on the smartphone has not yielded the results necessary to perpetuate that view of productivity in all areas. My wife shared the following assessment about Microsoft and productivity:

Not being able to use popular financial applications like Mint...and any others that have recently formed, especially for business and personal financing, decreases my view of Microsoft as the supreme productivity competitor.

AI, bots and canvases: My evolving view of Microsoft's AI vision

Furthermore, Cortana, Microsoft's productivity-enhancing personal digital assistant, which is still evolving into that revolutionary AI Microsoft envisions, has also been a disappointment to my wife:

Even Cortana could have a better knowledge base, or better connection to apps so that she can help input information…

Both of these views by a user that is closer to a typical user than an enthusiast are indicative that the productivity message Microsoft wants consumers to receive about the company is, at least in this area, hitting a wall. This is unfortunate.

The Mrs. on Microsoft's marketing

This leads me to my wife's views on Microsoft and marketing. As a Microsoft fan, it bugs her (and me) to see Apple, Android and Samsung ads flashed across the television screen while there is a conspicuous lack of alluring marketing of certain Microsoft products to challenge them.

We do understand that Microsoft is not actively advertising Windows phone to consumers due to the developing app ecosystem and maturing OS. However, it is "painful" to watch emotionally appealing iPhone ads and visually enticing Samsung ads that we know consumers are seduced by or are salivating over, while Windows Phone has a decreasing presence in the collective consciousness.

Windows "phone" isn't dead: Keeping the vision in view

Still, my wife (and of course I) remains hopeful. She expressed:

Because of market share, app developers could care less about windows phone, I'm soooo hoping that a new Windows 10 phone changes all of that because I use everything Microsoft for productivity.

Of course, the synergy of many factors, including but not limited to the success of the app Bridges, the appeal of the cross-development of apps/bots using Microsoft's app development tools (Xamarin), as well as a category-defining new "phone" that manufacturers can emulate and that appeals to the masses would be needed to get more developers on board.

My wife who often defers to her Android tablet when her Lumia 640 XL won't suffice, is hopeful of a positive outcome. She shared that she "wants everything on one device so that she won't have to use a different source." Of course, this desire is in line with Nadella's, one device for multiple scenarios, vision for Continuum enabled Windows phones.

If she doesn't stay

Of course, Microsoft has populated both iOS and Android with the Microsoft services my wife loves to use. So if she does indeed get an Android phone, she will, naturally, get all of the apps missing from the Windows platform. And though she will miss Live Tiles and hates the static grid of icons characteristic to the iPhone and many Android phones, she will get the ability to personalize fonts which she loves to do on her Samsung tablet. She will also, in effect have a "Microsoft phone" as the Microsoft services that she wants to use, and to which she will default, will be the "soul of the machine".

If Windows Phone fails, Microsoft's Phone Companion app may herald Redmond's plan B

Of course, I would be sad to see her go. But I am a tech geek. I own an Android tablet, a PC, a Windows 10 laptop, a 7-inch Windows 8 tablet, a Windows 10 2-in-1 and have both an active Lumia 1020 and 1520. So having another gadget in the house, in truth, would be fun.

Of course, I would be sad to see her go.

That said, both my Lumia's 1020 and 1520 are out of contract, and well, I'm due for two upgrades. And as I shared above, I'm a tech geek, and the only barrier between me owning a broad range of tech representative of various platforms is money. My 1520 is my primary device, and hopefully the Surface "phone" (ultra-mobile PC), will be its successor. If not, some high-end Windows phone, an HP Elite X3 perhaps, will be. But what's a tech geek to do with his second line? Hmmmmm.

Well, after Eve ate the forbidden fruit, she gave to her husband, and he ate too.

I'm just saying.

Jason L Ward is a columnist at Windows Central. He provides unique big picture analysis of the complex world of Microsoft. Jason takes the small clues and gives you an insightful big picture perspective through storytelling that you won't find *anywhere* else. Seriously, this dude thinks outside the box. Follow him on Twitter at @JLTechWord. He's doing the "write" thing!

299 Comments
  • Thanks for reading folks! Every now and then I have to write a piece that is not an analysis of Microsoft's current strategy and the expected outcome of that strategy. This was a fun piece to write and gave voice to my wife'c experiences that echo many of yours. That said I am still very optimistic about Microsoft's strategy, uphill battle and all. :-) So don't misinterpret the ending of this piece as a contradiction to that position. :-) I love tech so the more the more devices the merrier! But if you ask me my preference, that of course would be Windows Phone! So if its got to be just one, Windows Phone it is! Well, you know the drill, LET'S TALK!!!
  • Well, you can say that the grey uneducated mass go with Android while the elite goes with iOS or Windows. Simple as that. Using android for work is stupid since Googles TOS says that they own everything you create on any of their services and they have the right to use it as they see fit.
  • "The elites go with Windows" The only Windows phones that have sold close to decently have been the ultra-cheapo $100 or less phones, look at how long the 520 remained the best seller, only recently was it knocked off its perch by a different sub $100 dollar phone.  For you to say these are phones for the elites is laughable.
  • Because a lagging, crashing, insecure 800€ android phone is for elites, right
  • I don't think that current Android phones are or the current version of Android is as bad as the some people make them or it seem like.
    I really love the animations on Android, they are fun, playful and on my father's $150-200 Moto G3, work without a single lag.
    I have used the new Galaxy devices and they, too, do not lag.
    This perception of Android being sluggish is quite old and irrelevant now.
  • Furthermore, Samsung's newest version of Touchwiz is actually visually pleasing, lightweight, and secure enough for Fortune 500 companies and the US Govt. due to the Knox security system, which, in addition to encrypting the entire device and removable storage, allows for remote device administration, routine malware detection, and many (if not all of) the things BlackBerry was previously known for. It's not difficult to see why people would use such a device instead of a Windows Phone. I myself have become incredibly dissatisfied with the state of Windows on mobile, especially since the team in charge of the OS seems to have completely abandoned the design language that made it so appealing to begin with. I'm most definitely switching to android, a system which is far more customizable and secure than the current builds of Windows Phone. There is no way in hell that such a fine-tuned platform (though it may have taken some time to get there) can be considered a second-rate ecosystem when compared to the toddlerish mess that is the iOS user interface or the useless jumble that is the current state of Windows 10 Mobile.  /informedOpinion
  • I prefer the design language of Windows 10. Its more "computer-ey".
  • Depends on what you compare with. The entire system is sluggish if you are used to something smoother.
  • You don't have a clue what you are talking about. Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • No its not and the updates are released in betas
  • Informed buyers say otherwise.
  • Which you are not lol Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • I think he is saying that if Windows had a better market share, elites would go towards them due to the Microsoft Office apps and good Cloud platform with OneDrive.  That said, the 950 and 950 XL as well as the newly re-sold Lumia 1520 on ATT make great elite capable devices, though they are all pricey line an iPhone, but they can do a lot that the iPhone can't as well with Continuum and a more open file system which allows you to transfer pics, music, etc without using iTunes (which I and many others hate!).
  • If you're leaving a Windows Phone, an Android is the next best option. It has a large amount of customization that can be found in a Windows phone and isn't nearly as restrictive as an iPhone is. 
  • This is true. If you care about customization a lot, Android is way to go. iPhone isn't, unless you want to jailbreak...
  • I am optimistic too, but for me seeing is believing. There are days that some news make wanna switch right away but then I remember the big plan you here have pointed out. But it's until Redstone 2, which they said will be more about mobile devices.
  • And the rumored Redstone 3 is supposedly entirely about Mobile devices, much like Redstone 1 was mostly about PC's. Windows Central Universal Application for Windows 10
  • But if they don't add features for productivity like split screen and others, they will lose the game. Apps are not the most preferable thing for me, productivity and doing many things at the same time and fast is.
  • Hi Lampros: Absolutely, Microsoft has a very ambitious plan, and like many of you I enjoy the platform and are in it for the long haul. :-)
  • Don't hold your breath waiting for the next 'Big plan'. Most here have witnessed about a dozen so far, me included.
    Enjoy what you have now and base any decisions on that, because if history is anything to go by, very sadly we only have disappointment to look forward too.
  • I went through this exact same discussion with my wife 6 months ago. After losing Rooms, which was her favorite and our most used aspect of the phone, I lost. Our new phones are not Windows phones.
  • Can I ask what phones you two decided to go to? It seems like there's also a mini debate in the community about iOS over Android when switching. lol
  • You have to have the same phones? That seems really unusual to me I don't force any technology choices on my wife and she doesn't on me. When she was looking for her next phone I didn't recommend Windows 10 Mobile for her because frankly it's not right for her at all - where as it IS for me.
  • Or maybe they are just one of those people. I can't imagine it but I hear of people doing this quite a bit.
  • Sometimes that's not a bad option if one person needs support in operating their phones. My in-laws get the same phones, and my mother-in-law needs all the help she can get, so her husband is the support. Sadly, my father-in-law thinks he knows more than he actually does, but I can see why many less-tech-oriented couples might chose this approach. Also, carriers often offer incentives to do this too.
  • Hi Jeff: Yeah we loved rooms. Not only Waa it good for productivity but the personalization of the UI was awesome. I definitely miss it. GroupMe just doesn't do the same for me.
  • I lost to the wife to. We went with android LG G5's. Best decision we've made in terms of phones. Fast, great cameras, no crashes, resuming or resets needed, and very nice screens. No lag to speak of with over 70 apps installed and no viruses. She's a happy camper and tbh so am I. My wp is a play toy these days.
  • "no viruses" you are aware of... Google itself is a trojaner (and monopolist company in many many ways) but beside that most other trojaners are not visible. A virus you find is not a good one... Today there are as good as no worm viruses anywhere anymore... They all search for informations and try to hide from you.
  • @groady Funny, in reading the comments I see that a several husbands here have wives who'd like to try/or have moved to other platforms. The thing is my wife really loves Windows phone's "cleaness", ease of use, Live Tiles, etc. She's shares ideas that she thinks would make things better now and then too. She really dislikes Android's UI, and the iPhone even more. We'll see how things go. Maybe she'll stick around, maybe she'll switch. Who knows. :-)
  • I found this viewpoint to be realistic. I also really liked how you kind of told a story about your wife's and her sisters' usage of Windows Phone/Mobile. I'm not really sure how this can be helped, but she's right. The Lumia 640 is one of my favorite phones, which is why I still have mine. I try to use it when there's a new Production build, or I hear about a really nice update or a nice app that I would like to try pops up. I like it, everything seems to be okay so I then move my sim into it. I'm good for the night, and by the next day, I find something that either starts to annoy me, or will annoy/frustrate me so I change back. It's hard, but at this point, I can't see myself using it as a DD anymore, just occasionally. Like your wife, I have my own share of frustrations of things lacking or just have a poor version. One of those is a certain app. My book app has a decent workaround on Edge (I can read it) but yet if I'm finished, I can't return it, I need the app for that. I'm fighting to return a book and hoping that the app doesn't crash. Sigh.
  • Thanks for the input libra89!
  • That's a lotta windows phones getting smashed or broken in your circle because of "unfortunate" incidents :P Accidents born out of frustration...? :D
  • Hmmmmm....yeah...May it's a conspiracy! I do have some iPhone and Android lovers in my circle. Maybe they were the are the culprits in the "unfortunate" incidents.:-) LOL
  • Exactly the same situation happened to me but I lost her to the iPhone and I don't think she will ever come back. Nothing would make her happier than to have a shiny new MacBook Pro as she assumes that if you edit videos it's much better on a Mac. Her initial reason for leaving her 920 in the dust was purely to do with Facebook app being poor and Instagram only available at the time as 6tag, but after using her iPhone for a few months she decided that "everything is better" on the iPhone (even though after a few weeks her screen shattered without even dropping it!). Apple to her has become the sole company that provides quality products that "just work" (even when they don't) and a lot of this is due to marketing and much more positivity around the world for iPhones in general. A common thing that happens here is when her laptop has a problem she gets angry and practically curses Microsoft, however, when her iPhone has a problem there is virtually no reaction, it's quite a strange effect really. That being said, she does still like Live Tiles and she is enjoying Windows 10 on her laptop now I finally got her to upgrade.
  • Sad Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • "even though after a few weeks her screen shattered without even dropping it!" I'm sorry but screens don't just shatter. I've used all platforms and have worked around mobile devices for almost 10 years. Unless extreme temperatures were involved, then her screen was impacted by something. Doesn't mean she necassarily dropped it, but something came in contact with that screen.
  • My girls Samsung ativ s broke, so she replaced it with an htc that came faulty. She sent it out to be fixed and borrowed an iPhone in the meantime. She hasn't been back since. She misses the live tiles too but that's about it. We used to use rooms alot but that's gone...
  •   She's not really wrong aobut the video editing, though.  I'm an in-house creative for a nonprofit, and I recently switched from M