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How I turned my Samsung Galaxy S8 into a Microsoft phone

Microsoft's new mobile effort revolves around bringing the best of Windows 10 to Android and iOS. Now that Windows 10 Mobile is all but dead, it's time to start embracing Microsoft's new goal; making Android and iOS better for Windows users. Timeline, Cloud Clipboard and Continue on PC are all Windows 10 features that aim to tie your Android or iOS device to your PC further, and vice versa.

I recently went out and purchased a Samsung Galaxy S8 (opens in new tab) with the intention of turning it into my new Windows phone. Now, calling it a Windows phone isn't entirely accurate since it's not running Windows; so I like to call it a Microsoft phone. It's a smartphone that's loaded up with Microsoft software and services, and outside of live tiles and UWP apps, it has everything my Lumia Windows phone had, and that's fantastic.

See Samsung Galaxy S8 at Amazon (opens in new tab)

Microsoft has made switching from Windows phone to Android or iOS incredibly easy, so much so my Android phone feels even more connected to my Windows 10 PC than my Windows 10 Mobile device ever did. Things such as Microsoft's own Android Launcher (opens in new tab), Edge (opens in new tab), Cortana (opens in new tab), Outlook (opens in new tab) and OneDrive (opens in new tab) bring all the features and functions I need out of the Windows experience on my phone.

I've even reprogrammed the dedicated Bixby button to launch Cortana instead, using an app called bxActions (opens in new tab). When I press the dedicated button, it launches the Cortana app. If I hold the button down, it takes me immediately to voice mode where I can say commands and have Cortana do things. It's super handy having a dedicated Cortana button on the side, as it makes adding things like reminders or checking the weather super convenient.

Using Edge on Android is a nice addition, as it syncs your bookmarks and form data across your PC and phone. I don't care that it's using the Chrome engine underneath, because I don't have an issue with Chrome's engine. I use Edge because it uses my Microsoft account to sync data, not because of the underlying engine. Being able to continue files and web pages on my PC from my phone is also super convenient, more so than I was originally expecting.

More to come

This will improve over time, too. With Timeline and Cloud Clipboard in Redstone 4, apps and things you copy will also be transferable across devices. Near Share is a new feature in the works for Windows 10 right now too, which will undoubtedly be coming to Android phones; allowing you to share files, photos and more instantly between your PC and phone directly from the Share UI on Windows 10.

The only things I need from Microsoft to complete my Microsoft experience is a dedicated Phone and SMS app. Once I'm able to make cellular calls or send SMS texts from a dedicated app on my PC and phone that sync that data across devices, my Microsoft smartphone experience will be complete. It'd also be nice to see a Movies & TV app on Android or iOS, but that's not a priority for me.

The beauty of Android is that it's an open platform. Sure, most Android phones come bundled with Google services, which isn't ideal if you're someone who isn't into Google's ecosystem; but the good news is you can essentially replace all of that with Microsoft's own offerings. You can set Edge as your default web browser, Microsoft's Launcher as your default home experience, OneDrive as your photos cloud backup solution, Outlook as your default email and calendar client, and more.

You can also download package disablers, which I don't actually recommend unless you know what you're doing. Package disablers allow you to disable some software and services that Google and OEMs bundle onto Android devices. For example, I used a package disabler to disable some of the things Samsung includes on the Galaxy S8, including Samsung Cloud, TouchWiz, Bixby and even Samsung's built-in keyboard. I don't want or use Samsung's services. Of course, most people, even Microsoft users, won't want to disable these.

I also personally like to disable pretty much everything Google on my Android, outside of Google Play Services and the Play Store. I disabled everything from Chrome to the Google Assistant, as Microsoft offers alternatives in that regard. If Microsoft has an app that does something Google or Samsung offers, then I'm absolutely going to be disabling the Google and Samsung offering in favor of Microsoft's.

Windows 10 Mobile is no longer the best choice for Microsoft fans

If you're still using Windows 10 Mobile because you think Windows phone still offers the optimal "Microsoft" experience, it's time to re-evaluate that thought process. Microsoft has put so much work into making Android and iOS 'the' platforms for Microsoft software and services on mobile that Windows 10 Mobile simply doesn't hold a candle to the integrations and features Microsoft apps have on other platforms anymore.

Redstone 4 will see this trend continue. Microsoft is building features into Windows 10 on PC that tie directly into the apps and services available on iOS and Android. This is not something that is happening on Windows 10 Mobile. As we have reported in the past, Microsoft is leaving Windows 10 Mobile behind with feature2, with no new features in development. Windows 10 Mobile doesn't have an ecosystem to support it anymore.

Sure, Windows 10 Mobile still works today, and it will continue to work for a long time. However, Microsoft isn't going to be building experiences that benefit Windows 10 Mobile and PC integration anymore. That focus is now on Android and iOS, and that's incredibly exciting. If you've decided to remain on Windows phone, just know that your tight integration between your PC and phone is now matched on rival platforms, and will quickly find that over time, Android and iOS phones will have better integration compared to what Windows 10 Mobile can offer.

Zac Bowden
Senior Editor

Zac Bowden is a Senior Editor at Windows Central. Bringing you exclusive coverage into the world of Windows 10 on PCs, tablets, phones, and more. Also an avid collector of rare Microsoft prototype devices! Keep in touch on Twitter: @zacbowden.

354 Comments
  • I can't stand the iOS interface.  It is usable to me.  I don't like Android either, but since Microsoft has the Launcher and it allows for some customizations, Android is likely my next phone.  I hate it, but not much choice.  My Icon is EOL.
  • Just like me... Somehow i cant wait to get a samsung S8 but my Lumia 950 just continues to work well, its still has the best OS in my opinion
  • I've had the S7 since last Black Friday. It's great. I'm holding out for the S9+. Yes the WP os is great, but I couldn't stand everything being produced for only iOS or Android.
  • Yep, I just tracked one down, and it's on its way. 🤓😀 will go well with my X3 et al.
  • Nothing's stopping you from doing this to the LG v30 which is a way nicer phone with a better camera and best of all you're not stuck with that effin bixby button..
  • Best, most beautiful and practical UI. OS not sure.
  • Launcher10 is by far the best Windows Mobile app launcher on Android. It also has live tiles. I used it in combo with a few widgets and I have simulated about 95% function and look of windows mobile AND I have access to all the apps on Android
  • Does it simulate voice texting using bluetooth?  The biggest thing I miss about my 950XL is that I can't text using voice via bluetooth in my car.  I also hate how the Android OS constantly has to be baby set, killing apps, and optimizing, etc.  I can't find a way to have google assistant connect to my work (Exchange) calendar.  There are so many things that I took for granted on my windows phone that I really miss now with my note 8.  Just makes me more annoyed with MS for abandoning the OS.
  • It's been about six years since I've bought an Android device.  I HATED how there were so many google services/apps running in the background that ate up system resources and no matter how many times you'd kill them, they'd sneak back at it again.  I hope when I switch to an Android phone that isn't going to be so much of an issue. 
  • Nope - still the same. Tons of crap you can't get rid of.
  • Are the live tiles on Launcher 10 capable of being made transparent and be resized? Thanks.
  • I too have an excellent 950XL, but my partner has just switched to Nokia 8, seems a good service except for the OS! even with MS Launcher  it's awful, the migration process is a total nightmare,be prepared for 48hrs of frustration.  what a pity MS feels win10 mobile was flogging a dead horse!
  • Even thought you hate iOS, at least it is usable to you.  
  • Tee-hee
  • I understand that it's difficult. But after playing around a bit you'll appreciate all the apps you can get along with all the customization. There's lots of good launchers, keyboards, lock screens, etc. Win10 mobile will always be the most beautiful OS and the smoothest, and you can have a Win10 device by your side whenever you miss the Win10 experience.
  • You won't appreciate it if you don't need the apps.
  • Ok but maybe the hardware support from the OS because there's many really cool hardware features available? My s8+ has an Iris scanner, fingerprint reader, LED notification light, heartbeat detector, and the standard hardware that others phones have like a camera and such. There are many things that Android offers. I used to hate it and I thought it was horrible but now I love it just as much as W10M. We just get so used to things that we oppose what we are not used to.
  • Not everyone wants or even cares about an Iris scanner, a fingerprint reader OR a stupid LED notification light (I just want to smack people who have that feature turned on) or heartbeat detector.
  • Please educate yourself before posting a comment like this. I've been a Windows Phone user since the WP7 days, went through a HTC HD7 and a Lumia 925 before switching to Android this February. Fingerprint unlocking is so much more convenient and easier than typing a password/pin especially if it doubles as a power button(thanks Sony). The 'stupid' notification LED helps with battery life a lot. Incoming notifications don't power on the whole screen, only a tiny light, which in turn helps me see if I have any pending notifications without needing to unlock the phone myself if I've been away from my phone. I loved my 2 Windows Phones but their time to pass the torch came last winter. I don't use a lot of apps(can't be bothered to install yet another messaging app - looking at you Snapchat) but the quality of the few apps I do use is so much better on Android. Plus, it has actual multitasking and no 'resuming' screen.
    Not liking or caring about a feature is fine, but saying you want to smack people who use it is taking it a bit too far. Take it easy dude, after all it's just a mobile os we're talking about.
  • Funny, I have learned to appreciate the stripped down version of apps on the windows phone.  When I first used facebook on my note 8, there was so much crap going on that I couldn't tell whether I was coming or going.  Also, apps are constantly asking dumb sh*t like, "Can I be your dialer?"  "Can I be your messaging app?" "Can I use your contacts?"  I can't understand for the life of me what a ringtone programs needs with my contacts.  It's just too much.  I also wish notifications for all but the usual suspects were turned off by default and I'll choose to turn on the ones that I want.  Also, what's the point of having Cortana if the app needs to be running for you to use it.  Companies complained when MS baked in internet explorer into their OS, yet, Cortana isn't allowed to run as a service, and google assistant will not look at any calendar that isn't googles.  As you can see, I'm struggling a bit making the transition...lol
  • Yeah it asks those questions for security reasons. If you download a messaging app like Textra or ChompSMS, Android asks for permissions for things and defaults so malware can't automatically set itself as default.
  • Preach it...
  • Used ios for 11/2 years and have been with android--s8 plus--since end of June.  Iphone bored me, but the Android experience is maddening.  Windows platform was the best of the three operating systems.  I find myself comparing each phone I have to my Lumia 1520 and 900.  Microsoft is off its gourd if it thinks there is not a market for their phones.  They just need to come out with a stunning design to attract consumers' attention.  That is the first thing that a lot of people notice--the design of the chasis.  Make it look expensive and exclusive, and they will flock to it.  Then the operating system will hook them.  And the apps will follow.  
  • Yeah I'm not referring to the camera flash notification light I'm talking about the one on the front you can barely notice it from far away.
  • One of the big reasons I gave up on the old PocketPC/Windows Mobile was precisely because I had to install skins, etc., to keep it useful.  I DON'T WANT A DEVICE WITH A TON OF CUSTOMIZATION.  I want an attractive, easy to see user experience that just WORKS.  That was Windows Phone.  And, to a lesser extent, Windows 10 Mobile.  As far as I'm concerned, having a bunch of stupid keyboards, widgets and whatever is stupid.  The OS itself should have 99% of what I need to do built in.  Which WP had in spades.  I hardly needed any apps because so much was integrated.  But it's all those ridiculous Android and iPhone users who infected what Microsoft had in Windows Phone.  So, to placate them, they began DISintegrating the OS, causing the downward spiral.  I hate Android. I hate iPhone.  There's no amount of skinning, widgets or other lipstick to make those pigs worth my money.  Even as bad as W10M has become.
  • Well you're boring.
  • No he's efficient and uses his phone as a productive tool and not a toy.
  • So do I. The more features = more productivity. I never use my phone as a toy. I don't even have games! Just because there's more features doesn't mean it's not efficient. You don't have to use all features. You can customize it to make it efficient for you.
  • Sweet jesus what a tool. I hate having options.......blah blah.....fawk off.
  • SquareHome2 and Launcher 10 do quite a good job fixing many UI lacks, even with fake live tiles to get a bit more information.   Also i recommend "wave up!" and "Flip to turn" to bring back some of Win10 convenience features.  The settings menu is still terrible, have not found a solution for that yet. Also i miss bing maps (here! is good, but the latest updates of bing maps app on WIn10 were really good.
  • I do hate when an article tries to tell me (Microsoft fan) that the phone i choose to stick with (Lumia 950) is not the best phone for me.
  • That's your problem if you don't wanna hear the truth.
  • Are you ok? Can you comprehend what i said? Nobody, and i mean nobody can tell me what is best for me. I guess that's why you grew up like you did.
  • I don't agree that this article tells you what is best for you. That is each to their own. What it does tell you, is that your Microsoft experience is levelled on iOS/Android and will soon be surpassed by better integration with Windows 10. Better than Windows 10 Mobile ever will.
    It took me a while to realize, but it isnt so much about any platform anymore, it is about the services that run on it. And the great thing is, as consumers, we have choice of platform and choice of services.
  • Too bad I can't up vote comments on Android or I would have. +1
  • But wait, I thought everything was better on Android! I know exactly what you are talking about. I recently acquired an LG G6 and have an LG V30 coming tomorrow.
  • There is exactly one thing better on Android: The native youtube app. Everything else was done better on Win10m.
  • @b4rtw "If you're still using Windows 10 Mobile because you think Windows phone still offers the optimal "Microsoft" experience, it's time to re-evaluate that thought process." My current vehicle doesn't have a heated steering wheel.  But the new year model does.  Does that mean I'm missing the "optimal" experience?  Then I should chuck away a perfectly good car to update to something that isn't all that "optimal" to me.  An experience is subjective.  No one can tell me what experience is "optimal" to me.  I think Microsoftjunkie has a point.
  • That's a bad analogy. It's like saying you have a car now that uses a certain type of fuel. But that gas stations in increasing numbers are stopping to carry that fuel, and it looks like they'll probably stop carrying it altogether. Now you have to drive further each time to get that fuel when you can make life easier by getting a car that runs on another fuel that's convenient, easier to get and keeps your engine running well for longer. Those gas stations are also now offering a car wash for every 5 gas refills, and have a store in which you can buy snacks, food and drinks. All these options are not available in the other gas stations you visit. Maybe some have snacks but a very small choice, which you may be satisfied with, and that's ok, but most people get tired of eating the same few things everytime when the rest is enjoying so many different tasty food options. That being said, you may prefer the fuel your car runs on now for a reason or another, which is OK, even if it might not even be available anymore anywhere soon. You can do what you want. The author is just pointing this scenario out.
  • Jeez, take it easy on the fella 😂
  • Taking your fuel analogy, assume Win10 phone is more akin to E85.  It's nowhere near as commonly used as regular gas, and is not as easy to find at stations, but the gobs of extra horsepower it packs is an undeniable advantage/value...
  • yup Android and IOS these days offer a better Microsoft experience for sure, Android a little more than IOS as you can customise it a hell of a lot more. I switch between Microsoft Launcher (use on work S8+) and Launcher 10, which gives you tiled interface with live tiles (on my note 8). Really anyone still holding onto windows mobile 10 there is no reason too.
  • Pity I can't add photos here. Otherwise I'd show you a well lit photo of my Lumia 950 with cognac leather Mozo case with a caption that reads 'Just look at it'.
  • Yes
  • Unless Google allows Cortana to be intergreted into the OS like it is with Windows Phone, it will never be the same. Never. Because Google will never allow that.
  • Sure they will. Microsoft just has to make the phone with that feature. Samsung does it with Bixby.
  • >Better than Windows 10 Mobile ever will That's actually the problem, why W10M never was successful. Nadella was trying to give us wheelchairs with rectangular wheels and was wondering why people kept using crutches. In my eyes he is a dumb idiot. By the way, if I leave W10M I don't want a better Microsoft experience. Then I want a better Android experience. This means Chrome for Edge, Google Mail for Outlook Mail and I won't buy any app in the Microsoft Store.
  • .
  • Guess you didn't get the point. They are simply letting you know that android is the best platform for MS users. I will be getting note 8 by the end of this month so I could even make so comparison video with my 950XL and maybe you will see through that samsung with right apps is actually surface phone we wanted... ;-) Don't get me wrong 950 is good, but s8 or note 8 are so much better in everything
  • I switched over to the Note 8. I love it so far, I replaced most Google apps with Microsoft as well.
  • I know and agree what you mean about the S8 being better than the 950, but in fact, the Lumia has much better photos at low light and at night, the Operative System Windows 10 Mobile offers you a much easier and smooth experience. I have a Lumia 950 and an S8, and if we go for specs the Lumia falls behind in everything apart of the camera (much better photos at low light), but the thing that mkes the Lumia 950 strong is the OS, I prefer W10M over Android by a mile.
    Anyway, I was about to get rid of my Lumia 950 and force myself to love Android and keep the S8, but now, even knowing the S8 is a much better phone, it lacks W10M and the amazing night photos from the Lumia 950, and I may have to keep it too.
  • absolutly love my note 8, best phone on the market hands down right now (and thats including the iphone X)
  • The surface phone i want is a 4,7" sized device, maybe foldable.
  • I did exactly the same switch 3 months ago and am very happy. the camera is not as good specially in low light. however it is still very good and much faster. Real multitasking the s pen and the best screen On any phone will make you love the phone
  • Sefin - Don't forget to add all the annoying sh*t about the note 8 in you're unbiased comparison.
  • Nobody is telling you what is best. The author is simply telling that if what you want/need/like the most is in Microsoft products and services, the best platform is not Windows Phone. If Windows Phone is the best platform for you, fine. Also, juvenile comments like "I guess that's why you grew up like you did." are pointless and unrelated in any way. But my question is, if you are so convinced about whatever that may be, why are you inconfortable when someone tells you (as you seem to think) something you are not agreeing with. If I'd be the kind of people like you resorting to cheap insults, I would guess that's why you grew up like you did (though the term "grew" is loosely used here, as I truly hope you regressed from a higher state of mind rather than evolved into the one you are right now).
  • That's an ignorant response, Azizelh.  The right phone for you is the right phone for you.  If Android, with WHATEVER lipstick on it, is the right phone for Azizelh, there's nothing to say that it even comes close to being the right phone for Microsoftjunkie...or me, for that matter. 
  • Why should he live by your definition of what truth is?
    Device enjoyment is largely based on personal experience. How many times have Android fans been confused on what iPhone fans see overpriced iPhones iPhone fans never argue about features, hardware etc compared to Samsung Galaxy line in particular, but they have always remained steadfast that their beloved Apple iPhones just work, smooth, the wonderful experience that you just cannot understand and not quantifiable etc etc etc.
    The day you are able to preach the truth to iPhone fans successfully, I will try to consider your truth for consideration which I am sure will probably not entertain but will consider it.
    As of this writing, FOR ME, nothing beats my beloved L950 XL, absolutely nothing for my experience (I have tried my wife's iPhone 6 Plus, My son's Sammy Note 6). Fanboyism out of the way, I truly love my L950 XL How well can I tell you.
    My argument is not that these other platforms are bad or inferior to my L950XL, but that They do not compete at all for MY use case experience.
  • How is someones 'preference' somehow ignoring 'truth'? Even beyond 'preference' - Take the Lumia 950 or 950XL at GSMArena and put it in a compare box to the Note8/S8 and an iPhone X...  Notice the 2-year-old phone, with the exception of the CPU/GPU is technically in the SAME CLASS, and still beats the Samsung and iPhone X in several RAW specifications and how those specifications work.   Even the 'older' SnapDragon in the Lumia 950XL keeps up with both devices and beats both the S7 and iPhone 7 in several tests - let alone the UI and Apps responding faster. So at 'best' it is only one year behind in RAW performance.  (With WM10 it uses all the cores in the phone concurrently - something Android didn't fully do, and Android still hit TDP limits - the NT scheduling technology that also accounts for thermal loads to pick cores is BRILLIANT, and is why it was able to a lower performing SoC and beat Apple's iPhone CPUs in multi-core performance and in GPU and some base CPU operations is able to beat Android on the same device by 1.5x-4X depending on the phone in comparison with the exact same SoCs. A couple of examples...
    While you are there, take a look at the camera comparisons with images and video, and notice the Lumia 950 was doing 4K better then than Samsung or Apple does today.  You can read the fine print on test images recorded in 4K with the 950 that you cannot on the S8 or the iPhone X in each lighting condition. Then, take a look at screen quality and color accuracy - it still offers fidelity over the newer devices. Or look at the sound tests that are mostly better, and even then look at the Facial/Iris recognition technology (may have to jump around the web) - but the Lumia 950/XL can't be tricked like the S8 or the iPhone and does all this without a frankensten'd special chip like the iPhone X uses - that is easy to fool.  I'm not going to recommend the Lumia 950/XL, but people treating them like they are 'old' were NOT paying attention to the quality they offered when they came out - which is sadly one reason it didn't do well.  If there was a refresh of the Lumia 950/950XL with the newer processor, with few other minor changes, it would be the top phone that could be bought. - And this is technology Microsoft was offering two years ago.
     
  • The SD810 is a ****. It was so bad Samsung skipped that generation on their flagships. You are going to have a hard time rewriting the history on that SOC. Qualcomm needed a 64bit SoC to compete with the iPhone. They did not have a custom solution ready in time so they were forced to use ready made ARM designs. It was just a stop gap before the SD820 and their custom design. Microsoft and most other OEMs didn't have a choice, it was their only option for flagships at time. https://arstechnica.com/gadgets/2015/04/in-depth-with-the-snapdragon-810...
  • Seen some photos elsewhere, and still think my 950xl gives better results. Chuck a Snapdragon 845 in, a little more RAM and make it Android. Be my next device. I'd like to see a MS Android phone.
  • I am using a 950 right now. While it does everything I need it to, the browser is starting to not work well for sites such as NFL.com and nhl.com videos don't play because their sites think the phone is an android and can't figure out what to do.
  • Unfortunate, but true. Just tried it out. However, for the timebeing, you can still download the app for NFL.
  • That has nothing to do with the 950, or the OS or the browser, that means the Web Developers are not professionals for sure, a professional Web Developer has a bunch of "rules" that have to be applied to every single website they develop, is like every car maker know that a car has to have breaks, wheels, a steering wheel, and a few more basic things. But all the parts need to make the car driveable for anyone, short, fat, tall, thin, etc. The same applies to Websites, they have to be able to run exactly the same way on every browser and should not be checking at all the platform where it's being run, this should only be happening if you are developing content that is specifically designed to run a specific platform, but for this, there are webapps, websites shouldn't do this anyway.
    Shoort version, those websites are not reliable, they were developed by amateurs and users should report this to the Company that holds those websites. If nothing is done, do like me, stop using those websites. Nobody has to buy a new device or install unwanted browsers just to be able to visit a website. 
  • It isn't your fault for using an old, obscure and end of life device? Why should developed think for one second about that .1% of users that are going to switch soon anyways?
  • Edge on Android is actuaaly a very good browser, syncs across mobile and pc and i think it probably is one of the best mobile browsers out there right now
  • Except that you have to hit the space bar between every word when you're swyping.
  • I was actually surprised how good it was. Edge on mobile was bad when i switched to Android. I won't use Google or Firefox, so I had been using Brave browser (which i still love), but found edge on Android to be very good, I now use it as much if not more than Brave Browser. 
  • Not sure why you're having trouble with nfl.com... I just tried, browser set to 'mobile' on my 950xl.. scrolling, links and menus fluid and fast here. Go Lions!
  • Just tried this on my 1520. You are right. But, I went into the settings in Edge, changed it from mobile to desktop and nfl.com videos work just fine.
  • He didn't yell YOU; he explained what HE did for HIMSELF. Self-absorbed much?
  • "Windows 10 Mobile is no longer the best choice for Microsoft fans". Can you read?
  • That statement is fact.  Adverse to change much?
  • That is not fact, when my experience debunks it!
  • Your experience today is going to erode and likely erode heavily over the next six months. Even app support from Microsoft will be minimal while third parties will drop support quickly. Imagine how bad the experience will be a year from now. With any sort of forward thinking, Android is the best mobile platform for Microsoft fans. Buying a Windows phone today is silly and this website would be irresponsible to recommend one.
  • I guess you should've asked me why i use a phone in the first place. Email, calendar, OneNote, office suite, small games, phone calls, texts, especially camera/video. My use case for phones are small and it doesn't hurt to still have a future proof phone minus specs. Windows Hello has not been fooled and has bested Samsungs in speed and Iphone X in spoofing. What i have maybe older, maybe slower, maybe little apps, but it is Golden.