Internal videos show why Microsoft's Kin never took off

It's common knowledge that the Microsoft Kin family of handsets suffered from a short life and quick death, with the hardware only being available for a matter of weeks. The poor devices never really saw the light of day when Microsoft's somewhat 'hip' mobile phones launched back in 2010.

Issues ranged from the hardware being too expensive to having too few apps and being slow and sluggish. Internal videos have now been published that show focus groups testing the Kin (using pre-production units that reportedly changed very little from the shipping product). It doesn't look good at all for the ill-fated devices.

Watching through the recorded videos will reveal just how bad the Kin was when it came to usability, with Wired's source (who reportedly worked on the project) stating the devices were a "pile of s**t". While of course the videos paint a bleak picture, they're actually fairly entertaining should you enjoy hearing a handful of testers bash / have trouble with a product.

The first video shows testers providing open-ended feedback in their own words about the products. One tester said its frustrating and that he can imagine his daughter would give it back very quickly. One can see how the user experience is affected by poor performance and bugs.

The next video shows the testers experiencing difficulties dialling numbers, and it's fairly humorous to see them attempt to deliberately go slow to ensure each number is selected and still failing. Imagine if Windows Phones were this difficult to use outside, let alone in a relaxed environment.

Last up we have a video showing testers struggle with system 'lag' and touch screen issues. This is built on the video above where dialling numbers is proven difficult. Navigation through the OS is just as bad.

It's fair to say that Kins had their fair share of issues, which Microsoft quickly decided to forget about and launch an intuitive mobile platform instead of further developing and fixing all the problems (and more) highlighted by testers. 

Source: Wired

Rich Edmonds
Senior Editor, PC Build

Rich Edmonds was formerly a Senior Editor of PC hardware at Windows Central, covering everything related to PC components and NAS. He's been involved in technology for more than a decade and knows a thing or two about the magic inside a PC chassis. You can follow him on Twitter at @RichEdmonds.

  • Yea it sucked. And it was overpriced. Figured that was obvious.
  • I remember seeing these and thought they looked kinda cool. Guess it's a good thing they were gone before I got a chance to get one.
  • A real piece of S*** :-D
  • man....that form factor had so much potential.  Just look at that...I would LOVE to have something that small that has maybe 4 flipping tiles to give me at a glance updates.  Well MS learned from their mistakes hopefully....and who knows, maybe they can cram a Windows 7.x device into a cheap form factor like that.
  • Because that would totally be worth carrying around, much less buying.
  • i would love to see wp version of ken one
  • It looks like people's hub on WP.
  • i ment the hardware
  • these were obviouly preproduction devices.  From talking to people who actually owned them, they were really nice devices.  Paul Thurrot bought one for his son and thought they were really nice devices.
  • But were they really nice devices?
  • Never even heard of the kin until now. But it sounds like I didn't miss much.
  • I find it odd that they needed to product test these to know there was a lag. Seems kind of obvious that there would be a lag and you don't need to pay people to tell you that.
  • I doubt they knew they'd be buggy at the time of testing when they scheduled the testing. If you do usability testing right, it takes some lead time to get a representative group of people selected, and everything prepared and scheduled. You don't want to wait until you have a finished product, either, and then test it and start over, or sit on it for months until distribution and marketing are ready.
  • There should really be a big disclaimer on this article, front and center that says "This is an old, dead product called Kin it is NOT Windows Phone."   In fact the disclaimer should be edited into the start of each of the videos since many people never actually read the article because I can just hear it already... Random consumer 1:  "What's this Windows Phone stuff I keep hearing about?" Random consumer 2 (who thinks they know something):  "Oh, that's Microsoft's new phone, it's crap." RC1:  "Really?  I saw a TV commercial and it looked kind of cool." RC2:  "No way, that's just marketing spin.  I saw these secret internal company videos on this one tech website where they were showing the Windows Phone 8 Kin (or whatever it's called) being tested and it looked horrible.  Nobody liked it...  It worked like shit.  Complaint after complaint.  Seriously, worst devices ever."    RC1:  "Well forget that then...  Microsoft sucks!" RC2:  "Yeah totally, you should get the Nexus XXX Ultra Droid Tab Note 3000 that I heard was coming out...  It's an Android phone and I think it's made by Google.  It's suppose to be full of awesomeness." RC1:  "Cool, thanks!" Remember, people are generally pretty stupid when it comes to this sort of thing... *sigh* Not that WPCentral can edit the videos that they linked to...  but you get my point.
  • I understand your underlying point; a lot of people misinterpret what they hear and/or read, are either convinced by other people or are simply lacking the common sense and intelligence to absorb the correct information and make ill-informed decisions based on nonsense information. It annoys me when people simply don't do their research and rely on people who didn't do their research either!
  • Dude I was gonna say the same thing!
  • The KIN was designed to allow teens to be social; IM, run Facebook, and make phone calls.  The IM and Facebook features were designed to be run on WiFi.  Verizon and others make no $$$ on WiFi data use and tried for some time to make customers use 3G.  In short, they tried to make the KIN do things that it was not designed to do.  By the time that Verizon figured out the error in their ways, it was too late.  And easier for the carrier to blame Microsoft then to admit to a bad business model.  Actually, both are at fault.
  • I was actually thinking about getting a kin 2, that was before I decided on buying an HTC trophy. Glad I waited.
  • I think the Kin phones were pretty good.... assuming you compare it to feature phones. Which feature phones had wifi and a browser? Which also came with a camera with flash? What killed it imo, is Verizon tacking on a smartphone data plan. These things should have had unlimited plans for 10$ a month. If you're going to pay 30$ a month, you might as well get a smartphone since those can just do much more and work so much better.
  • I loved my kin two , great little phone and a perfect warm up for windows phone 7...when they stripped out the cloud features, it was a great messaging phone with full fledged Zune capabilities(even equalizer) had 8mp camera with led flash, 720p recording, 3.4 in screen, 8gb storage and the tile interface with 4 "hip" colors!! It also proudly said windows phone on it, I still have mine in my drawer, next to my Zune 4gb ;)
  • I want one!
  • Same. I kind of want to buy one off eBay or something just to check it out. Too bad they aren't GSM devices
  • Anyone seen the video of 920 Owners trying to sync the videos they bought to their phones?
  • That video existed until a frustrated owner threw his phone and hit the camera that was recording.
  • How did these even get released with WP7 in the pipeline?
  • I think the kin has a cool design. They should load wp7.5 on them and sell them as low end models for areas of the world that are limited
  • Lol I thought they look cool but seem really slow
  • OMG wireds site sucks, why doesn't it change size and play videos? WhoWhatWhere designed that site ugh! =(
  • I heard that before MS officially canceled KIN, they sold about 800 KIN units, and I wonder who did buy KIN.......
  • I actually have a Kin TWOm.   its actually not half that bad for being a feature phone with the nice add-on of the Zune player
  • The Kin and Zune HD were just test dummy devices for their secret, the Windows Phone. Its pretty obvious.
  • They should just keep the nail in the coffin, because people seeing this garbage, will think exactly what aracane said earlier. These can't be confused as a Windows phone, but should be titled microsofts kin project.