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Windows phone didn't fail because of Live Tiles

The claim that the unique Live Tile-based UI is inherently unintuitive and the cause of Windows phone's failure I think is limited in perspective. It is more the timing of the introduction of the Windows phone UI into the market that resulted in its rejection and the platform's failure.

The problem isn't the tiles

The fact that many consumers who are presented a Windows phone find the UI initially off-putting must be considered within the context that most smartphone users are using iOS and Android.

Consequently, the unfamiliar Live Tile UI, like most things unknown, has an inherent learning curve. The ease with which users switch between the iPhone and Android phones with fewer hiccups than moving between those platforms and Windows phones has to do with the similar static icon-based UI iOS and most Android phones share. In a nutshell, in an iPhone and Android dominated market smartphone users are used to a static icon-based UI and have little problem switching between what's familiar.

Microsoft research demos interactive Live Tiles between PC and phone.

This reality does not necessarily support a claim that a static-icon based UI is more intuitive than a Live Tile UI as some may believe.

I don't believe that the Windows phone Live Tile UI is inherently unintuitive. What I do believe is that by the time Microsoft brought it to market, its lateness simply made it "unfamiliar" to the masses of smartphone users. If Microsoft was earlier to market with Windows Phone 7, perhaps before the iPhone or concurrent to its introduction, things may have turned out differently for Microsoft.

Defining a new paradigm

There's a saying that the early bird gets the worm. If Microsoft were earlier to the consumer smartphone space, perhaps its Live Tile UI would have helped define the consumer smartphone experience.

Microsoft's Computer Human Interaction Group demonstrates the unfulfilled potential of Live Tiles on phone and PC.

In 2007 smartphones were new to the consumer masses (though old hat to the enterprise and techies) after all. At that time feature phones with their archaic UI's defined the mobile experiences for the masses.

Any new UI could have replaced that experience. The icon-based UI that Apple succeeded with was due to good timing, a good product, and great marketing.

What if Microsoft and Live Tiles were first?

Suppose Microsoft had introduced Windows Phone 7 on the heels of a feature phone consumer market rather than chasing an iOS and Android consumer market in 2010.

The frame of reference in that context would have been a feature phone UI compared to a Live Tile-based UI. The touch friendly, Live Tile, information-rich fluid Windows phone UI would have been an incredible leap in the mobile experience of consumers. Users would not have seen the touch-friendly Windows Phone 7 UI and OS as inherently unintuitive.

Microsoft who was first to the enterprise smartphone space was too slow in bringing its vision of a mobile OS to the consumer masses. Unlike what it accomplished in the PC space, it lost the opportunity to define what a mobile personal computing would be for consumers. I'm reminded of the proverb:

How long wilt though sleep, O sluggard? When wilt thou arise out of thy sleep? Yet a little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to sleep: so shall thy poverty come as one that travaileth…

Microsoft as a company is by no means impoverished, but its mobile efforts have yielded an expected and ever-decreasing number to its balance sheets. The company's contentment with its PC position and its over 40 percent smartphone market share at its peak caused the company to become slothful in its mobile strategy.

Steve Ballmer mocks iPhone.

The often mocked mockery of the iPhone by former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer summarizes this point.

Microsoft, not Live Tiles was the problem with mobile

Though Live Tiles aren't and never were by their nature an inherent barrier to the adoption of Windows phones, the timing of their introduction into a smartphone experience defined by a static icon-based experience is a problem to the UI's adoption.

How the new Windows 10 Start menu may help Windows phones succeed

Microsoft seems intent on holding on to Live Tiles as evidenced by their use in the Windows 10 Start Menu. This is good news to millions of ardent Windows phone fans who love Live Tiles. But Microsoft is going to have to do better if it wants Live Tiles to keep up or stay ahead of the evolving mobile experience.

Microsoft and developers must be willing to advance Live Tile functionality and the experience making them more consistent with their original vision going forward. For instance, Live Tile's must always display the latest information, must have notifications for all apps, should be more interactive, and the return of the Me Tile with added functionality are just some things Microsoft should bring to the table.

Windows Central's Daniel Rubino demonstrates exploding Mixed View Live Tiles on canceled McLaren.

Exploding Live Tiles or Mixed View, which provides access to additional app content or functions seems to be a vision that Microsoft has forsaken with the ill-fated McLaren. Apple, on the other hand, has taken and applied that concept with force touch in iOS. Microsoft would do well to revisit Mixed View.

The sad truth every Windows phone enthusiast must accept is that Live Tiles aren't at the root of Windows phone's woes, Microsoft is. Let's hope Microsoft has learned from its mistakes.

Further reading

Even if Windows 10 Mobile succeeded Microsoft would have pursued a post smartphone strategy

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!

253 Comments
  • I've been a Windows Mobile/Phone user since 2004'ish and now that I've been an Android user for the past 3 months, I miss Live Tiles the most.  Hell, I miss the OS the most.  But.... The apps aren't there.
  • The OS. Exactly.
    I happen to believe the Tiles were one cog in the WP design machine that worked so smoothly together.
    Remember how opening the messagin app would put your conversations on the screen with a fluid cascade animation that the Start screen also employed?
    It was all of them together. The freshness of a new take on UI without some graphic artist trying to make things "pretty" however they could with whatever colors they could find. NONE of that came to W10M I said, back when I used to argue W10M isn't a proper successor to 8 and 8.1. But now even the W10M experiment is over so... Now even with CShell and maybe a foldable, phone-sized full W10 device we won't get that because we already know how W10 is. Doesn't have that level of polish, and the only thing making that prospective device usable will be its utility, not its software design. The crew who messed up virtually ALL WinRT and UWP apps from the beginning of Windows 8 can't be trusted to give you a unified, polished system.
  • I have been using Windows phones for last 4years or so. To me the prime cause of failure is 1. Ugly phones, a majority of phone buyers are in young age group and for whome looks are important. Even elders feel like carrying a descent phone, whereas the phones have been anything but beautiful. 2. Range: Microsoft selfdom provided range to suit all pockets.  Or else the tile experience was far more convenience that androids/IOS, the security was excellent, the phone didnt hang.
  • Use window 8 launcher! You won't miss them. The appears the same, only lack functionality;")
  • I use Launcher 10 on my Android phone. It's a absolute godsend.
  • I love Launcher 10. The Live Tiles are actually pretty functional.
  • square home2 is a pretty good app to get back that livetile feeling. not the real deal but as close as you can get on android, since windows phone is no longer a viable option in any way for the future.
  • Of course its not the Live Tiles. Its the contant reboot of phone strategy and Phone OS. That is what killed Windows Phone.   
  • They rebooted each time because it was dead. That isn't the cause. There has to be a reason they failed the first time. It makes sense to blame the UI, especially when that UI had failed in every iteration.
  • So, out of curiosity, what do you think was the root cause of failure for WebOS (icon based UI from Palm - one of the big pre-iPhone smart PDA/phone makers) and BB10 (again, icon based UI from Blackberry, one of the big pre-iPhone smartphone makers)?  I mean neither of those used a tile UI, and yet neither had success.
  • WebOS had terrible hardware. It wasn't icon based though. It was card based and I was a huge fan of the UI. The Palm Pre hardware was garbage but I liked it and waited for Palm to release large screen modern phone. It never came. I have never used a Blackberry. I don't really know anything about them. I assume the name held them back, like Windows does for Microsoft. They needed to rebrand, people didn't think modern phone when they hear Blackberry.
  • So a couple of things.  I never used a WebOS device, but looking at this video, when it came to launching apps, it seems very icon based.  The "all applications" icon is pretty much like the Android app drawer.  (The card based nomenclature seems very much related to multitasking which honestly doesn't look all that different from an Android phone of today.) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XgwUs6h57PE Likewise, I never used a BB10 device; I'm just going off images I've seen, but neither BB10 nor WebOS look all that different from skinned Android.  You say you were a fan of WebOS back in the day,  Android OS launched in October 2008, over a year after the iPhone launched.  WebOS launched afterwards (June 2009). Some questions: Do you believe that if WebOS shipped before Android (before Autumn 2008), it would have been successful? Do you belive that if WebOS initially shipped on equal hardware (compared to what was available on Android) at the time (June 2009, 2 years after iPhone, nearly 1 year after Android) it would have had success? Do you believe that if WebOS didn't ship until Autumn 2010 (WP7 lauch, 3+ years after iPhone, 2 years after Android), even if it was running contemporary hardware, it would have been successful?  More successful than WP7?  
  • Honestly, Windows Phone was more icon based than WebOS. Just because you put squares around the icons, doesn't mean it isn't still an icon. WebOS homescreen was card based. You scrolled through your cards of open apps. It had an icon based app drawer, but so does Windows Phone. Google hired the design guy from WebOS, so they do have some similarities now. WebOS and BBOS had a similar issue. Palm and Blackberry were going at it alone. Microsoft has this issue as well since they lock down Windows Phones so much. I don't think any of those platforms had a chance to compete with Android because Google inspired the manufacturers to take Android and run with it. Samsungs couldn't do what they did with any platform but Android. Windows Phone did not give Samsung the tools they needed to compete with Apple. That is why Microsoft lost. It is that simple. No platform had a strategy even close to as strong as Google's. It didn't matter when all those other platforms launched, they would have struggled to compete with the Google/Samsung/HTC/Motorola/LG/OPPO/Xioami/Huewei group effort. Microsoft tried to pay Nokia to help, but they were still way out numbered.
  • So really you're saying that despite your initial claim
    It makes sense to blame the UI, especially when that UI had failed in every iteration.
    you don't think the Windows UI itself was necessarily the main issue, but rather it was fundamentally an issue of "openness"? (tweaking UI, adding functionality, and also adapting to hardware variations - Windows Phone always was limited as to chipset and resolution support, for example.)
  • Yeah, that is what I am explaining. It wasn't the design of the UI so much as the complete inflexibility of the UI. If you didn't like it, and it was polarizing, then you didn't buy a Windows phone. You had no Microsoft option at that point.
  • Oh, OK, so you're arguing that if even if the timeline remained exactly as it was (Windows phone didn't come out for over three years after iPhone/iOS and 2 years after Android shipped, lacked Google maps, YouTube, iTunes), if they had just let the phone manufacturers change the "UI"  (shell?  controls? something?), they'd have been successful? And then iOS's success with it's no flexibility of any sort and sameness across all devices and carriers was just an accident?
  • They would have had a better chance at least. Google gave the manufacturers the keys to the castle and let them run wild. Not only could they change the UI however they wanted, they could use whatever hardware they wanted and add any features they wanted. This inspired them greatly, causing a rediculous feature war with awesome marketing potential. Microsoft gave the manufacturers...none of this. The hardware was strictly outlined and outdated, the UI couldn't be touched and features were lacking without any ability to add to them. It is hard to say it is just the UI though. Microsoft did so many other things wrong as well.
  • Absolutely correct. Windows mobile had been the most flexible, adaptable OS. The interface could be whatever you wanted - I used Co0kies home tab. You could install umpteen different mods of the core system. But it could only access a small amount of RAM (256MB I think). Some programs stopped developing for it because they couldn't do what they wanted. Sygic was one (satnav). Then Windows phone came along, totally locked down. The devices themselves suddenly had restrictions on the design including how many buttons and how they were placed. The loyal customers hated this sudden straightjacket. I waited and when Android 4 gave me back what windows phone had stolen, I jumped.
  • How do you support that assertion? How is it that I can't argue getting there late is the cause they couldn't penetrate the market?
  • Yes, Android has sooooo many flaws compared to W10m. For livetiles i recommend Launcher10. Not cheap, but it fixes the horrible AndroidUI a fair bit.
  • For me it's exactly the same! I expected Android to be far ahead of WP Mobile but it really disappoints me. To be able to have all app though is a relief...  What I miss most: - Live tiles (NOT the animation, but the info on the tiles) - The Word Flow keyboard (it's far better than Swiftkey!) - The action center (not all ugly reminders centered on top of the lock screen as in both Android and iOS) - Dark mode! I think though thatin terms of acceptation MS should give users the possibility to work just with icons; too much people hate the live tile view. IMO it should be more like windows 10: desktop with icon possibilities (would be great to be able to place live tiles on the desktop as well) and press start to open the lice tile view.
  • I agree with you about Swiftkey and its word flow approach.  I much preferred Microsoft's behavior where, when it misinterpreted a word you scribed, you'd hit backspace once and the entire word was deleted.  With Swiftkey, you have to backspace the entire word to get back to where you started.  That's a pain.  However, Swiftkey does have some great customizability features that I really like.  Regarding live tiles vs. Android's approach, you should look at each installed app's widget offerings.  Some are far superior to the limited information offered by live tiles.  I loved the live tile concept, but it seemed like they never really followed through on making them truly "live".  I'll give you an example in Android land: Install the "News360" aggregator app, then try its widget.  The thing rocks.  But I'll beat the dead horse again - I'd still be on Win10Mo if they had the apps that Android offers, but they don't.  That was the deal breaker for me and, I'd venture to guess, for a whole lot of other folks.
  • Same here, I moved to Android 2 months ago and immediately customised my android launcher with Launcher 10...
    Excellent launcher with look and feel very close to the native Win10M interface and customisation... The live title feature is expensive but further enhance the Win10 feel (the android notifications are shown on the tile if the respective app)...
    Pretty good Android launcher for Win10M fans like me who have to move to Android due to lack of hardware...
    Recommended!
  • Yeah don't blame tiles. Blame MS...
  • To be more specific blame Satya Nadella...
  • YES! THIS, a million times, THIS!
  • Disagree completely.  MS had market share only in the race to the bottom.  Had they stayed the course, they'd just have been throwing good money after bad, because the app developers simply weren't there.  The fate of WinMo was sealed before Nadella became the honcho.  And a Surface Phone or any other disruptive hardware approach won't make a lick of difference if the app ecosystem continues to be so paltry.  The MS/Nokia hardware was excellent, but it simply didn't matter.  Nowadays, all hardware is pretty much excellent, so MS was right, IMO, to focus on their core strength - business apps like Office, and forget about beating their heads against the wall of the consumer space.  That ship has sailed and it ain't coming back, no matter what the Surface Phone or the "cellular PC" brings to the table.
  • Nope. Not Nadella. It was already over before he came along. 
    They sat on the old Windows Mobile WAY too long. By the time WP7 came along, it was already a 2 player market. I dont think MS ever really had a shot. Buyers already felt forced into Windows PCs and didnt want the same for their phones. 
  • Nope!! Totally Nutella, Windows 7 to 8.1 had a healthy market share all over Europe and growing in the US. They were never going to beat Android or iOS and nobody expected that at Microsoft.. but they had a healthy 3rd place standing Nutella decided to end that... He decided that Microsoft should retrench in Mobile so the fault lies with him!!.. suffering the first reboot might have put off some people but people were buying Windows phones in North America and in South America and in Europe so it's a shame that the Windows Phone reboot issue was the cause of this?? totally incorrect!!
  • They didn't have a healthy marketshare at all. The total sales numbers were always very low and only the cheapest devices were selling. It wasn't healthy. Microsoft wouldn't have cut it if it was.
  • That is the part I do not understand. How, with the success of WM5 & 6, did things plummet?  WM6 was a great OS to monkey with and modify. Then 6.5 got pushed out as a stopgap. Maybe that's it?  Perhaps 6.5 should have had more invested to 1) tide people over and 2) reveal bits to transition to 7.  I tend to agree with those pointing to the extra strict phone hardware requirements also. Which seems in direct conflict with how Windows PCs are approached. (squirrel) On that note, someone above mentioned Palm. They had good market share; how did Palm crumble and evaporate?  I miss PalmOS devices.  I don't think it's the live tiles either. iOS gives you a clock with moving hands, and that's all I've seen there. But, true, Apple built up the app store for a few years with the iPods before the iPhone rolled out.  Maybe they should take an approach more like MS Office.  Make apps for other phone OSs. Live tiles for iOS and Android?  That could be the ticket.
  •  Definitely blame Nadella for killing Win mobile due to lack of support. But blame the crusty old critics for everybody ******** about live tiles. They were too set in their ways to give the new interface with live tiles a chance. Either they still hated Microsoft from the 90s or are just plain too lazy to learn it. So, they wrote all these articles about how bad the interface was and people (lemmings) just followed suit.
  • The Live Tiles UI is the 'only' reason I still stay with W10M platform.  It is the most customizable, effcient and simple UI among all the mobile platforms.  I blame MS management for the W10M failure.  The way they handle the WP kill is nothing but disgraceful.  They could downsize and streamline the operation rather tham bury it.  It is totally irresponsible.  The CEO is leading the charge to kill a beautiful product. They have lost trust among all the fans, users, developers, media and OEMs.  
  • Agree 100%. I love Live Tiles. I keep going back to them for a million reasons.
  • Windows Mobile isn't customizable at all. Certainly not as customizable as Android or even a jail broken iPhone. Literally the only thing customizable on Windows phone is the size and layout of the tiles.
  • On my Start screen, all my frequent contacts, tasks, tools, apps and sites are pinned and organized to fit tightly with my daily routines.  Once is phone is powered on, most of my activities are one tap away without searching.  This is something that you just can't do on other platforms especially the iOS.  I just don't want to go backward to the icon based UI.  You need to do searching all the time and every time.  It is not the size and layout of tiles you can customize.  It is the whole mobile operations you can customize to provide maximum efficiency to every individuals.  There are NO two Start screens are alike.  I just don't know how could I survive without using the 'Live Tiles' UI to manage my daily life after years of getting used to.  I would definitely switch to the rumored the W10 'ultramobile mobile' device as the first option before considering any other platforms.
  • They all are just a grid of icons with squares around them and randomly flipping images. There is no customization available that isn't available on every platform.
  • Your the only one that goes on about this...every article you can. Apps. No, don't copy/paste your "that's a symptom, not the cause" rant to backed up with data like "folks don't like windows phones" backed up with marketshare. You have no supporting data to draw those lines. You point out facts and then line them up with your own bias. Most people don't mod up their phones and don't care about that stuff as much as you seem to. I still have the standard UI on my Samsung and I'd have the standard UI if I had a Pixel. I bet of I see 10 Androids, one or two are all mod'd up. That's not the issue, but you piece together a couple of facts that aren't relevant and use loose logic to make your personal pet peeve the issue.
  • Every Android phone is at least modded by the manufacturer, even the Pixel. Why do you think the manufacturers never put much effort into Windows Phone and Microsoft had to pay Nokia to care? What data would be more relevant to Windows phone's popularity? Isn't sales the most important metric? What data do you have that shows people loved Windows Phones so much? If People loved them so much, why didn't they buy them back in 2010 and 2011 when Android also had an app gap?
  • Who cares if the manufacturers mod? The point is that consumers don't care because people aren't fussing with it, like you do.  You don't understand the illogic of your argument. Sales is an important metric of sales success, but it is NOT a diagnostic as to WHY sales aren't better. You connect those dots with your own biases.  You have ZERO data supporting that "folks just don't like Windows UI" other than to say "sales are bad".  Sales can be bad for multitude of variables. The hardware could suck. The marketing could suck. The carrier deal could suck. Pricing could be off. Most people seem to boil it down to APPS. I know...you think it's a symptom of having a bad UI.  I've read that over and over from you, but the ony data you use is sales, connected though conjecture to a personal obsession with modding. Spoiler....it's the apps.   
  • Who cares if the manufacturers mod? Who do you think cares? THE MANUFACTURERS! Who was out there putting effort into selling Android phones? (hint: it wasn't Google) Who was out their selling Windows phones? Was it anyone other than Microsoft? Why do you think Microsoft couldn't convince manufacturers to seriously support their platform? Why did they overwhelming choose Android when Windows Phone was so much better in 2011?
  • You ask these questions as if they are a mic drop, obvious answer.  They are not.   Google certainly sold Android phones and still does.  Samsung originally marketed Windows phone and so did HTC. I, like you, was not present in any boardroom, but I will go ahead and guess that they didn't say "Live Tiles".  They probably wanted a commitment from Microsoft to stick to a platform, development language, 1st party apps, keeping some product differentiation.  I'm guessing that because Microsoft never seemed to care that much, they figured "why should we?".  Other than "why do you think?" any other reason you have for definitively pinning everything on the UI and customization is conjecture painted with what YOU personally want to do.  
  • Do you really think HTC or Samsung put anywhere near as much effort into selling their Windows phones? What huge marketing push did Sprint and HTC do for Windows phones? I remember their huge EVO push. What marketing push did Verizon and Motorola do for Windows phones? I remember their gigantic "Droid Does" campaign. In what world did Samsung put anywhere near as much effort into the Focus as they did Galaxy S?
  • Bleached is spot on - WinMo really isn't customizable beyond window dressing (pun intended).  Although Android clearly has its warts, that platform is the king of flexibility with its launcher approach. 
  • There's an audience for people who just love to fiddle, but that is not a universally demanded "feature".  On a board of tech nuts and nerds, yes, but even I don't change my launcher or spend a bunch of time customizing and a majority...a vast majority of phones that I see people using have the stock launcher and those people don't even know what a "launcher" is.  This is NOT the reason for Windown on a phone's failure.   There are people who like that an want that and they have Android as a choice. There are FAR MORE people who want their bank on their phone and their work app and SnapChat or whatever other fad app comes up.  People will switch between Android (Samsung mostly) and iOS.  The UIs are vastly different including the ability to customize it.  They ONLY care about the apps and services.  If they are stuck on using Facetime or iMessage, they'll never leave Apple...even to customize on Android.  
  • You don't understand. I have tried to explain this to you multiple times. It isn't customization by users that was important, it was customization by the manufacturers that made Android successful. Why would they care to push Microsoft's platform when they can have their own platform that still has access to apps? Samsung couldn't compete with Apple using WP7 because they had no control over it. They couldn't add all those dumb but marketable features. They were stuck with Microsofts strict hardware limitations, lack of features and polarizing UI. How do you market that crap?
  • First of all, Samsung features aren't all "dumb".  I use Samsung Pay everyday and it works...EVERYWHERE.   I understand that YOU think that's why manufacturers make decisions.  The UI is polarizing to YOU.  Most people don't have strong feelings. Others like it. Other's don't.  Adding a skin isn't having their own platform.  Samsung is closest to having their own sub-ecosystem or parallel is probably more accurate, and they'd love to leave Android and I think they'll have the power to do so in a couple of years.  Lack of features? You just posted that Windows was far superior to Android in 2011.  
  • I am talking about 5 years ago when Samsung was throwing all types of dumb features in. I can't remember any of them other than the eye tracking so the display didn't turn off. They stopped doing that stuff a couple years ago after they became established and didn't need them anymore. Why do you think the manufacturers made that decision? Getting them involved in development and giving them a voice and their own identity might be the easy and obvious answer. Why do you think manufacturers put more effort into Android? WP7 was massively behind in features. When I said it was better, I meant performance wise. I am sure you won't argue WP7 performed better than Andoid 2. It makes sense since WP7 had no where near the features or multitasking abilities.
  • I think that eye tracking might still be there. I don't think myscreen turns off as long as I'm still reading it.  I wouldn't call that dumb, but that's me.  We have different uses.  I can't answer you "Why do you think" questions because they involve conjecture based on the fact that I don't have the information and I had no access to the people making those decisions.  I won't guess and package my opinion as fact.  We don't know. Again, I'd guess...GUESS...that they wanted a solid commitment from Microsoft on certain issues.  If they were so intent on the things you think are so important, they wouldn't have developed any devices.  The bottom line is that they want/need good first party support and my guess is that they weren't convinced that this was going to be the case.  I'm not pretending to state that this is definitively what happened, because i wasn't there.  I'm also not going to ask condescending "Why do you think" questions.  
  • My GS8 doesn't have that feature I think. Samsung announced they were removing all the superfluous features and simplifying the phones with the release of the GS5 or GS6 I think. Wait, you think Microsoft would not stand behind WP7 or WP8 even at release?! You think they refused to give any guarantees to the manufacturers that they would support their platform? That is the craziest thing I have ever heard. Why would you support such a company if that is what you think of them?
  • "My GS8 doesn't have that feature I think."  Yes it does: Settings - Advanced Features - Smart Stay We jump all over time.  OEMs supported the OS in the beginning.  OEMs dropped support later. I'm guessing that they didn't get assurances later.  You need to get out more if that's the craziest thing you have ever heard. I will no longer response to "Why would you" or "Why do you think" questions.
  • Yeah, some OEMs supported the platform in the beginning, but they put the bulk of their effort into Android not Windows Phone. That really isn't a controversial statement, I think that can be called a fact at this point. The OEMs were instrumental in the success of Android. Their huge marketing pushes really put Android on the map(Droid Does, HTC EVO, Samsung Galaxy). Again, that is a fact. There has to be a reason why all of the OEMs put less effort into Windows Phone (unless they were paid hundreds of millions of dollars). Quick Brainstorm for reasons:
    1. Sick of of Microsoft's platform Monopoly 2. Android offered them differentiate and Windows Phone didn't 3. Android was more marketable than "Windows" (consumers may have negative connotations with the Windows name) 4. Google incentivized them to not support WP 5. OEM focus groups heavily favored Android
  • "... a vast majority of phones that I see people using have the stock launcher and those people don't even know what a "launcher" is..." Your experience in this regard is completely anecdotal.  Based on your very limited "view", you're projecting the idea that most people stick with a completely vanilla Android.  Given the vast array of launchers that are available, and the literally millions of launcher downloads, I would respectfully disagree with your assertion.  I agree that bleached clearly doesn't care for the Live Tile interface and seems to damn the entire OS on that basis alone, but with respect to its superiority over iOS and especially Android because there's an element of dynamism to Live Tiles, I completely agree with him/her.  I can't speak about iOS intelligently because I have next to no experience with it (never owned an iPhone or an iPad), but I've years of experience with both Windows and Android and though I like Win10 on my PCs, I also have a healthy regard for Android's customizability and its widgets.
  • Ummmm, thanks for disagreeing without being condescending or acting like a know-it-all! Seriously.  :) I'm aware of what anecdotal evidence is.  I make it VERY clear that I don't have access to the kinds of data that make precise determinations possible. At least my evidence involves a sample size. bleached is only concerned with what bleached wants and applies that to the masses.   Sure, there are millions of downloads. Nova is the most popular, right?  It has about 10 million, based on my checking the Play Store this very second.  There are apps with over a billion, so I don't think it's anywhere near a majority of people who are modding up a storm with launchers.   I still use the stock Samsung launcher and I do have 3 widgets right now:
    1. Calendar
    2. The Curiosity App (you're making me show my inner nerd here)
    3.  The Spotify App - though I still control music mostly from the app itself, so this one might go away.
  • Specifically, blame the MS board (Gates, etc.). When Ballmer submitted his resignation, there was Nadella (the cloud guy) or Elop (the phone guy). They hired the cloud guy, so blame it on the ones who hired Nadella. He's just doing what he was hired to do.
  • Elop, the failed phone guy?! Why would they hire a failure?
  • Failed phone guy or successful Trojan horse??
  • Even if he was a trojan horse, the strategy still was a failure.
  • The live titles were one of its biggest advantages
  • What advantage does a Live Tile have over a widget?
  • It works for every app. It does not drain your battery. It can be resized to the size you need, not the App-Dev thinks. And in the end, Tiles use the space on screen much more efficient due to the different sizes. (i can have 8 unimportant apps in one row, or 2 large ones, or 4 middle ones, each app the size i need, not all uniformed bubbles with no information and a lot of space in between.
    If you have an android, try Launcher 10.
    http://imgur.com/Rf7oujI
  • I have a Windows phone right here. Doesn't seem to have a Live Tile for every app and I have to make the Tiles big and waste space just so I can see some random information that I cannot interact with or act on. Hopefully whatever random information they show is easy to find! Finding an app is really frustrating as the app drawer is a single column and very inefficient. I cannot stand using the thing. Feels like you are moving in slow motion and everything is held back from you. Battery life may have been a concern several years ago, but that has been addressed. Most widgets are also resizeable, very few have I found that aren't. The big thing about widgets is the interactivity. You aren't stuck with random info, you can scroll through pictures, directly select emails or calendar events, start and stop your music. Live Tiles just feel like useless widgets. Even if they do happen to show you something interesting, there is nothing you can do with it other than open the app and hope you can find it. After not being able to find that Facebook post or news article a few times, I stopped paying attention to them at all. If Live Tiles were actually great, there is nothing stopping Android apps from recreating a Live Tile widget. They don't do this because Live Tiles are pointless.
  • Actually I agree. I've long been an advocate of Windows on mobile phones (my favourite being WP8.1), but I don't see what makes Live Tiles special compared with Android widgets. Most widgets are resizeable, and in fact they offer far more sophisticated interaction that Live Tiles. So, can someone explain what the big deal is with Live Tiles? I still haven't got it.
  • I'd bet that the majority of people here who continue to push the "live tiles are better" narrative have never really made the effort to customize the Android interface.  What I loved about WinMo wasn't so much the live tiles but rather the smoothness of the OS.  The live tiles were, to me, little more than an attempt to differentiate WinMo from the "wall of icons" approach offered by iOS and vanilla Android. 
  • Widgets use battery.  I have a weather widget that use GPS and Internet...obviously.  It's a farce to pretend that Widgets.  Also if you are controlling other apps with that widget, the other app is running in the background.  That's battery life.   I'd love to see a user study about how many people using the widgets for more than just viewing information.  I know YOU will say that YOU do, but I'm wondering about the masses.  I imagine that they are clicking to open the full app vs looking at lower rez photos, inside of a small window. Live Tiles are a balance of functionality and efficiency.  I'm not sure they are pointless because bleached says so.  Android apps that don't have widgets just go for the sea of icons thing because that's what everyone else is doing. But I get it. You think your user experience is the universal one and anything else is...pointless.  I'm just not sure why it's so much fun for you to constantly repeat the same old complaints.  It doesn't seem like a great use of time. 
  • No, I agree with you. People don't actually use widgets or Live Tiles. I never said they did. They are both quite useless to most people. I use them occasionally but wouldn't really miss them. I am just pointing out that Live Tiles are gimped, less useful widgets. Neither one is a mainstream feature that any normal consumer is looking for and claiming it was some magical feature that set Windows apart is incorrect. It is much easier to make the argument that forcing them on the user (as we both agree users are interested in customizing their devices) was a mistake. Android widgets are basically useless too, but they are hidden for the most part and need to be added manually. The backlash to Windows 8 is a good example of Live Tiles being directly scorned by consumers. If people hated them so much on their PCs, why do you think they would want them on their phone?
  • Agreed Richard.
  • Such a huge advantage that people bought even though people didn't buy them and their was a giant backlash against Windows 8? Microsoft even had to distance themselves from Windows 8, skipping 9 entirely! Where is this advantage you speak of? I see no metric that supports your claim.
  • Gawd, you are just on a mission and will say anything that supports your agenda.
    The Windows 8 backlash was because most people didn't have touchscreens on their laptops and desktops and the Tiles UI was seen as a touch UI.
  • The Live Tiles is what got me to give Windows Phone a shot back in 2013 with the Lumia 520.  Soon I will eventually go back to iOS but I will miss the Live Tiles.
  • Same story here;")
  • Yep, I remember how cool my Lumia 521 looked next to my friend's iPhone in 2013.  Miss that phone.
  • Live Tiles is why we stick around
  • Have you even tried an Android phone with a custom launcher? 
  • Damn straight, Live Tiles are an excellent UI system. Even though I realise W10M is dead, I still don't want to switch to Android, due to the UI.
  • Been using Android for a couple weeks now, and I have already done my best to try and make it look like WP... unfortunately, it doesnt work like WP.... I miss my Lumia....
  • give a try to SquareHome2 as the launcher.   You don't have a full WP experience, but you're getting pretty close to it.  I mean, the live tiles are there, functional, and I feel it does offer even more flexibility than WP.   I've been a WP user for several years and still love my Lumia 920, and never was able to get used to the more limited functionality of the icon grid OSes (Apple/Android) until I found SquareHome2 on Android.   Now I have a productive and functional phone again.   
  • There's no universe where a version of me uses Android.  None.
  • Enjoy all three of your apps.
  • "pretty close" lmao
  • Its what I have been using, but its still not enough. Everything on Android is like it was only 50% finished before it was pushed out. I really hate that Microsoft has forced me to use it.
  • That's been my experience too with Android. Everything seems half baked, particularly in design and sometimes functionality. There is a unspoken polish in WP that you don't notice until you leave...which is why I came back. Rocking my 1520 and backup 950, while the Note 6 and i6s+ sit in the drawer.
  • I've been using Launcher 10 on my Android phone. It gets frequent updates and is the only reason I haven't thrown the damn thing away.
  • I very much prefer Launcher10 over SquareHome. The configuration of SquareHome is somewhat strange. It's just unfortnate that a launcher can't replace the style of notifications or quicksettings. They still just look too Material-y instead of ModernUI-ly.
  • These articles used to be a good read when Microsoft had a fighting chance and seemed like maybe they would put up a fight.  But Jason has been beating a dead horse for over 2 years now.  I enjoyed the layout and fluidity of the windows phone system....but seriously, what apps if any took advantage of the live tiles?  To me the only ones were the stock ticker or weather....and anytime I pulled it out to look, it would sit on the one "page?" of information that I didn't want to see, such as the S&P instead of the Dow or the forecast 3 days out instead of tomorrow.  I'd have to open the app anyways, every single time. As to the best part of the start menu being the tiles, are you serious??  I don't know a single person that liked the full screen menu and all those stupid tiles.  Icons would be way better for most I imagine, the live tiles take up way too much space and I have to resize them down just to fit on the screen, don't want to be scrolling through the start menu.   But really Jason, move on with life already.  Your articles have been just rehashing the same info and "Surface Phone" that microsoft refuses to acknowledge for way too long.  At least make the articles shorter.  Bullet points, not paragraphs  ;-)
  • "I don't know a single person that liked the full screen menu and all those stupid tiles." Might I introduce you to a majority of the respondents here, and me as well. I find the abiltity to glance at the start screen and get a wealth of information exceptionally useful. In many cases I don't need to go farther immediately. I find the density of information much greater than on my Android phone with widgets. You can only fit so many before the displayed information starts to suffer. Most weather widgets take the full width and a 5th of the screen, where a medium live tile will do. Live tiles can be intelligently re-sized to allow more info space for those apps that deserve it, and small sizes for those that only need to be launchers/shortcuts. iOS is of course useless in this respect, offerring only a badge to show things have happened that may or may not need attention.  If you are looking for shortcut density, the iPhone 7+ gets 28 icons on a page (counting the dock), my Nexus 6 (nearly a tablet), fits 24, the Pixel, 30 (with dock) no widgets. My Lumia 950XL could have 104 shortcuts on the start screen, before scrolling.  Small tiles 8x13. These are as big as the icons on Android and iOS devices, and as useful with badges. I can get 24 and the tops of 4 more if they are all medium tiles. Those actually provide useful info. I can even have folders within which the individual app tiles show badges, rather than one for the whole folder. Both Android and iOS have incorporated a Today-ish screen to the left of the home screen to provide a better insight into relevent events/activities. I keep looking for the switch to bring those screens up by default to make those platforms as immediately useful as the live tiles on my WP.
  • Then you've never met me or my wife.  We both LOVE the original Windows 8 Start Screen and we both have Windows 10 configured with the full, tile-only, Start menu.  If you want to play this game, I think you're "stupid" for not seeing the ingenuity and usefulness of the tiles.