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A Microsoft employee and ardent Windows phone fan explains his switch to Android

Several months ago, while I was at Microsoft's Redmond, Washington headquarters, most Microsoft employees I saw with smartphones didn't use Windows phones. With Android claiming 84% share and the iPhone approximately 15%, statistically speaking, most Microsoft employees use iPhones and Android phones.

There are some die-hard Windows phone fans among Microsoft's ranks, however. Just as with the non-Microsoft employee fan base, however, that number's decreasing. Adharsh Kannan, a data scientist at Microsoft, is among the ranks of those defectors. Kannan is a fan who loves and still sees the value of the platform. For reasons he expressed in a LinkedIn post (opens in new tab), however, he felt compelled to switch to Android.

Microsoft employee, Adharsh Kannan, felt compelled to switch to Android.

Kannan doesn't speak for Microsoft in the post where he shares his journey to Windows phone and ultimately to Android. Nor does his perspective as a data scientist at Microsoft suggest any privileged insights or access to details of Microsoft's mobile strategy that would have influenced his decision either way.

His voice is that of a disappointed fan and consumer who is also a Microsoft employee.

Inside perspective

It's interesting, nonetheless, to view Microsoft's mobile dilemma through an employee's eyes.

Interestingly, the company which employs an individual does little to shape their preference of a device that is the hub to their very personal digital experiences. The impact and highly personal nature of smartphones begins in our personal lives after all.

For instance, Kannan's interest in Windows Mobile was piqued as a developer: "I was…keenly interested in developing more applications that were Windows Mobile based." He continues:

I continued my journey with Windows Mobile all the way through Windows Phone 7, Mango, Tango, Apollo and today with the latest Windows Update to my Nokia Lumia 1520.

Kannan's experiences reflect those of many Windows phone fans. In this piece we'll see what Kannon views as strengths of the platform that still appeal to him as well as weaknesses that pushed him to switch to Android.

Glass half full

Kannan is a proud Microsoft employee. Amidst criticisms levied against Redmond's mobile efforts, even from his fellow employees, Kannan raises a bold and practical defense. He highlights several unique things Redmond has brought to market that are a benefit to Window phones and the Universal Windows Platform.

Tile Notifications

Kannan notes that Microsoft's Tile notifications offer users more information than the tiny badges that iOS sticks on it static icons or Android's mere icons in the status bar. Tile notifications can provide a summary of content whereas a badge is limited to giving a number reflecting how many notifications may be within a certain app.

Will Microsoft evolve Live Tile functionality beyond its "glance and go" origins to the cancelled "exploding tile" feature that has excited so many fans?

One Core

Both Apple and Google have asserted that different software is better suited for different form factors. Thus, Android fans may never see the rumored merger of Chrome and Android: Andromeda.

The strength of Microsoft's One Core concept goes beyond the common UI many focus on. A single core simplifies the end to end "development to user experience process" for developers and users for all form factors. There's just one platform for which to develop and one Store from which to distribute and acquire apps.

Continuum

Kannan is proud of Microsoft's success with Continuum:

We are the first company to bring 'Continuum,' a means by which your phone could be used as a ubiquitous computer powerful enough to help one write this article on a full screen.I have used the wireless version of it using my Xbox and I felt one of those proud moments as an employee.

Many criticize Continuum's current state as if it's Redmond's final vision.

Beaming our smartphone screens to larger displays reveals an evolution in human-tech behavior.

Keep in mind that smartphones have put word processing, web browsing, instant messaging, media editing and other previously PC-centric tasks in the palms of our hands. Furthermore, "beaming" our smartphone displays to larger screens and modern televisions via various means reveals an evolution in the industry and consumer behavior toward using our smartphones as a hub when a larger display is practical.

This behavior coupled with the "PC-in-the-pocket" that smartphones have become, joined with the more PC-like functionality coming to Continuum points toward a practicality of the Continuum vision.

Ironically, Samsung may be positioning to benefit from this phenomenon by bringing a Continuum-like feature to its next flagship.

Where did Microsoft go wrong?

So where does Kannan feel Microsoft went wrong? He asserts Microsoft's initial charging of OEMs (that were using Android for free) for using Windows Phone was detrimental. He also acknowledges "Apple was [manufacturing] so many phones they had completely bought in the production capacity of many factories." Finally, developers didn't feel they'd make money with Windows Phone's closed source platform.

So what drove Kannan to Android?

…I am having to switch to Android because of the economy of scale that exists in their [Android] developer ecosystem. Toyota Bluetooth does not pair seamlessly with Windows Phone while Android and iOS work perfectly fine.

As with many disenchanted fans the app gap is the culprit. Though we're headed toward an intelligent app AI and bot ecosystem and Gartner predicts a 20% decline in apps by 2020 (confirming my own predictions), apps are still relevant.

I've asserted Microsoft must, among other things, bring more developer support to the platform via the app Bridges if a Surface phone is to succeed. Furthermore, Microsoft's Xamarin acquisition provides developers with tools to build cross-platform apps. Their Wand Labs acquisition gives them access to tech that allows users to use apps they don't even have.

We need to see "app yielding" progress with the Bridges, Xamarin and Wand Labs in 2017. As OEMs like HP, Alcatel, WhartonBrooks and others embrace Windows Mobile, and cellular PCs enter the market leading up to a presumed 2018 launch of a Surface phone, such progress would be welcome.

Kannan concludes, "If there is the slightest chance of recovery of the Apps Ecosystem in Windows Phone, you will find me going back to my Windows Phone." I have a feeling he wouldn't be alone.

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!

363 Comments
  • Thanks for reading folks! A general lack of passion from Microsoft employees for Windows phone is not news to us. Nor is the growing number of switchers. It is interesting, however, to view things from the perspective of a Microsoft employee who is a big Windows phone fan, who still loves the platform and decides to switch. It speaks to the personal nature of smartphones and the place they have in our lives that transcends one place of employment. I wrote a piece called Windows Mobile and the enterprise Part IV: Microsoft Smartphones are personal that speaks to that point:http://www.windowscentral.com/windows-mobile-and-enterprise-part-iv-microsoft-needs-take-mobile-personal-smartphones-are-personal Also, as I note in the piece Kannans position doesn't suggest that he is privy to any privileged information about Microsoft's mobile strategy or upcoming devices so his decision wasn't affected by that. Microsoft is a big company with 100,000 employees and many divisions. Most employees likely know as much or as little as the passionate news hungry fans. So what are your thoughts? Does Kannan's decision to switch to Android affect you in any way? LET'S TALK!!!!
  • No I shouldn't.  But it does speak volumes.  But I'm not surprised.  Over the years it seems MS has a love affair with Android and iOS so its not surprising that their employees would as well.  When the leader is using another brand it provides cover.  Let's face it, Microsoft doesn't really care about it's own product (other than lip service) so why should it's employees.  As they say, show us.  Don't tell us.  Microsoft can say all they want.  But their actions tells the bigger story.  Sad but true. Long live my Lumia 830!
  • I wouldn't categorize business interests as a "love affair".
  • I would when it is an unreasonable infatuation with the cool kid of the moment.  Microsoft looks like a desperate suitor.  We **NEVER** hear about how many iDroid users are being converted to revenue generating products after so many FREE apps are being dumped on them like flowers and candy.  We complain about the apps that Microsoft makes available and sometimes I go look  at the Play Store and it will see 50K downloads.  REALLY????  Yeah, there are more users in Android, but they don't care about Microsoft.  The only people over there that care about Microsoft seem to be the Windows Phone/Mobile refugees who have no real home.  They decorate the place with Microsoft, but it's just not home. 
  • And, you know... Those of us who operate a PC. I've never had a Windows phone, but I run Microsoft apps and apps with desktop counterparts on my Android phone because they talk to my computer, as do many others, and I often wish they worked better. Honestly, your comment is ridiculous, and I don't think you've got any idea what you're banging on about. It's on me, I probably should've known to stop reading at "iDroids".
  • I know. Anyone who doesn't do what you do or buy what you buy, doesn't make sense. You've figured out what we should all do.
  • You do realise your response has nothing to do with what I said? At no point did I claim that I know what you or anyone else who isn't me should use. It seems you take Androids popularity compared to Windows phone rather personally, and harbour much hostility to those who use it.
  • The unwarranted arrogance is astounding.  Please note that context is a thing.  After calling my comment "ridiculous" you then laid out your scenario as if you just dropped the mic.  ​To use your own folksy superiority speak, it is you who hasn't "any idea what you're banging on about".  As I own and use BOTH an Android and a Windows Mobile.  Have a great day.  I'm sure you have many people to judge.
  • You mention superiority and judgement while your original comment drips with both, claiming that no android users except the "windows phone refugees" care about Microsoft's platform and brazenly attempting to insult Android users multiple times. I would call that hypocrisy...
  • Well, we agree on that. You would call it that.
  • @dalydose 1  v  @fuzzylumpkin 1
    ​Both your points are relevant and a simple addition to a word such as 'majority' of windows refugees may have quelled this whole banter. However dalydose did say 'seems to be' and did not claim that 'no android users except the "windows phone refugees" fuzzylumpkin asserted. ​The point being that there seems to be but a few that really utilize the apps and services Microsoft has developed for the other platforms (idroid = iOS and Android), let alone the Windows mobile platform. I'm a big Microsoft user, (IT Professional), and even with a Windows phone I use the Office apps rarely if at all (perhaps to view a document or spreadsheet occasionally), ​I hope that MS understand that phones are a very personal device, and requires a personal touch i.e. relevant to consumers and not just 'enterprise'. Even enterprise have their decisions made by individuals which in some part derive their decisions by personal experiences. Aside from all that to allow this mobile degredation to continue would seriously cripple Microsoft covering all the bases and its goal of 'Microsoft everywhere' ecosystem. ​My 950XL has come a long way from being a messy mush of Dec 2015 Windows 10 for mobile to what it is now, although much more needs to be done in terms of polish and sorting out many of the small problems. The article suggests more needs to be done with the Bridging technologies to bring apps to the ecosystem, and I agree. ​I for one am tired of seeing bad news continually hit us with very little good news and it's time this turns around and Microsoft needs to stop floundering around - either they are serious about the ecosystem or not. They need to start sharing information, being more transparent on their plans for mobile if there are any, firstly for those that are thinking to switch mobile platforms as a consumer, and for the developers deciding to continue support the ecosystem (as a would-be developer I would be more inclined to stay with the ecosystem (using the bridge technologies and design UWA if directions for mobile were more transparent).  
  • Agreed and thanks for the tone shift.  :) ​I also agree that Microsoft should reconsider this enterprise focus in the current thinking. They forget that phones that are used in the enterprise also get used at night and on the weekends.  I don't notice a lot of people carrying two devices, so it's important to think about how the Microsoft powered devices will work at home and at play as much as at work.  
  • True !! Even worst of the worst google app has more downloads than a very good Microsoft app.
    Its also true that Microsoft is hated very much outside Microsoft fan world even within the fan world due to their very bad mobile strategy. Their Mobile footprint is almost zero. Internet service footprint is really really bad in the consumer market compared to google.
  • It's about apps in my experience. I've got all I need and as such I'm still on Windows phone and have windows phones issued to employees with no plans to switch. My wife isn't an "app" orientated user and so she's also happy. The kid's are a different matter. And I'm surrounded by former windows phone users, all of whom cite the apps as their reasoning. The Lumia's have been solid phones so it's not hardware. Very frustrated that with a 10% share in the UK that MS have stepped away from it.
  • The problem is, Windows as a platform for new endeavors is pretty much kaput (not just mobile, but overall).  For example, I cannot deposit checks into my bank without an iOS or Android device -- there is no browser/PC method. My daughter got a Furby for Christmas.  Gotta have iOS or Android to use it.  PC is a no-go. Older social networks are still best-accessed through a browser on a PC.  But newer ones are mobile-only--and mobile means iOS or Android. Want to order a ticket for my local commuter rail electronically?  iOS or Android required. Want to get a readout of the status of my washer, drier or dishwasher?  iOS or Android required. No one bothers to make these things work with Windows (of any flavor) anymore.  Windows isn't just an afterthought, it's "never even contemplated" as an platform to code a new application for.  You increasingly really need to have iOS or Android at your disposal to function in a "modern" way. And unless you do heavy-duty computer work, you really don't need a PC.
  • Sadly that is so true.
    MS are in a world of hurt whatever happens moving foward as a consequence.
  • All this is just temporarely, in my opinion. Apps as we know them will be absolette in a few years. The technology is evolving at a pretty fat pase. Nest step seems to be the AI bots (see Amazon echo, google home). The good part is that MS has a more advanced AI.
  • I totally agree. These apps are absolette. It'll take Microsoft moving at a fatter pase to ever acquire a first party Nest app. That's what you meant right?
  • Talking about Lumia830. How is it holding up with the latest builds? Mine ain't doing good. Need to change the device if I need to keep up with the latest build. But I love my 830 ain't complaining
  • Mine is doing kinda ok, running the latest Build 15007, does feel a bit snappier than the previous build
  • It doesn't, but I already left when I was replacing my phone last year. The widespread support (app and otherwise) that he wants is what it'd take to get me back as well as solid phones at low/mid/flagship available to me as someone on a Canadian AWS carrier.  So pretty much, I'd need Astoria back (or for the entire market to change and support winmo, which just isn't going to happen) and a midrange phone/flagship supporting band 66. Band support will be a big part of my next purchase due to where Freedom (formally wind) mobile has thier LTE setup.
  • I've wonder how those of you that left the platform expect to have any luck with apps returning when you're doing exactly what is causing the apps to leave... Leaving the platform. At the very least, please use Wi-Fi and check out apps sometimes. Use them. Or switch your SIM over periodically. I'm just not very into apps. They are generally passing fads except for the everyday one like Starbucks and bank apps. I'm sure there are apps that some of you must have, but I just haven't found the need except Twitter and WindowsCentral... Oh and Starbucks! But I download them and use them from time to time to show some sign of life.
  • Honestly, the vast majority of W10M users should be leveraging the power of social networking and persistently bug the companies they use about availability of apps. If PR and customer support keeps getting bombarded by consistent requests, not by a handful, but by the vast majority, they would get the message. We could pretty much start off by selecting a couple companies per month and consistently (with educated messages not immature banter) contact them via the various channels, twitter, facebook, email, or by phone. The social networks would take a minute or two to fire off a sentence or two. Now if you multiply that by even 1000 users, I think they would get the hint quickly. Or at least keep us in their minds. The more quiet we are, the more we fade away from the minds of developers.
  • 100% agree Jackie
  • It would probably do us good as well to tweet or message the companies we do have on W10M and thank them for providing their app on our platform. Every now and then I am contacting companies on twitter about W10M apps. I have no problems with increasing the frequency. Hell, all that's needed is the following, "Hey @whoever, thanks for maintaining the app for #Windows10Mobile. Keep up the great work!" or for the others, "As a user of @company, I would like to express my desire for a #Windows10Mobile app." Hell, everyone copy and paste what I wrote and change the twitter mention for the companies that we contact. A couple minutes of our time each month so we aren't "spamming" them. People can express how they feel about a cat video or Donald Trump in mass on Twitter, why not #Windows10Mobile apps?
  • lets start with MS, let MS bring all its apps to W10M or develop UWPs.
  • When I still had my 920 (and the samsung focus before it), I was one of those that continued to ask about windows support on twitter, on that forum where they had you add and upvote apps you'd like to see, I was a heavy promoter. I'm a reason other people bought windows phones and several others at least considered it.  It has literally been for naught. There is little business case for most of these companies to develop and support (because think of how many apps have been brought on and eventually left with no updates or shut down entirely). 
  • Oh, I don't really expect it, I was listing off what it would take for me to come back. Microsoft has made their direction clear in that the next little while is an enterprise only push and consumers are going to be left behind. I almost want to say that they've said as much but I could be wrong. I do not expect anything out of the windows 10 generation of phones and even if they did somehow pull an ecosystem together, they still need hardware I find attractive (in price and performance) again.  Some of the other stuff you're asking doesn't make sense. I am not going to pull the sim out of my working device, find a sim adapter (since they're different sizes) and stick it into a phone thats using an unsupported beta (back when the 920 could still get w10 builds) with battery life issues(its a few years old). Best I can do is to continue to follow the system on sites like windows central when it comes to app support or use cross-system apps on w10 or xbox. My bank apps never hit windows, there were no plans for developing them last I checked. I was a mint app beta tester and they've jumped ship last I looked. I use the app for a pizza chain more than their website now due to app based freebies with my order and can only do so because I jumped ship, its something I wouldn't have worried about with windows phone because their web ordering isn't bad, but now I find I can use it when we want an impromptu pizza night while we're already out and can order easily and pick up on my way home. It's a small QoL upgrade I didn't know was really there or didn't really matter and now i'd be a bit annoyed if I lost it.   You do have to consider all the things you want people to do and do yourself to try and inflate user numbers of the ecosystem and wonder if you sound a little bit desperate to hang on. What will you do if your starbucks or bank apps are officially retired or are finally forgotten and no longer work like so many apps before them? 
  • Jason,
    There is little point of looking back and analyze what went wrong.
    Lets focus on what is happening now and will happen in the future.
  • I agree. Why should Microsoft learn from their mistakes? Lets just repeat them!
  • Well, they can't un-buy Skype.  They can't remove voicemail to text with PBX integration from Exchange. Those are the reasons they have an enemy in the carriers.  Those two things have cost the telecommuncations industry millions. 
  • Ia_win I'm looking back to the past to ensure one doesn't repeat previous mistakes is wise. Always drive forward, but take a look in the rearview mirror every now and then, you don't want the past sneaking up on you.
  • Sounds like a solid plan 🙄
    Let's not bother looking back, whoever learnt anything from past mistakes. While were at it, ban rear view mirrors in cars, this whole looking back thing is highly over rated. /s
  • Jason, when we talk about the less than 1% market share, how does that break down to actual users? I just wonder how many users WM has overall. Cheers.
  • Most people when they talk about "market share" aren't talking about numbers of users at all.  These statistics are normally measuring quarterly sales.  So in a quarter where Apple releases a new phone, the sales "market share" will go up, but you can't calculate the change, if any, in the actual number of users.  This is the faux-analysis many people around here use to say that there are "no Windows users".
  • Thank you! That's so true... I remember getting into a heated discussion about just this. Microsoft seems to be letting us wither on the vine but I still think what they've done is good... They said, ok not headed in that direction and this hardware won't support our ideas anyway. I'm glad to test and I'll be glad to buy a new phone/device if they release one.
  • Kannan's decision does not affect me in any way. 
    I know what I am doing. As he does.   
  • I held out as long as I could and just recently switched to Android.  I enjoy having access to supported apps, but I really do miss the W10M OS.  So many things that I assummed would work in Android as they did in W10M painfully do not (I had to install an app to get my phone to automatically connect to my car's Bluetooth, for instance).  But since there are no new W10M phones on Verizon, there is unfortunately no going back, at least not until then. 
  • I recently moved to Android also and I hate it, but the app availability is enough to keep me in it for now. Android is a convoluted mess as far as I'm concerned, one handed use is useless and no standards in app design.
  • Also, try having an android phone read and send texts via in car Bluetooth. 1 minute set up with my 950 xl, about 6 hrs and various hit or miss apps on my Idol 4 android. It is a good phone, but I like MS ecosystem better.
  • So true. When I get a text on my S7 the only option I get in my car is read and delete, I can't even respond so it's totally useless. Forget about initiating a text. Was working really well with my 640XL. Even if the app gap is addressed there will be a challenge having people move away from android and iOS because of the eco system. I'm sure my experience on android would be much better if I used Google's Eco system. I'm also sure if an android user switches to W10M with all apps available would have a bad experience using Google's eco system so I don't see a win coming.
  • Same with our car. My old Windows I could respond via bt. It was awesome.
  • Bring back Project Astoria.  Treat it / promote it like Centiennial, it is a bridge.  Let developers quickly port Android apps to Windows 10 by wrapping them in UWP (instead of allowing direct installs of APKs [or do, I don't care]).  They can add code for Live Tiles, etc., if they want to.  Then eventually move their code to pure UWP (or not).  Android apps to run on the mobile experience, Win32 for Contiuum desktop experience.  All wrapped in UWP.  Pure UWP for best experience, but wrapped apps to get it done.  Windows becomes the one platform that can run any code.
  • If Java wasn't the crap-heap that it would slow down the entire OS, I'm sure they would have left it in.
  • Aww, come on, it worked just fine. Actually better, than non-existing apps, that clearly don't work at all.
  • Thank you for bringing this out in the light, Jason :) No, it does not affect my choice in the platform. I (perhaps naïvely) believe in the future vision that I see. And as long as I can use my Windows Phone for basics like OneNote, navigating maps keeping in touch with friends and family and others as the need raises, I will stay on the platform.
  • Live in the SF Bay Area, none of the MS employees I know own a Windows phone. Most if not all own iPhones. One of them reached out to me to ask for my opinion on owning one. It amazed me that I was being asked but then again, I have also had an Apple employee use my old Windows phone for a couple of days. About the MS employee, she was stunned to learn stock ticker symbols could be pinned to the start screen :) Its just sad that a promising platform is whithering away like it is...
  • Who the hell hired her?
  • We need to see "app yielding" progress with the Bridges, Xamarin and Wand Labs in 2017.
    How can you expect developers be be convinced by any of these things when Microsoft themselves are not using them? Allow me to illustrate with the recently released StaffHub. - Microsoft says: Windows Mobile is the most secure OS for the Enterprise. Microsoft does: BYOD with the majority of the employees using Android and iOS. It released an Enterprise app only on Android on iOS, not on its own so-called Enterprise OS. - Microsoft says: use our bridges to easily convert your app to Windows. Microsoft does: it releases Android and iOS apps and does not bring them to Windows. Not natively and not via a bridge. - Microsoft says: use Xamarin to easily target multiple platforms when creating apps. Microsoft does: it does not use Xamarin and instead creates it Android and iOS specific apps. End result: all these tools which sound great on paper are all essentially dead in the water. If nobody at Microsoft can be bothered with any of this stuff, how can you expect other developers to? It's just not credible. My message to Microsoft for 2017: practice what you preach or go home.
  • AMEN!!
  • I think Microsoft will make a fresh start.
  • They have had several fresh starts that were dead ends. I think this time it's over.
  • You can only beat a dead horse for so long before there isn't a dead horse to beat anymore...
  • Yup. And all windows mobile 10 users can not upgrade to the new OS
  • If they cared, they would work with those ppl in some fashion to upgrade
  • yeah again they will
  • WP 8(.1) was basically a fresh start, so is WM 10 too. Both pretty much failed.
  • Ha somehow this article feels obvious..only different we heard obvious from MS employee.
  • I switched to iPhone last week and so far It's a much better experience. The good news is that I can still use all of my Microsoft services on the iPhone. Don't think I'd ever go back, if there is anything to go back to anyways.
  • exactly my experience too Dusteater. IPhone with MS services works wonderfully. Faster than any windows phone, more fluid, and all apps, accessories, wearables etc all available to you it's a no brainer.
  • I have an iPhone 7 and Lumia 950... the iPhone 7 is in no way faster or more fluid
  • Send your iPhone for repairs then. Must be something wrong with it
  • Yeah really.... Please Watch....this is "just" the 6s. the 7 is even faster....your iPhone is not working right. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zc3WP8PmKpU
  • He doesn't have an iphone. He is just a desperate fanboy trying to defend the crap windows 10 mobile..even the iphone 5S is faster than the Lumia 950
  • I wish I could emerse myself in that level of MS Koolaid.. but I am sorry.. you are fooling no one. MS focuses more on the development of its apps for IOS than their own platform. There is a reaon. I will let you figure it out...
  • I think so too. There is no going back. But you are going to do one more transition in the future. iOS is getting closer to single digits world wide, and sooner or later people in the USA notice that too.
  • Did you see the latest IDC (or Gartner) stats that had iOS a slight uptick and Android a slight downtick?  Or the stats where developers make far more money on iOS than Android???
  • In what ways is it better other than having more apps?
  • Apps are also mostly of better quality and are updated more often.
  • reality hurts but totally understand. I will suffer through my last windows phone with the Lumia 950. My wife is on the 830 and wants to upgrade but after downloading WM10 on her device and seeing how poor it perform