This 'Windows 11 Mobile' concept offers a glimpse at what could have been
I want it.
Our beloved Windows Phone OS is gone, but not forgotten. Unceremoniously wound down a few years ago, Windows 10 Mobile was Microsoft's last-ditch effort to make its own phone ecosystem. Lack of investment, repeated reboots, and mishandling of developer relationships led to a downward spiral of low quality OS builds and missing apps. Windows Phone 8.1 looked like it had a real chance for a time, actually beating iOS for market share in some countries owing to impressive and incredibly affordable handsets like the Lumia 5xx and 6xx lines. Sadly, it was not meant to be.
Fast forward to now, and a lot of Microsoft's current issues with its platform might've been solved it had its own operating system. Our senior editor Zac Bowden recently wrote about how the Android-based Surface Duo is facing difficulty getting support from Google, whose monopoly on mobile operating systems has created a completely unlevel playing field. Without its own mobile OS, Microsoft can't grow Xbox Cloud Gaming effectively, since its business model is being hindered by Google, and outright blocked by Apple. Microsoft also faces a battle getting market share for some of its other apps and services on mobile, which competes with pre-installed versions on Android and iOS. What would the landscape look like if Microsoft still had a Windows mobile OS?
Shared by Lukastaves on the Windows Central Discord server, this great concept video from AR 4789 offers a glimpse at a Windows 11 Mobile that could've been.
Following the Windows 11 fluent design language very closely, the concept imagines what typical Windows features like File Explorer, Widgets, and others might look like on a modern handset.
Right now, Microsoft's only presence in mobile hardware is with the Surface Duo line. The dual-screen foldable is has proven to be a decent effort from the company, but much like Windows 10 Mobile, an unpolished OS and unclear support from Microsoft itself has dogged the platform in recent months. The Surface Duo 2 doesn't have the latest Android security updates, which is a major lapse for the device, and has all but ceased getting updates even from Microsoft's first-party apps, which often require special versions. While we haven't gotten confirmation that the Surface Duo 3 is dead, Microsoft's half-hearted approach to this stuff doesn't exactly inspire confidence. It's not without difficulty, though, since Microsoft obviously cannot monetize Android as effectively as Google, given that they have no mobile app store of their own.
This may change, however. Rumors suggest that Microsoft has been exploring an Android app store of its own, much akin to Samsung's Galaxy Store. The Galaxy Store has a far better deal for developers, giving them a bigger cut of revenues, while also avoiding some of Google Play's draconian rules over in-app purchases and custom payment methods. Fortnite was blocked by Google for the crime of wanting to use its own payment service, for example.
Microsoft revealed that its purchase of Activision-Blizzard-King was supposed to support this effort, but sadly, the UK regulatory commission blocked the acquisition on spurious grounds. There may still yet be a future for Microsoft in mobility, if it manages to land Activision, which would give it command of powerful franchises like Call of Duty: Mobile, Diablo Immortal, Hearthstone, and Candy Crush Saga. I can't help but feel like they might've been able to achieve this without spending $69 billion on Activision if it had invested half as much into Windows 10 Mobile. Oh well.
In any case, have a great weekend folks, and be sure to take a look at the video above, and let us know what you think in the comments!
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Jez Corden a Managing Editor at Windows Central, focusing primarily on all things Xbox and gaming. Jez is known for breaking exclusive news and analysis as relates to the Microsoft ecosystem while being powered by caffeine. Follow on Twitter @JezCorden and listen to his Xbox Two podcast, all about, you guessed it, Xbox!
OS is the easy thing, having tool to bypass some apps from existing OSes also helps a lot, not to mention apps for windows are plenty, web page apps aside.
Besides that, most important factor in mobile device are cameras, no matter the price or OS, if the cameras are poor, there will be not enough enthusiasts. Trend now are 200mp ones, not 12mp, so better not to make a mistake.
With a foldables here, there is also no limit to design, which many miss with just copying each other.
Folds also works better for Microsoft as it is basically folded tablet, not much of a change(maybe just those cameras).
We went from container to desktop, to laptop and tablets. If the Microsoft miss the folded opportunity right now with fold type device vacuum in the market, it may be hard to do later.
I really miss also band devices, as if it got nothing with productivity... recently got to see some gamers pills, like for good night sleep. It goes all together, caring about customers...
I've given up. They can't make it to version 3 anymore. It's like they live to disappoint people. They're like a parent counting to three. Ooonnne, twwwwo, two-and-a-half..... They never get to three because the loyal fans abandon them. They're masters of over-extending anticipation. Wait for it... Wait for it...'two years later' wait for it...almost there... They're like those annoying influencers who wait hours to dump the sludge, or light the match.
Just look at the Surface Studio. Version 1 was an amazing first attempt targeted at creators that made creators jump for joy! Then they gimped the device with mediocre power inside. Version 2 was almost there, but was still just short of what creators really need. That led to many awaiting version 3, or a standalone monitor so they could have the horsepower they require. Version 2.5 is so close! It works now for 80% of creators, but they fail to push it over the top and they will likely discontinue it before they reach 3. I gave up waiting and bought a used version 2. I love it and I hate it. That should be Microsoft's new motto, "you'll love it and hate it!"
The way UWP was so badly managed, and how WinUI 3.0/WinAppSDK tooling fails short from the UWP development experience, no designer, super slow, endless amount of bugs, lacking feature parity, Native AOT and C++/WinRT quite behind .NET Native and C++/CX Visual Studio development experience,... means that only the Windows team themselves still care about it, as they keep updating Windows 11 UI to WinUI.
What abou the Windows development community themselves? Most of them don't care any longer, pivoted to Web, cross-platfrom frameworks, or good old Win32/.NET Forms/WPF.
Microsoft has quite a job in front of them to regain the trust of Windows development comunity, in what concerns targeting Windows first for new applications.
In any case, Live Tiles on a phone, where you need a way to see what matters at a glance, are much more important than on a PC. Windows Phone failed, IN SPITE of Live Tiles not BECAUSE of them. The vast majority of Windows Phone users appreciated Live Tiles.