Windows phone fans are a hardy bunch. We've endured broken promises, broken platforms, broken communities and if the harsh, inconsiderate and outright mean words of some had their desired effects, broken spirits would be part of that list.
But that's not the case. Despite the name-calling, Microsoft's lack of interest, the platform's shortcomings and its uncertain future, we use what we love. And we love Windows phone in all of its troubled glory.
The fluidity of the UI, the uniqueness of Live Tiles, the integration of Microsoft services and more are things we've chosen not to live without.
Sure rival platforms are more popular, better supported, tied into smart home hubs and intelligent automobiles and are solidly positioned for the foreseeable future. But we love using Windows phone, and it works for us. It's neither intellectually unsound nor delusional to use the platform one loves to use if it works for them. It's simply a choice.
We're not naïve to the platform's problems nor Microsoft's failures either. We're painfully aware of the roller coaster ride of promises and disappointments that has been the Windows-on-mobile journey. And even though the promise of Windows 10 Mobile has devolved into a platform in "sustain mode," we still love Windows phone as we anticipate what's next.
Troubled, but not broken
Windows 10 Mobile was intended to be a successful iteration of Windows 10 on smartphones and small tablets. That didn't happen.
In its current state, in use with several million enthusiasts, it is not a mainstream OS and isn't marketed to the masses. Ironically, it is, however, the official representation of Microsoft's mobile platform and powers Windows phones like the HP Elite x3 and Alcatel Idol Pro, which are currently in the market.
Upon its initial release, it was infamously plagued with problems that irked consumers of the Lumia's 950 and 950 XL. Though it has since improved, the overarching theme of this relatively unpopular OS, which has only been emphasized with Windows phone's decline, is that Windows 10 Mobile is an incomplete work in progress. And not because the OS is an ever evolving software-as-a-service.
As #Apple is not abandoning #MAC also #Microsoft should not abandon #WindowsMobile. All surface customers will buy Surface Phone.As #Apple is not abandoning #MAC also #Microsoft should not abandon #WindowsMobile. All surface customers will buy Surface Phone.— Sir Ibrahim Mohammed (@sir_ibrahim) May 1, 2016May 1, 2016
For many fans, however, Windows 10 Mobile serves their needs, and they'll remain committed to the platform despite Microsoft's using them as free beta testers for continued development of ARM and cellular connectivity that is meant to benefit some future product. We've endured so much already after all, and if using what we love helps to bring something we'll love even more to fruition, so be it.
Part of the process
Microsoft watcher Mary Jo Foley asked Windows Chief Terry Myerson "why is Microsoft wasting time updating Windows Mobile when the market share is one percent?" Myerson replied:
Yep, we're "beta testers" sure enough but who cares?
Windows phone fans, what is your expected "reward" for being part of the Insider's Program?🤔 @donasarkar https://t.co/kKuX7sd2m5 @TheWinPhanWindows phone fans, what is your expected "reward" for being part of the Insider's Program?🤔 @donasarkar https://t.co/kKuX7sd2m5 @TheWinPhan— Jason L Ward (@JLTechWord) July 25, 2017July 25, 2017
So be proud folks, because as we Insiders and Windows 10 Mobile users get our hands on new builds, we're part of the process (or technical investment) of bringing whatever new ARM-based and cellular-connected devices, Myerson referenced to market.
A platform without friends
As Microsoft executed its controversial retrenchment strategy, Windows phones became even harder to acquire. Markets where the platform previously abounded saw their availability plummet dramatically. As many carriers stopped carrying Windows phones, Microsoft Stores became one of the few outlets where consumers could handle one before buying.
The obstacle there, however, was that the phone had to be purchased at full price without an installment plan which was uncommon for some markets. Many fans dug deep and continued supporting Microsoft's vision through these changes. Whether they turned to Amazon, eBay or some other avenue fans found ways to get a Windows phone.
To add insult to injury, all of the struggles Microsoft and loyalists endured over the years have occurred within the context of a cloud of negative media coverage and social media activity that has been consistently harsh on Microsoft, and often insulting to fans.
Microsoft would be completely stupid to be coming out with ANOTHER Windows Phone device. It's over. You lost. Move on!Microsoft would be completely stupid to be coming out with ANOTHER Windows Phone device. It's over. You lost. Move on!— Snowx2k5 (@Snowx2k5) July 8, 2017July 8, 2017
Surprisingly, Windows-Phone-is-dead themed articles date back to 2010, the very year it launched, and haven't let up since. A lot of coverage praised Windows phone but ended with a negative summation and the obligatory, "there are no apps."
Despite these challenges, we die-hard fans held on and passionately promoted and supported the platform nonetheless.
Built it, but they didn't come
We know Microsoft created a beautiful mobile platform with Windows Phone and Windows 10 Mobile. Sadly we're also woefully aware that most consumers and developers never embraced Windows phone which left the platform in the perpetual chicken-egg conundrum.
Without developers, users won't invest in a platform, and without users, developers won't build apps for a platform. Now in the summer of 2017, both users and developers are leaving the platform. But not all of us. Many are weathering the storm and are enjoying the platform along the way. If things change for the positive (which we hope/believe they will) so be it. If not, we're living for today.
Still, that hasn't altered our perception of reality; Apple and Google won the smartphone war. We know this and Microsoft knows this though those who like to berate us don't seem to know that we know this.
It's very apparent that Microsoft may be closing shop on "smartphones." Still, there are also indications the company's Windows-on-mobile vision will continue as it phases its smartphone strategy out to phase in its ultramobile PC strategy.
It's not over until it's over
Many fans remain committed while others have chosen to pass on whatever's coming next. They've found shelter from the storm under the umbrellas of other platforms. Still, according to CEO Satya Nadella, Microsoft's likely building a device that it hopes will change their minds. Those who remain have likely taken a big picture view, where they perceive the storm we're weathering as one that may eventually pass.
I wonder if the weather does shift on this side of the mobile landscape and the climate proves hospitable to a new category of full Windows on ARM ultramobile, Continuum-powered PC with CShell and telephony, will those who left the platform rejoin we diehards who refused to relocate?
Microsoft lost smartphone war. But #Windows10 on ARM rewrites rules for the Next Mobile War. https://t.co/w23fIjFfZbMicrosoft lost smartphone war. But #Windows10 on ARM rewrites rules for the Next Mobile War. https://t.co/w23fIjFfZb— Loic Duval (@Loicus) December 8, 2016December 8, 2016
Whatever they choose, there are those here who love and enjoy Windows phone, and the undying rumors of its demise are not enough to provoke us to leave.
Either you'll pry a Windows phone from our cold dead hands, or we'll willingly exchange it for Nadella's ultimate mobile device (that's my tough talk). Either way, if you're in it for the long-haul, that's okay.
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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!