Whether you love the "holiday" that is Valentine's Day or despise it, it's that time of year once again when the chocolates fly off store shelves, florists can't keep up with the demand for roses, fancy (and often expensive) dinners abound, and a whole lot of cash gets spent in the name o' love.

Related reading: Windows Central Valentine's gift guide 2018

But Valentine's Day can also make folks who aren't in the most amorous of relationships (or any relationship at all) feel depressed and broken-hearted. We wanted to create a Valentine's Day story that reflects the good and bad aspects of the holiday. So we decided to round up the Microsoft and Windows-related products and services we adore right now, as well as the ones that … well … we don't.

After all, the Cupid's Bow of the Windows world had just as many misses as direct hits in 2017. Here's a selection of both, all in the name of Valentine's Day. Hit the images in the menu below to sort by the products and services we love, and the ones we don't.

What we loved

Microsoft and Windows-related gear we love on Valentine's Day

Infatuation: Microsoft's Surface Laptop

In 2017, I absolutely fell in love with Microsoft for releasing the Surface Laptop. I had always said that I just wanted Microsoft to make a pure, barebones laptop, and they finally did. It's not a 2-in-1 or a tablet, it's just a laptop, and that's exactly what I wanted. Not only that, but it's a beautiful laptop, with Alcantara around the keys that make it look good. It's available in four different colors also, which is pretty rare for a Surface device. For the most part, Surface is only available in one color, Surface grey, but the Laptop is available in more. I love how thin and light it is compared to the Book, and how it doesn't include extra features that I know I'm never going to use.

— Zac Bowden, senior writer

See at Microsoft

Infatuation: Lenovo's PCs

Over the course of 2017 I reviewed plenty of Lenovo laptops and PCs, and while I definitely didn't love them all, there were a few gems that I almost couldn't stand to see leave. The Yoga 920's 4K display and watchband hinge won me over, and I can't yet bring myself to send it back. Sorry, Lenovo. Likewise, testing out the Legion Y920 Tower gaming rig proves that pre-built PCs have come a long way. Great performance, a solid case, and a lot of room for easy upgrades in the future make it likeable even for someone who's always had a soft spot for putting a rig together himself. I look forward to seeing what else Lenovo brings to the table in 2018.

— Cale Hunt, staff writer

See at Lenovo

Infatuation: Microsoft Launcher for Android

I've honestly never been much for using third-party launchers on Android, as I tend to be that boring person who sticks the the stock look of things no matter the phone. But since we cover Windows and, by extension, Microsoft stuff here at Windws Central, I decided to give Microsoft Launcher a shot – and boy, has it grown on me. I'm easily entertained, so my favorite feature is the daily rotating wallpaper from Bing. Sure, it's not something I couldn't get elsewhere, but the wallpapers are nearly always crisp and interesting. Beyond that, I've grown comfortable with menu tucked away at the bottom of the screen, which lets you quickly access utilities like your flashlight and Wi-Fi toggles. And though I don't find myself using it as much, the dedicated overview screen showing the weather, my recent activities, and frequently used apps can come in handy as well. When I first switched my Galaxy S8 to Microsoft Launcher, I thought I'd be back to the default UI within a week. Instead, it's been my default for the past several months.

— Dan Thorp-Lancaster, news writer

See at Google Play

Infatuation: Blizzard games

In 2017 I rekindled my love affair with Blizzard and its rich franchises. My interest in World of Warcraft (WoW) lapsed in recent years, Mists of Pandaria just didn't appeal to me, and the follow up expansion, Warlords of Draenor, was convoluted, and felt more like a marketing tie-in for the ill-fated (but decent) Warcraft movie. Thankfully, the current expansion, Legion, is brimming with content for new and veteran players, recently revamping the leveling system to be more engaging for completely new players. The game features campaigns for each separate class, and feels more like a true "RPG" than it has in years, and I've been having a blast just playing casually, feeling no need to go fully hardcore like I have in yesteryear.

Beyond WoW, I've been loving the continued updates to Overwatch, Blizzard's first shooter, which recently picked up 4K Xbox One X support, and I've discovered MOBAs for the first in Blizzard's Heroes of the Storm, which is simplistic enough for newcomers to pick up, but deep enough to keep you hooked over long periods of time.

Blizzard's 2018 is also looking promising, with a new WoW expansion on the horizon in the form of Battle for Azeroth, continuing the momentum the studio built up with their well-received Legion expansion. Hopefully we'll hear some Diablo IV-shaped news at this year's Blizzcon...

— Jez Corden, senior Xbox editor

See Overwatch for Xbox

Infatuation: CD Projekt


CD Projekt owns both CD Projekt RED, the developer behind The Witcher series of games, and digital distribution platform GOG. What makes this Polish company hold a place in my heart is the approach its executives and employees take to the market and paying customers. They treat us all with respect, which is something we all long for with EA, Activision Blizzard, et all. I'm talking free content, extended support for released games, expansions that offer countless hours of additional entertainment, and other pro-consumer practices.

A relationship is defined as being reciprocal, much like a loving partnership between two people. CD Projekt appears to be more than willing to step up and that's why I love the company dearly."

— Rich Edmonds, staff reviewer

Infatuation: Razer

If there's a company out there that should be used as a gold standard on how to engage with customers, it's Razer. Whether you're a gamer or not you cannot deny the passion, and the fearlessness to try something new. Razer never made a phone before, but hey, here's an awesome phone we made for our fans. Oh, and we prototyped it becoming a laptop, because, why not? Lest we forget the three-screened laptop prototype of 2017, the Chroma all the things and, frankly, an epic social media team. It's impossible not to be impressed, happy, even, when you look at Razer and what it's doing.

— Richard Device, reviews editor

See at Razer

Infatuation: Microsoft's Surface Pro and Surface Book 2

In 2017, I joined Windows Central and officially made the switch from macOS to Windows. I'd been a Mac user for years, so the transition wasn't exactly easy, at least not a first. I initially moved to a Dell XPS 15 (9560), which was a solid piece of hardware, but compatibility issues with some of my peripherals and software "hiccups" left an early bad taste in my mouth. That first month, I probably muttered "I hate Windows 50 times." And I almost switched back to Mac.

Then I decided to invest in a Surface Pro, after reading some glowing reviews from other Windows Central team members, particularly from our Executive Editor Daniel Rubino. The 2-in-1 form factor was a challenge at first, but I also had a immediate emotional-sort of response to it; I quickly fell in love with Surface Pro. (Read all about why in this related article.) I didn't experience any of the compatibility issues, and things "just worked," at least for the most part.

I never looked back. And I since bought another Surface: The Surface Book 2 15-inch. If my relationship with the Pro was love, what I have going with the Book is a tawdry affair. And I'm lovin' every minute it of.

— Al Sacco, managing editor

Infatuation: Rainbox Six Siege

Rainbow Six Siege has emerged as one of the biggest titles of this generation, with equally punishing and rewarding first-person shooter action. Following a rocky start in 2015 plagued by technical issues, Siege showcases how major publishers can revive flawed games after launch. The game hit its peak last year, with balanced gameplay, a steady flow of free content and a strong following ahead of its third year of expansions.

The game now comfortably sits among the most played titles on all three supported platforms, with over 25 million players. Two years on, there are few games seeing the same love and growth as Rainbow Six Siege. We'll soon see whether this upward trend continues, with its upcoming fantasy-season, "Operation Chimera.

— Matt Brown, Xbox editor

What broke our hearts

Microsoft and Windows-related tech that broke our hearts this Valentine's Day

Broken heart: Windows 10 Mobile

Of course, 2017 saw the end of Windows 10 Mobile in an official sense. This was always something that I had expected was coming, but that doesn't mean I was dreading it. But, when Microsoft confirmed it was no longer focused on Windows 10 Mobile, that was it for me. Feature2 was the end of Windows Phone, regardless of whether the Microsoft blog post said so or not. In fact, I find it incredibly dishonest how Microsoft handled the 'death' of Windows phone. They didn't even announce it in a blog post, just a few short tweets on Twitter. And from then on, people at Microsoft have just stopped acknowledging Windows phone users. Insiders on the Windows 10 Mobile Insider Program were told that new builds would be coming, but there aren't any. Microsoft handled this whole situation very badly and I wouldn't be surprised if Windows phone users aren't interested in Microsoft product anymore.

— Zac Bowden, senior writer

Broken heart: CoD WWII and Battalion 1944

I've always been a huge fan of first-person shooters, starting my love affair with the Wolfenstein series, the first few Call of Duty titles, and some of the original Battlefields. You can understand why I'm so excited for Battalion 1944. It's been a long time since I sat down and played anything Call of Duty, but a discussion with my younger brother and viewing some of the trailers had me believing that the latest, Call of Duty: WWII was going to be a return to the glory days that I remembered so fondly. I spent the hefty price tag, played long enough to realize that it's still nothing I'm interested in, and went back to whatever else I was doing. Am I so out of touch? No, it's the children who are wrong.

— Cale Hunt, staff writer

See on Steam

Broken heart: iOS 11

iOS 11 Control Center

OK, so this one isn't exactly Windows related. But so many former Windows phone users are switching to other platform that it's still relevant.

I haven't used an iOS device regularly for a couple of years now, so this isn't so much due to first-hand experience. But, man, the number of bugs I had to help friends and family members wade through after installing iOS 11 nearly caused me to rip my hair out. From general issues like slow performance, to outright crashes and UI deformities, a lot of it involved simply throwing up our hands and performing a reset. While I'm not the biggest Apple fan in the world, to be sure, there was always something to be said about the simplicity of their products. The whole "it just works" mantra wasn't for nothing. However, with iOS 11, that felt like it was thrown out the window and, for the first time, I heard friends, who never would have before, openly contemplate a move to Android (no, that kind of talk didn't last long).

— Dan Thorp-Lancaster, news writer

Broken heart: Electronic Arts

EA was nothing but disappointing all throughout 2017, destroying studios, franchises, and pushing a monetization agenda that is antithetical to the very idea of competitive gaming.

First of all, EA rushed Mass Effect: Andromeda out of the door, unfinished, laden with bugs, and unresolved plot points. Mass Effect is a legendary franchise with an army of passionate fans who simply deserved better, but EA didn't think so, shipping a game in a barely playable state. The studio responsible for the game managed to fix many of the bugs, but EA later shut them down despite their efforts, cancelling planned story DLC designed to actually resolve the game's plot.

Later in the year, EA shut down Visceral Games, putting hundreds out of work, while cancelling the studio's anticipated single player Star Wars game, blaming gamers for, apparently, not wanting story-driven games anymore. Visceral was also responsible for Dead Space, arguably one of the best action horror titles of the previous generation, with stunning art, great atmospherics, and satisfying combat. With Visceral shuttered, any hope of Dead Space returning from the grave is basically zero.

Finally, EA's sequel to 2015's shallow Star Wars Battlefront promised new levels of depth and complexity, delivering the competitive multiplayer Star Wars game fans yearned for. For the most part, EA's DICE studio succeeded, creating an authentic and engaging experience that was truly fun to play. Sadly, EA forced pay to win mechanics deep into the game, rewarding players who spent more money with advantages over poorer players. This sickening practice led to a massive backlash that was covered by mainstream news sites, and led to the eventual removal of the pay to win mechanics entirely.

EA failed gamers at every opportunity last year, and the company has done little to fix its image. It has become almost a meme to hate on the company at this point, but frankly, it's more than deserved. I'm sure they hardly care about it, given that Battlefront II still went on to sell 9 million copies, but this gamer in particular no longer has any faith in EA or its games, sadly.

— Jez Corden, senior Xbox editor

Broken heart: Disappointing Xbox games from Microsoft

2017 was a strong year of growth for Microsoft's gaming endeavors, headlined by its latest 4K-driven console, the Xbox One X. However, a major shortcoming often dominated headlines – their approach to first-party game development.

Last year started off with a strong lineup of titles, including Scalebound, State of Decay 2, Sea of Thieves, Halo Wars 2, and Crackdown 3. 12 months later, only one of these titles made its way to store shelves, while Platinum Games' Scalebound was killed off entirely. Marketing for remaining upcoming titles remains weak, with little indication of improvements to its approach. Let's hope Microsoft has something to show this year or at least gets its current projects out the door.

— Matt Brown, Xbox editor

Broken heart: BioWare and its nonexistent KOTOR sequel


BioWare is busy working hard on supporting its MMORPG Star Wars: The Old Republic and continuing to develop Anthem, an upcoming co-op shoot and loot. What the company isn't working on – and totally should because I say so – is a sequel (or at least a continuation) to Knights of the Old Republic (KOTOR) 2. Both KOTOR and its follow-up were excellent RPGs, allowing gamers to immerse themselves in an older galaxy with interesting stories, parties and characters.

It saddens me each year when no announcement that KOTOR 3 is being made hits the news feed. The classic KOTOR titles also had some killer romance options. Bastila in the original, Visas in the sequel, there are some great scenes and dialog."

— Rich Edmonds, staff reviewer

Broken heart: Groove Music

Microsoft, what are you doing to me? I loved Groove Music. One of the reasons I loved it most was because it mixed my own music from OneDrive with a great library of streaming music. And it worked on all the devices I needed it to. But, instead of competing, Microsoft threw in the towel, closed it down and sent me back to Spotify. Sure, Spotify is pretty great, but it's not Groove, and that makes me sad.

— Richard Devine, reviews editor

Related: Best streaming-music alternatives to Groove Music

Broken heart: Xbox VR/WMR

OK, yeah, I know this one was a long shot. But the greatest loves often are … On Windows Central, we'd been covering Xbox "Project Scorpio" nearly every day for months ahead of its official announcement at E3 in June 2017. If there was a rumor about the console, our Games Editor Jez Corden was all over it.

One of the less-likely-yet-most-exciting rumors: Project Scorpio, now known officially as Xbox One X, would have some sort of VR component. However, it just wasn't meant to be, and those of us who had been hanging on to a glimmer of hope were left broken hearted … or at least pretty darn disappointed. Windows Mixed Reality (WMR) hit the scene in 2017, and it's great and all. But I'm not a PC gamer, and it still feels odd for me to have to move back and forth between my office PC when I want to use WMR and my living room when it's Xbox time.

I knew all along that we were unlikely to see Xbox VR along with the latest console, but I was still hoping for a surprise. And I thought we might at least get some details on the future of VR and Xbox. You may say I'm a dreamer … but I'm fairly certain I was not the only one. And I'm still kind of pissed off about the whole thing.

— Al Sacco, managing editor

See Xbox One X at Microsoft

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