Microsoft and the Windows Phone

Is Lack of Self-Confidence Becoming a Self-Fulfilling Prophecy?

PC Magazine ( had an article by John Dvorak with a catchy title on September 17 - Microsoft Believes It is Going to Die. According to the article, this saying predates the dot-com era, including the "Windows is dead" meme that has been around for over 15 years. Back then, Windows was going to die because of thin-client computing or network computing. Today we call this "the cloud."

The sad thing, according to Mr. Dvorak, is that Microsoft has bought into that argument - what else explains supporting the cloud fad? Fifteen years ago Microsoft didn't jump into thin-client or network computing - it defended itself. Dvorak says this is really about self-confidence, and that Microsoft has none, and that this lack of self-confidence results in a lackluster response by the public to products such as Windows Phone.

Let's talk about Windows Phone. Microsoft actually invented the idea of a smartphone (and a tablet). Unfortunately, we don't hear about that; it seems to be a well-kept secret. Actually, we don't hear much about Windows Phone at all, other than how it is now integrated with (cough cough) the cloud. And yes, you can manage Windows Phones with Configuration Manager and Windows Intune (of course, you can also manage other brands of phones with those products as well, which is quite nice).

A disclaimer: I am a Microsoft MVP, a former Microsoft employee, and historically a die-hard Microsoft fan. I had a Windows Mobile phone, which I used long after it was considered a dinosaur. When I finally decided to get a "modern" phone, I wouldn't even consider an Android or an iPhone. I got a brand new Windows 7.5 Phone. However, the only time I saw anyone else using a Windows Phone was when I was flying to Redmond.

Unfortunately, I am now a disgruntled Windows Phone user. There are several reasons, and they are related to apps.

  1. No one writes apps for Windows Phones ... way back in ancient history when Microsoft came up with DOS and Windows, they were able to get huge market share. This was because they won the hearts and minds of the developers; there were tons of applications that ran on Microsoft operating systems. Developers aren't writing apps for Windows Phones - this is a huge problem for Microsoft and market adoption.
  2. Even Microsoft doesn't seem inclined to support apps for Windows Phone - they removed support for Skype from Windows 7.x phones this summer without warning.
  • "Support" in this case doesn't mean you couldn't talk to Microsoft if there was a problem or that they would no longer upgrade the app - it means the Windows 7.x Skype app magically stopped working one day. And the Windows 7 phone users weren't notified in advance by Microsoft - they found out when the app stopped working! Why did this happen? Well, Microsoft wanted those Windows 7.x folks to upgrade to Windows 8 phones, so they dropped Skype support for all but the most recent version of the Windows Phone to try to get those folks to upgrade. The assumption was that those Windows Phone 7 users who couldn't live without Skype would turn around and get a Windows 8 phone instead of going somewhere else where they felt more appreciated.
  • Ironically, Skype still works on older versions of iPhones - which could make sense when you consider Mr. Dvorak's theory that Microsoft has no confidence in their own products, or perhaps they feel they need the love from iPhone users more than they do from people using their own product.

Dropping support for Skype did not inspire me to get a Windows Phone 8. It just made me more disgruntled. However, I decided to continue using my -1 version of Windows Phone until it died. I was still trying really hard to be a Microsoft fan, maybe more than they deserved.

Well, that day has come - my phone is dead, and I will be buying a new phone. However, it won't be running Windows. What drove me away? Was it the superior technology used by Apple? No, it was Microsoft believing it is going to die.

I hope they learn in time.

Copyright © 2014 IDG Communications, Inc.

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