When it comes to the modern version of Windows Phones, I can brag that I’ve been there since the beginning. In 2010, Microsoft unveiled the next-gen operating system known as Windows Phone 7 Series. Of course, that name didn’t stick. But I dove in, purchasing a Samsung Focus for AT&T.
My thoughts on that phone then are the same as my thoughts for my Lumia 950 today. It wasn’t pretty, but it was pretty unique. While everyone I knew had the exact same iPhone or Galaxy, I had a Windows Phone. A phone, in my circles, unlike any other.
Shaking the Negativity
While the perceived look of the flagship Windows Phones remain unchanged, so do the tired explanations for why it is failing. Lack of apps, poor carrier support, and buggy software. Over the years there have been major purchases (Nokia), major overhauls (Windows Phone 8) and, of course, major marketing campaigns. But, through it all, Windows Phone did nothing but shrink further into obscurity.
If you own a Windows Phone right now, times are dark. The numbers show most have already switched to an iPhone or Galaxy. More are sure to follow. Some are even writing off Windows Phone as quickly as BlackBerry faded into oblivion.
Microsoft has certainly done itself no favors, with a focus on PC and intentionally vague statements about continued support. We fans have had little to latch on to. Except two words. Two very important words tossed around for years… Surface. Phone.
Inside Track to Surface
I want to be clear, I have absolutely no advance knowledge of what Microsoft is working on. I have no idea if Surface Phone is real, let alone when we might see one. What I know is that it’s the final sliver of hope for the remaining few like me desperately avoiding a return to the iPhone.
What I want to do is rally the troops. Here in Iowa, there are few if any like myself locked into Windows Phone. In fact, in six years I’ve only known one user, and they’ve already switched back to the iPhone.
But where I’ve found strength is the ingenious Insider Program. The second that Insiders were given an early copy of Windows 10 for Phone, I jumped on board. It was terribly buggy, but the promise was certainly there. No kidding, I spent months suffering on my daily driver just to pretend that I had the next great thing. Even if that meant using far from ready for prime-time software.
But, I persevered, I tried to submit complaints and suggestions whenever I could. Now, all of us who chipped in are amply rewarded. Windows 10 Anniversary Update is the polish we all created.
This is different from the Windows Phone of yesteryear, this is OUR Windows Phone, we helped shape it. By directing the team at Microsoft, focusing them on what was really important, we got the OS we deserve. So I ask you this. After all that work, all that collaboration, do you REALLY think Microsoft is ready to throw in the towel?
I don’t. I believe the Insider Program bought Microsoft time. They got Windows 10 right, first for the PC, then Xbox and now, finally, Windows Phone. Windows Phone fans can breathe easy. We weathered the storm. And we got what we needed.
Exiting the Dark Tunnel
If Microsoft’s rumored strategy is to be believed, the darkest days of Windows Phone have passed. Now it’s time for Microsoft to get everyone’s attention once again. The original line of Surface products was an absolute financial disaster. But it got everyone’s attention. To Microsoft’s credit, they didn’t quit. Today, Surface is one of the biggest success stories at Microsoft.
That innovation and, more importantly, that time to fine-tune the vision, is what could make Surface Phone the savior of Windows Phone. If and when we finally see this mythological device, it could stun the industry, but not change it… yet. Surface Phone will be for us, the fans who need no convincing. We’ll dive in, hand over our hundreds of dollars, and fight through the difficulties. I should know. I’m typing this on my Surface Pro 1st Edition. To this day, I fight through the bugs because I still recognize all that was impressive when this old girl made its debut.
Now, it’s time for Microsoft to do it again. So I say to you, the fans, it’s OK to get excited and it’s OK to excuse the first-gen missteps that could come with Surface Phone. If Microsoft continues on the path it’s set forth, all of us will be rewarded again in the years ahead. If the success of Surface can be transplanted to the smartphone ecosystem, Microsoft will finally have the piece to turn the industry into a three horse race.
And to anyone on the Surface team reading this… I really do love my Surface Pro, but I’d be happy to put it in the trophy case for a Surface Book! 😉