Are Microsoft apps actually better on Android than Windows? Not really

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Office, Skype, Groove Music, Outlook. These are all apps and services created by Microsoft that power the Windows experience. For a good while many of these services were either exclusive to Windows Phone or had their Windows experience as the explicit focus of Microsoft’s mobile software team, but all that changed in the middle of 2014. With Microsoft releasing Office for iOS and Android, Microsoft software suddenly rapidly began to get much better on iOS and Android while stagnating on Windows Phone. For a time, it was fair to say that you could get the best Microsoft experience if you simply tossed your Windows Phone away and just purchased an iPhone. That isn’t true any more.

If you’re living in the Microsoft ecosystem entirely, then Windows 10 Mobile is the only Mobile OS that offers the full range of Microsoft features.

Why is this? Windows Phone has less users than iOS and Android, so Microsoft would be better served focusing on the latter right?

While the first half is true,  Microsoft has more mobile users on Windows Phone than other platforms.

Microsoft may very well have access to more potential users on Android and iOS, but its apps are used by actual users at a much higher rate on Windows devices.

Consider MSN news and weather, on Android both apps have been downloaded 500 thousand and 100 thousand times respectively. On Windows Phone, they have been downloaded over 20 million times each. I’m sure this download rate does not include devices that shipped with this apps, so we can conclude that the MSN apps are being used several times more on Windows than on Android or iOS.

Groove Music’s download stats are not available on Windows Phone as it is a pre installed app, on Android we can see that it has been downloaded a measly 1 million times. The app itself is nothing to write home about, not being comparable in features tor design to any modern music player, especially Microsoft’s own Groove Music app for Windows.

This story repeats itself across the board for Microsoft apps with the only Microsoft apps which are of as with the higher downloaded apps being Office and Skype with 500 million and 10 million downloads respectively.

In other words, aside from Skype, users of Microsoft services are overwhelmingly on Windows devices and on Mobile? Windows Phone in particular.

As far as app quality goes, I dare-say the quality on Microsoft apps on Android compared to their Windows counterparts is generally across the board worse with Microsoft’s Office apps being merely on-par with their Windows counterparts. For example, Microsoft’s Windows Groove Music  and beautifully designed MSN apps are abandonware on Android. Groove Music sports a holo-esque design that does not take advantage of the screen size, is aesthetically worse than modern music apps and is quite slow to use.

The MSN apps are pretty much as they debuted, with no updates to the apps since February – they have also fallen behind the Windows version of the same apps. OneNote straddles the line by being as good as its Windows app, yet sporting the ugliest UI behind the iOS and Windows OneNote clients.

Even Microsoft’s popular Xbox smartglass apps do not have the Facebook integration, or the game streaming features which are exclusive to Windows 10 Xbox apps. If you’re one of thise users who also buys or rents films to watch on your Xbox or PC from Microsoft’s Film and TV app, forget about any platform but Windows. The app simply is exclusive.

There are a few exceptions like Outlook and Skype, but those exceptions are largely confined to the apps that Microsoft dd not actually create from scratch but instead acquired. In the case of Outlook, Microsoft acquired an app known as Accompli and rebranded it as Outlook while the Windows apps were built from scratch. As for Skype, Microsoft has taken steps to begin to integrate the Skype app natively into Windows. For now, the app is the worst Skype client in mobile, even below BlackBerry and Windows Phone 8, but Microsoft has laid the foundation for it to get better.

What’s the bottom line? If you’re buying a Windows Phone, by and large expect to get the best Microsoft experience on your device. Microsoft may make the apps for other devices, but their Windows apps will forever showcase their best work.

Don’t believe the naysayers and experience it for yourself.

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