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All posts tagged Windows Phone

Windows Mobile Is Not Dead It’s Just Sleeping?

News and bloggers are gleefully reporting the death of Windows Mobile .. again.

Windows Mobile - Bullshit

In fact, Microsoft just announced end of support for Windows Phone 8.1, the version supplanted by Windows 10 Mobile.

The lazy, trollish and misrepresentative reporting has haunted Microsoft’s mobile platform throughout each of its evolutions.

This is not to say that Microsoft has not repeatedly managed to do a remarkably poor job of marketing the platform and their own flagship devices. Nor were Microsoft able to evangelize to the developer community to entice the same adoption as IOS or Android.

Microsoft has addressed the issue of app parity in the Windows Mobile ecosystem with the combination of the IOS Bridge to UWP, UWP apps themselves and Project Centennial to convert old-style Windows apps to UWP, there is still life in the brand. Redmond still needs to forcefully encourage as many apps as possible to build UWP versions.

As it stands, many Windows Mobile owners feel the benign neglect stemming from Redmond is a way of parting from the past of the OS while developing the rumored Surface Mobile Device;

Surface Phone?

The Surface “Phone” has been rumored to be designed for running full-blown 64 bit Windows apps; a phab form factor or the implementation of a patent for a foldable screen device that opens from phone to tablet seamlessly. One thing we know for certain, this device will maximize the full potential of Microsoft’s CShell for Windows 10.

Many believe the device is being held-back by a waiting game for the right ARM-64 processor and GPU combined with the latest alleged leak that the Surface Mobile Device will be an AR / VR/ MR supporting device… a Hololens Phone. This rumor is propped up by the allegation that brain-behind the Hololens, Alex Kipman is leading the charge to deliver this device, even though the head of Microsoft Devices is still Panos Panay.

HoloLens - Alex Kipman

One thing is for sure, Microsoft needs to get this right in terms of design, materials, feature set, spec, delivery and especially marketing.

Marketing this atop of the history of Microsoft’s mobile strategy requires radical strategy. Before all you ace tech reporters and bloggers dig Windows Mobile’s grave, check the facts and save us your hot air.

The mobile markets are ripe for a change. Go big or go home Satya.

Microsoft Surface Has Meant One Thing Until Now.

When you heard Microsoft Surface, you thought of the killer Surface Pro 4 and Surface Book hybrid laptops, right?

Ever sat in a meeting with someone using one, walked past a store selling them? Likely they caught your eye because of the materials and design. The sleek lines, kickstand, detachable tablet – keyboard combo, spun magnesium body and the pen. It’s hard not to lust after the Surface laptops.

Whilst the Surface Pro 4 and Surface Book were turning the world of laptop design on its head, Windows Phone and the Microsoft Band were making less of an impact.

Much has been written on the failure to seize market share by both these devices. Some written on this blog.

Windows Phone has evolved into Windows 10 Mobile and the Band 2 is no longer for sale by Microsoft. Both have been surrounded by rumors of successive devices: the Microsoft Surface (Panay) Phone and the Band 3. What is going on?

Microsoft Event 26th October

Wednesday in New York (tomorrow), Microsoft have invited us to see what’s next for Windows 10.

Microsoft Surface Event

Throw in the latest tweet from Microsoft’s VP of Devices, Panos Panay:

… and you can reasonably assume that in addition to what’s next for Windows 10 the Operating (eco)System, we are going to see new devices. Several weeks ago Winbuzzer reported that the FCC had approved a new Surface keyboard (and more) and most of the big tech blogs have been reporting that they expect to see an All-in-one desktop revealed tomorrow; probably called the Surface Studio.

The expectation is the Surface Studio will be built along the Surface design ethos in terms of materials, form and features. Full pen support, an adjustable desktop kickstand, the (previously mentioned) keyboard and almost certainly a matching mouse. Microsoft historically announces partnerships with software vendors to support new hardware so one can expect Adobe, AutoDesk or perhaps Unity3D to have something special for the Surface Studio. Microsoft themselves are expected to launch an improved Paint app.

It doesn’t take much research to find patents describing a modular, hinged computing device or a newer version of Continuum technology.

Microsoft Surface - All in one

Courtesy of US Patent & Trademark Office: Microsoft filings.

The Surface Studio aside, everyone has high hopes of hearing that Windows 10 Redstone 2 and 3 will incorporate features for connected IOT technology. The hot rumor is a Microsoft homehub feature in Windows 10 means a Cortana enabled home control device akin to Amazon’s Alexa.

Since no tech event would be complete without AR or VR, Hololens will be center stage with more apps and stronger Hologram integration with Windows 10.

Microsoft Surface - Hololens

The big question though is will the event address the future of wearable & mobile devices?

The Warptest POV

Most if not everyone believes that when Microsoft pulled the Band 2 from their stores that there will be no Band 3, even with rumors prior to this of a streamlined, waterproof sport wearable incorporating RFID and an EKG. The Band 2 was noted for its ability to measure VO2 without any unwieldy mask, but a sports wearable with an electrocardiogram seems something not to be given up on easily. I am not so easily convinced.

As for mobile, whilst Windows 10 Mobile continues to release improved Insider updates and several new OEMs have launched Windows Phones, there will be no new Lumia phones. That said, no-one is under the illusion that the Panay / Surface Phone will arrive. The rumors surrounding the Surface Phone are many, including the expected 32 / 64 bit app support. Doing so means desktop apps will run on this phone.

Microsoft are the only company to have a Universal App Platform, a bridge to port IOS apps and Project Centennial for turning desktop apps into Universal Apps. This means that a Surface Phone (assuming the necessary spec and size) is a serious laptop alternative.

If Microsoft has managed to minimize the Continuum Dock and incorporate it into this phone, then connecting it to any screen will make it full blown Windows 10.

Are Microsoft prepared to cede the mobile and wearable markets to the competition without a fight? No but they need a killer strategy, winning devices and hardware to support this. Why won’t we hear about a Microsoft Surface Phone or Band 3 tomorrow? Simply because the chipsets necessary for these devices are not ready now but also because ultimately Microsoft are somewhat loyal to their dedicated Band 2 & Lumia consumers. There is a transition period which will allow for a better launch for these new devices, both running Windows 10.

The most important announcement that should be made tomorrow is that Microsoft Surface is the brand name for all Windows 10 hardware made by Microsoft.

It should all be designed and made to the same standards, with the same materials and with similar ethos and feature sets. So yes, a Microsoft Surface Phone should have a kickstand and a magnetized keyboard like the Surface Pro. A Band replacement should be spun magnesium cased too.

The creation of a Universal Hardware Platform to match the UWP will make for a stronger, more marketable brand. A brand that is part and parcel of the Windows 10 Operating (eco)System that consumers and enterprise can get behind. A brand that will allow Microsoft to deliver a mature, competitive product in the mobile arena.

Want my annual bit of advice Satya? This is what I want to see from the Microsoft Event tomorrow. How about you?

Snapchat, you know who they are, right?

What the hell Snapchat? GSMArena threw the world of Windows Phone all a tizzy this morning with the announcement that in a dramatic reversal, Snapchat are working closely with Microsoft to build an app for Windows Phone. To be fair, by the end of the post GSMArena mention in passing these are the unconfirmed comments of a member of Lumia Support in Spain.

Snapchat - Snapchat

Their CEO, Evan Spiegel has been notorious in his disdain for the platform in the past, and became the object of dislike amongst Windows Phone users for blocking 3rd party apps. Snapchat had cited security concerns as the reason for the ban, after their user database of 4.6 million users was hacked at the start of 2014. Many felt this was a convenient excuse and wondered why, when so many companies were capable of releasing secure APIs allowing 3rd party development, Snapchat couldn’t.

Snapchat - Evan Spiegel on Windows Phone

 Recently Snapchat have released an API that seems limited to their earth-shaking foray into the world of advertising. Why the possible reversal on Windows Phone now?

Satya Hit Snooze On Windows Phone…

Windows Phone has allegedly died more times than Kenny in South Park or Tom Cruise in Edge of Tomorrow combined. Still the platform has clearly evolved from Windows Phone, the Lumia handsets (and OEMs) to Windows 10 Mobile. With Microsoft’s shift in focus to the OS and Universal Apps one might think they are all but out of the handset business.

With the rumors of the Surface or Panay phone coming, Microsoft are hard pressed to choose between marketing the absolutely fabulous Lumia 950 / 950XL. Especially as these may be the last of the Lumia brand. The Surface phone is expected to be a radical reimagining of Microsoft’s mobile hardware strategy, combining incredible design, the evolution of features like Continuum, Hello & Cortana. Most important the Surface Phone is expected to be a PC in your pocket. A handset capable of running 32 (possibly 64) bit applications.

With the announcement of advances in Universal Apps and a 32 Bit Desktop to Universal App converter tool at BUILD 2016, we saw how this strategy ties together.

The Warptest POV

No one is expecting the arrival of Snapchat alone on Windows 10 Mobile to suddenly cause drastic changes in market share. However, since apps like WhatsApp, Vine, Facebook (Beta), Facebook Messenger and many more are going full force into Windows 10 and Windows 10 Mobile with Universal Apps (WhatsApp is not Universal) perhaps, Snapchat woke up and smelt the coffee.

The market share being fought over here (or ignored until now) are the 300 million+ and growing, Windows 10 devices of all types.

Snapchat is huge, Hillel Fuld has told us this, Gary Vaynerchuk has told us this. So is it too weird or fantastical to speculate that Satya might want to buy Snapchat and this is how Windows 10 Mobile is getting Snapchat?

After all, Microsoft just bought LinkedIn and that blew our minds.

For similar reasons, to gain access to the customer database and then to resolve some of the issues Snapchat still has like user search, limited API, analytics (where the <redacted> are the analytics?) doesn’t it suddenly make some weird kind of sense? Microsoft could do all this… Still this is just speculation.

If Windows 10 Mobile gets a universal Snapchat app, many Windows Phone owners will be happy. Then the only major social apps missing will be Periscope and a personal favorite, ZCast.

So do you think we’ll see a Universal Snapchat app?

Cortana Is An Integral Part of Windows 10…

Cortana Mobile and Desktop plays a huge part in the strategy for Microsoft’s ecosystem. The intelligent personal assistant AI is part and parcel of Windows 10 Desktop and Mobile. In addition, there are versions available for Android and iOS.

cortana - android play store cortana - itunes app store

This makes Cortana the most wide-spread cross-platform AI app available today. When Windows Phone users heard this, there were many who feared that Microsoft were giving away the farm.

Jump Forward In Time

To BUILD 2016 and we are hearing about Cortana – BOT integration / Windows / Office integration. Shortly thereafter, Cortana (on Windows 10 desktop) started notifying users about missed calls in real time, with the user able to send a message back to the caller. That’s right: personal assistant, so it makes sense she should be handling your calls this way, no?

There is a catch. This feature is available to Windows Phone users who are logged into the same Microsoft account on their Windows 10 Phone as their desktop. Right now this feature is exclusively available to Windows 10 Mobile.

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The Warptest POV

As someone who spends a lot of time working on his laptop, and a Windows Phone user, I love this feature. Sending a potted or custom message from my Windows 10 laptop is a useful feature that allows me to respond rapidly and get right back to work. No switching devices.

Whilst Apple have gone the whole hog with making / answering calls from a Mac for the iPhone, I have no doubt that Cortana will receive upgrades and enhancements to this feature in the future.

Seeing Windows Phone exclusive features is a reassurance when many are wheeling out the tired old “Windows Phone is dead” rants. Since this feature is dependent on having the same Microsoft account on phone and laptop, it will be interesting to see if Cortana for iOS or Android ends up supporting this integration with Windows 10.

As predicted, Cortana is only going to become more versatile, more integral to our daily use of Windows 10 (and other apps). If you aren’t using her yet, you should be.

Here’s how you can learn everything Cortana can do for you. Get cracking.

Another Apple Product Launch … Yawn

March 18th will see Apple Product Launch 2016. The Verge and others are predicting the iPhone5se and the iPad3.

This post will be the litmus test for if you are a real Apple fan. Hold onto your iHats.

So the annual Apple Product Launch event is on 18/03, so what? I can count on one hand innovations made over the last five years. The ugly battery case that slipped through when they (probably) locked Jony Ive in the store closet doesn’t count. Yes, the Apple watch is a thing of beauty, but where are the glory days of Apple innovation?

Apple Product Launch - ugly battery case

Apple = Gillette = Apple

So Apple will continue on their slippery slope of Gillette Mach X marketing, more blades or in this case bigger / smaller, thicker. There will no doubt be the usual integrations into the next version of iOS paying homage to various killer apps out there (cue cries of the death of said apps across various tech blogs) but you know what, I don’t care.

I’m totally, utterly unexcited. I have no high hopes from Apple. This is the point at which the Apple fans (note: lack of the term “fanboi”. I think it’s a bit derisive of the consumer who has a personal preference.) are getting really annoyed at this post.

To all of you feeling that way, hop in a time machine. I’m sure there were similar cautionary posts to Nokia and Blackberry on forums or early blogs. Of the Apple users I know about 50% dislike 3D touch on the iPhone, Developers are driven to tooth-gnashing rages at every Xcode update that breaks their deployment environments and then we have reports of software quality and security issues. Meanwhile Tim Cook spends more time trolling and trashing the competition than innovating.

Don’t get me wrong, other than that awful battery-case, Apple design remains a delight for the most. The Mac Book Air on my desk cons me every time I use it into subconsciously thinking it has a touch screen.

At Mobile World Congress today 3 companies are dazzling others, showing that features or design can be innovative:

CAT released their latest S60 Android field-rugged, waterproof phone with FLIR thermal imaging. No fad feature, this and the phone itself will be invaluable for builders, contractor and other professionals. Not just wannabe spies.

Apple Product Launch - CAT S60

LG launched their new G5 Android smartphone. The LG site shows a variety of LG branded modular add-ons ranging from custom, wireless earphones, camera grip, 360-degree camera and more. In addition, the phone (as seen below, image clipped from the LG site) has a unique battery changing method. Seeing clips of the battery being changed at MWC reminded me of something. Let me know what you see.

Apple Product Launch - LG G5

That’s right, this is day one at MWC, three weeks before the Apple Product Launch. What else are we going to see?

Meanwhile HP has caused half the professional tech blogs to ooh and ahh at their Elite x3 super-powered Windows Phone with their spin on Continuum support. Meanwhile the other half of the tech blogosphere is having meltdowns about how dare HP defy their reports that Windows Phone is dead, no less innovating.

The Warptest POV

I’m going to disappoint you. I want an innovative Apple. I want Tim Cook to get up at the Apple Product Launch and blow my socks off with new features and designs. Concepts that will push the competition to rethink their own ideas and raise the bar.

Stagnation does not benefit the consumer. Poor software quality and Developer tools undermine the industry.

For those of you who wonder, I work with iPhones, assorted Android phones and possess an HTC 8x, Lumia 820 and 950XL Windows Phone. I have a Lenovo Yoga and Mac Book Air on my desk. I use Ubuntu at least several times a day. I’m about as exposed to cross-platform / device / OS as it gets and I hope that Apple really does something different.

Perhaps we will get radical battery redesign, beautiful looking but drop-proof, waterproof phones. The real thing that puzzles me is the limited exploration by Apple of the cloud. As Amazon, Microsoft, Rackspace and others boldly build for the cloud, what are Apple doing? iCloud is consumer storage and productivity apps. Where is the innovation to cloud development akin to Microsoft or have they ceded this race to Azure?

So is this the canary in the coal-mine, the warning sign, the tolling bell for Apple or should we prepare to be wowed? What do you think the Apple Product Launch has in store for us?


Glide for Windows Phone. That’s Right Folks…

With Glide for Windows Phone, they are a full blown cross-platform app. The app just went live on the Windows Store for you fellow Windows Phone users to download and enjoy here.
Allegedly the app runs in Windows Phone 8 & 10. I’ve tested it on Windows Phone 10 on and off over the last week and half.

This adds to their Android, iOS, Apple Watch and newly released Android Wear (smart watch) versions of the app.

What’s It All About?

Glide is an app, excuse me THE app for live video messaging. One to one or one to many from your smartphone. The UI is simple, elegantly designed and easy to use.

Once you have messaged one or many people your video, you can also  forward or share it. On Windows Phone the share is based on the available installed apps. Whilst Facebook is able to embed the video shared, Twitter simply posts a link (hopefully as Twitter video iterates we’ll see video embeds from apps like Glide).

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In a nutshell Glide on Windows Phone makes it a snap to video message.

The Warptest POV

The app itself is a delight to use and clearly I’m going to have to testdrive it on Android or iOS to see if there are feature pars but Glide on Windows Phone delivers another incredibly popular killer app to Windows Phone users.

Glide as a company has a reputation for being one of those amazing places to work and an indication of their forward thinking can be seen on their YouTube channel. Great videos aside by Sarah Snow (Glide’s Community Manager), there are a number of videos done by her with ASL. Many would say, “Sign language in video.. obvious” but my hat is firmly tipped to a Startup that treats accessibility as a primary feature / part of building their community. I didn’t think this was obvious and other Startups pay heed and other Startups like ZCast are realizing the accessibility opportunities they can offer (in their case pod or Zcasting for sight impaired).

A couple of ideas / questions occurred during warptesting:

  1. You can video to yourself, there’s a cheat / workaround. See if you can figure it out (I got help with this one, you know who you are).
  2. If your blog is enabled for posting by email then you can share a video from Glide to that email address and presto! Webcasters pay heed.
After more than a week of previewing Glide for Windows Phone, I’m going to give it a strong Warptest recommendation.
Glide clearly sees the potential of adding Windows Phone and hopefully this will convince other Startups out there.
So fellow Windows Phone users, get thee to the Windows Store and install this app. Frankly, whatever platform you’re using get this app and let me know what you think.
Glide for Windows phone - Warptested

Windows Phone Is Alive Despite It All…

… Windows Phone is alive, regardless of a week where many declared it dead… again. The last Warptest post looked at some of the BS being reported.

During the day, the post prompted some disagreement which led to much discussion.

You Won’t Believe What Happened Next.. On Facebook

One of my friends leapt right into the fray to discuss this last post and my conclusions and this triggered several thoughts:

Windows Phone Is Alive - Facebook

The big problem with any metrics is they are hugely prone to misinterpretation out of context or people have a causation bias. In this case, I remembered just how hard it was to order one of the new Windows Phone 950 / 950 XL’s since their launch and there were repeated stories about limited numbers in the stores.

  1. So Q4 of 2015 did have lower numbers of devices sold, allegedly because less new devices were available.
  2. The next equally important point was OEM buy in. Since Windows 10’s launch the OEMs had been going wild announcing new Windows Phone devices. Several were seen at CES but weren’t available yet for consumers to buy. These are coming to market in Q1 / Q2 2016.

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Here are links to the 3 phones shown above (and there are more):

So we have two major factors skewing the numbers there. Meanwhile Windows Central were realizing that their numbers were a source of some of the malarkey going on and so they released a post clarifying the issue and providing some serious context.

Hat tip to Windows Central for taking responsibility here. The title of the post “The journalist’s guide to reading tea leaves aka AdDuplex Windows Phone Stats” is a lot nicer than many people deserve for the FUD they spread.

The Warptest POV

Little did I know earlier today that both Xiaomi and Sony were going to be in the news today as additional OEMs launching Windows Phones. Xiaomi are expected to launch a Windows 10 version of their Mi-5 handset and Sony are expected to announce a Windows Phone 10 addition to the ultrasleek Vaio line (at long last James Bond may get a Windows Phone in the next movie).

That’s right folks, yet more OEMs buying into Windows Phone. What do they know that we don’t?

I’m waiting on several mainstream startups with huge popularity to deliver Universal Apps onto Windows Phone and I know of a few others working on migrating their iOS apps thru the Microsoft iOS Bridge project. Discretion being the watchword here, all I can say is watch this space for when the news embargo lifts.

Let’s boil this down: there’s a bunch of bloggers out there who should be asking themselves if they did right by Windows Phone & the people who worked on building the platform. These posts had an impact on consumers who were considering Windows Phone. I was contacted by several people about this today asking if they should not be moving to Windows Phone. After answering their questions and scheduling with one to come try my phone, I told them simply, “Windows Phone is Alive.”

“It’s alive..” with thanks to Young Frankenstein via YouTube.com

At the end of the day, Windows Phone is alive. Seeing what comes next is the exiting part.

Windows Phone. Reports of its demise …

… regardless of “Windows Phone is Dead” trollgasms, the only thing that seems to be dead is the concept of solid journalism.

The Road So Far…

A couple of weeks ago rumors of Microsoft rebranding Lumia came out. Long overdue but still just a rumor. The association between the Lumia brand, the Nokia acquisition and its negative consequences for Microsoft should have made this a top priority months ago.

The origin for all this seems to have been the rumored launch of the Lumia 650 and it allegedly being the last Lumia phone. It seems the sloth-like, the indolent and those who simply didn’t care read the headline and couldn’t be arsed to look any further.

Last week Windows Central reported the revenue numbers for Windows Phone as part of a post on Viewing Windows Phone in its Proper Context again we saw a slew of posts proclaiming the death of Windows Phone.

Windows Phone - Dead Not

One of the “favorites” doing the rounds is Forbes post on Ruthless Microsoft’s Smart Decision To Kill Windows Phone. If you can find a link to any announcement from Microsoft in this post, if you can find one verifiable fact then I’d love to see it. This is a speculation post based on unconfirmed rumors spun out of more rumors. Not even a “We reached out to Microsoft for a comment…”

Other rumors being ignored by many of these gleeful posts (but not all) are that this is not just rebranding but that Redmond’s Windows Phone will be rebuilt as a Surface Phone. During this interview the hints were there to be heard from Chris Capossela, Microsoft CMO.

Akin to Mark Twain, Kenny from South Park or Bill Murray in Groundhog Day, Windows Phone is frequently reported dead when it simply isn’t so. Why is that?

The Warptest POV

Windows Phone has died more deaths than even Tom Cruise in Edge of Tomorrow and yet each time it bounces back from its reported demise.

 

Windows Phone - Awesome 950XL

Nutshell, these are incredibly well made phones, with a kick-ass OS and as I’ve stated repeatedly, with Universal Apps the world is their oyster. Microsoft clearly has a mobile strategy and it being multi-pronged doesn’t exclude Windows Phone. The first steps to the next evolution of Windows Phone are already there in Windows 10 Phones like the 950 or 950XL with Continuum, Hello and other features, if you actually look.

Imagine a market where these phones and features were never designed less realized, because the market listened to the trolls. This is a market that lost stimulus to innovate and compete. Why would you encourage that?

Be assured, Windows Phone may not be a Lumia, it may be a hybrid device made to be a phone but also to run 32 Bit apps (unconfirmed rumor) and it may be designed to emulate the Surface design but there will be a reimagined Windows Phone later this year.

If Microsoft designs, builds and markets this device right, it will be a device that does things no other device can do.

So my advice is don’t dismiss Windows Phone, it’s a name for a class of devices. Dismiss the trolls and go see for yourself. Most people who go hands on for the first time are simply impressed.

Microsoft, time to bring you’re A game.

The Microsoft Universal Folding Keyboard …

The Microsoft Universal Folding Keyboard has arrived and today I unboxed it and took it for a test drive. It retails for $99 on the Microsoft US Store, uses Bluetooth and can pair with two devices on iOS, Android or Windows devices.

Microsoft Universal Folding Keyboard - dimensions

The link above also had updated drivers for connecting the keyboard to Windows 10 (32 and 64 bit).

Unboxing…

The Microsoft Universal Folding Keyboard is all about a perfect marriage of design and function and this starts with the box. Gone are the days of excessive boxing. Microsoft has designed the box with a Surface ethos, the box and the keyboard close magnetically.

Microsoft Universal Folding Keyboard - box closed

Microsoft Universal Folding Keyboard - box open

Once opened, the instructions are on the inside face. Ikea et al, see these instructions and learn. One day all instructions will be this way.

The keyboard works simply and elegantly, open is on and closed is off. It’s light, portable and the tactile response of the keys is as good as the keyboard on a Lenovo Yoga or Asus laptop. Folded it’s probably slimmer than the wallet in your pocket.

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The Warptest POV

The Microsoft Universal Folding Keyboard is elegant in its design, sturdy yet sleek. It’s made for one thing and one thing only, for the road warriors, those urban commuters for whom space is a premium when travelling but those who need a physical keyboard.

Every single person who tried this today fell in love with it on first touch. I have thick fingers and so my concern was obviously this wasn’t going to work for me. I may never be a violinist with my hands but I can make this keyboard sing.

One of my testing team took the phone in the photos above, my Lumia 820 and walked thru our offices while I typed all the way to the front door of our offices, about 35 to 40 meters and was amazed to report my typing kept coming thru. Now I doubt I’ll ever need a use case like that but it was impressive.

If you need a portable keyboard, then the Microsoft Universal Folding Keyboard is the one for you. Of course, no kickstand on your iPad, Android, or other device. You’ll need more than two hands or some kind of MacGyver solution.

 

This ad has nothing to do with this post but hey, kickstands.

I’ll be doing a follow-up when the Lumia 950XL arrives with its kickstand case.

So if the plane, train or bus is how you get from A to B and you need to just keep on typing, then go checkout the Microsoft Universal Folding Keyboard and let me know what YOU think.

Microsoft Continued Its Mobile Strategy…

… Last week and it’s a smart one. For those who didn’t notice or comprehend the ramifications, Microsoft announced that CyanogenMod would include Cortana aboard.

Microsoft - Cyanogen meet Cortana

Neither Cyanogen nor Microsoft have hidden the aim is a robust Android ROM with Google services removed and Microsoft services in their place.

Prior to this, first versions of Cortana were available as installable apps for Android and iOS. Cortana is going head-to-head with integral OS services Google Now and Siri.

Microsoft Mobile Services…

Redmond might arguably be one of the largest app developers for Android and iOS.

Besides Cortana and Skype, it’s Office, OneDrive, PowerBI, Outlook and much, much more.

This all lends credence to Satya Nadella’s point a few weeks ago, that handset or OS marketshare is a poor metric.

Where Does This Leave Windows Phone?

Windows Phone with Windows 10 aboard is a revitalized platform itchin’ to get in the fight. The new
Lumia 550, 950 & 950XL are experiencing strong reviews. The new features of Continuum & Hello are garnering praise and OEMs are investing in their own diverse handsets. Meanwhile we have rumors of a Q2 2016 Windows Phone high-end device that is a Surface phone, or the next best thing to it.

With the delivery of Windows Universal Apps, we are seeing more popular brands in apps, services, hardware, gadgets and Internet of Things buying in.

Windows Phone is finally delivering on its promise.

The Warptest POV

I have mixed thoughts about Cyanogen. Is this part of a multi-pronged strategy where Microsoft continues with Widows Phone, delivers Android with Windows Services built in and keeps delivering great apps to iOS?

Or is Cyanogen a predictor? Has Satya Nadella setup a paradigm where if Windows Phone doesn’t deliver, he’ll decide the future is 100% Windows Services on Mobile and kill Windows Phone?

The canary in the coal mine: if we see an acquisition of Cyanogen by Microsoft in the next 18 months.

I personally opt for the multi-pronged strategy, for many reasons that I give in a post last week, explaining why Scoble is wrong in his attitude towards Windows Phone. (especially the rumors about Surface phone capabilities). In the meanwhile, my advice to Microsoft regarding the Lumia 950 and 950XL:

Get a brushed magnesium case out there with a kickstand for these phones.

You know why it’s a winner.

If Microsoft gets this right, it won’t matter which Mobile OS you opt for (home user or business), you will be seamlessly productive on every device you use, regardless of OS.

Ultimately all devices will be Windows devices and to paraphrase Bryan Roper at IFA2015,

Microsoft - Bryan Roper

Now, what do you think?

Windows Phone Is Still Fighting…

Still there are many people out there who don’t see any future for it. Robert Scoble has never made bones about his belief that the app parity Windows Phone experiences is a huge factor in the small market share Microsoft has been able to garner and last he hammered the nail in again.

The truth is Microsoft made 3 substantial mistakes in their mobile strategy: –

  • Steve Ballmer’s famous quote about iPhone was the definitive moment for Microsoft mobile strategy for several years, leaving them way behind.
    • Failure to build a competitive developer community for apps where Startups with limited funds would make Windows Phone apps a part of their roadmap and strategy.
    • Microsoft once they realized these two mistakes were slow to iterate past Windows Mobile, which was “Let’s put Windows on a small screen.”
    • Twitter friend @gaborfari was kind enough last night to give me input on one more very important reason

What did Microsoft do right?

  1. Windows Phone and Metro UI. The Windows Phone UI and Live Tiles were a glorious change in smartphone UI/UX which influenced the designs of others. (Put a phone with Android’s Material Design next to a Windows Phone and tell me the word homage doesn’t occur).
  2. Reducing hardware restrictions for OEMs. By doing so and making Windows 10 free for 7″ and smaller devices Microsoft made it affordable for OEMs to invest in Windows Phone handsets.
  3. Windows 10 as a mature ecosystem. Windows 8 had issues and fighting for desktop and handsets was too bigger fight combined with the fragmentation of Windows 8, RT and Phone. Windows 10 is effectively one OS that behaves / responds based on the device it’s on.
  4. Universal Apps. (I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again) This may be the Holy Grail for app developers, one app that works on mobile and desktop.

Windows Phone - Universal Apps - Holy Grail

  1. Windows Phone as an Android ROM. Microsoft provided Xiaomi with a Windows 10 ROM for their flagship Android Mi4 handset to broach the Chinese market. By all accounts the experiment worked well. (Theoretically one could have a dual ROM Android / Windows Phone device should one desire the geek cred).

Windows Phone - ROM on Xiaomi Mi4

  1. Windows Phone hits India. Microsoft offered a variety of affordable handsets worldwide but especially in India. The Indian smartphone market is predominantly Android but several OEMs in India now make Windows Phones in addition to the Lumia line.

Is Robert Scoble Right?

He is correct that Microsoft needs to entice more developers onto the platform and I was hoping he was going to offer some insight on how he would do that. He seems convinced that the “market has already picked its phones”. Master blogger and marketing ace Hillel Fuld provides some insights in the comments to the Facebook post on how he thinks Microsoft might succeed.

There are a few factors that make the mobile market consistently volatile; go back a few years and tell people to kiss Nokia and Blackberry goodbye and you’d probably be laughed all the way home.

The things Microsoft did right tie together. Assaulting the Indian and Chinese markets shows that CEO Satya Nadella continues to employ his insights on untapped foreign markets. These markets are ripe not just for consumer handset ownership but also for building robust developer communities. He’s in India evangelizing to startups right now.

Universal Apps is huge and many Startups and larger companies are waking up to the fact. The sheer number of devices running Windows 10 is to be ignored at one’s peril. I know of several Startups who have realized this and are making the leap. Having one app that will allow you increase your user base on desktop and mobile?

Why would anyone invest in a company that ignores that kind of potential?

But it’s not just Startups, drone maker Parrot have advertised through their French offices for someone to run a project to outsource a Windows 10 Universal App and there are new Universal Apps appearing in the store every day.

Windows Phone - Parrot Universal App

Image courtesy of the official US Parrot Site.

Turning a disadvantage into an advantage: go to the iPhone App Store or Google Play Store and oversaturation isn’t the word. Getting noticed is a colossal endeavor but the disadvantage of Windows Phone means a huge opportunity as more and more developers build their Universal Apps before the Windows Store becomes oversaturated too.

Windows 10 Phones have rolled out some game changing features including Continuum and Hello. Continuum means your primary productivity device is your phone and all you need is a monitor and your Continuum dock.

The Warptest POV

I’ve been a Windows Phone user since Windows Mobile’s earliest days. I won’t deny that or the level of personal investment / passion. My new Lumia 950XL is being shipped to me over the holidays. Do I believe Robert Scoble is right or wrong? He’s right about one thing, it’s up to Microsoft whether they succeed in bringing more developers onboard or not.

That said, don’t just ask Developers who are strongly invested in the status quo about if radical change can succeed. The first line of attack is the startups. Microsoft needs to demonstrate the ROI of Universal Apps to those sitting on the fence. In addition, building stronger community, offering help to app developers and hosting events like Hackathons worldwide focused on getting new apps onto Windows Phone.

For what it’s worth, I’d be working just as hard on those learning to develop. Tomorrows app developers are just waiting and have a lot less baggage or prejudice. Microsoft needs a strong, active presence on campuses working with students to show them the potential of Windows Phone and at the same don’t wait for people to walk into Windows Stores in the US / UK, get out there and put Windows Phones into consumers’ hands to try out. People need their perception of Windows Phone to be shaken and then have them pass on that experience to their friends and family.

Hillel Fuld is correct when he writes that solving battery issues, screen fragility and other problems is another big way that Microsoft can increase market share.

Meanwhile Microsoft isn’t satisfied with the new phone it has. Rumors of a “spiritual equivalent to Surface” phone were (sort of) addressed by Microsoft’s CMO in an interview with Paul Thurrott and Mary Jo Foley. Earlier rumors spoke of a Surface Phone and many hoped this meant a high-end phone, the gorgeous spun magnesium case with kickstand but then the big rumors began flying. This was going to be an Intel powered phone capable of running 32 bit apps. Your desktop in your pocket. Still this is unconfirmed as is the end of Q2 2016 arrival. Meanwhile with CES 2016 kicking off tomorrow there are sure to be other Windows Phone handsets announced.

When you look at all these factors I’m confident Microsoft is going to do amazing things in mobile. When the Lumia 950XL arrives I’ll be sure to share my impressions.

I’ll end by paraphrasing Mark Twain, “Reports of Windows Phone’s demise are greatly exaggerated.”

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Moments ago I got a tweet from Hillel Fuld which indeed made me laugh. I’m comparing my thoughts on the subject to his and if you read this I recommend you read his post from 2012 on the subject (see embedded tweet for link) and follow him on Twitter and elsewhere for a stream of insightful content:

Last Week Microsoft Reported Windows Phone Job Cuts …

These were not unexpected but were sad to see nonetheless.

Many in the professional, tech blogosphere couldn’t help their baser instincts and chose the fact that the cuts were predominantly from the Windows Phone department (and many from the acquisition of Nokia) to spin this with no factual basis to their unknowing public as the end of Windows Phone.

No hard facts, just an opportunity to deride and ignore those who were losing their jobs in favor of a sexier linkbait.

With weeks until Windows 10 launches and down the line Windows 10 Mobile many of these “pro” bloggers indulged in a feeding frenzy worthy of Shark Week.

What Did Happen Then?

Microsoft reported from their News site on July 8th that CEO, Satya Nadella had approved another round of job cuts, totaling 7800.

The focus of these job cuts would be within Phone Hardware.

This was reported as allowing the company “…to record an impairment charge of approximately $7.6 billion related to assets associated with the acquisition of the Nokia Devices and Services (NDS) business in addition to a restructuring charge of approximately $750 million to $850 million.”

This was a quote from Nadella’s email:

Windows Phone - Satya Nadella quote

According to Reuters and several other (actual) news sites, the market and analysts saw this as a positive move and as a result Microsoft stock rose 1.4% on the day.

Windows Phone - MSFT Stock

Data courtesy of the Windows 8.1 Money App

Nutshell, nowhere in the Microsoft announcement did they mention anything more than a writeoff (albeit a big one) for the Nokia acquisition, job cuts or a streamlining inline with the strategic shift that CEO Satya Nadella has been pushing since day one from devices to ecosystem.

Sorry bloggers of doom but it seems your trollgasm was for naught.

The Warptest POV

Is Windows Phone dead? NO, it’s evolving and with it, its business model: –

Windows Phone - reasons to be happy

Windows 10 Mobile has also been available as part of the Windows Insider Program. Many reports from Insiders show a much improved, robust OS; that once completed will continue to vie for attention. The latest insider version was mainly about polish for the UI, more bug fixes and a move to the new Store.

Only today, GSMArena (sporting a stylish new site design) reported that serial leakster @Evleaks (known for his reliable insights) confirmed at least 6 new Lumia phones in 2015. At least one of these can be considered a new, flagship phone. That doesn’t sound dead to me.

How many OEMs make Windows Phone now? More than ever, some are returning members of the Windows Phone family like LG, Samsung, HTC but there are others such as Blu, Yezz, Kazam and Japanese Mouse Computers MADOSMA phone. In addition Windows Phone and Xiaomi delivered Windows 10 Mobile as a ROM for the Xiaomi Mi4 thru the company’s MIUI Forum.

Phones are good but throw in connected devices and wearables (IOT) and you are building an ecosystem. It’s clear that Satya Nadella is a strong believer in the ecosystem philosophy, so it was no surprise to hear about several such devices from Microsoft going thru FCC approval that will support Windows 10 Mobile soon.

Bloomberg delivers the bottom line, at least two more years of Microsoft making Windows Phones. Time for markets to turn on their heads. Time for killer features like Continuum and Universal Apps to impact market share, and time to assess if Microsoft should stay in the phone business.

My tuppenies worth: –

  1. Yes, the trolls of the blogosphere have a huge impact on uninformed consumers. This needs a strong response from Microsoft.
  2. It’s time to dispense with the Lumia brand and rebrand as Surface Phone. The Surface is a solid, easily recognized brand with a stunning design. The flagship phone should emulate that with the same materials and style. If as some have suggested, the Nokia write off is more of the de-Ballmerization of Microsoft then this makes sense; putting Lumia in the past.
  3. Quality not quantity: there is a place for one or two low end phones but having a distinct line of phones where each answers a need is a better strategy than “flood the market with a variety of low end phones”.
  4. Consolidate and work with the OEMs so they are also offering striking, enticing phones to the public.
  5. Keep hammering the evangelism to the Developer Community to ensure that we maintain and improve on app parity in one stream but also ensure that the promise of Universal Apps delivers.

So to all those who indulged in their little trollgasms last week and were ready to nail the coffin shut on Windows Phone, sorry guys. Take your blankie back in the corner. It’s not happening any time soon.

To those whose jobs were cut last week, let me wish you the best of luck finding gainful employment rapidly.

To the consumers out there wondering if Windows 10 Mobile is for them? Don’t just rely on me and certainly don’t rely on the trolls. When the OS is launched get out there and go hands on.Try the phones out for yourself. I guarantee you will be pleasantly surprised.