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The Problems Faced By Windows Phone

Long-time Windows Phone user Romit Mehta decided to buy an iPhone 5S, and his reasons for doing so exemplify why Windows Phone is in trouble.

Two of the problems Romit lists strike me as being particularly important when considering the future of Windows Phone:

Windows Phone lacks polished features. Romit talks about Notification Centre, and the similar Windows Phone feature lacks the ability to see recent updates clearly:

Invariably, I find myself hearing a notification from the phone and not realizing what it was for by the time I pick it up from across the room. Could it have been an ESPN score alert, or a News360 breaking news alert? If it is a WhatsApp message, I know the live tile gets updated, but what if the tile already had a non-zero number?

Then there are the missing enterprise features, something which might be surprising coming from Microsoft:

My new office has wifi everywhere on campus, but they use Microsoft Protect EAP (PEAP) for network authentication, which I couldn’t get to work on my Lumia. As I understand, it is not supported by Windows Phone 8 and is not available in GDR2 either.

Family and friends are elsewhere. Romit talks about how his family use iPhones, and it would be “great if I could iMessage with them and FaceTime with them for free.” You could argue that they should switch away from Apple-only technologies, but when you’re dealing with users who just want something that works, and it’s already “just working” for them, that’s a tough sell. And unlike Windows Phone, if Romit has any Android-using friends, there’s a version of Google Hangouts available for iPhone.

Microsoft’s biggest problem is that it’s playing catch-up, both from a development perspective and in its market share. Although having cloud-based services means it can avoid some of the worst network effects, it’s playing catch-up there too: Skydrive is a good product, but it lacks both mindshare and marketshare compared to Dropbox and Google Drive. Hotmail is still a powerful force, but the impetus is towards Gmail. And Office remains a strong brand, but its appeal is now mostly limited to the office: home users are increasingly looking elsewhere.

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  • TheRomit

    Thanks for reading and posting about my piece.

    I did try to force my friends and family to use Facebook chat for short messages and Skype for video, but it was only partially successful. The inertia in using default apps is what made me feel joining them instead of trying to convince them to change. I myself don’t use Google Hangouts, but I did communicate with my Android and iPhone friends and family via Skype and WhatsApp. In fact, WhatsApp continues to be a big communication tool regardless, simply because of the huge network effects. I am part of about 12 semi-permanent groups there :-)

    And fwiw, I remain a big fan if Windows Phone and like I mentioned at the end, I recommend it whole-hearted lay to those who are switching from a non-smart device, or from a low-end Android. At the high-end though, they do lag behind and that is why I finally decided to move over.

    I will be closely watching their moves, and if they find a way to bypass carriers, merge with Windows RT, etc., I would love to be back :-)