Channel Watch

Breaking Up with Windows Phone: It's Not You, Microsoft, It's the Apps

It seems tired to complain that there aren't enough apps for Windows Phone. And yet, the complaint persists because it's valid.

My four-year marriage to Windows Phone ended at the Cheshire Café in Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom. As I stood up from a patio table after a lemonade slushy, the phone slipped out of my hand. I bobbled it twice, but rusty juggling reflexes failed me, and it fell to the pavement.

No problem; I'd dropped that Nokia Lumia 822 many times. It even splashed into a puddle in the stands at a WVU-Maryland game and kept right on working. No night in a bag of rice required. This time, though, the angle of the fall was all wrong. A spiderweb of cracks spread from the upper left of the touchscreen in every direction all the way to the opposite side and to the bottom.

I'm not proud of my reaction. "I'm getting an iPhone," I thought brightly to myself before I'd even stood from picking it up. I may have, I'm ashamed to admit, even smiled.

The heart wants what it wants, but that was a lousy reaction to have for a platform that had treated me so well. I started with a Windows Phone 7 device in 2011, liked it enough to replace a lost HTC Trophy 7 seven months later, and upgraded to the Lumia with Windows Phone 8 in early 2013.

The interface was clean and fluid. Mail and the built-in Office apps were fantastic. It was fun bonding and comparing tips with other Windows Phone users, at those rare times when I'd run across one.

Like any relationship, it lagged. It seems tired to complain that there aren't enough apps for Windows Phone. After a given store tops 100,000, how many can you possibly need? Yet, the complaint persists because it's valid. Any event or public place with an app would have the iPhone and Android logo, but almost never Windows Phone. In the store, many of the most popular and useful apps weren't there or were outdated or poorly supported.

Windows Phone 8.1 revitalized things for a while. Cortana was truly funny and helpful, especially on air travel days -- automatically detecting my flight information from e-mails and providing maps of the restaurants and shops inside the airport wing near my gate. And I miss Word Flow, where you swipe through the letters to type, rather than pressing them individually.

But I think the reason I felt that unexpected happiness when the screen cracked was that I must have been feeling trapped again by those app limitations. Maybe Windows 10 Continuum really will mean an explosion of apps for Windows smartphones. It didn't matter. I'd had enough of the promises with every upgrade that the app situation would change this time.

Are you still trying to make things work with Windows Phone, or have you moved on, too? Therapy group forming in the comments below and at sbekker@rcpmag.com.

More Columns by Scott Bekker:

About the Author

Scott Bekker is editor in chief of Redmond Channel Partner magazine.