About seven years ago, I got genuinely excited about a new consumer product. That product had all kinds of promise: price, performance, looks, ease of use and the ability to be a small computer I could carry around with me to surf the web, read my mail, do some short writing stints and more. Oh, I could make and receive phone calls. That device was the Palm Pre smartphone.
I laughed at people who waited in line, before a store even opened, for Apple products. I thought it was absurd. Yet, there I was, with about 15 other good people, waiting in front of a Sprint store to get my Palm Pre. I don’t recall how much I paid, but, at that point, I didn’t much care as it was not the seven hundred or so that the iPhone was then.
Oh boy, I got my phone and a haircut and rushed home to play with my new toy. This thing was just spectacular. Touch screen AND a keyboard (it was a slider phone that looked like big pebble) and was super easy to use. And, its browser really worked…no more quasi browser like my Windows Mobile 5 powered Motorola Q. The Pre was just great. For about a year. That’s when the cheapness of the poorly designed plastic body came into play. See, the hardware, while attractive, was a disaster. The body had lots strain from the sliding and would eventually crack. The battery did last long either. It would die and not even be turned on. And so ended my love for the Pre, but not WebOS. There has not been anything close until last year.
Lets roll back time a bit. The aforementioned Moto Q ran Windows Mobile 5, a cramped and poor copy of desktop Windows. Frankly, it was an abomination. The interface was pretty bad. The included applications were awful and the support from third parties was not great. In short, Windows Mobile 5, and all versions before it, was just awful. It’s only plus was the Windows Live application that, in many aspects, was similar to Google Now or Cortana. You could talk to it and it would, verbally as well as visually, answer you. I used it a lot in the last few months I used the Q.
Fast forward a few years and Micorosoft is, once again, hawking a product called Windows Mobile for Phones. This time, the operating system is just gorgeous. And functional. It’s everything that a mobile operating system should be and more. It is as good today as webOS was then. And, it can be used as a desktop operating system as well, via a feature called Continuum. Indeed, on its own, installed in desktop hardware, it could work wonderfully with a keyboard and a mouse.
Yet, it gets little love and Microsoft is to blame, mostly, They do not promote it or its capabilities. They port its great features to iOS and Android and even save it for last when developing apps for mobile devices. It is treated like a distant cousin. But, that doesn’t mean it does not have fans or support. True, it has few of each, but they are there. And, now, there are more and more hardware manufacturers jumping on board. In addition to Microsoft, there are companies like Acer, HP, Asus, the former Sony brand turned company, VAIO, and a host of others. The phones range from just OK to stellar. Most are able to support Continuum (it requires a certain class of processor and 2gb of ram, minimum) and all run Windows 10.
As a user and a fan, I often find it difficult to stay both when I see stories about its demise, when I see Microsoft putting it on the back burner for some lame iOS project or hear the CEO say in one sentence just how important it is while the next sentence he would, essentially, say it was not that important after all. Indeed, it is difficult being a fan and staying enthusiastic about the platform.
Windows Mobile 10, Windows 10 Mobile, or what ever they call it, has so much potential–more than its desktop companion, I think. There’s no reason why Microsoft could not port Visual Studion to WM10. With a mouse and keyboard attached (in Continuum) a developer could very easily develop on the phone. This powerful OS has the potential to, provided the hardware supports it, completely replace your desktop. Hell, the iPhone could if Apple pulled its head out of its ass.
So, yeah, I went from one doomed smartphone to another seemingly doomed platform. Oh, in between I had an Android and an iPhone 4. Didn’t like them, hated the Android and, early on, liked the iPhone until i ‘upgraded’ to iOS 7…ugh, what a piece of crap that was. But, I digress.
Even though I hated my Android phone, if I do get away from Windows Mobile, I think I would have to get a Samsung Galaxy whatever. They are beautiful phones and Android is, finally, getting useable. Some of the siliness is gone, but the fracturing is still there. So, why not iPhone? Well, it’s Apple and that means there are lots of costs. The hardware is very nice and iOS 9 looks great. My son has a 6 and loves it. I’ve played with it and it is far and away better than the version I had. But, it is still Apple and that means you are married to them and that is one marriage I do not care to join.
So, how long do I have with my favorite mobile operating system? Well, until Microsoft says they won’t support it or they dump the business they paid billions for, a few short years ago. I am pining for the Lumia 950, but that Acer Jade Primo looks awfully nice too. The VAIO looks good as well. So, there are a few non-Microsoft phones that I would buy, but…I’d rather get a 950. Unfortunately, I have, yet again, picked the wrong carrier (Verizon, which hates Microsoft) and still have about a year left on my bloody contract. I’m hoping there is a more drool worthy phone out by then. Until then, I’ll continue along with my beat up ICON. It is still a great phone and works like a champ, running Windows Mobile 10.
Did I mention I love Windows Mobile 10? Oh, right.