Windows Phone Killed My Children

Matt Baxter-Reynolds, former Microsoft MVP and .NET author, is angry. He’s angry because Windows Phone force-fed him a plate of locusts, then stole his life’s work and forced him into a life of poverty. I think.

It’s almost like Google putting a Google Search box front-and-centre on every Android phone.

I’m trying to interpret his recent opinion piece on ZDNet, in which he lambastes Microsoft for a flawed approach with Windows Phone, because among other things “Everything on Windows Phone feels bent and skewed towards Microsoft’s point of view“. I agree, how atrocious. It’s appallingly similar to the way iOS doesn’t let you uninstall NewsStand, and forcibly replaced Google Maps with the unquestionably inferior Apple Maps (for which they had to apologise to users). It’s almost like Google putting a Google Search box front-and-centre on every Android phone. Shocking stuff.

Windows Phone 8 Start ScreensHe then goes on to complain that the hugely customisable start screen “feels like game of shuffling Microsoft blocks around in a Microsoft landscape”. I suppose it would if you never installed any apps. Personally I don’t have any Microsoft apps pinned to my start screen, unless you count the dialler, contacts, email and the like. I do have Reddit, MyFitnessPal, Twitter, and a few other different apps pinned.

All very Microsoft-centric I suppose. Let me out of this Microsoft cage on my Microsoft Phone you Microsoft Monsters! Even their advertising (at left) doesn’t show Office for fucks sake.

What’s more, Matt got to the point where he “could no longer trust Microsoft to look after [his] career“. I presume that was the moment where they removed support for C# and VB from the platform and demanded that all former .NET developers switch to COBOL?

The career part in particular confuses me deeply. You see I work for a company* dedicated solely to building software for Windows Phone and Windows 8. We are having trouble keeping up with the amount of work flooding in, are hiring as fast as we can, and are landing deals to build software for these platforms every single week. We’re doing work out of New Zealand for clients in the USA, UK, Australia and elsewhere. Can I suggest, humbly, that Mr Baxter-Reynolds is simply not trying hard enough?

This stuff isn’t going to fall in your plate. Just like in the early days of iOS and Android, when they too had single-digit market share, you didn’t see developers complaining about it being too difficult. Microsoft developers have a massive opportunity here to use their existing skills on a new platform, where iOS and Android developers had to learn from scratch (Java skills notwithstanding).

All of Matt’s complaints would be wonderfully relevant if it weren’t for the fact that Windows Phone has accelerating market share around the world, all the while battling against a headwind of installed iOS and Android brand and market, which iOS never (nor Android arguably), had to fight against.

However, there is one truism buried in Matt’s post that I will agree with (but which he unfortunately did not elaborate on particularly clearly): the upgrade from Windows Phone 7 to Windows Phone 8 was less than it could have been, and is almost entirely due to internal Microsoft “strategy tax”. The move to an NT kernel was not necessary, and now puts Windows Phone under the crushing weight of the Windows Team. What’s more, we can only expect the move from 8 to 9 to be burdened by more of this tax as Microsoft moves to align WinRT and Windows Phone.

Personally, if I were at the top of Microsoft (because god knows the product managers have probably already tried to articulate this), I’d leave the Windows Phone team to get on with adding features to what is a fantastically fast, productive and customisable phone operating system. iOS is not OSX, for good reason

Oh, and if your friend gives you a plate of locusts, just say “bro, I don’t like locusts!”


*Of course this post is my own opinion, but hey, I’ll stand by it in my day job too.

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