1. Ebuka Allison's Avatar
    The Road to Threshold: A History of Windows Phone.
    It was February 2010, Apple was continuing its dominance of the mobile market, Android was beginning to take off and Microsoft had no horse in the smartphone race. Technically that's not quite right, Microsoft had two horses, Windows Mobile and the Kin. However, WM had not seen an update in a while and had an interface that may as well have been command line for regular consumers. In addition to this, the Kin was widely regarded as a punchline to an unfunny joke and was quick scrapped.
    In any case, Microsoft needed a stake of the modern smartphone market and needed it fast. So it happened at MWC 2010 in Barcelona, the first iteration of Windows Phone as we know it was announced.

    Windows Phone 7 series- The First Step

    Windows Phone 7 was widely regarded as a great base for an OS platform. It was different from all other OS's in so many ways. The most visible of which was the start screen.

    Typical smartphones home screens revolved around a row of icons, iOS, Android, WebOS and BlackBerry OS7. In this way, Windows Phone was a massive departure from the norm. Featuring a 4 x 2 layout of solid coloured live tiles, the OS was visually different and starkly polarizing. Hence while some reviewers praised the live tiles and start screen, others viewed it as confusing and disorienting. Another pain point was the usefulness of tiles on the start screen. The Windows Phone start screen was intended as a dashboard of sorts, meant to lay emphasis on a glance and go philosophy where a user could scan the tiles and then plunge directly into the apps that were most important to them. In practice, this was a little complex with only the native app tiles having only full live tile functionality and third party applications being handicapped in that area.

    Another area of difference was the presence of hubs. Windows Phone hubs offered a degree of integration which provided a good baseline that could was built upon in the next few releases before being overhauled in 8.1 Blue. The initial hubs were the people hub, Zune, games, photo hubs. The People Hub was the Windows Phone equivalent to the contacts app, with a huge difference. Rather than merely focusing on phone number and email address, Windows Phone 7.0 focused on social aspects of these relationships. Once you signed up with your Windows Live mail, Google Mail or Facebook account, you quickly get an influx of contacts from all these accounts which could be linked together for a cohesive social profile. This hub pulled in pictures, posts on social media, messaging history and others. The main page of the hub consisted of three screens, the first showing your contacts, the other being a what's new feed that aggregated posts on social media and the last being a panel that showed you your recently viewed contacts. The people hub remains one of the most fantastic aspects of Windows Phone till date, and further improvements to it over the years cement this reputation.
    The Zune hub was a one stop hub for all your media content. It handled the music player, video player, FM Radio and Podcasts for the OS. Its live tile was one of the most live live tiles in Windows phone 7, complete with an animated logo and a similarly animated visual of the last played artist. These would slowly be removed over the next few iterations of Windows Phone. The hub itself followed the typical hub design with four-five panes of content. Three of which were dedicated to showing recently played media, newly added media and apps which could handle media. The last two were a portal into the areas that handled music/videos and a page which showed new arrivals into the Zune store. Now many users have a love hate relationship with Zune, currently being praised as one of the best creations of Microsoft, it was hated upon its inception as an iTunes-esque piece of software which handled everything sync related like media files and the like as well as OS updates.
    Next, one of the most advertised staples of the Windows Phone experience was the Office Hub.
    The Office hub was an advertised feature for business users, boasting collaborative features via SharePoint, note taking via OneNote and document editing with Microsoft Word with Excel and PowerPoint along for the ride. This feature was and is still being advertised as real Microsoft Office, but was anything but at the original release of 7.0. While it was better than nothing, and offered basic functionality, that was all it offered. It couldnt change fonts, colours were limited to only red, black, orange and green. Fundamental to an office app as well, there was no copy and paste functionality as well. In addition, the ability to access password protected docs was absent as well, limiting its enterprise usefulness. PowerPoint lacked the ability to create .ppt and .pptx files (admittedly niche in appeal). It was an excellent viewer of slideshows, which is far more useful on a mobile device. OneNote was also present, but lacked pen and ink support and was really more of a simple editor with the ability to add pictures, audio and other attachments. To enable syncing, you could activate your Windows Live OneDrive account, which allowed the user to start working on one machine and carry of over to the next machine, like what Apple advertises continuity and handoff to be.
    The final two hubs were the games and pictures hubs, they were pretty simple and straightforward but played well with the integrated philosophy of Windows Phone. The Pictures hub managed photos, and not just locally stored photos, but those which were stored on the cloud and social networking websites. Windows Phone users who began using the platform with 8.1 may not be familiar with the old photo hub, it aggregated photo apps and editing apps along with a "Whats New" feed of photos from your social media contacts. It had a live tile which cycled through all your photos or a select few, depending on how you configure it.
    One issue with this hub approach (and the people hub to some extent) was that it was quite easy to end up with a cluttered "Whats new" feed if you were not careful, and interacting with the photos in the feed was implemented in a clumsy fashion with the user being kicked over to the browser often.
    Last but not least, the Xbox hub managed all your games and gaming apps. It was a typical hub app with one pane listing all apps it managed, another pane for your Xbox live avatar and so on.
    One problem with the Xbox live feature here wasnt the fault of the OS, it was a problem that still afflicts the platform till today. Microsoft and developers (more on that below). For the hub to be useful, there had to be more than a few Xbox live games present on the platform, unCortanately, Windows phone did not have too many games which made use of the feature at launch, crippling it. Microsofts policies for Xbox live enabled games did not help either, with many developers being put through a bit of stress before they could get their apps certified. Today, the program is on life support with only a few Xbox live enabled games coming through.
    Apart from the hubs feature, the rest of the OS was standard. There was the Windows Phone marketplace, which was a one stop shop for apps, music and videos. There was also a standard dialler, a maps application powered by Bing Maps, a basic camera and email app and other staples of a modern OS. Notifications were handled via toasts and the live tile system and there were several hero devices from Samsung, HTC, Dell and LG including the HTC Trophy and the Samsung Omnia. Nokia was not yet a partner of Microsoft.

    Now with a huge number of devices, a well-received OS and the backing of a huge company like Microsoft, one would expect Windows Phone to have caught on quite quickly. Several certainly did think it would displace Android and iOS, what held Windows Phone back was a combination of two things, mentioned above. Microsoft and developers. Microsoft had developed a very locked down platform with only a bit of wriggle room for devs and users. Certain types of apps like video editing apps and proper music players couldnt be created using the available APIs and multitasking was extremely limited. Like Apple, Microsoft had shipped a smartphone platform that as fast, fluid and functional but limited in its functionality. Unlike the iPhone, Microsoft had many competitors.
    They needed to get updates out and fast.
    The first update came in the second year of Windows Phone (2011), codenamed NoDo, this update brought copy and paste to Windows Phone 7, improved the multitasking and fixed several bugs in the OS. It was a useful update, but began a worrying trend for Microsoft. While Android received major updates frequently and iOS received a major update every year with minor updates being issued in between, Microsoft was so far behind they needed to adopt the Android mentally rather than the iOS one in other to catch up.
    It seemed that they knew this when rumours of another update, Mango as well as stirrings of Apollo began to hit the internet. These updates would be THE updates to propel the OS above other OSs. As this rumour gained steam, another event created waves in the Windows phone world.
    Nokia was going to join the Windows Phone bandwagon, ditching Symbian and Meego for Microsoft. The implications of this were tremendous, Nokias hardware and brand recognition would push Windows Phone into the mainstream, arguably, and one could say that it has with the name Lumia now being almost synonymous with Windows Phone.
    Windows Phone 7.5 500 new Mangoes
    A year after Microsoft unveiled its original Windows Phone 7 project, the first major new update was released. Windows Phone 7.5 Mango and its 500 new features was announced in May 2011 by Steve Ballmer. This update was the last Windows Phone 7 update for several users and added many staples of the Windows Phone experience.
    First of all, behind the scenes, Microsoft enabled support for new hardware and direct X Graphics. Dual Core CPUs were not enabled then, the reason given by Microsoft was that the costs outweighed the gains, but with modern Windows Phones standardized on quad core CPUs, it is more likely that the Windows CE based OS could not support it without a lot of work. This would require manpower that the firm was not willing to divert from its new project, Apollo, the next step for Windows Phone.
    Live tiles were resurrected in this update. This isnt to say that they were dead previously, its just that the older version of WP7 limited the ability of live tiles to update dynamically. Mango allowed apps to update more often as well as enabled deep linking. That is to say, one could pin multiple sections of an app to the start screen. Like OneNote notebooks, evernote pages and others. The start screen would become more alive than it was before in this update.
    Speaking of which, one of the complaints about the original Windows Phone software was about how difficult it was for you to get to your apps via the app list. Without pinning that specific app to the start screen, one would have to hunt and peck around the app list. Microsoft listened to user feedback and provided a jumplist feature that activated when there were 45 or more apps installed. You could then tap on a letter and jumps to apps that you needed to access.
    Microsoft also enhanced the messaging functionality here. Where the messaging app was just a simple text and SMS app, after Mango, it became a full-fledged messaging hub with access to both Facebook and Windows messenger. You could fire off a message on Facebook, go off line and then switch to text seamlessly. It was a useful and powerful tool for communication, especially for a people focused OS like Windows Phone.
    On that note, the people hub was also updated and received twitter integration to add to its already useful Facebook integration which provided all the basics. You could post to Twitter from the Me tile, view your notifications in the Whats new pane and directly share your photos to twitter albeit using a OneDrive link.
    Now with all these social networks, one might think the Windows Phone People hub would become cluttered with updates from here, there and everywhere. Not so, Microsoft had added new features that would allow you to filter your Whats new feed as well as creating groups so you could track certain groups of people like your family and coworkers.
    It was also in this update that Microsoft fleshed out the native Bing app, adding in a music identification feature, a QR code scanner and Local scout, an app which was built off Bings mapping functionality that would present you recommendations for nearby POIs like restaurants and the like.
    The email app was similarly enhanced and refined, previously on Windows Phone managing multiple accounts required each account to have its own tile, which could lead to a cluttered start screen for some. Mango enabled linked inbox functionality, allowing the user to link multiple inboxes into one email hub. It also added support for threaded emails, a shocking oversight for the company behind Outlook. Messaging and emails werent the only additions to the OS. Multitasking was also massively improved. Windows Phone multitasking had been poor and temperamental with no way to quickly switch apps besides jumping to the start screen and selecting the app again. Mango fixed this by implementing two features. Fast App resume and a new multitasking view accessed by holding down the back button. Firstly, fast app resume changed the behaviour of apps which were updated to support it. Previously when you swapped away from Windows store apps, you had to restart them from start. Now, the apps assumed a saved state and remained in memory for quite a while, allowing one to switch back through the new cards based multitasking view. For instance, if one was viewing a twitter app and switched apps or locked the screen, whereas the old WP 7.0 apps would have to reload from scratch and lose your place in the app, upon being updated for fast app resume the app would retain your position on the timeline. This vastly improved the user experience and allowed apps to work almost as well as their Android and iOS versions.
    Speaking of apps, there was a huge elephant on the room there. When Windows Phone was a fledgling operating system, it was all well and good that it had few apps, yet a year later in the lifecycle of the OS and the number of apps in the store were still shockingly low with many apps being non-existent or poor caricatures of their Android and iOS selves.
    In addition to this, while Microsoft had announced several new features for Windows Phone 7.5, it lacked several more features. From little conveniences like locking screen rotation, to issues like creating and editing music players as well as hardware limitations. These frustrations when added to the app gap issue slowly began to cut down the optimism that reviewers and enthusiasts initially had for Windows Phone.
    On the hardware side, Nokia had finally began to make some Windows phone devices, including the Nokia Lumias 900 and 800, it wasnt nearly enough to turn the tide. 2011 was the year of the iPhone 4S and Siri, by the time Mangos new features had reached the vast majority of Windows Phone users, it had already fallen behind once more.
    Windows Phone 7 would receive two more updates, Tango and 7.8. It would be rendered obsolete by the upcoming Windows Phone 8.
    The first of the two updates was Tango, this update was mainly used to enable lower end devices with 800 MHz processors and 256 megabytes of RAM. Nokia quickly took advantage of this and released the Lumias 710, 610 and 510. All low to mid-range devices to round out its stable of Lumia devices, a trend that would repeat itself over and over again until the name Lumia would become synonymous with Windows Phone.
    The final update for Windows Phone 7 would be Windows Phone 7.8, this would bring the UI changes like the increased number of accent colours and new tile sizes from Windows Phone 8.0 to Windows Phone 7. Its roll out was a disaster as many carriers and OEMs declined to update their phones, and several phones which did get the update became bug-ridden. Eventually, Microsoft stopped talking about it and Windows Phone 7 was relegated to the past. An interim OS which had captured the interest of the people for a time, but failed to hold their attention.
    Windows Phone 8(Apollo) - A Huge Sidegrade.

    In 2012, Microsoft introduced the world to Windows Phone 8. For Windows enthusiasts it was both exciting and disheartening. Exciting in that it represented a new paradigm for Windows where the phone and the desktop OS were moving much closer together. This unification came at a terrible cost however. As we mentioned earlier, the Windows Phone 7 series was discontinued with no upgrade path to Windows Phone 8. Especially affected were people who bought the then just released Nokia Lumia 900, it was had excellent hardware but was saddled with crippled software. Microsoft attributed this stare of events to kernel changes and hardware incompatibility in an attempt to deflect criticism. The spectre of this decision still haunts the company today with constant reassurance being needed for each progressive software update.
    Windows Phone 8 advanced the Windows Phone platform in several ways. First of all, it added support for hardware features such as an SD card, NFC, HD screens and higher storage requirements (7.X devices were capped at 16 GB). This allowed OEMs to launch devices such as the HTC 8X, the Samsung Ativ S and the Lumia 920. Each device boasting up to date hardware specs and unique designs.
    Software wise, Windows Phone 8s most visible change was the start screen. It eliminated the gutters on the start screen, allowing the tiles to cover up all the visible space. There was also more customization added here, while Windows Phone 7 had allowed you to move your tiles around and change their colour to a limited palette, 8 allowed you to resize your app tiles, whether built in or third party. There were three sizes which provided a different experience with the smallest tile size offering merely an icon view, the medium tile showing moderate information and the wide tile being especially useful for live information previews for apps like IM and weather apps. Microsoft also added a few more accent colours bringing up the total number of available colours to 20 and an optional one which could be configured by an OEM or Carrier (Verizon red and Nokia blue for example).
    The UI also underwent a subtle redesign with all tiles and icons becoming flat and angular, best viewed in the office App and OneDrive tiles.
    Microsoft expanded the Xbox integration from the games hub to all entertainment related hubs on the phone, this included the Music and Videos hub. Zune was killed off here and replaced with the Music + Videos hub which ran on an Xbox Music backend. However, not all functionality here was carried over with syncing being degraded and the ability to rent or buy videos being stripped completely. In addition to all these woes, the hub lagged noticeably on low end hardware until GDR 3.
    The Zune desktop tool was rendered useless for WP8 devices with a new sync told being released. Unfortunately, as with all things related to the Zune transition, the new software client was clunky and inefficient with the much lambasted Zune suddenly becoming loved by fans after its demise.
    The Games hub received a redesign, a new green and gray colour scheme scheme to match the new music hub. Beyond that, its functionality remained mostly intact.
    Microsoft added two family oriented features here, kids corner and family rooms. Kids corner was marketed as a semi-locked down customizable area of the phone were you could create an alternate environment for children. In practice, you could make use of this as a handy guest feature for handing out your phone to others to use for whatever reason.

    The second feature was the rooms feature, if you had several members of your family using Windows Phone, you could add them to your family room and share calendars, notes as well as group chat. It wouldve been a lovely feature if Windows Phones were more ubiquitous. Unfortunately, the relative unpopularity of Windows Phone hamstrung this feature for most users.
    Microsofts answer to Passbook also shipped with Windows Phone 8s wallet app. The Wallet app stored your payment details like Paypal and debit and credit cards, it also allowed users to store cards like club cards and membership cards. Its criminally underused feature was also its most powerful, it allowed you to make NFC payments provide you had a compatible secure sim card. The implementation of this feature was left to the carriers who for the most part neglected it. Effectively rendering it useless.
    Other than that, the Wallet was a pretty good passbook replacement, with third party apps even offering ways to convert Passbook .pkpass files to.mswallet files.
    Windows Phone 8 introduced Internet Explorer 10 to the platform. While the app itself was great for browsing the internet and being standards complaint, the mobile web had been optimized for Android and iOSs more dominant webkit standard. Windows Phone did not support webkit, making several websites render poorly in the browser (as well as locked Windows Phone users out of any future Kik messenger updates). Tabbed browsing was a chore for most with only six tabs being supported. HTML5 video was not supported either with the OS having to download and play videos using the inbuilt video functionality, this resulted in an embarrassing fiasco between Microsoft and Google about a YouTube app.
    All in all, the browsing experience on Windows Phone 8 was mediocre, neither here nor there.
    The stock Camera app for Windows Phone (Users of a HTC, Samsung or Nokia phone can make use of the OEM camera app) received a UI change. Options like flash that were previously hidden in the overflow menu were dragged out and now placed front and centre. The largest update was the addition of a lenses feature which allowed apps with camera features to register themselves as such and be launched from the camera app. A nice bit of integration that many apps including Twitter, Vine and CNN (But strangely not Instagram) took advantage of.
    The other miscellaneous improvements include visual tweaks to the Office hub. OneNote was broken out of the hub to become its own app and OneDrive received further integration with the OS. Maps could now be downloaded for offline use, saving data for many users.
    As Windows Phone was a fairly locked down OS, it was imperative that everything just worked as the user couldnt tinker to fix minor errors. The OS had a major problem in the form of storage management. When Windows Phones were used, the OS would cache files from apps and pictures that were backed up to OneDrive and not delete them. Eventually the phone would fill up and be rendered unusable till a hard reset was triggered. This was a problem especially on handsets like the HTC 8S and the Lumia 8XX and below which all had paltry amounts of storage that were easily consumed. OEMs would issue updates to enable better storage management but the problem would not be solved till the Windows Phone 8.1 update.

    Windows Phone 8 was a continuation of the Windows Phone 7 story, while there were huge under the hood changes, for most users, the experience was fundamentally the same. Not only that, the OS still lacked features like a notification centre, support for manipulation of video files and hardware diversity. Even Nokia who tried to diversify the OS via hardware selection, ended up struggling against Windows Phones hardware limits and ended up having to release three variants of the 920 (928/925/1020). The app story was still abysmal upon launch, several apps were nowhere to be found and developers hadnt yet begun to develop alternatives yet. On the whole, Windows Phone 8 felt like incomplete, with many good ideas but hamstrung by OS limitations and missing features. Windows Phone 7 had come out two years ago, iOS6 and Android Jellybean had been launched and Windows Phone 8 was still closer, feature-wise, to its predecessor than its competitors. Windows Phone Blue was now "The Update" to bring the platform up to par, but it would not launch for another two years.

    The State of the Market

    When Windows Phone 7 launched, Microsoft had a whole group of OEMs with devices ready to go, this number fell to four with the launch of Windows Phone 8. Among these four, only Nokia would demonstrate any kind of loyalty towards the OS while the others eventually put out lacklustre and forgettable devices like the Ativ S Neo, the HTC 8XT and Huaweis phones(forgettable remember?).
    Nokia would grow to dominate Windows Phone market share with and grab attention with devices such as the Lumia 1020 and 925, among others. In 2013, approximately 30 million Lumia devices were sold. These werent nearly enough sales and Windows Phone continued to hover at 3 percent of market share worldwide.
    In the meantime, Windows Phone 8 received three more updates prior to 8.1.
    Portico or why we left cool OS codenames to Nokia
    Windows Phone first update, Portico, was a minor update full of minor enhancements and bug fixes. First of all, you could now keep WiFi on when the screen was timed out, a useful feature for saving data and preserving battery life. Staying on the topic of data conservation, you could now choose not to download pictures on IE 10 mobile.
    The messaging hub added drafts functionality and the ability to text to multiple recipients. You could also now decline calls with a text.
    We should note here that the Window Phone team had now begun to work on the next major update for Windows Phone (8.1), meaning other updates would be similarly bereft of features.
    GDR2, were doing stuff guys, seriously we are.
    The GDR2 update allowed OEMs to set their camera as the default camera app triggered by the camera button and enabled FM Radio as well as CardDAV and CalDAV for those with Google accounts. Data management was improved with the addition of a Data Sense feature which allowed a degree of control over mobile data usage. Users were allowed to set monthly limits, as well as restrict background data depending on user preference.

    Update 3this ones for the drivers
    The third and final update (as well as final change in minor OS nomenclature), this update was the biggest update for Windows Phone 8. It ushered in the Preview for Developers era which allowed enthusiasts early access to OS builds. These were not beta builds but rather the final builds which would be sent to OEMs for bundling with their firmware.
    This also enabled new hardware support for quad core processors and 1080p screens, allowing new flagship devices like the Lumia Icon, 1520 and Samsung Ativ SE.
    In terms of consumer facing features, a rotation lock feature was finally added to the settings pane. The storage manager was overhauled, with a new manager allowing users to delete temporary files and manage space. The app switcher was enhanced with an "X" to close apps.
    The music hub received a speed boost, improving the experience for users of lower specced handsets.
    Microsoft also implemented an instant hotspot feature which allowed Windows devices to remotely activate the hotspot function on a nearby Windows Phone if said device had already been paired by Bluetooth.
    For those who made use of Bluetooth accessories with their device, apart from enhancing the Bluetooth functionality, a driving mode was added for those who made use of Bluetooth headsets while driving. This would limit distractions by ignoring calls and texts with an option to send an auto reply. These were all besides the usual big fixes and improvements of course.

    Windows Phone 8.1(Blue) Windows Phone refined

    On April 2nd 2014, Microsoft announced Windows Phone 8.1. This was made available in less than two weeks using its Preview for Developers program. This new OS was much more an upgrade than Windows Phone 8, with many user facing features available immediately.
    The Windows Phone UI has, on the surface, remained the same in all iterations. Live tiles, a start screen, huge fonts etc. However, it has gotten refinements in each updates. Windows Phone 8 added the ability to resize tiles and more accent colours and now 8.1 would allow the users to make apps which made use of the accent colour transparent when a background image was applied. An elegant parallax scroll was added as well. Still on the Start Screen, Microsoft enabled support for a user configurable third column of tiles.
    Another more noticeable change was the size of system fonts. The Blue update reduced the size of the fonts in system apps, making for a cleaner and more information rich UI. It was truly "content before chrome"
    Internet Explorer 11 fixed many of the qualms users had with previous versions of it. The UI more or less got out of your way with options like a tab switcher and refresh button being on the toolbar by default. The arbitrary tab limit was removed, with IE now allowing unlimited tabs. A new and highly customizable reading view that stripped pages of all extraneous content was implemented as well.
    On the backend, it was now possible for tabs and favourites to sync between computers thanks to Windows Phones improved sync and backup system.
    This improved sync and backup system would now allow users to sync more than just settings, with theme colour and Start screen arrangements being synced across as well.

    One of the biggest additions to Window Phone in 8.1 was Cortana. Built off Microsofts Satori backend and Bing, Cortana was a natural evolution of Windows Phones previously limited voice capabilities. She was a personal assistant that handled tasks like reminders, calendar appointments and quiet hours, among others. She lived in the search button, along with a dashboard of your "interests". She could also be integrated with apps so one could interact with them without opening the app at first. For instance, the command "MixRadio, play me" would trigger an auto-generated playlist on the Nokia Mixradio app.
    Where Cortana especially excelled was in contextual tasks, she would know where you lived and how you moved around and remind you to get to work or leave the office with a map that showed the route you could take. Reminders could be set based on person, place or time etc.
    For a more detailed look at Cortana, see here http://forums.windowscentral.com/cor...na-review.html
    In short, Cortana was one of the best bits of Windows Phone 8.1. Unfortunately she was limited to the US at launch with Microsoft promising to release her to other countries gradually.

    Cortanass superior organizational abilities were complemented by the addition pf a new notifications area. After running out of time in Windows Phone 8 for a notification centre, Microsoft dbuted one for 8.1. This was the Action centre. It was designed to host both the quick settings centre and a notifications area which gathered toasts and other notifications from apps. It was a basic implementation, but in this case, basic was enough.

    It was now also easier to take control of your Windows Phone with the new sense apps. Data sense was now installed by default on all Windows Phones and was joined by WiFi Sense, Storage Sense and Battery Saver (Previously referred to as Battery power sense). Storage Sense improved the way the OS handled SD cards, allowing users to now store all apps on the SD card along with media files and downloads.
    WiFi sense was built off Data sense and made use of Microsofts catalogue of WiFi networks and connected to trusted WiFi networks automatically. Filling in details without user intervention. It also allowed sharing of WiFi networks between Windows phones without the giver needing to share the access code. Geo fencing allowed WiFi to be enabled by location
    Battery Saver handled the background tasks mechanism where you could now disable individual apps or allow them to run in the background even when the battery was low.
    The Windows Phone WordFlow keyboard was improved with the addition of shapewriting. You could now swipe over letters in order to type. This, aided by the already excellent keyboard algorithm led to the keyboard being the fastest keyboard in the world for a brief period of time.
    Microsoft gave developers a bit more freedom in 8.1, giving them access to a file picker and video library (previously restricted).
    We mentioned that devs couldnt create apps that dealt with videos or music player apps. Well in 8.1 they finally had the necessary APIs, Microsofts was beginning to give devs more power, and several apps quickly took advantage of the new APIs.

    Unfortunately for us, we cant always have nice things. The much loved messaging hub from WP 7.5 mango was killed off and replaced with a barebones messaging app. Microsoft had begun to change its hub based model to an app powered model and the messaging hub was just the first casualty. In 8.1, a new developer tool known as the Social extensibility framework was added, replacing the built in integration, Apps which made use of this framework could appear as targets in the Me tile and sync contacts to the people and photos hub .At the time of writing this only Facebook had made use of this integration and Microsoft limited access to the API to only a few developers, locking out apps like Rudy Huyns excellent 6-suite of apps.
    The next hubs on the chopping board were the Xbox Music and Games hubs. They were now a trio of store updateable apps and all given a UI makeover, trading the large fonts of WP8 for the more efficient font sizes of Windows Phone 8.1. What is most remarkable about these apps is how they were the worst of the Windows Phone 8.1 experience with threads popping up in Uservoice and enthusiast forum about the abysmal music and games apps.
    The Music app was especially bad with many users reporting issues with performance and app crashes. Microsoft acknowledged the issue and admitted the app was released as an "alpha" (direct quote from Joe Belfiore) and issued semi-regular updates for users.
    Other miscellaneous improvements were the addition of a weekly view to the Calendar, the addition of a swipe gesture to close apps from the multitasking view, better memory management and better storage management (the other storage issue was fixed).
    Conspicuous in its absence here was the Office hub, sans access to the SD card, it went untouched. We understand that Microsoft is testing a new version of its office apps based on the universal app framework. Codenamed Gemini, this should replace or complement the Office hub upon completion.

    Windows Phone 8.1 is Windows Phone, refined. In 8.1, apart from adding much needed features to the OS, Microsoft improved the overall look and feel of Windows Phone. Perhaps if Microsoft had launched 8.1 to begin with, market share would not have remained stagnant.
    The OS was accompanied by the elegant Lumia 930 and its smaller brother, the 630 from Nokia. Shortly after, Nokias devices and services division would merge with Microsoft and launch three other Lumia devices. HTC returned to Windows Phone with a WP version of its well-received HTC One M8 and Microsoft managed to coax a number of OEMs to join them. All in all, Windows Phone was now facing its best hardware selection since Windows Phone 7.

    Update 1 Were putting actual features in our GDRs now
    Microsoft quickly released an initial update to Windows Phone 8.1, Update 1. This enabled Cortana for the UK and China, with Australia, India and Canada.
    Internet Explorer was enhanced with webkit compatibility for websites that didnt support traditional HTML5 standards.
    The OS also gained support for live folders, allowing you to group tiles (not just apps) into folders that would animate provide live information. Remember kids corner? Microsoft added app corner to provide a completely locked down mode where your phone could be set to any number of apps and have disabled buttons. There were several other improvement to built in apps and general bug fixes that are so small they dont merit listing. Suffice to say, Microsoft was now refining the Windows Phone experience.

    On September 30th 2014, Microsoft announced Windows 10. What was most notable about this was that Windows 10 was to run on all Microsoft devices, all the way from Lumias and Xbox, to PixelSense and the Internet of things. This was the next generation of Windows Phones. It is bold, mysterious and novel. While Windows Phone today represents about 3 percent of the smartphone market with am install base of about 70 million, Windows dominates the desktop business with about 1 billion users using Windows. What Microsoft hopes to achieve for all its platforms is a continuum of experiences, with its universal app project and several other developer facing features, they hope to attract developers and by extension, consumers. While the Microsoft of old and to some extent the Microsoft of today may have been focused on productivity and office, the present Microsoft recognize that people want to do so much more with their devices. Windows Phone was a backwards implementation of that at first with the extras like UI flourish and design being given more importance than functionality. Microsoft seems to have struck a balance in 8.1 and will carry this goal on to Windows 10.
    As for market share issues, we must not forget that Android initially struggled against iOS before overtaking it after four years. How did Android overtake iOS? It was pushed by a multitude of OEMs and hero devices. The OS matured, devices became more widely available and people were willing to think different. Can the same happen for Windows? Who knows? The future is always a toss-up.
    We end this on two notes.

    First of all, if Windows Phone does not pick up after the influx of OEMs and Software updates next year, it likely never will.

    Second of all, only a fool counts Microsoft out of any game.
    Last edited by Ebuka Allison; 10-03-2014 at 04:29 AM.
    marratj, James8561, Pete and 7 others like this.
    10-02-2014 08:11 PM
  2. Ebuka Allison's Avatar
    Now that its no longer Thursday night, managed to fix and post every single word. Tell me if I missed anything(yeah I crossposted in the verge as well) !
    snowmutt likes this.
    10-03-2014 04:30 AM
  3. snowmutt's Avatar
    Ebuka, I am very impressed. So few people remember the in's and out's of the history of WP and what MS/Nokia wanted. The addition of Nokia as a WP7 user changed the direction and emphasis of 2 companies. The marriage forced "Tango", which unleashed Nokia on developing markets with WP onboard, showing MS their hopes of WP being the Mid-to-high end model was incorrect. It also showed MS that getting WP into as many hands as possible at cheaper prices was a better business model then competing with the iPhones/Galaxies of the world. (That has also shaped Windows tablets into something growing well). It also pushed Nokia to develop software to promote WP handset growth. What Nokia realized is that in this new Mobile world there is basically 3 kinds of enterprises: 1) Those that do hardware and a little software to compliment it, 2) those that only do software, and 3) Apple. Since Nokia wasn't Apple and since software has a bigger upside and lower production costs, their company looked at the landscape and decided that their Mapping software, Enterprise support and other smaller software development was the way to go. (Side note: I see BlackBerry learning this same lesson) Microsoft, unable to allow Nokia's hardware manufacturies, supply, and distribution to leave, had to make the long term decision to go all-in and buy that division.

    When you stop to ponder what might have happened had Nokia never adopted WP and continued on their "Symbian developers VS MEEGO Developers" path, along with their bloated manufacturing arm in which their feature phones, a dwindling market, was really their only profitable line and what may have happened to WP without Nokia to help push it into the mainstream, it really boggles the imagination.

    I may have shut down another OS, seeing development end for WP along WebOS. I would have gone back to rotary phones on the wall. At least I knew those were dead and it wasn't my fault....

    Excellent write up.
    aximtreo and jmshub like this.
    10-04-2014 11:25 AM
  4. koolnaija's Avatar
    First of all, if Windows Phone does not pick up after the influx of OEMs and Software updates next year, it likely never will.

    Second of all, only a fool counts Microsoft out of any game.
    I'm impressed with your entire outlay of the life of WP. Reminded me of a few things that i had forgotten about. I doubt if anyone if counting out Microsoft. We've seen both Google and Apple attempt to implement some of the unique features from WP since it's been introduced. I do think that Microsoft does need to figure out how to keep the existing base of users happy (my view) and use them to attract other customers (someone else's words). Microsoft needs to make sure Win 10 comes backed with the appropriate hardware across the globe. They cannot have their customer base second guessing their choices. WP may not have the subscriber base of Apple or Google but they can build both software & hardware that will give them pause to rethink their half-baked ideas. Hopefully they do not pull another Win 7 - Win 8 upgrade that requires new hardware, It's understandable that some features will be not be available to older hardware but they should be still be able to get the update eg. (HTC8S, "HTC 8XT & 8X" < they got lucky, Lumia 900 had it the worst, Samsung ATIV SE lots of potential failed by provider and manufacturer).

    I might be picky about my choices and "wants" apparently but i'm picky because i use what i believe in not because the "next big thing is here". So lets all keep our flames high to make sure Microsoft can gain a bigger base.
    snowmutt likes this.
    10-04-2014 02:33 PM
  5. Nogitsune Micah's Avatar
    Wow this was a fantastic read!! I love reading about the history of this is :) Microsoft just needs to release some high end Lumia asap and not this low end stuff and HTC one mess...and I will be a happy guy :)
    snowmutt likes this.
    10-04-2014 03:01 PM
  6. Ebuka Allison's Avatar
    Wow this was a fantastic read!! I love reading about the history of this is :) Microsoft just needs to release some high end Lumia asap and not this low end stuff and HTC one mess...and I will be a happy guy :)
    Yeah I was looking for one on the internet but didn't find any. Anywhere at all. Not even on WPCentral :(
    10-05-2014 08:36 AM
  7. DennisvdG's Avatar
    This post is so huge it crashed my wpc app.
    snowmutt likes this.
    10-05-2014 08:39 AM
  8. Ebuka Allison's Avatar
    Its 6000 words haha
    snowmutt likes this.
    10-05-2014 10:10 AM
  9. Greywolf1967's Avatar
    To the OP.........

    I agree 100% the Kin was something to be glossed over, Windows Mobile and Pocket PC Phone Edition should not be.

    HTC became a Branded Company with Windows Mobile, as prior they made phones with Windows Mobile but under other companies names.

    **EDIT** I forgot to say there was an i device before Apple even entered the market the Compaq Ipaq ...yes uppercase I but it ran Pocket PC Phone Edition. and The Ipaq line was a huge seller back in the day.

    The web site Pocket Now was back then a Windows only site, and Phones like the HTC Diamond , Touch Diamond were good sellers.

    As to Windows Mobile not being updated, there were a few versions available, as I tinkered with WM 2003 SE, WM 5.0, WM 6.0 and 6.1...then cam 6.5 and 6.5.3

    You also left out the single best selling unit the HTC HD2 which the XDA community adopted and made it into the Swiss Army Knife of Phones.

    You have a good article, but you are only showing the Windows Phone section, and you have discounted what Windows Mobile was to the birth of WP7. I would add only one word to your title........A "Part" History.
    10-05-2014 10:13 AM
  10. Ebuka Allison's Avatar
    To the OP.........

    I agree 100% the Kin was something to be glossed over, Windows Mobile and Pocket PC Phone Edition should not be.

    HTC became a Branded Company with Windows Mobile, as prior they made phones with Windows Mobile but under other companies names.

    **EDIT** I forgot to say there was an i device before Apple even entered the market the Compaq Ipaq ...yes uppercase I but it ran Pocket PC Phone Edition. and The Ipaq line was a huge seller back in the day.

    The web site Pocket Now was back then a Windows only site, and Phones like the HTC Diamond , Touch Diamond were good sellers.

    As to Windows Mobile not being updated, there were a few versions available, as I tinkered with WM 2003 SE, WM 5.0, WM 6.0 and 6.1...then cam 6.5 and 6.5.3

    You also left out the single best selling unit the HTC HD2 which the XDA community adopted and made it into the Swiss Army Knife of Phones.

    You have a good article, but you are only showing the Windows Phone section, and you have discounted what Windows Mobile was to the birth of WP7. I would add only one word to your title........A "Part" History.
    True, true. But that would be way too long for too little gain
    snowmutt likes this.
    10-07-2014 04:56 PM
  11. salmanahmad's Avatar
    I so far haven't been able to read this article, it intrigues me a lot but it lags and my phone is stuck for a few minutes.

    Should I message Tapatalk support? I can read the replies of the rest of you guys but as soon as I get the original post it gets stuck.

    10-09-2014 04:12 PM
  12. Ebuka Allison's Avatar
    I so far haven't been able to read this article, it intrigues me a lot but it lags and my phone is stuck for a few minutes.

    Should I message Tapatalk support? I can read the replies of the rest of you guys but as soon as I get the original post it gets stuck.

    Try the website , I have the same issue on the WP Central app
    salmanahmad likes this.
    10-10-2014 06:15 AM
  13. salmanahmad's Avatar
    Try the website , I have the same issue on the WP Central app
    Oh yeah, forgot about that. :P

    Great read man.
    10-10-2014 07:32 AM
  14. Ebuka Allison's Avatar
    Oh yeah, forgot about that. :P

    Great read man.
    Merci beaucoup
    salmanahmad likes this.
    10-10-2014 10:10 AM

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