Friday, December 25, 2015

Microsoft should treat its fans better

After experiencing severe bugginess on my Lumia 950 XL shortly after publishing the review – or simply noticing it more, I went on to check out a few Lumia 950 XL reviews for some perspective. I also reached out to people who I now personally that had purchased one of Microsoft’s new devices. The story was the same, the devices were exciting at first, but once the veneer wore off, their bugs became too much to handle. All but one have put aside their 950 and gotten a different device instead.

Going on Amazon, the 950 XL has received 27 reviews averaging 3.9 stars (950 only 5). This is an excerpt*[sic implied in all excerpts] from the first 5 star review I looked at “So the insides of this phone are near enough the same of the Sony Z5 and the thing that lets this down is the software. Whilst Windows 10 does work with the odd reboot (the phone hasn’t rebooted whilst I’m using it but I know it has rebooted as the phone tells me when I go to use it) the operating system isn’t quite up to scratch,”.
Another review said “After a week of struggling with both the bugs and lack of apps, including a memorable morning when it stopped receiving texts (they all magically appeared when I rebooted) I decided this phone wasn’t for me. If you are into playing with technology and are willing to forgive the quirks then you may enjoy this device. If you rely on a phone to do a job of work for you though, you might want to wait until Microsoft sort it out.”, yet another said ” will say that the OS is not ready and is full of bugs, the most serious of which run the phone hot and flatten the battery. I think that they should have held back the release until these issues were worked out.” , ” The battery drains very fast but also charges fast too.”,  – Battery life – Okay its fast charging, large battery, but it doesn’t last for more than 8-10 hours for me. Now that doesn’t complete my day. Overall Windows 10 is still buggy and not a finished product and feels completely like a beta version. A few notifications I got and clicked on, didn’t turn up anything. Sometimes there are false notifications. Multitasking puts a huge pressure on the phone it freezes and becomes extremely hot”
It is quite heartbreaking to read reviews by people who you can tell desperately wanted to like the device, but just couldn’t and then juxtapose them with the Windows Phone fans who are trying so hard to sell the device.
Microsoft claims to have targeted this device to Windows Phone fans, if this is so, it showcases either a misunderstanding of why people like Windows Phone or just contempt for their fanbase who will endure anything in a lemming like manner.
For some users, this is fine, for me and many others, this is where we draw the line and say “Enough.”
Windows Phone 7, 8 and 8.1 were perfectly functional mobile OSes in their time. Each one needed quick iteration and app support to be better than iOS and Android, but even limited as they were, Microsoft’s Windows Phone still provided a good experience for some users – an experience so good the app gap could be overlooked. With Windows Phone 8 and 8.1, Nokia’s hardware and software features provided even more of a reason to stay.
Sure Windows Phones didn’t have the latest apps, but they were stable, smooth, fast and wouldn’t crash on you while taking pictures. It didn’t hurt that the hardware was not merely inoffensive but actually beautiful to look at and hold. Now, after making Windows Phone fans hold on for more than 18 months in hopes of a new flagship and features to match the competition, Microsoft releases the Lumia 950 and Windows 10 Mobile and while these are ok in  a vacuum, they don’t exist in a vacuum. As it stands now, Windows 10 Mobile is a perfectly full featured OS with a superior user interface to pretty much any other mobile interface. It has great features like Windows Hello and Continuum, and is paired with cutting edge hardware in the 950 and 950 XL.
The issue is, these features don’t work reliably, the battery and camera experience (not quality) are vastly inferior to not just their predecessors, but to the competition. With these advantages eliminated, Windows 10 Mobile still has all its old weaknesses, but non of its charm. Yes, Microsoft may have something coming again later, and yes this is Windows as a service, but Microsoft needs to understand that Windows fans don’t like Windows Phone because of preview OSes. They liked it before then because it was stable, smooth, integrated and worked reliably. Not fans because of an inexplicable attraction to the idea of Windows of a phone, but what WP offered in the past (and I hope will offer in the future).
If Microsoft acknowledges its Windows Phone users as fans, then they should have provided a bug-free and beautiful device for them. They should not have to be grateful that Windows 10 even boots up at all, or feel a twinge of anxiety when they hand their devices over to someone else to use. They should not have to rely on the Insider Preview, it should be a bonus, not a default.
Michael Fisher from PocketNow claims that the cult of Windows Phone might be Windows 10 Mobile’s saving grace. If Microsoft intends to use them to keep Windows 10 Mobile alive, they need to work a bit harder. The cult of Windows Phone is full of fans, not lemmings.

Labels: ,