Editorial: An idea that could save Windows Phone’s life.


So lately I’ve been using Windows Phone. I figured it would serve as a nice compliment to my Microsoft Surface Pro and recent spark of interest in Xbox 360.

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My phone of choice is the Samsung Focus Flash… which I went with for a couple reasons. Firstly; It’s a Windows Phone that doesn’t look hideous (a rarity in itself), it only cost me $80… and aside from not looking hideous; it’s shape actually somewhat resembles the Surface.

To my surprise, I’ve actually become extremely fond of this phone!

It’s got build quality on it’s side, it’s shockingly solid, stable and smooth for a phone as old as it is, it’s beautiful just to look at, and the live tiles really do give it the feeling of being “alive”.

The XBOX Live integration was another surprise to me. While gamers all over internet forums are waiting for the second Microsoft enters the handheld gaming platform… their Windows Phone platform is already delivering that. As someone who loves buffing their gamerscore, this has been extremely appealing to see that the same achievements, leaderboards and social gaming that I enjoy on Xbox 360 and Windows 8 are integrated with Windows Phone.

There’s things to enjoy about Windows Phone, and obviously a lot more fulfillment in the app selection than people give it credit for… but it is an unpopular solution… so unpopular that a lot of developers are scared to make anything for it.

There’s a huge opportunity Microsoft is missing out on, and it could take Windows Phone to the next level.

See, the fact that Windows Phone exists is putting a lot of stress on a second pillar that actually does not need to be. Windows Phones don’t really have a decent sense of unification with their brother tablets. Buying “The Harvest” on Windows 8 should have given me right to play it on my phone as well but it does not. This lack of integration is huge problem, especially seeing how iPhone/iPad and Android Phones/Android Tablets are unified by the same store.

Get where I’m going yet? Windows Phone does not need to exist because there’s another platform lightweight enough to enter the phone market: Windows RT.

As you may already know, Windows 8’s October 2012 release marks the debut of the Windows Store. If you’ve been keeping up with the news, then it’s also no secret that the developer activity on Windows Store BLEW THE FUCK UP since it’s release, surpassing the rate of growth of the mobile Windows Marketplace, the Google Play Store… and yes… even the Apple AppStore (source).

If my solution hasn’t become terribly obvious yet, it’s that the Windows Phone 7/8 platforms would be best if they were put to death so that Windows RT can enter the phone market… and there’s a lot of reasoning behind why this would work.

  • Windows RT is lightweight enough to deliver incredible battery life
  • Windows RT is already versatile enough to resolve those resolution issues that Windows Phone has been having so much trouble with
  • There’s already an explosively active app market that it could utilize since it shares the same Windows Store with Windows 8.
  • It works well held in portrait
  • Giving it external device compatibility (keyboards, mice, game controllers) is much more ideal since it’d operate off a lot the same framework that Windows 8 does
  • It could be docked to output to a larger screen while delivering desktop mode and RT’s obligatory pre-installed Office 2013 for that serious business crowd who can’t settle for Office knockoffs.
  • DPI scaling/text size options are great enough such that we could have the common 1366×768 and 1920×1080 resolutions on four-to-five inch screens without users having to strain their eyes to read.
  • Killing the mobile Windows Store would mean that developers could then shift their focus to simply one Windows Store that could effect both desktop and mobile devices.

We could even step away from the ludicrous “locked-down” filesystem so that Zune would no longer be a required middleman. Of course, the devices of question would have to sport some beefy 32GB/64GB storage options natively since Windows RT and it’s recovery partition consumes ~15GB, but it’s time for that to become standard anyway… and stepping away from the filesystem Windows Phone has now would thusly open the gates to external storage.

While I am fond of my Windows Phone… this is what it’s missing. This is what makes the experience disposable enough such that I commonly find myself popping out that SIM card to go out with my iPhone or Android phone.

There’s a goldmine of potential in this that they’d be insane to pass up. This would be a truly integrated Microsoft experience and it’d give practicality to a Windows RT platform that’s had trouble finding a home on tablets. Put it on a phone, and I’d have no problem using this as a daily driver.

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