On The Future of Windows Phone...
As one of the most outspoken Windows Phone fans you'll ever meet, I believe my opinion on the latest news regarding updates and Apollo is valuable. I've spent the past year and a half convincing friends and family to get Windows Phones, and I truly believe the platform is superior to Android or iOS. Unfortunately, recent events are starting to worry me.
I don't understand why carriers have so much control over the update process. I also don't understand why Apollo is supposedly going to allow more customization opportunities. Windows Phone is starting to sound more and more like Android as the days go on.
The original vision for Windows Phone was brilliant: A platform with the quality and upgradeability of iOS, and the choice of hardware provided by Android. The perfect balance of choice and support.
In the past few days, there have been a lot of rumors going around claiming that that's about to change, and not for the better.
From the moment that it became clear that Microsoft had little to no control over when users get updates, I've become increasingly worried about the platform. Many handsets still don't have the 8107 update, which fixes the disappearing keyboard bug that plagues many users. Almost no phone other than the Lumia 900 has the even more minor 8112 update. Yesterday, The Verge reported that no existing phone would getting Windows Phone 8, codenamed "Apollo." While this makes sense for first gen devices, as they will be two years old at the time of release, Microsoft would be making one of the biggest mistakes it possibly could if they don't at the very least update the HTC Titan II and the Nokia Lumia 900 to Apollo. In particular the Nokia Lumia 900, the most anticipated Windows Phone from the moment Nokia announced their partnership with Microsoft, absolutely must receive the Apollo update. Not only is it the most important Windows Phone to date, it's also their flagship device. If Microsoft can't even update the phone that could boost the platform to where it deserves to be, I don't see how Windows Phone can possibly succeed. If the Lumia 900 doesn't get the Apollo update, many people who purchased the Lumia 900 will abandon the platform. Doing something so ignorant would leave an unrecoverable gash in the image of the platform, effectively destroying any positive brand recognition that exists for the platform.
Moving on, Netbook News reports that Apollo will allow more chances to customize the Windows Phone platform for OEMs. This would be the absolute worst decision Microsoft could make. Allowing OEMs to create custom skins will make Windows Phone another iOS/Android clone. Inevitably, manufacturers will want to make the Metro interface appear exactly like their horrible skin for Android handsets, effectively creating a worthless copy cat device that no one will buy. Assuming that OEMs make the correct decision in only modifying small amounts of the OS, this will still detract from the feeling of unity on Windows Phone. One of the strongest points of the platform (although many disagree) is that every device functions exactly the same. When you pick up a Windows Phone, no matter who manufactures it, you no exactly how it works. Everything is exactly the same, with hardware being the main point of differentiation. The exact opposite is true with Android. When you pick up an Android handset, the hardware feels exactly the same and the OS feels completely foreign. Even phones from the same manufacturer vary an unacceptable amount, from version number to interface. This is the main reason I refuse to buy an Android device, and the reason I love Windows Phones. If the rumors that Apollo will allow greater OEM customization are true, then this truly signals the death of the platform.
If Microsoft doesn't clarify the upgrade situation, I'll be returning my Lumia 900. I love the device, but pay $550 for something that's not going to be updated in six months is insane. If Apollo keeps true to the Windows Phone platform, I'll be buying the next Nokia device, but if they change it in to another Android, I'm sad to say I may be forced to switch to something else, even though every other platform is inadequate compared to Windows Phone.