Did Microsoft make a huge mistake with WP?

Let me start with a little history:

  • Fall 2010: Windows Phone 7.0 comes out
  • Fall 2011: Windows Phone 7.5 Mango comes out
  • Fall 2012: Windows Phone 8.0 comes out
  • Spring 2014: Windows Phone 8.1 Developer Preview Comes out
  • Summer 2014: Windows Phone 8.1 is supposed to roll out officially

Microsoft's huge mistake it the time period between Mango and 8.1. Two and a half years - or almost three if we consider the fact that the OS did not roll out yet.

When Mango first came out, it was big. It took care of a lot of issues with the OS, added so many missing features - I really do think it put Windows Phone on the same level as iOS and Android - at the time, at least.

But then we get to Windows Phone 8. It's basically 90% under-the hood changes. But what did the users see? They bought a new phone, and all they got was a prettier start screen and a kids mode, that's it. If it weren't for app support, I doubt that it would be possible to tell WP7.8 and WP8 apart.

GDR1-3 didn't improve things that much either. They were all about fixing things original 8 broke (OneNote new note, anyone?) and adding APIs for Nokia.

So now we get to 8.1. It's lovely, no doubt about it. But sadly a lot of time was lost. I don't doubt that WP will still live, but I fear that it will just be "Android with squares" - and will lose anything that made it unique. We can already see the hubs getting dismantled - and the reason for that is Microsoft's poor support. They never opened them to developers. So that's over.

And even the design language is not doing so well:

Twitter: old vs new

Facebook: old vs new

(and don't even get me started on the Music app)

Of course, that is all just my opinion. How do you feel about all this? Was this the only way for Microsoft, or should they have put in more work into user-facing features? Would Windows Phone become "Android with squares", or would it still get to keep what makes it unique?