The Windows Phone OS has been kicking around for a few years now. So far, Windows Phone 7.5 has mostly been included in Nokia’s Lumia range of handsets, which have proved to be moderately popular in certain countries including Germany, though they have failed to put Windows Phone on the map – the operating system’s market share is still measly. Windows Phone 8 is set to be a modest revamp of the OS, which should increase its uptake on smartphones outside of Nokia, and hopefully get it noticed by more users. The problem doesn’t really lie with Windows Phone as such; it’s actually a great operating system that certainly does Microsoft justice. In fact, the vast majority of users who use Windows phones are pleased with their OS; it’s simply that this number of users is still small in comparison to the number of Android users. While Windows Phone 8 alone won’t manage to increase the OS’s market share substantially, Microsoft’s latest moves to get the OS into non-Nokia handsets may well do.
Jefferies analyst Peter Misek has said that “We believe WP8 has made significant improvements from WP7.5 and offers interesting features. That said, we believe the success of WP8 will ultimately depend on consumer and developer interest. While the shared core with Windows 8 will be very helpful for developers, the lack of upgradability for current WP devices has eliminated the existing user base. Launch Coincides with the iPhone 5. We believe the initial launch may fail to gain traction as the timing coincides with the iPhone 5. We believe Samsung is a kingmaker and their commitment to the platform is a crucial factor.”
If Samsung’s a kingmaker, then this might just spell good things for Microsoft, who have managed to get their Windows Phone platform onto the Samsung Focus 2. It’s not the high-end device that the Galaxy S3 is, but everyone’s got to start somewhere. Brands like Samsung are trusted by consumers, and even those handsets which aren’t plugged as ‘top of the range’ gadgets need to be trusted and seen as reliable. Windows Phone is also set to appear on handsets from HTC and Huawei, showing that the company are well and truly branching off from their Nokia beginnings.
Hopefully, this will get the Windows Phone OS to a wider audience, and into more people’s hands, where it can be recognised as a worthwhile contender to Android and iOS. Of course, Windows Phone 8 – the latest version of the OS – will have to put in some hard work in order to win over the world’s population of smartphone users. One of the most important changes to the OS won’t even be noticed by the average user, but it should help Microsoft a great deal in the future.
The change is under the hood, and it basically means that third party software developers will find it much easier to develop apps for the Windows Phone OS than previously. Windows Phone has suffered from a lack of apps ever since it began, offering just 60,000 in comparison to the hundreds of thousands available on Android and iOS. While this is partially because a smaller audience of users means less demand, it’s also because apps have been more complicated to develop for Windows Phone. No longer is this the case. These are the kind of changes that will do big things for Microsoft; the OS itself already works and looks great; now we just need to see it put out there.