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Colin Devroe

Reverse Engineer. Blogger.

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On a Microsoft Surface Phone

Zac Bowden:

It’s fair to say that in 2019, Microsoft is “all-in” on the Android platform thanks to its efforts like the Microsoft Launcher, Edge, and Office, all first-class experiences on Android smartphones around the world.

I’m glad Bowden wrote this post. I’ve been wanting to.

Longtime readers of my blog will know that I liked Windows Phone very much. I bought a Lumia for testing and immediately fell in love with the device and OS. If only it had apps! It was the only thing holding it back.

Today, if Microsoft decided to do what Bowden is suggesting, that wouldn’t be an issue. Android has tons of apps. And so many of Microsoft’s own apps are already first-class citizens on Android (as well as built to be cross platform from the ground up).

Bowden points out Launcher, Edge, and Office as Microsoft’s strongest efforts on Android. But that isn’t all of them. Your Phone, which he mentions later in his post, is also a big piece. Not to mention OneDrive, Skype, and a myriad of apps. They are all very good experiences on Android already.

Bowden says…

I wouldn’t be surprised if there are people internally at Microsoft thinking about this very idea right now, weighing up whether it’s worth trying. Does Microsoft want to put money into researching and developing a new smartphone, while also maintaining its own Android ROM, updates, and paying Google for a Play Store license?

This is a given. They have already been doing this for years. Microsoft R&D is one of the largest, most expensive R&D departments in the world. Has been for decades. They shed off billions of dollars per year in R&D. And they aren’t slowing down.

Also, do you think Panos Panay hasn’t already prototyped 10 or 20 or 50 different designs of Surface Phone by now? Of course he has!

One other area I will disagree with Bowden. He writes:

This isn’t a bad thing, but an Android smartphone wouldn’t be the worst idea Microsoft has ever had, especially if it keeps expectations low and doesn’t make any huge bets on it.

Microsoft was recently valued as the most valuable company to ever exist on planet earth. (Alongside Amazon and Apple.) Keep expectations low? Don’t make a huge bet?

Steve Jobs passed away 10 years ago. Jony Ive is leaving Apple. Huawei has regulatory issues I can’t even dream of. Samsung’s devices are months behind on Android updates and one of their recent models exploded in people’s hands. And Google’s Pixel has yet to have a foothold.

I say Microsoft should swing for the fences. They should come out with Windows Phone again, base it on Android, call it a Surface Phone and set expectations at Panos Panay levels. That is; pumped.

Windows 10 May 2019 update brings better Windows Update

Zac Bowden, writing for Windows Central:

Windows Update received some pretty significant upgrades with the May 2019 Update, and it’s good news for users. Microsoft is backing off its heavy-handedness when it comes to forcing updates onto users. Starting this month, users will no longer be forced to install new feature updates unless they explicitly click on an install button for it. You will still have to install security patches and driver updates, but the big feature updates won’t be forced straight away.

This alone is worth updating for.

I like to choose when to update my computer, especially when I’m working on a big project and I don’t want anything in my environment to change until I’m finished. No longer are Windows Updates forced until 18-months after they are released. That is more than enough time.

Lots of other nice updates as well.

Windows 10’s tablet mode needs work

Zac Bowden:

A good tablet is about more than just good hardware, you need a good OS experience to go along with it. Unfortunately, Windows 10 doesn’t have a good tablet experience to offer, not when compared to iOS on the iPad at least.

I agree. As I said in February.

If they invested in making Windows 10 tablet mode much more finger-friendly, and asked the largest app developers to do so as well, I believe Windows 10 tablet mode would be very good.

Windows Central on Build

Speaking of Build, Zac Bowden at Windows Central has a list of things to expect on Wednesday. Including this Windows Phone long shot:

I have in fact been hearing that internally Microsoft continues to develop CShell for Windows 10 Mobile in Redstone 3 builds. Whether that means we’ll see it at Build, or at all, is another question. But we’ll keep you posted.

I haven’t researched this too much but my basic understanding of CShell is that it is the shell that is run on each device to give basic interface elements access to the core OS. Like the Finder process on macOS that gives you the Dock, menubar, etc. CShell is developed in silos for each device so specifically continuing to support Windows 10 Mobile wouldn’t make sense if Microsoft didn’t plan to continue to have Windows 10 devices (third-party or otherwise).

Again, as I said in my wishlist, I’d like to see Microsoft make a large commitment to Windows Phone so I’ll join Zac in calling for this long shot.