Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Does Windows 10 S "As A Mode" Mean Hope For Windows Phone Users

I know, flame me for this post resurrecting this ancient blog, but I read the other day how Microsoft was shifting gears on their "Windows 10 S" platform, changing it to a mode, rather than a full fledged operating system. At first, I was dumbfounded as 10S sounded like the perfect way to get back in the mobile space. The hopeful half of me really wanted this version of Windows to come out much sooner rather than later. But, once again, Microsoft just pulls a random move that destroyed the little spec of hope that we all had of them returning to the mobile space - or did they?

Windows 10 S as a mode sounds all too nutty. Basically, 10 S is nothing short of a version of Windows 10 that only allowed select Apps from the Windows Store to be installed on it. It pretty much runs the same as a full version of 10, but just had some limitations on how you could use it. As it stood, this was also a great chance to get Windows 10 on an ARM (mobile) device as well. We saw the "always on" PC's debut this year, and between those devices and a 'cut' version of Win 10, things looked good. In fact, they looked so good, there were even rumors of the "Surface Phone" emerging once again.

Well, not to be the bearer of bad news here, but there is no Surface Phone to be seen at this time, nor do I think Microsoft will ever be dumb enough to call a device the "Surface Phone". However, that doesn't mean that they will not have something that would compete in the mobile device space. Imagine if you will, an ultra small 'Surface Tablet" that is about 6" in size with a 18:9 screen and a cellular radio on board. It has 8GB of RAM, 256GB of internal storage and 4,000mAh battery on board so it will last all day long. It also and be used with something similar to that Continuum Dock, with a few small tweaks...

The new dock features additional bays for storage solutions, more RAM, a stronger graphics chipset and the ability to 'switch' the device into full Windows 10 Pro mode. So when you undock, you get only the Microsoft Store content, but when you plug in to your dock, all your EXE files are in place and ready to run. When you are away, you can plan you standard games from the Windows Store, but when you get home, the stronger graphics of the docking station can play anything you can toss at it. It may be a pipedream, but it's a pretty brilliant one. If Microsoft could pull something like this off, especially if they could tie in Windows 10 X-Box content to the dock as well, you could see a complete dominance in the hardware market from them in the future.

Selling the device in the $750-1000 range and the dock being an additional $200-1200 depending on storage selection and graphics card, will give just about everyone access to the device and would make it very tempting for carriers to offer as an option against the newer iPhone and Android offerings. Remember, most of the leg work has already been done in making all of this tech work seamlessly together, now it's just time to make it happen.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

As 2017 Comes To A Close...

Well, WinPhans... Another year is passing and for another year, I've been wrestling with all things great and annoying with that "Android" operating system that has been shoved down our throats as a replacement to my beloved Windows Phone. It's hard when you didn't leave WP because of the App Gap or for some other solid reason, other than not being able to keep your phone charged for a full day of use. It's a bummer deal, but that's the honest reason that as of this moment, I'm no longer a Windows Phone user. I didn't care that the experience was getting stale - heck, give me back Windows Phone 7.5 (or even better, 7.8) so I can rock that for a while longer. It was nearly perfect in every way.

Of course, this year, I had the pleasure of going to see an HTC device launch in Taipei, Taiwan, so I am using the U11 right now. It's quite an amazing phone, but there is something "crashy" about Android, even the latest Oreo build, that just didn't happen with the early versions of Windows. Of course, that was then, this is now and Windows is all but gone from the mobile ecosystem. Sure, there were blasts of Windows S devices or the Windows on Arm concept that is getting closer and closer to happening, but honestly, it's probably way too little, way too late for most users.

Sure, the diehards are still waiting for something magical, but in all honesty, unless something like the Surface Phone finally emerges or a Note 8 style device hits shelves with a stylus and a full Office assortment (along with that Continuum dock) there probably isn't much for Windows Phans to get excited about. In fact, some of the last hold outs have officially made their way to unique Android devices like the Essential Phone, Razer Phone or even the HTC U11. It's sad to see it, but if Microsoft can't figure out what Windows is going to be soon, it's a sure bet that they will start losing ground in the CPU OS race soon enough as well. In fact, it might even be time to look at cross bootable devices that do Android or Windows on partitioned drives. Hey, I can dream right?

Sunday, April 2, 2017

And Now For Something Completely Different


Hey everyone, it’s your favorite Windows guy… No, not Ben,m but Ron. Ok so you’ve probably never even thought about the face behind this all but abandoned blog about Windows, but hey, I’m still here and I’m still trying very hard to carry a Windows Mobile device today. Unfortunately, it’s almost impossible to carry a ‘new’ Windows Phone since there are only two active models on the planet right now, but today I’m coming back to talk about something completely different.

Microsoft has announced their plan to begin carrying a special edition of the Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8+ in their retail stores and online. This is quite the departure from even a few months ago, when Microsoft was touting the power of the HP X3 and its expanded Continuum mode, but is it necessarily a bad move for Microsoft and their mobile aspirations?


What Microsoft is up against is an impossible situation. Manufacturers and programmers have been fleeing from the fledgling OS for quite some time now, with only a few select manufacturers helping to keep the ecosystem alive. As a matter of fact, currently there are 2 major operators making Windows Phones, HP and Alcatel, that’s it.Sure, Microsoft is still tossing out their 950 and 950XL lines, but those aged devices from late 2015 just aren’t going to last much longer.

Gone are Microsoft’s long time friends like HTC, LG and Samsung. Gone is that mysterious plan to allow Android users to install Windows Phone on their mobile devices. What happened and why did Microsoft lose the mobile battle. To be honest, they are building back what they lost very quickly, but not in the way any Windows Mobile/Windows Phone user ever wanted them to. From the ashes of what was, has come a new way of generating income and bringing Windows to the masses – services.

With a partnership like the one with Samsung, Microsoft is guaranteeing, at least a minor footprint in a mobile world that had them completely blocked out only months ago. Sure, Samsung and Microsoft have teamed up in the past offering some of their own Apps in some markets, but this is a ground breaking move, and one that should be welcomed with open arms. Windows 10 isn’t ready for prime time on mobile devices quite yet and the developer support hasn’t come anywhere near what the folks in Redmond had hoped for, but this latest move gives them hope. Hope for a future in mobile and a bridge, or a lifeline, to stay relevant in the mobile landscape.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Just A Normal Day In Windows Update Land...

So, I noticed that I hadn't visited this page since April of this year. That means I'm almost 2 months overdue for my next, Windows Phone has failed me post. I have to say that with a grain of salt, because it isn't Windows fault that it's not in my pocket right now, it really isn't. What I mean by this is that it's not that the OS is poor, or my HTC One M8 for Windows is an inferior device for some reason - in fact, it's quite the contrary. The sad reality is that no matter how hard I try to make Windows my daily driver, there's just too much out there for other platforms that will never find their way to Windows.

To put the power of Windows in perspective, I had a 16GB Lumia 925 that NEVER ran out of space. It powered through 2 days of use on a single charge. It had all the necessary evils: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc... I had Nokia Mix Radio for downloading a playlist or two (or streaming over Wi-Fi to protect my data and storage) and a camera that out performed most devices on the planet even today. To this day, I still can't tell you why I ever left my 925, it seemed like the perfect phone, and it just may have been.

Since then, the rotating levels of cheap Lumia devices have done NOTHING for me. 500 series were great starter phones, or a good device for Grandpa's first smartphone, but they weren't for the serious user. Then we had the 600 series, which was a bit of a step up, but still fell flat. The 800 series never came back to it's former glory and the 700 series was left only to Verizon's 735, which again, left a rather bland taste in my mouth.

The last saving grace would have been the Lumia 950 series, which was limited to only one US carrier - and not one that I have wanted to use in quite some time. The $650 sticker price also threw that device far from the realm of, sure, I'll give up everything Android for a decent enough device, but with a price tag that is out of the normal range of a Nexus or even something more powerful. No thanks.

Overall, I can honestly say that nothing has happened in the world of Windows Phone/Windows Mobile in the two months I've been wandering around and playing golf. Sure, they've been polishing the OS a bit and squashing a few bugs, but in all honesty, the official device list has been cut, the feature sets have been limited to 2 devices and there looks to be no hope of anything new coming to market soon. The question is, how much longer will Microsoft continue on this mission before they either exit the market or release something that shocks the industry. It can go either way and I for one am still hoping for the latter.

Friday, April 1, 2016

Dear Windows 10…


I love you, but that doesn’t mean I have to like you right now. Yes, frustration levels are at an all new high for me and Microsoft’s new beta operating system. I’m not even talking about the Preview releases when I say beta either, I’m talking about the normal, I updated through Windows 7, boring, this should work version of Windows 10.


Yes, it doesn’t seem to matter what type of Audio program or Video file I click, but they are all met with the same issue, “The remote procedure call failed.” Now here’s the good part… I’ve already “fixed” the error multiple times after updates in the past, but every time, it comes back after a few days. Probably the worst part of the whole thing is that when this issue arises, Cortana stops working completely. So, not only do I have to open media files in Windows Media Player, but I lose my desktop assistant.

Between the loss of Windows 10 Mobile in the shuffle of all things Windows and the fact that Windows 10 is barely hanging on on my desktop machine, I would say that things aren’t looking spectacular for my opinions on the products coming out of Redmond at the moment. If it weren’t for the fact that the Insider builds on my Dell Venue 8 Pro were getting better and better, I would be posting this from a Linux or Windows 7 computer right now.

But here’s some words of advice to the Windows team, get this right, ok? There’s so much riding on this and touting that there are 270 million installs doesn’t mean crap to the average user. If it’s behaving this badly for everyone that installed it, you’re going to sell 265 million Macs in the next few months for Apple. Buckle down and get this ready to go. Ditch the fix it with a patch later syndrome and make the OS run better.


Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Have You Grabbed Your Free Office 365 Subscription Yet?


If you are suffering under the OneDrive cutbacks that Microsoft announced, your first glimpses of a reprieve are now active under your OneDrive Upgrade page. Your new subscription to Office 365 and a TB of storage is now available if you haven’t taken advantage of it so far. It hasn’t been made clear how long Microsoft will run this deal, but the $69.99 value is a decent attempt at making amends for their storage plan cutting that is currently occurring.

Now, if they could only start releasing some additional information on the state of Windows 10 Mobile and a time frame for it to hit some additional devices.

Friday, March 25, 2016

Windows 10 Updates: What A Difference A Year Makes


Last April, I brought to you details of how HTC planned on supporting the Windows 10 Update for the HTC One M8 for Windows. When we fast forward to this year, and yes, it’s been a full year, we now see that the upgrading future of the powerful device is now shaky at best. While it hasn’t officially been put on the no fly list, there are no indications that it will be receiving the newest version of Windows either. HTC support is pulling their usual operating silence and Verizon, their launch partner is also not commenting on the topic.

The worst part of this for consumers is that most of us purchased Windows 8 devices after being told that they would receive the Win10 update. The first step was Microsoft letting us know that some features – mainly Continuum – will never work with older devices. Now the list of upgradable devices is shrinking at an alarming rate. Is this feedback from the Insider’s Program, and if so, they really need to share that with the public, or is it just another reboot where they are telling everyone they need to buy a new phone every 2 years?

Either way, the transparency that I so boldly wrote about a year ago has gone by the wayside. It’s now a muck of gloom and doom for almost anyone with a non-2015 Lumia model. Hopefully Microsoft will get their act together and let us know what’s going on. Many of us still love the Windows platform and really want to carry a strong Windows 10 device, but that just doesn’t exist in reality yet. Maybe someday, but not yet.