Windows 10 Mobile’s Heart is Largely For Business

Posted by on Nov 6, 2015 in From the Mind | Comments Off on Windows 10 Mobile’s Heart is Largely For Business

Windows 10 Mobile 635

EfficiencyNext is largely a Microsoft-oriented development company, and as such, we keep tabs on a variety of Microsoft efforts, including their foray into mobile phones. I personally use a Lumia 820 running Windows Phone 8.1 as my daily driver, and have a Lumia 635 as a backup. With Windows 10 Mobile getting very close to RTM, I decided to install the Preview Build 10581 on the Lumia 635. Compared to the Lumia 820 running Windows Phone 8.1, I immediately noticed more of a business focus, with some classic Windows Phone visual cues and social features removed and new business capabilities added. This shouldn’t be too surprising, given Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella’s declaration that Microsoft is a productivity company, with business users being one of the three target audiences Windows 10 Mobile shoots for. Here are the winners and losers of this upgrade from Windows Phone 8.1, at least based on what I am seeing in this build:

Winner: Office Users

Windows 10 Mobile finally ships with mobile versions of Microsoft’s Office applications, which are quite decent. And they tie very well into OneDrive and OneDrive for Business. Ironically, Windows Phone 8.1 had the worst mobile Office capabilities among the mobile platforms as of late; Windows 10 Mobile completely corrects this, and I’m thrilled for it.

Winner: IT Organizations and Businesses

Like Windows 10, Windows 10 Mobile ships with built-in support for Student and Organizational Accounts. This is huge for organizations deploying phones to their employees, and makes the phone a natural extension of a well planned IT setup. In addition, the Universal App model makes it very cost efficient for organizations to build applications that run on the Windows 10 (desktop/laptop/tablet) and Windows 10 Mobile, using C# and the highly productive Visual Studio tools. For organizations where building custom applications is more important than having the most commercial apps available, Windows 10 Mobile is a compelling choice. Did I mention the handsets themselves are reasonably priced?

Winner: Windows 10 Users

If you feel your Windows 10 computer is still your primary computing device as opposed to your phone, then Windows 10 Mobile can be a compelling mobile choice. Missed call notifications from the phone appearing on the PC, the ability to send text messages from the PC through the phone, and shared Cortana reminders are some of the ways a Windows 10 Mobile device is a valuable compliment for a Windows 10 PC.

Loser: Horizontal Navigation Fans

Windows Phone 7 and 8 made significant use of Panoramas to create a smooth multi-page horizontal navigation experience in several of the phone’s apps and admin screens. It could look quite stunning and beautiful. And its pretty much gone in Windows 10 Mobile. Likely it was too much style at the expense of productivity. Individual app makers can still use panoramas, but its pretty clear Microsoft itself has backed away from them.

Loser: Social Integration Fans

This trend started with the Windows Phone 8.1 update, where-as integrated social network features started getting pulled from the Operating System. That’s true in Windows 10 Mobile even more so. The “Me” tile for quickly posting social updates is gone. Contact Groups in the People app do not have their own social feeds, a feature I personally loved (Microsoft, please bring it back!). LinkedIn is gone as an integrated social network. Windows Phone 7 was marketed as a People-First smartphone; that mantra is pretty much kaput in Windows 10 Mobile. I picked up my older LG Quantum Windows Phone 7.5 device a couple days ago, and was struck by how much I missed the original social features it came wih

Winner: Windows 7/8/8.1 App Developers

Your apps still work in Windows 10 Mobile! At least, they should. I tested a couple Windows Phone 7 apps I built years ago and they ran fine on Windows 10 Mobile.

Loser: Current Consumer Oriented Windows Phone Users

Frankly, the most exciting developments in Windows 10 Mobile are business oriented. Unless the consumer app-gap shrinks between Windows 10 Mobile and Android, it will only get harder for consumers to choose a Windows Phone running Windows 10 Mobile. As a business executive, I could easily see outfitting the staff with inexpensive reliable Windows 10 Mobile devices that work well in our infrastructure; I’m not sure I can recommend one to a consumer whose phone is likely going to be their primary computing device; there’s just too many banks and other services that don’t produce Windows apps, and perhaps alarmingly, more are electing not to even build mobile web sites. I really hope this changes, but I don’t see how. If one wants to play with MeerKat or Periscope on a Windows Phone, they are out in the cold. That isn’t to say there’s nothing for consumers; the game catalog is actually quite good. But so is the one on Android and iOS.

Potential Loser: Owners of Older Windows Phone 8 Hardware

I need to test this on my Lumia 820, but at least on my Lumia 635 (512 MB RAM), I found things like web browsing on Edge to be somewhat sluggish. It’s true, we aren’t at RTM yet, but still, I can feel the Snapdragon 400 processor being taxed. This is a bit concerning, as a bunch of Windows Phones use this processor(635, 640, 830). And the Snapdragon 400 is more or less equivalent to the processor power of chips in the first generation Windows Phone 8 devices (Lumia 820, 920, 925, etc..). Again, I need to test this on a 1 GB device on the RTM code; things might get better before RTM ships.

Winner: Those Who Like Free Things

Windows 10 Mobile is the second large free update Windows Phone 8 purchasers are getting for free. And it truly makes one feel like they once again have a new phone in their phone. Upgraders should understand though that some of the features that made Windows Phone unique are now gone. The place for the OS seems to naturally be rooted in business.

Paul Katz is the President of EfficiencyNext, a software developer, and a long-time follower of Microsoft tech.