Switching from Windows Phone to iPhone

It’s official – I’ve switched from Windows Phone back to an iPhone.

Back in 2013 I attempted to use an Apple Mac and iPhone for an entire month with the Microsoft ecosystem. I lasted only 4 days.

At the time there were very few apps for iOS and the experience infuriated me. However also back then Windows Phone had a number of differentiators being baked in functionality instead of app handoffs.

Jump forward just over 2 years and we’re in a different world. Windows Phone hasn’t moved beyond a tiny slice of the pie chart and as a result Microsoft’s own product groups are focusing on iOS and Android.

A few months ago I had some Microsoft people (both local and from Corp) trying to convince me to get an iPhone as the Microsoft app experience was better. Around then my Lumia 930 broke and I was on the fence. I ended up getting the phone repaired and decided to stick with Windows Phone – waiting for the Windows 10 Mobile experience and the promise of Universal Apps.

The problem here comes down to timing. Last week my 1 year old daughter got hold of my phone for a couple of minutes and managed to drop it in a way that the screen broke again. Again I was faced with the choice to repair or replace.

I chose to replace my phone with an iPhone 6 Plus, and here’s why:

  • The Microsoft app experience is FAR better on iOS than Windows Phone
  • There are more Microsoft apps available for iOS than Windows Phone
  • Windows 10 Mobile is still very buggy and isn’t expected to come out until October
  • Even then many apps will need to be updated/rewritten to handle to the new multi-screen system and will take months to come out

The key apps I need to use when mobile are:

  • Email
  • Calendar
  • Contacts
  • Skype for Business
  • Yammer
  • Dynamics CRM

In every one of those cases the app experience is superior on iOS. I even have screen rotation with several of them!!!

The only app experience I find Windows Phone did much better than iOS is around the Microsoft Band. On iOS there are very few 3rd party apps. Also a number of the functions are missing such as the ability to reply to a call or text message with a quick response.

Within a short period of time of getting my iPhone I had all my personal and business apps up and running. One frustrating component was that I had to enter my credentials (as well as MFA codes) for every single app.

As I am deeply embedded into the Microsoft ecosystem professionally and personally I would not have been able to make the change if my investment in services such as Office 365, Groove Music (formerly known as Xbox), OneDrive and others weren’t feature-rich on iOS.

So will I now switch to using iTunes and other Apple services? Absolutely not.

Do I still think of Windows 3.1 whenever I look at my phone? You betcha!!! (I really miss the tiles of Windows Phone!)

Am I going to stick with the iPhone going forward? Most likely not. I’m sure when Windows 10 Mobile is released and the apps have caught up (and running Android apps is commonplace) I’ll come back. For now, I’m having a better Microsoft app experience on the iPhone.

Microsoft partners and Microsoft devices

Only a month ago after spending a few weeks drinking the Kool-Aid at the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference in Houston I wrote a blog piece about the stark contrast of devices seen at the conference versus those in the rest of the world.

Last week I attended the much smaller and localised Microsoft Australia Partner Conference (APC). Interestingly I found the usage of iOS devices to be remarkably high based purely on my own observations (I would have loved to do a scan of the local mobile tower to monitor the devices connecting).

The opening keynote by the Managing Director of Microsoft Australia Pip Marlow called for partners to be showcasing Microsoft devices when in front of customers, a statement that to me simply made sense.

What kind of a message do we as Microsoft partners send to our customers when we come out to demonstrate Office 365 or other solutions and use an iPad or Android phone? What is shows is that “hey Mr Customer this solution I’m here to talk to you about is great and works best with other Microsoft technologies, but I personally don’t want to do that”.

The least partners can do is have interchangeable hardware that they take onsite to meetings to at least give the premise of using Microsoft solutions that are “better together”.

I don’t however believe that the onus relies squarely on the Microsoft partner – as purchasing Microsoft-based devices for staff can be costly if their existing equipment works fine, not to mention the challenges if you adopt a BYOD approach.

At Paradyne half our team use a Surface Pro as their primary machine as well as a Windows Phone 8 handset (Nokia being the most popular). The other half of the devices are older form factor notebooks/PCs, with only a few iOS or Android powered personal devices. As we are a relatively small business this is somewhat manageable, especially when several of us went to WPC and were able to pick up Surface Pro units for $399.

Where I think this plea to partners to use Microsoft devices falls short is that the company does not do enough to get them into the hands of partners. While the discounted Surface hardware at TechEd and WPC in the US were great – these offers need to be extended globally. It would be great to see Nokia come to the party and offer something similar in terms of discount price for partners.

Unfortunately Microsoft’s battleground are entrenched devices on an individual basis. Partners have no specific incentive to replace their fleets of notebooks/tablets or smartphones with Microsoft-powered devices.

If the price were lowered to a point such as recent US conferences where you’d be foolish not to buy them we would see a lot more Microsoft-powered devices in partners hands. The flow-on effect would be that when we’re out in front of customers we can be busy amazing them with what Windows 8, Surface, and Windows Phone 8 have to offer – with price being a distant second consideration.

That would ultimately lead to more market awareness of devices that do more than just click, and build a strong purchasing case for the end customer who knows what it is in the first place, thanks to the partner.