Windows 8, 8.1, iOS, OS-X, Windows Phone, Lollipop, KitKat… ARGH!

It is all about the foundation... even though it might not be pretty.
It is all about the foundation… even though it might not be pretty.

Finally, Verizon is distributing the Windows Phone Denim update across its phones, and the Icons, one of which is in my possession, is scheduled for an update early next year. Wow, only half a year late. It is still a good thing, because I gave up on Android after Verizon refused to update it to a somewhat more recent version after even two years.

Ditch Verizon? Well, no. I am happy with their stability, their service and their coverage. I actually never had problems with them, so, why switch. And I personally prefer the Windows Phone OS. After dealing with Android, and still with IOS, for my daily use I prefer the solution Microsoft delivers. After two years of using it, I am still happy with it, and have hardly any complaints in its usage or speed. My daughter still uses my old WIndows Phone for her gaming and email, and it is just as fast as it was now a little over two years ago.

But, I was frustrated to find out, when I upgraded my phone to Verizon’s Windows Phone flagship, the Icon, that it was not running it’s latest version 8.1. Verizon had not rolled it out yet to make sure that it was fully compatible with their own apps. That is nice and all, and actually to be appreciated, but once there is a marketing push that there is something new, you don’t expect your ‘new’ thing that falls within the category, to be an older version. Still good, still excellent… but not what you expected.

It is like buying that new car at the dealership, and then driving away with last year’s model. Still new, still 0 miles on it. But not what you expected.

This is exactly the point I am going to make in this posting. People like something new. We get bored easily. We need something new, something exciting, and most of all, something to keep us busy. We like to say to others; ‘Did you see this already?’. Why else are car manufacturers producing new models every year that are hardly any different that the year before? Because everyone always knows; something new will be coming, and you want to upgrade.

We like the change, but only for things that we don’t have to use. If we have to use something, like for work, we like stability. Consistency. There we don’t like surprises, only if they increase the way and productivity. But it should not take us time to learn it.

Microsoft’s take on the Enterprise business is in that perspective absolutely spot on, and most likely the reason why Windows is still the Enterprise platform. Companies rather not invest billions of dollars to upgrade and train their personnel when a new update is rolling out. It takes time, frustration and a lot of money. People don’t want to be trained for their work, only if it will be during the boss’ time, and even then, it is often extremely hard to keep your mind to it. Keep in mind, most people are not excited about their work. It is a daily drag, and they are counting down till that little hand point to the 5.

For personal use, everyone uses their systems differently. I honestly am always excited about a new platform. I don’t care what it is. I grew up on Windows and MacOS. I like them both, although I personally prefer Windows and PC’s. Windows Phone is the first mobile platform that I think is mature enough to understand not everything evolves around small apps.  This is my problem with iOS and Android; the whole eco-system is based on these small programs that run on their own. Office is the first real big production rolled out over the mobile platforms, that really integrate an Enterprise solution. Sure, I know and use Google Docs, but sorry, in my opinion, Google Docs is not yet near a threat for Office.

But there is an interesting shift happening in Operating Systems. They are becoming real platforms now that will be scaling itself across any device. Windows 10 will be the first full-scale OS platform to put itself in this position, where the foundation between desktops, tablets, televisions, consoles and phones will be sharing the real foundation. All will have a similar experience, and developers can develop once, and port their productions to the different devices.

It sounds so logical, and if that foundation is stable, and it really works, it will be revolutionary. Not that it is a new concept. Microsoft has tried this over and over and failed and failed to do so. Windows Phone 8 was already planned to be this, until it was simply not ready for it yet. The experience between phone and desktop and console are similar, but simply not the same.

Which is not a bad thing. Like I mentioned in my earlier posting about Responsive Design, every device has a different target audience, and a different user group. It actually might be good to have different devices work a bit differently, with a different perspective.

But my biggest worry is that if it actually does work as it is intended. That it works flawlessly and without any bugs (oh, if ever!) and indeed across all platforms and devices that there will be another issue; user fatigue. Once something is around too long, and doesn’t really change, people get tired. Positives turn into negatives, and they will keep looking around in jealousy is someone else has something different. Hey, it is a reason why we use the proverbs: ‘The grass is always greener…’ and ‘You don’t miss it until it is gone.’ We are, in the end, never happy with what we have.

Apple is smart enough to introduce something new once in a while. They cannot turn around their whole iOS system, but they sure can add new functionality. And although a lot of people and professionals don’t really grasp the idea why some software functionality is only unlocked on newer models is a simple marketing trick, to make sure that even if you have a similar device (and iPhone) you still want the newest version.

But overall, not a lot is changing in user experience. iOS is basically the same since it’s launch in 2007. Tiles, small sandboxed apps, and you do one thing at a time. OS-X, Windows95, Windows8 are actually the only platforms, outside of the original, that really changed things. And out of those, only OS-X and Windows95 were really successes. And Windows8 was a good attempt, but simply not well thought out for a desktop environment.

What I am worried about, when there is talk about moving to a new device-wide platform, is that it will actually not change a thing. Even when they will be automatically updated like most browsers do nowadays. Windows 10 will be the ‘last’ Windows version? I have to see it to believe it. Eventually, time will have introduced so many new technologies and requirements, that the foundation has to be changed again, and there will be Windows 11. Or people simply want something new, since they will get bored with it.

Sometimes, thinking back about the DOS time is nice and comfortable. The DOS was simple in design: Black. White letters. Done. That graphic designer must have had a real eye for things. The usability was also simple… just type. You want to run a program? Know the name, and maybe it will run. Done. Oh, and if your program didn’t run, try making it’s own computer start-up files. Ah, starting a game was half the fun!

But, there is something very important to DOS. The Operating System was there to make the computer do things that you actually bought the computer for. I don’t have my computer to run Windows. I don’t have my tablet to marvel at iOS. And even though I like Windows Phone a lot, I don’t have a phone to awe at live-tiles. No matter how there are fans defending or attacking an OS or platform as much as they can; it is about what you do with it. An OS supports productivity, but it should not be the productivity.

In that perspective, a very broad OS that is able to support all the apps and the platform itself is native on many devices sound like a great idea. I hope it will work out. And if it does, I hope carriers will honor the concept and just go with the flow.

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