Planned Obsolescence Part 2: Microsoft's shafts Windows Mobile users

As someone who loves technology, and not necessarily the companies that make them, I have been intrigued with products from the two giants in tech, Apple and Microsoft. It is no secret that these companies have annual release cycles where they pump out their shiny new wares to the masses, and it is no secret that sooner or later, critical mass will be hit, and folks who have perfectly functioning older devices will be less and less inclined to renew them for a seemingly minor upgrade. 

The ironic thing is this problem has arisen primarily out of the free market forces. In their quest to outdo the competition, gadgets have gotten better hardware specs, more durability and longer battery lifespan, which translates to users getting a lot more our of their devices than they used to. The problem with that is we are getting to the point of critical mass, where these technology companies can only afford minor upgrades to devices with each upgrade cycle. However, the risk with each minor upgrade is that consumers would progressively lose the urge to purchase the newest gadget only for minor upgrades. Apple, arguable has bucked this trend however, with tactics such as crippling features in releases to leave room for improvement in future versions, ensuring that batteries of devices are not easily removable by users (hence "encouraging" users with older devices to upgrade when battery performance declines), and other shady practices

Recently, Microsoft seems to have "seen the light" and adopted some of Apple's tactics, in order to be more competitive especially in the mobile phone market. This was no more evidently displayed than with the radical shift from Windows Mobile 6.x to the Windows Phone 7 platform. Herein lies the problem, users like me who were sold on the idea back in 2010 that purchasing a Windows Mobile 6.5 phone was a good idea, feel betrayed by the news last week that Microsoft was closing its Windows Mobile Marketplace by May 9th. To some, this may not be such a big deal, but for folks like myself who purchased a still perfectly working Samsung Omnia 2 on a three-year contract back in 2010, this is a big slap in the face. Altough I could still access some apps from the CNET mobile app store and others online, some of the core apps that I have purchased will be totally lost should I ever have to factory reset my phone after that date. 

I believe that Microsoft could have shown their Windows Mobile users some good faith and made some of the newer apps available to us loyal "old school" folks with the release of Windows Phone 7, and certainly not entirely shut down the marketplace so soon after switching platforms. Afterall, my Omnia 2 has relatively decent specs; an 800 MHz processor, with 256 MB of RAM and a 5 MP camera. It should be able to run any of the apps on the new Windows Phone 7 platform such as netflix, if Microsoft allowed it. 

The long and short of it is that, Microsoft abandoned its loyal customers, chasing after a pipe dream, and it only has itself to blame. Windows Phone 7 is a nice platform (as an avid ZuneHD fan, I love the metro UI) but the implementation of it was too radical, too swift and I am pretty sure I am not the only really-pissed-off Windows Mobile customer stuck in a 3 year contract with a glorified dummy phone.


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