A few of my colleagues and I were recently reminiscing about the history of smartphone operating systems. At one point, the inevitable happened, and Windows Phone became a part of our conversation. It was then that I realized I have many fond memories of Microsoft’s now-defunct platform, except for one: lack of third-party app support. Even the most basic third-party apps were missing from Windows Phone, which ultimately killed it, at least in my eyes.
Nevertheless, today’s Microsoft is a different beast, with Windows 10 and 11 helping the Microsoft Store take off and become a much more integral part of the user experience. Which made us wonder: what would Windows Phone look like today if Microsoft brought it back? And more importantly, assuming that the third-party app support issue would no longer exist, would we prefer a Windows Phone-powered Galaxy S22? Or would we stick with the existing version running Android OS?
It’s a difficult question because, sadly, Windows Phone has been gone for so long. There’s no telling how the platform would’ve evolved throughout the years if it wasn’t for the lack of third-party support. Maybe it would’ve lost its qualities over time, or maybe Microsoft would’ve strengthened them even more.
For many people that have tried Windows Phone, this was a fantastic mobile OS with a minimalist, clever, and arguably futuristic design that failed for one reason, and one reason alone: lack of third-party apps in the Windows Phone Store. But even years after, the thing I remember most about Windows Phone is how well-optimized it felt. I vividly remember how the entry-level Nokia Lumia 530 Windows Phone I had the opportunity to use ran better than most (if not all) high-end Android phones at that time. It certainly felt more powerful than my HTC One X. And, come to think of it, that old Lumia phone probably ran smoother than many modern Android 12 flagships of the present era (barring any advantages offered by 120Hz displays). It goes to show the importance of optimization and a lightweight design.
All this reminiscing made us (or at least made me) realize once again that the Android OS / One UI experience in 2022 is not ideal. I own a Galaxy S22+, and even today, nearly a full year after release, I run into all sorts of glitches that are impossible to track down, from random drops in touchscreen responsiveness to audio-video desync issues.
Now, granted, the number of features available in Android 12 dwarves whatever Windows Phone had to offer, but that doesn’t change the fact that Windows Phone left such a positive mark on me, even after all these years (once again, barring the lack of third-party app support). It’s not just the tile-based design that I remember fondly, but the snappy and responsive UI.
I wish my Galaxy S22 ran a modern version of Windows Phone
Seven long years have passed since Microsoft released its final Windows Phone update, and I’m starting to wish Microsoft could bring back its mobile OS in an updated form for the new decade — as long as the OS would retain its snappy design. The Microsoft Store for Windows is now more populated with third-party apps than ever, which could have helped third-party app developers put more trust into whatever Windows Phone Store may have existed for the mobile side today.
Once again, it’s difficult to say with certainty what Windows Phone would look like in this day and age. But assuming that I could choose between Android 12 and a new version of Windows Phone for my Galaxy S22+ (think Galaxy S4 and Samsung ATIV SE), well, let’s just say I would happily ditch Android 12 for a while to give a new version of Windows Phone a fair try.
I really hope Microsoft brings back some healthy competition in the mobile OS game and remembers what made Windows Phone great while keeping in mind what contributed to its demise. It may never happen, but one can dream. Or maybe I’m looking at this whole thing through nostalgia-tinted glasses.
What about you? Would you be interested in buying a Samsung Galaxy flagship that didn’t run Android? Would you have tried a new version of Windows Phone (2022) on the Galaxy S22 if given the option? Feel free to join the conversation below.