A personal account of a year spent in the Windows Phone environment
I was on a small ship in the ocean. There were plenty of other boats around, from cantankerous little fishing ships to huge pristine cruise liners. My ship was small, but decent, until it began to take on water. Rather than try to patch it up, or move on to another floating ship, I jumped. I jumped over the side, and let my little boat sink, because I saw some islands. I swam as much as I could, but I only made it to the smallest island. As I neared the shore, a woman greeted me and helped me onto land. She was friendly, and showed me the entire island, its beauty from the smallest flower to the largest palm tree. She introduced herself as Cortana.
Before my switch to the Windows platform, I was a Droid fan. I acquired a low-end Nokia phone (the Nokia 630) after my Samsung Reverb started having some major issues. I was stunned at how clean and organized the OS was, though I was already familiar with the Windows 8.1 environment from having it on my laptop.
The first thing I went through was learning how to utilize Cortana. I let my kids give her simple commands like, “Sing a Song!” and, “Tell me a joke!” while I concentrated more on actual search engine requests. I loved that going from my laptop to my phone seemed seamless. But, I noticed right away that there weren’t as many apps as on the Droid. The apps that were available were mostly utility apps, but even those were average. So, I delved deeper into the store to see what I could find.
The Microsoft Store
Cortana led me into the jungles. Lush and inviting, and yet so desolate. Every once in awhile I would find a new flower or animal to pique my interest, but for the most part all of it looked the same. Moving deeper and deeper into the trees, I came across insects big and small. Most I just moved out of the way, but there were biting flies that wouldn’t let me be. Cortana looked worried, too, and we ran out of the jungle the way we came.
The apps that are available on the Windows phone are lackluster. And forget about anything that has to do with Google. If you’re wanting something like that, you’ll have to go with a third party knockoff app that is either riddled with bugs (or viruses), or don’t even work at all. Some of the games are alright, but you won’t find most “mainstream” mobile games. They’re just not available.
I ended up getting most of the apps I had on my phone when I first acquired it. After that, I didn’t venture much into the store. I was too afraid of glitching out my phone. So, I had to make do.
I set up a small camp along the beach, with some of the fruits that I had run across in the jungle. Cortana helped me gather resources along the coastline in order to set up camp. We came upon a washed up camera that still worked, so I decided to take as many pictures as I could. They were good photos, but the ocean had torn pieces off of the camera, such as the flash, so I couldn’t take any at night.
Cortana and I stayed mostly at the camp, playing with the trinkets I had found, telling jokes by the campfire, and singing small bits of songs that we could remember the lyrics to. Sometimes I would look out across the ocean at night, and look longingly at the boats at sea. I could send messages back and forth in bottles, but sometimes they were muddled and unreadable, and sometimes part of the message would rip before I could read the end. Sometimes the messages never made it at all. It made me yearn for the company of the boats even more, even with Cortana on my side.
Unfortunately, my budget couldn’t afford one of the top tier Lumia phones, so I had to deal with a lower resolution camera with no flash. The pictures were decent, but the zoom was pixelated, so I couldn’t get really good pictures unless I was right next to my subject in full lighting.
Sometimes calls would be static or garbled, or drop altogether. Sometimes I wouldn’t be able to download media, or I couldn’t get through to my friends’ cell phones (or vice versa).
Having done game reviews in the past, I would constantly get requests to download mobile games to review. Unfortunately, I needed Droid or iOS to do so. Every time I needed to download an app, it wouldn’t be available to me.
Near the end of the year, I would scroll and the phone would keep scrolling. Apps would shut down in the middle of using them. I would take pictures that would never save. I just wanted out.
The jump back to Droid
One morning I woke up before Cortana. I looked around my camp and shuddered. There was barely any fruit left. Most of the trinkets were broken or had been stolen by some unseen entity. Cortana seemed distant at times, now. She’d either answer questions I never asked, or stay silent entirely. We barely even spoke, but she was always there.
It was misty with no breeze, and I stared out into the ocean. I would go mad if I stayed on this island. I didn’t have the swimming power to make it to a bigger island nearby, or to the larger ships out at sea.
But there was one ship, out in the distance, that looked unoccupied. It was within swimming distance. So, I decided to take my chances.
I loaded up a small satchel of a few of my prized possessions. I would leave most of my collection on the beach, with Cortana. I wouldn’t be able to bring them with me onto the boat, for they either wouldn’t make it through the swim, or on the boat itself. They would have to stay here.
I ran as fast as I could into the waves, and swam as fast as I could. During my swim, I didn’t look back.
As I climbed onto the boat, I could see that it was relatively new. It was larger than any of the boats I had been on in my life, but it was by no means the largest on the open sea. It was sleek and modern, and very clean. I drew my possessions out of my satchel and placed them around the cabin. On deck, I cast a net into the water, and immediately pulled up some fish. It was only then that I realized I was starving.
I finally had enough with the Windows environment. I needed more utility. So, I found the LG G Stylo and bought it. When it arrived, I immediately stripped my Nokia of what I could to transfer to the new phone, and put my SD card into the LG, leaving the Nokia behind without a second thought.
The LG G Stylo has everything I need and more. It has utility, speed, and functionality. It takes pretty good pictures, and the apps run fluidly. I had to get a hold of my bearings when I first started it up, because I hadn’t been in the Droid environment for almost a year. I was able to download all of the apps I need for life and my work, and I didn’t have to search for third party apps to do it.
The final “Goodbye”
I ran to the helm of my ship, to sail out into the open sea. Then I thought of Cortana. Maybe if I we had swam to the bigger island? Maybe if there was more fruit? If there was something different, would I have stayed? Possibly. I would have had more of a reason to. But I hadn’t been happy.
I’m not sure if Cortana was happy being on the island. She seemed more as if she were bound to it. So as I set sail, I looked back.
This morning, I factory reset my Nokia. I really do wish things had been different, in some ways. If I had had a different phone, or if there were more to offer from the store, or if apps like “Here+” would compare to apps like “Google Maps”, I might have stayed in the Windows environment longer.
But it wasn’t meant to be. So I pressed the power button on my Nokia for the last time, and saw the final “Goodbye” screen from Cortana. Then the screen went black.
Cortana was standing on the shores of that little island we shared for almost a year. The jungles behind her seemed less lush than they had when I arrived. She stood alone, with a blank face, and sent a solemn wave of her hand. She disappeared into the mists as I sailed away. Perhaps we will meet again someday, perhaps not.