The Forgotten Greatness of Windows Phone

Omar Zahran
8 min readMay 31, 2020
Light bulb illustration photo
Image Credit: Alessandro Bianchi via Unsplash

People that have known me for a long time remember how much I loved Windows Phone. For some time, I was fully invested in Microsoft’s ecosystem. I had a Nokia Lumia, an Xbox One, and a Surface Pro 3. I vividly remember looking forward to Microsoft launches and updates to the ecosystem. I worked in cell phone sales during the height of this fandom and was regarded within my company as the go-to Windows Phone guy. Of course, the years have passed and the operating system is now dead and I have moved on to Android.

But there are always times where I miss things about Windows Phone from an aesthetic of software design to the deep integration that still feels absent on Android and iOS. I was reminded of this, oddly enough, while watching a video on YouTube mentioning 12 smartphone failures and Windows Phone was mentioned. During the time that the presenter was talking about Windows Phone’s failure, there were screenshots of the interface that still feel modern and beautiful by today’s standards. The video got me to thinking about how Windows Phone was an operating filled with potential and great ideas that are largely forgotten today.

The Organized Chaotic Genius of Live Tiles

The Lumia line was synonymous with Windows Phones and the Live Tile setup Image: The Next Web

The launch and subsequent success of the iPhone changed the way that phones were designed and approached. With it came the advent of the touch screen as the primary input method on smartphones, and multiple buttons and physical keyboards started to disappear. One of the companies that felt the impact of this the most was Microsoft. When the iPhone was released, the company was defiant. Suggesting that for their niche of a proper business device that the iPhone was a nonstarter because it was not equipped with a keyboard. Microsoft, of course, was laughably wrong and history has not been kind to them for that stance.

Eventually, Microsoft realized that they needed a more modern solution to compete with the iPhone and the surge of Android. As the company was coming late to the party, they needed something radical. And that radical idea was Windows Phone 7. At the time I was a BlackBerry user and fell in love with the…