This Is Why Windows 10 Mobile Was a Tech Launch Failure

Matthew Hughes 23-03-2016

Microsoft’s launch of Windows 10 Mobile should have been one of the biggest tech news stories of the year. After all, it’s not often that a brand-new mobile operating system is launched. But the media buzz you’d usually expect with a major launch simply wasn’t there. Social media was quiet.


Could it be that people have finally lost interest in Microsoft’s smartphone offerings? Or is it that the launch of Windows 10 Mobile was so ineptly handled, it was doomed from the beginning? Upon reflection I’m inclined to believe the latter. Here’s seven reason why.

1. Microsoft Repeatedly Set Launch Dates, and Missed Them

Perhaps the most frustrating thing about the launch of Windows 10 Mobile was how long it dragged on. At one point, it was expected that it would launch during the summer to coincide with the launch of Windows 10 for desktops (we’ll touch on that later). This turned out to not be the case.

Then, the launch date was revised to November. Then December. Fans waited with baited breath for it to arrive on their phones. But it didn’t. 2016 came, and Windows 10 Mobile was still nowhere to be seen.

The rumor mill took over, as it does when there’s a vacuum of information. Just a few weeks ago, there were rumblings that Vodafone in Italy would push out updates to users without the say-so of Microsoft. Microsoft Mexico hinted that Windows 10 Mobile would be launched on February 29.


With each missed release date and each unsubstantiated rumor, the core Windows Phone fanbase became more and more disillusioned. Fatigue set in, and when Windows 10 Mobile finally launched on March 18, few people had the energy to actually care.

2. Not Everyone Who Thought They’d Get the Update Actually Got It

This was probably the biggest slap in the face for Windows Mobile fans.

For the past year or so, owners of Lumia devices with a “2” in the name (like the Lumia 920, 925, and 1020) were able to take part in the Insider program, where they tested new features of the upcoming operating system as they were built. They followed each leap forward with those who owned newer, more powerful phones, like the Lumia 640 and the 830. They knew they’d get an upgrade because Microsoft made a promise to upgrade all Windows Phone 8 Lumia devices as early back as November, 2014.



But when it came to the launch day, they were left in the cold. Microsoft would not be releasing an upgrade for them.

Those with an unsupported phone have three options. They can either purchase a new phone, like the flagship Lumia 950, which was released at the tail-end of last year and ships with Windows 10 Mobile preinstalled. They can use an old Insider Preview build of Windows Mobile 10, which is likely instable and bug-prone. Or, they can stay on Windows Phone 8.1, which is rapidly stagnating.

Ostensibly, this was because Microsoft has struggled to get Windows 10 Mobile to perform well on older and lower-end devices, especially those with 512 MB of RAM. But those with unsupported devices don’t care about that. As you can tell from the Windows Phone subreddit, there’s a palpable sense of bitterness surrounding this.


3. Microsoft Misinformed About Which Phones Would Get the Update

But Microsoft has done something far worse than not providing updates for older phones.

Windows 10 Mobile has been public knowledge since January 2015. Since then, Microsoft has sold a number of devices that were explicitly advertised as being eligible for the Windows 10 Mobile upgrade on launch day. One of these is the Blu Win Jr, which launched less than a year ago and, specs wise, is virtually analogous to the Lumia 435, although the Lumia has slightly more RAM.

But when the launch eventually came, it turned out that it would not be getting the update.


Worse, even after the launch, Microsoft continued to sell the Blu Win Jr as being Windows 10 Mobile eligible, as one eagle-eyed Reddit user noticed. As you might expect, owners were furious as many of them had bought the phone on the basis it would ultimately get the upgrade.

4. Nobody Could Find the Actual Install App

Microsoft’s tactics for getting users to upgrade is radically different when it comes to Windows 10 Mobile. They’re all about subtlety. They’ve adopted a more genteel approach.

Unlike on the desktop, where users were inundated with aggressive pop-ups How to Block the Aggressive Windows 10 Upgrade on Windows 7 and 8.1 Microsoft ramps up its efforts to make users upgrade to Windows 10. Come 2016, many people will wake up to a new operating system, despite never having consented to the upgrade. Don't be one of... Read More trying to get them to upgrade, Microsoft has made it more of a choice. You can install Windows 10 Mobile or not, but users are under no obligation to do so.


To actually install the upgrade, you first have to install an application (called simply Upgrade Advisor) which assesses your eligibility, and cues up the download for you. It’s at this point where the Windows 10 Mobile comedy of errors takes a slightly surreal turn.

For many people, myself included, the Windows 10 Mobile Upgrade Adviser didn’t present itself in search results on the app store. They simply couldn’t find it.

I found it thanks to a Reddit thread. But hilariously, one person actually released an application (since deleted, but was downloaded, installed and reviewed a bunch of times) the sole job of which was to point people to the Windows 10 Mobile installer. Let that sink in.

There was another fundamental flaw in Microsoft’s upgrade strategy. Because the push for Windows 10 Mobile lacked the enthusiasm they had for the PC version of Windows 10, hardly anyone knew it was available.

You’d have to find out about it from a third-party source, like a technology blog or Reddit. This is why the people who are installing it are probably not that representative of those who use Windows Phone as a whole.

5. The Install Process Was a Fail

Overall, installing Windows 10 Mobile was a life-shortening experience in frustration. The installer was error prone, and frequently got stuck, or failed altogether and had to be rolled-back to Windows Phone 8.1.


Another major frustration was that it repeatedly told me my SIM-free Lumia 640 XL was ineligible for the upgrade, when it actually was. I’d have to wait a few minutes and check again before it would confirm that, indeed, it was eligible.

When you’re launching your next big foray into the increasingly lucrative smartphone world, the basic prerequisite is that the installer actually works. But this didn’t happen here.

6. The Launch Didn’t Coincide with Windows 10 for the Desktop

Windows 10 Mobile has a lot in common with its desktop brethren. Not only do they share much of their source code, but they’ve also got features designed to make them perfect bedfellows. One that springs immediately to mind is found within the notifications pane – it’s now possible to respond to texts and missed calls from your PC, similar to Handoff on the Mac.

When Windows 10 first launched, it presented the perfect opportunity for Microsoft to create a narrative of these products being intrinsically linked. They could have made it seem as though a Windows 10 Mobile is the most essential accessory for a Windows 10 PC. But that didn’t happen.

7. Windows 10 Mobile Fails to Address the Problems with Earlier Versions of Windows Phone

For Windows 10 Mobile to survive, let alone succeed, it needs to do two things. First, it has to retain the small market share it has right now. Second, it has to persuade other people to switch. For that to happen, it needs to convince people that Windows 10 Mobile is thriving, that it’s still relevant, and still in a constant state of improvement.

This, for the most part, hasn’t happened.

Microsoft hasn’t been able to reverse the app situation on Windows 10 Mobile, which is terminal. Dead apps are still a massive problem How Dead Apps Are Drowning the Windows Store Dead apps are everywhere in the Windows Store. Why are apps abandoned, how does it affect users, and how could Microsoft solve this dilemma? We analyze the sad state of the Windows Store. Read More , and Microsoft’s efforts with the Universal Windows Platform Why Steam Has Absolutely Nothing to Fear From Microsoft Microsoft reverted to its old anti-competitive behavior and is attempting to control the distribution of apps and games; if you believe Tim Sweeney. We think you need not be worried and here's why. Read More and Project Islandwood Want Your Favorite Android & iOS Apps to Run on Windows 10? Microsoft has an app problem. And their solution could let you run Android and iOS apps on your Windows desktop. Your turn! Encourage developers to port apps to Windows with Project Astoria or Islandwood. Read More won’t reverse that, because the issue isn’t with attracting developers, but rather convincing them to stick around.

Of the few apps that are still being maintained on Windows Phone 8.1 / Windows 10 Mobile, hardly any have feature parity with their iOS and Android counterparts. Facebook, which anyone would agree is an essential app, still lacks threaded messages, and the recently introduced reactions.

Windows 10 Mobile fails to address the fundamental missteps that Microsoft has taken (and continues to take) when it comes to localization and support across regions. Take Cortana, for example. This is as fundamental to Windows 10 as Siri is to iOS, and is actually rather good How Cortana Became The "Other Woman" In My Life She appeared one day and changed my life. She knows exactly what I need and has a wicked sense of humour. It's little wonder that I've fallen for the charms of Cortana. Read More . Yet it is currently only available in a fraction of markets, with most of them centered around North America and Europe.

Furthermore, Cortana only works if your language corresponds with your region. For example, if you are based in the UK and you prefer to use US English (as I do), Cortana won’t work. If you’re an expatriate living in France or Germany, and you want to use Cortana in your own language, you can’t. Given that the largest Windows Phone user base is in Europe, where dozens of languages are spoken and people move around freely, this feels like a colossal error of judgement.

An error that, sadly, remains to be fixed.

Were You Disappointed?

Were you let down by the launch of Windows 10 Mobile? Or do you think I’m wrong, and Windows 10 Mobile is sorely underrated. Tell me about it in the comments below.

Related topics: Windows 10, Windows 10 Mobile, Windows Phone, Windows Phone 8.

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  1. George T
    February 21, 2018 at 10:40 am

    To be disappointed you have to care.

  2. Martin Suchan
    December 10, 2017 at 10:49 am

    "But hilariously, one person actually released an application (since deleted, but was downloaded, installed and reviewed a bunch of times) the sole job of which was to point people to the Windows 10 Mobile installer. Let that sink in."

    Yeah, that was probably my app "Find Upgrade Advisor". It was downloaded more than 20,000 times in a matter of days or weeks! The stub on Microsoft Store is still available here

  3. Winston Churchill
    July 15, 2017 at 3:40 am

    Tried to update my Win mobile 8.2 build 2, a good solid performer, using both the Microsoft recommended pathways: 1. phone reset vs. 2. update. Both resulted in the phone being completely nonfunctional. Microsoft's implementation of Win mobile 10 update is an amazing disaster. If this standard would be used in any other business, the company would be out of business. The logic explains the poor Microsoft success with its phone.

  4. j93fkm9vj9v
    May 28, 2017 at 11:03 am

    This article is bogus, this doesn't tell you anything new, everyone knows this.

    If you want to really customize Windows, you have to patch the Shell style so you can install custom themes, or use complete UI replacements like Sharpenviro or BBLEAN

  5. rudi
    April 5, 2017 at 2:48 am

    Windows 10 Mobile is the worst. It's completely a bust. I've been a loyal windows phone user but this broke all trust .I am getting rid of my two 640's and turning to android. I am so pissed.

  6. rufus dufus
    October 25, 2016 at 7:41 pm

    Downloaded and installed OK but then the problems started. I am a PAYG customer and it was therefore important to me that Data use was turned off and it was restricted to Wi Fi only but the settings were worded in such a way that when I thought I had turned Data use off I had apparently turned it on. I don't remember the exact wording now but I assure you I have a reasonably good command of the English language and it fooled me; This however was not the main problem. My Lumia 535 started turning on in my pocket, this was something I had heard of but never experienced in the 18 months I had owned this phone. This of course contributed to shortened battery life. I am a low level user and I would normally have to charge every 24 hours but not essentially, I could go 2 days at a push. This turned in to 8 hours tops. Many apps would no longer work even the updated version from the store. I tried the official forum but got fed up of these people with badges professing their tech. ability telling me how stupid I was and one guy in particular who got quite offensive because I had the cheek to actually disagree with him about something when I was trying to roll back. In the end with the help of an un official site I managed to go back to 8.1 where I remain. The whole experience was a nightmare. All in all windows 10 upgrades had managed to kill my windows tablet (but that's another story) and spoil my phone but at least that was recoverable. At least my home built desktop seems to thrive on W10 but even that had many problems until I was able to make a fresh install of W10 as opposed to the upgrade from 8.1

  7. lifeisgoodok
    June 6, 2016 at 2:29 am

    Have windows 10 mobile version 10586.318 installed on my Nokia Lumia 920 and I could not be so happy. The look and feel is so much better than 8.1, everything runs faster and the battery life is way better. There were NO issues with the upgrade from 8.1 to this version. I just love it and now keeping my windows phone.

  8. DK
    June 2, 2016 at 7:13 am

    I installed windows 10 on Lumia 730 in march 2016 and tried it for 2 months. I found it too buggy despite regular updates. I had even reset my phone after upgrading to win 10 in the hope that win 10 with stock settings would work better. But the apps kept crashing. Maps didn't work properly. Browser took longer to load webpages despite compression in slow network areas and I found battery backup was also reduced.

    Now I am back to win 8.1 and happy with it.

  9. Hans de Nie
    April 5, 2016 at 1:01 am

    Contrary to Android phones, Windows phone 8 and or 10 does not allow VOIP applications to run in the background, and save valuable battery power when connected to a WIFI network.
    The only way to reliably achieve incoming SIP calls or messages is to require the SIP providers to use PUSH notifications.
    Mine and most providers cannot accommodate this.
    We all should contact Microsoft and complain about the crippling effects of the Window phones connected to WIFI networks

  10. Robintel
    March 30, 2016 at 8:07 am

    I have a Lumia 950XL that I love, and it's running Windows 10 Mobile, which is awesome, so let me break it for you:

    1. Microsoft Repeatedly Set Launch Dates, and Missed Them

    I don't care. I don't. If you want a clean Windows 10, you could buy a phone that has it, or wait until it becomes available for your headset. Hushing things is not the right answer, people wnat quality, not dates.

    2. Not Everyone Who Thought They’d Get the Update Actually Got It

    See (1).

    3. Microsoft Misinformed About Which Phones Would Get the Update

    See (1).

    4. Nobody Could Find the Actual Install App

    Yes, because it's not an app, it's an upgrade. You don't want your in-laws to upgrade without proper expertise, do you?

    5. The Install Process Was a Fail

    Did it happen to you? Anyway, see (1).

    6. The Launch Didn’t Coincide with Windows 10 for the Desktop

    Why should it coincide? Different platforms, different dates.

    7. Windows 10 Mobile Fails to Address the Problems with Earlier Versions of Windows Phone

    Not at all. Windows 10 has a lot more features than Windows Phone 8.1 in most, if not all, markets.

  11. Radu
    March 29, 2016 at 9:53 pm

    I think Windows 10 Mobile is underrated and that you might have some answers related to the app gap during the MS Build 2016. Let's see what do they announce tomorrow!

  12. Pratyush
    March 29, 2016 at 8:10 pm

    The App gap would hopefully be minimized after some time taking into account the recent cases where several apps were released as Universal Windows Apps and several are in the making.
    The update being available to only select phones is indeed a very huge letdown. One of the USP of Windows Phone was that the OS didn't need much resources to run, which resulted in better battery life without compromising essential functions, contrary to most of the smartphones available now!
    They should have continued the insider program for older phones and release the Update when it was mature. The insider program is indeed very nice feature of Windows platform.

    But at the end, with about half of the Windows Phone community left behind, I don't see much hope unless Microsoft does something miraculous.

  13. Oswaldo
    March 29, 2016 at 3:04 pm

    I've been using Windows Phones since 2013. I started out getting a Nokia Lumia 710 (with Windows Phone 7), which I never got to use, because I found out about the Lumia 625 (Windows Phone 8). I renewed my contract last year with a Lumia 635 (512 MB RAM) so I finally didn't get the Windows 10 upgrade. I'll wait for my contract to expire and then I'll decide on either a Lumia 650 or an iPhone. No Android for me, please.
    By the way, I recall at some point I read an article here, stating you would not cover Windows Phone anymore. Seems to me you guys have a love-hate relatonship with Microsoft... now where's the emoji for "it's complicated"?

  14. Tom B
    March 24, 2016 at 11:51 pm

    I have the HTC One M8 for Windows, and when I finally found the Upgrade Advisor and found my phone was eligible, I decided that when my Verizon contract is up in December of 2016 that I will be going to an Android phone. Microsoft has lost my faith in Windows phone.

    • Matthew Hughes
      March 26, 2016 at 3:20 pm

      I don't blame you.

  15. Ray Burns
    March 24, 2016 at 11:18 pm

    This is my first foray onto W10 Mobile on a couple of unlocked Lumia 640's. One was moved from a iPhone 5s and the other from a Samsung mega 6.3. The advisor app was not too difficult to find, although it was annoying that it wasn't as easy as it should have been to get. My carrier (AT&T) was not ready right off the bat to send out the update from windows 8.1 on these Lumia's, so I finally joined the insider ring, and from there, everything has been golden! I did have to do a hard reset after the upgrade but I am finding the OS to be pretty nice so far. If carriers offer devices with this OS then people will try it and they should find it suitable. I have a feeling the app gap that's been a major focus will begin to disappear given some time. W10 Mobile is going to be around and some people will start trying it out.

    • Matthew Hughes
      March 26, 2016 at 3:41 pm

      Interesting points! Although I've got a feeling that the refrain of " the app gap will begin to disappear given some time" is Windows Phone's "this is the year of the Linux desktop". ;)

  16. QPoint
    March 24, 2016 at 1:53 pm

    A couple points about this article:

    First, citing tweets is not the best way to convey a message. I say that with great respect to trolls everywhere.

    Second, all of the previous launch dates were rumors. You can't substantiate a loss due to some supposed leaks.

    Third, to find the install app, use google. People can't seem to use google nowadays?

    Fourth, the UWP is attracting developers. Look at the new Twitter, Bank Of America, Forza apps that have been released or are going to be released soon. Also, a lot of developers are redoing their apps with the UWP framework.

    Finally, if someone were to blame for the late Windows 10 Mobile rollout, it would be the carriers. They have no sense of urgency for releasing the official build. They still haven't.

    It's biased, uninformed reviews like these that make uneducated people shy away from Windows mobile in the first place. Please, do your research before posting a negative review.

    • Matthew Hughes
      March 26, 2016 at 3:40 pm

      Hello QPoint!

      1.) Citing tweets helps create a narrative. Sorry you don't like it, but I do, and I wrote this article, soooooooooooooooooooo....
      2.) Er, were they? A lot of them came direct from Microsoft's official channels. Are you saying they were mere rumors?
      3.) Do you not see how crappy that is? That people have to google to find the installer, rather than get it directly through their phones/app store?
      4.) Three apps. It'll take a lot to reverse the hemorrhaging that's happened on the Windows Phone app store.
      5.) Yes, all the carriers colluded to stop the release of W10M. It had absolutely nothing to do with Microsoft dragging their feet. Do you not realize how silly that sounds.?

      I'm sorry you're upset. I've obviously taken a pop at your sacred cow. But calling me biased and uninformed is nothing short of idiotic. Everything I've said has been accurate, and if you took a look at the comments on this piece, you'll realize that the majority of people are deeply dissatisfied with the launch of W10M, and have accepted that its terminal decline cannot be reversed.

      • Jon
        June 21, 2016 at 12:57 pm

        Matthew you have nothing to apologize for. I was a big Microsoft supporter. Pre-windows. I've been through everything from OS/2-Windows, ME, Vista. But even I finally had the rug pulled out from under me once to many times. I have zero faith they can turn this around. They have already had other schemes that have bombed out as well. It's not the diehard supporters MS has to worry about, it's the every day consumers and they simply don't care about W10M. It's not on their radar. Back to me, I've wasted money on a Zune HD, we know how they got bored with that quickly, and now 2 dead RT tablets coming in at over a grand that were useless a year + ago, and now a Lumia 920 I was duped into testing for over a year, only to be told on release day that we've decided you don't get it. (also happened to be my birthday lol. Of course). I'm done. We have new non-MS phones and non-Win computers on the way. I'm not wasting ten cents more on their crap.

  17. Marco Sarli
    March 24, 2016 at 2:23 am

    My installation went well and it was easy and fast. Cortana being unavailable in this part of the world is a problem and having to wait months for the upgrade was frustrating. This said Windows 10 mobile is still better than any other OS. As for the lack of apps I strongly suspect that most of the apps available for other OS are completely useless and not needed.

    • Matthew Hughes
      March 26, 2016 at 3:19 pm

      I'm not sure I agree. Apps like Hailo, Tripit, Hotel Tonight (no longer developed for WP) are hardly useless...

  18. Chris
    March 23, 2016 at 10:55 pm

    Super upset that Microsoft didn't include the Lumia Icon/929, which is identical to the Lumia 930, in the Windows 10 Mobile official lunch. Microsoft seems to think if they build it people will just accept it, they have done so much better with Office and Windows Desktop, they needed to bring Windows 10 Mobile with the same level of passion.

    • Matthew Hughes
      March 26, 2016 at 3:17 pm

      To be honest, Microsoft put virtually no heart or love into W10M. I think pretty much all of us have landed on the fact that this will likely be the last Windows smartphone OS ever.

  19. David
    March 23, 2016 at 9:50 pm

    An addition to my previous post. When I called Microsoft they told me that the Lumia 640 has issues with converting to Windows 10. They told me the only reason the app says it is no longer available is because my phone is not ready for the upgrade. They said if my phone was ready for the upgrade the app wouldn't say that, and I would be able to download the app. I did not believe them, and told them so. Can anyone confirm this.

    • Matthew Hughes
      March 26, 2016 at 3:18 pm

      Like I said earlier, fingers crossed someone in the comments will be able to help out! Alternatively, have you tried posting on the Windows Phone subreddit?

  20. David
    March 23, 2016 at 9:45 pm

    In reference to the Upgrade Advisor app. The Microsoft webpage says "You can’t get this App. This page is for info only". The windows store site(mobile app) says "the app is no longer available". I have a Lumia 640. I have 2 questions. 1) Does anyone know if I need to revert to Windows 8.1 from Windows 10 insider version for this app to be available. 2) Does anyone know if my only problem is that the app is actually no longer available.
    From what I've read you do not have to revert to Windows 8.1 for this to work.

    • Matthew Hughes
      March 26, 2016 at 3:16 pm

      I have no idea! I hope someone in the comments can answer it though!

    • Pratyush
      March 29, 2016 at 8:13 pm

      Simply switch to production build from the Windows Insider app.

  21. Anonymous
    March 23, 2016 at 9:23 pm

    "...which is likely instable and bug-prone."
    Instable is an archaic version of the word *unstable*.
    "...which assesses your eligibility, and cues up the download for you."
    *Queues*, although the word "cue" and "queue" have become somewhat synonyms in the vernacular.

    • Kousal
      March 24, 2016 at 5:00 am're are a "grate" reader.

    • Matthew Hughes
      March 26, 2016 at 3:15 pm


  22. Axel
    March 23, 2016 at 8:34 pm

    Windows 10 mobile works perfectly on both Lumia 640 and 735 (my sister and my mother).
    My (old) Lumia 925 runs Windows 10 mobile via Insider program (it's the exact same version than the public one.)
    And my 950 finally works like I'd expected.

    To me, if Windows fans really want to have W10m, they just have to integrate the Insider Program. But for the majority of WP users, who don't care about having the latest version, WP8.1 is still the best option, because it's reliable and fluid.

    • Matthew Hughes
      March 26, 2016 at 3:15 pm

      Is WP8.1 still a good option for users when you consider that the majority of apps aren't even being maintained any more? When you consider that essential apps like Facebook and Twitter lack basic feature parity?

    • Ninja250
      April 5, 2016 at 1:50 am

      I really like HERE Maps and HERE Drive+ on my WP8.1 Lumia 640. I'd consider trying W10M, but these two apps are only supported on WP8.1.

      • Anonymous
        April 12, 2016 at 9:07 am

        Just upgrade. HERE apps are being phased out. They will be retired on July I think. You'll be left with Microsoft Maps.

  23. jeff
    March 23, 2016 at 7:49 pm

    I bailed, I was one of their biggest fans for many, many years. MS blew it, was the best phone OS out there

    • Matthew Hughes
      March 26, 2016 at 3:09 pm

      Yep. The writing has been on the wall for a really long time. W10M is DOA.

  24. breakingjenish
    March 23, 2016 at 7:31 pm

    Using Windows 10 Mobile for some days now on my Lumia 535. Before its official release based on mixed reviews, I too thought that it's gonna be a failure but I was wrong. I am enjoying using it on my Phone. It is the coolest OS, It's going in the right direction and it's going to get big. And yes it is underrated.

    • Matthew Hughes
      March 26, 2016 at 3:11 pm

      Maybe, but will that translate to people using it, and developers writing apps for it? Almost certainly not.

      • Pratyush
        March 29, 2016 at 8:17 pm

        Why not? I feel the disappointment (I have a Lumia 630). But the recent developments suggest otherwise. Apps ARE coming. The rate is slow but steady. I still consider WP as an OS with great potential. But, as you said MS doesn't seem to put any love in the making of it :(