Farewell, Windows Phone

It was a gray afternoon, the kind that makes people long for rain just to break up the dreary monotony of the sky. I was nursing a scotch, which was by this point in time far too diluted for my taste, as the ice had long melted. As I lit my fifth cigarette I heard a dull thump outside. Must be the paper. Late as usual.

The winter had been strangely warm this year. Not warm enough to enjoy going outside, but not so cold as to let snow lay on the cracked pavement for any meaningful amount of time. I shivered as I opened the creaking door, and the chilly air let itself wash over me. Bringing the Gazette inside I noticed the subtle smell of damp paper and ink. The Daily Gazette was the only halfway respectable newspaper in town so everybody had a subscription, and the publisher's executives didn't feel any particular need to enforce timeliness of deliveries or proper moisture protection.

As I poured myself a fresh drink, I noticed out of the corner of my eye a familiar physiognomy. Could it be? After all this time?

Intrigued, I put down the crystal glass, half filled with that nourishing amber liquor, and walked over to the pile of newspapers that was once known as my couch. Unfolding the newspaper with ever so slight trepidation, I froze. It was her.

The year was 2004, and I was young and carefree. My interests at the time included mobile phones and software development. And she was at the center. Back then she was known as Windows Mobile 2003 SE. A long name, full of history. We hit it off immediately, and over time our love flourished. Having a troubled past, she had changed her name more than once. We pulled through those tough times of her becoming Windows Mobile 5, 6, and 6.5. During those years, she had adopted quite a few aliases, and I was intimately familiar with some more than others. Audiovox SMT5600/HTC Typhoon, HTC TyTN/HTC Hermes, and HTC Touch Pro/HTC Raphael/AT&T Fuze were my favorites.

But one day, something happened. She had been away for a while on yet another job, and we lost touch. When we finally reunited, she was... different. She called herself Windows Phone 7 and seemed to rely less on her aliases. Previously when she adopted new identities, she was still the same person underneath the makeup, the same one I fell in love with. Not this time. Her hair color and style were changed. She had adopted a new, unfamiliar accent. Even her skin tone seemed somehow different. But more than that, she was distant.

In the past we had shared everything with each other, the good and the bad. I could truly say that I knew her, and she trusted me enough to let me into her world - all of her documented and undocumented APIs were mine to explore. That trust was now gone. It was as if she had experienced something so terrible in her time away that she could no longer trust anyone at all. Except that wasn't entirely true. There were certain people who called themselves carriers and OEMs. She knew them before, but now she seemed to be perpetually closer to them than to me.

Still, we made it work. Writing software for her was still the best mobile development experience in the world. I came to truly enjoy and even be inspired by her new focus on overall user experience, something I had intuitively done before, but never really focused on. And occasionally, she would still let me use some of her APIs that she normally kept to herself, which was affectionately called "jailbreaking".

Unfortunately, even that limited, secret trust went away as she started calling herself Windows Phone 8. Her most impressive alias, Nokia Lumia 920, was a work of art indeed. Beautiful, with the world's first optical image stabilization camera in a phone. I've been with the 920 since she introduced this alias at the BUILD conference. She made me feel special, privileged to be the first to see her in this form. But as she refined her personality with new firmware updates for others, she held them back from me. So naturally, I had mixed feelings of relief, anticipation, and wonder as I saw her in the Gazette with the headline "Portico update finally available to Lumia 920s from BUILD". It was a message for me. She still wanted us to be together. It felt like our love was renewed once again.

Alas, it was not meant to last. I found out something about her update - something that, by itself, may have been all right, but combined with all her other changes, was just too much for me. She had betrayed my trust. She changed herself dynamically based on the SIM card that she thought she used. I could no longer use Wi-Fi tethering, as she thought my MVNO-provisioned SIM card was that of AT&T, and she began asking AT&T for permission to let me tether. I thought it was a fluke. I contacted the OEM that provided her Lumia 920 alias to ask about this, but they confirmed the worst. This was part of the Portico update.

This was the proverbial straw that broke the camel's back. I didn't want to admit it publicly, but I missed terribly her openness from the old Windows Mobile days. This final blow of disabling tethering, especially when she didn't even realize the true origin of the SIM card, had shattered my hopes of getting her to open up to me again. It was finally time to move on to someone who would not be so closed to me. A girl who'd been eyeing me for some time now. A girl named Android.

NOTE: The preceding was a (rather obvious) dramatization of more or less accurate events. Except, I don't smoke. Or drink scotch. Or subscribe to anything called the Daily Gazette. And I don't usually anthropomorphize my devices. However, I am indeed switching to Android. For added effect, play this as background music.

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