What kind of a Windows 10 Mobile launch is this, anyway?

Kip Kniskern

Lumia 950s

Yesterday, Microsoft released the November update to Windows 10, and was widely expected to launch a “final” version of Windows 10 Mobile along with it. That didn’t happen, and even though Windows Insiders were promised a new mobile build last week, it still hasn’t arrived and won’t for “a few days”. Even when the shipping version of Windows 10 Mobile does arrive, it’s going to be in very much of a “version one” state. Like Windows 10 for the desktop before it, probably won’t be “finished” until the first major update, which we could assume may come sometime in early 2016.

Alongside the release of the new operating system, Microsoft is preparing to launch two new flagship phones, the Lumia 950 and 950XL, but here too, “launch” is a nebulous term. We’ve been getting reports from all over (Australia, Poland, Germany, the UK, etc) about various Lumia 950/XL launches. The problem there is all of them seem to have different schedules, of varying believability, varying pricing schemes, and overall what appears to be a not very well organized launch.

Even the ATT messaging is screwed up
Even the ATT messaging is screwed up

When you contrast that to the feat Microsoft pulled off with the launch of the Surface Pro 4 and the Surface Book, not only knocking it out of the park with the Surface Book reveal, but launching the devices themselves (sure there were some individual glitches), it makes the launch of the new Lumia flagships even more puzzling. Microsoft has learned how to pull off a product launch. They got the surprise element right in the launch of the original Surface line, everything from re-using the product name so as not to tip their hand with copyright and trademark applications, to keeping things under wraps until the last moment (actually, they may have done this too well, OEMs were not happy at the surprise they got with the original Surface, and they were let in on the plans a bit earlier for the Surface Book).

So what’s going on? Is Windows 10 Mobile, in its apparent unfinished state, holding back a Lumia flagship launch? Is there more to it than that? We know that Microsoft pulled Lumia 950XL demo models from Microsoft Stores, are there hardware problems as well as software ones?

As well as Microsoft pulled off the launch of the Surface Book and Surface Pro 4, they seem to be botching the Lumia flagship launch. If they can pull off a November 20th launch at ATT here in the US, and bring Lumias to other countries at around the same time, they may be able to barely squeak in to some holiday sales promotions, but any later than that is probably too late, and Microsoft will have blown another holiday sales cycle.

But as we speak, Windows 10 Mobile isn’t ready, the development team has had its hands full with the launch of the Windows 10 November update (and there again, does it really make any sense to have the Windows 10 and Windows 10 Mobile teams the same? Why isn’t there a dedicated team working full steam ahead on Windows 10 Mobile?), and we’re not really sure if the devices are ready or not.

It’s looking more and more like Windows Mobile is an afterthought, and not a priority, for Microsoft. As Windows Phone enthusiasts, that’s a little hard to take.