For Microsoft, Windows Phone development is a bottom-up approach

Windows Phone is an OS that performs well on nearly any hardware. From the low-end iterations like the Lumia 520/521 to the top of the line Lumia 930, Windows Phone has proven to scale well across many different screen sizes and hardware.

Of course, this was by design and after spending a few days with Microsoft and their Windows Phone staff at BUILD, a little bit of light was thrown onto their process which highlights why Windows Phone works so well on low-end devices.

When developing the Windows Phone OS, developers are required to use low-end hardware and we don't mean that they have it on a test-bench and occasionally use the devices for testing. Nope, the devs must use the low-end devices as their phone to make sure that Windows Phone works perfectly on the low-end hardware at all times. While higher-end hardware is tested, for daily use devices, it's low end hardware or bust.

The logic is quite obvious, it's easier to scale-up in performance than it is to do the reverse, and it's one of the reasons why Windows Phone will always work well on all types of devices. It's also important for Microsoft to build for low end and optimize for high end so that the entry level devices offer an experience that Microsoft can be proud of, unlike some Android devices in the early days of the platform, that had less than optimal experiences with entry level hardware.

More so, seeing that Windows Phone is selling the most units in the low-cost market and the new 630 and 635 that were recently announced, Microsoft and Nokia are continuing to push the low end of the spectrum to help take market share in the lucrative smartphone segment.

When you start to look forward with Windows Phone 8.1 and the new features it will bring to the platform, it's good to know that Microsoft is truly keeping all devices in mind when it builds out its feature-set and does not try to differentiate between high and low-end hardware.

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Windows has always been about extreme affordability, and that's exactly where they need to be. MS needs to double down on consumers. Make things as moron-proof and discoverable as possible, while simultaneously giving those of us that actually know how to use the damn things all the stuff we need.

And do SOMETHING about the ability for scumbags like Conduit Search to sidestep their way through the end user into the OS and screw up the interface to the point of it being rendered unusable.

sjaak327 said,
Apple never made budget hardware !

Even their cheapest Phone (the 4s) costs 400 bucks.

Shop around. Boost is selling the 4S for $300. Not sure if its unlocked or if they're slightly subsidizing it. Allegedly the $99 Lumia 520 is being sold much cheaper in the US than other countries due to subsidization. Risking $100 on prepaid subsidization isn't bad when you consider that "fee with contract" phones are swallowing $400... They must be really confident on recouping that $100.

Chikairo said,
Shop around. Boost is selling the 4S for $300. Not sure if its unlocked or if they're slightly subsidizing it. Allegedly the $99 Lumia 520 is being sold much cheaper in the US than other countries due to subsidization. Risking $100 on prepaid subsidization isn't bad when you consider that "fee with contract" phones are swallowing $400... They must be really confident on recouping that $100.

I am sure you can get them cheaper, I merely quoted Apple's website. The point of course still stands, as I do not consider a 400 euro phone to be budget, a 150 bucks 520 does fit that bill.

The 150 price is retail price, not carrier subsidy, as in my country (NL) it makes much more sense to buy phones outright and then get the cheapest contract you can find, after two years, the phone is actually quite a bit cheaper and you don't pay for stuff you don't use anyway :)

Chikairo said,
.....

Carrier subsidies are such a scam.
You'll wind up paying 110-200% of the devices retail value by paying back the subsidy in the life of the contract.

deadonthefloor said,

Carrier subsidies are such a scam.
You'll wind up paying 110-200% of the devices retail value by paying back the subsidy in the life of the contract.

Be that as it nay, its still a popular way to get a phone here. And most people, I think, would go into shock if they had to buy their hot new phones at actual price. Its an option, but most seem to pass on it for $400+ devices.

Chikairo said,

Be that as it nay, its still a popular way to get a phone here. And most people, I think, would go into shock if they had to buy their hot new phones at actual price. Its an option, but most seem to pass on it for $400+ devices.

If people would do the calculation, it would actually be a shock that they are paying the phone in any case + are forced to pay for stuff they hardly use each and every month.

I purchased a 400 euro 820 which was also available on contract. At the time of purchase (January last year) the monthly contract was 32.50 which makes the total price of the phone 24*32.5=780 euro.

I opted to purchase the phone (400 Euro) and have a much cheaper 12.5 euro per month contract (which offers the same amount of minutes and data) which means that over that same period of 24 months , I actually only pay 700 euro. Furthermore I could have opted for a 1 year contract and basically paying the same monthly 12.5 euro, which then offers flexibility in changing carriers if the need arises for whatever reason.

VictorWho said,
With all due respect, this was Apple's iPhone approach since they saw Microsoft fail with Windows Mobile.

Yeah, considering they make a whopping two (and earlier one) mobile phones, I guess it must be challenge to keep up with all the different hardware.

VictorWho said,
With all due respect, this was Apple's iPhone approach since they saw Microsoft fail with Windows Mobile.

Not really. Their model was to only have one basic set of hardware with only storage size changing. Each year brought a new model, with the previous year's going down a price point. So far as I can remember, they've never done multiple models with specific targeting of price points like the Lumias (5**, 6**,7**, 8**, 9**). They've never released a phone meant to be sold brand new for $200 or less off contract, for instance. Their model is good, but its not the same. Every iPhone was a high end phone when it came out. Eventually all will get obsoleted, but that's life/tech for you.

The Lumia 520's have significant spec differences compared to the 920's: RAM, storage, display size and resolution, SOC specs, construction (gorilla glass, metal, whatever), etc. Its a much bigger gap than an iPhone 4S and an iPhone 5S. But the 520 series of phone is also available for under $100 USD off contract in the US. You're not going to buy an iPhone 4S for that little brand new from a store/carrier. Apple will discontinue an item before letting it hit that price. Likewise, they won't lower their specs or change construction to do so (when the 5C is essentially just a 5 internally).

Apple pretty much only lets things "age," and the lowest they go is mid-range for contract phones ($0.99 r free with 2yr contract). After that? Its gone. With Windows Phone and Android you have all these price points being developed, made and sold simultaneously.

tajen said,

Yeah, considering they make a whopping two (and earlier one) mobile phones, I guess it must be challenge to keep up with all the different hardware.

:laugh: And a mid-to-high end phone while they're at it!

Chikairo said,
Apple will discontinue an item before letting it hit that price. Likewise, they won't lower their specs or change construction to do so (when the 5C is essentially just a 5 internally).
Agree with all you said but didn't they lower the storage to 8GB and release a new 5C?

VictorWho said,
With all due respect, this was Apple's iPhone approach since they saw Microsoft fail with Windows Mobile.

I don't understand what you're saying here.

WM ran on terrible hardware decently. It was also the terrible hardware that did WM in. The last 3 years of WM devices all used the same ###### processor. It was seriously bad. The first iPhone had a much better CPU and GPU than what WM had. There was only 1 popular WM device at the end of its life that didn't totally suck, and that was the HTC HD2.

Romero said,
Agree with all you said but didn't they lower the storage to 8GB and release a new 5C?

As far as I know storage is the only real change there, and that's covered by varying storage mentioned earlier. I think the 5C is made to be less expensive for Apple, but that's not really being passed onto consumers. Its at the same price point the 5 would be at - $99 for 16g w/2yr contract or $199 for 32g w/2yr contract. I don't see an 8g 5C on their website, or a free-99¢ w/2yr contract on AT&T. That's the position held by the 4S.

All very good phones. I prefer my Lumias (had a 900, have a 1020 now), but there's no "one size fits all," so I'm glad there's a wide selection of smartphones available.

"unlike some Android devices in the early days of the platform, that had less than optimal experiences with entry level hardware."

you speak as if it was past tense. not at all. Android remains a mess in the low end with lag, crashes and just downright horrible performance today. Part of the reason you need an octa-peta-hyper-uber-epic core cpu to run decent android.

neonspark said,
"unlike some Android devices in the early days of the platform, that had less than optimal experiences with entry level hardware."

you speak as if it was past tense. not at all. Android remains a mess in the low end with lag, crashes and just downright horrible performance today. Part of the reason you need an octa-peta-hyper-uber-epic core cpu to run decent android.

That, or a reasonably affordable Moto G. Now, if you mean the outdated and bloated bastardized versions of Android that 99% of manufacturers use on their devices, yeah, I agree with you.

ParadiseLost said,

That, or a reasonably affordable Moto G. Now, if you mean the outdated and bloated bastardized versions of Android that 99% of manufacturers use on their devices, yeah, I agree with you.

It wasn't just bad builds of Android, there are fundamental flaws in the OS model and architecture. Sure 4.x is better, but it is a lot of duct tape on a bad design.

Sadly the Moto G is considered 'usable' low end for Android today, and yet has twice the hardware specifications of the Nokia 520. (2.5x CPU/GPU, 2x RAM)

well they did the same with Windows 8 and see where we ended up. They made sure everything works on a low end tablet and tried to make it work on the every day use device "desktop PC" as well :)

well there is a perfect example, well done.

Oh apart from that it (windows 8) does work perfectly well on any device, there are criticisms related to personal opinion on start screen/start menu and live tiles, but this article is about performance being smooth since you start developing for the devices at the bottom end of the power scale first.

So again, sensible approach.

-adrian- said,
well they did the same with Windows 8 and see where we ended up. They made sure everything works on a low end tablet and tried to make it work on the every day use device "desktop PC" as well :)

You can go totally polemic on anything really, if you're happy to change the context of the argument completely.

Objectively, take a long hard look at the Surface Pro. It was the defining "Windows 8" device. A low-end tablet and hamstrung PC then? I'm sure some owners will put you right...

-adrian- said,
well they did the same with Windows 8 and see where we ended up. They made sure everything works on a low end tablet and tried to make it work on the every day use device "desktop PC" as well :)

It ended up great. I can't believe how fast and smooth it is. And to think only a few years we were running a heavy beast like Vista. They've made some incredible improvements, first with 7 and now with 8. And from what I gather Windows 8.1 update1 is going to make it run on even lower-end hardware. Unthinkable a few years ago!

Ronnet said,

It ended up great. I can't believe how fast and smooth it is. And to think only a few years we were running a heavy beast like Vista. They've made some incredible improvements, first with 7 and now with 8. And from what I gather Windows 8.1 update1 is going to make it run on even lower-end hardware. Unthinkable a few years ago!


To be fair to Vista, hardware improved and MS tried to keep system requirements the same. That said, they've also been working on performance since W7, whereas Vista's focus was security. Vista was ugly, but foundational for W7 and W8. And once the house is built, you generally don't think about the foundation much :)

Chikairo said,

To be fair to Vista, hardware improved and MS tried to keep system requirements the same. That said, they've also been working on performance since W7, whereas Vista's focus was security. Vista was ugly, but foundational for W7 and W8. And once the house is built, you generally don't think about the foundation much :)

The same? I'm still using my old Acer laptop from 2008. It came with Vista. It was terribly slow. I wanted to replace it but then I installed Windows 7 on it. So much faster! And now Windows 8 is MUCH better. the experience is incredibly fast and smooth. A far cry from what it used to be with Vista.

Of course every version is a foundation stone for the one that comes after it. But the jumps made with Windows 7 and 8 are huge compared to Vista. I'm talking user experience here.

Ronnet said,

The same? I'm still using my old Acer laptop from 2008. It came with Vista. It was terribly slow. I wanted to replace it but then I installed Windows 7 on it. So much faster! And now Windows 8 is MUCH better. the experience is incredibly fast and smooth. A far cry from what it used to be with Vista.

Of course every version is a foundation stone for the one that comes after it. But the jumps made with Windows 7 and 8 are huge compared to Vista. I'm talking user experience here.


Microsoft totally rewrote how Windows handles multiple cpus/cores with W7. It was one of the biggest features of W7 that they barely talked about. But again, W7 was focused on performance - they didn't want to make system requirements go up from Vista. Combine that with better efficiency? Its wonderful :)

W8 even used a little less memory than W7. I'm looking forward to this bigger drop coming up... Is that for all W8 computers? Or is it a special install? I've seen conflicting information on that :(