No less an authority than Bill Gates calls Microsoft’s mobile phone strategy a “mistake.” Microsoft did not ignore cell phones. Far from it. The world’s monopolistic software company was dabbling in handheld portable devices in 1990. Ten years later the Windows Mobile operating system hit the market and soon most of the phones in the world were running Microsoft technology. The mobile world at the time looked a lot like the desktop world.
Even after the iPhone splashed on the market in 2007 four of the five best-selling phones in the world still carried Windows in their guts for the next few years. In 2010 Microsoft scrapped Windows Mobile entirely and introduced Windows Phone which was not even compatible with its predecessor. By that time mighty Microsoft was uncharacteristically whimpering like a beaten underdog. In a meeting with movers and shakers in the financial world CEO Steve Balmer unveiled his dream that Windows Phone would soon be the third most popular smartphone platform. We’re number three! We’re number three!
Balmer indeed got his number three – in market share. Three percent is about what share of smartphone sales Windows Phone grabbed. This is in spite of generally favorable reviews for the product. It boasts attractive features and runs reliably across a wide spectrum of hardware. But the Windows Phone is sorely lacking in apps – the phone strategy to which Gates was mostly referencing. The world’s hunger for miniature applications is what drives the smartphone mania and even though Windows Phone provides more than 500,000 apps most, especially the popular ones, are afterthought knockoffs of IOS and Android apps. Many arrive lacking expected features and developers seldom get around to providing updates for Windows Phone with the urgency that is reserved for Apple and Google apps.
Of course the lack of appealing apps is a hard obstacle to overcome with mobile casino players. The upshot is that there are no online casinos boasting about being “Windows casinos.” There are no virtual casino sites developed for the Windows platform. There are no pronouncements welcoming Windows players to the gaming floor, the most you can hope to find is a statement of compatibility with the Windows Phone platform. Support for issues with casinos running on the Microsoft platform is sketchy at best.
That does not mean it is impossible to gamble online from a Windows Phone device. There are plenty of online casinos that can pulled up on the Internet Explore browser. But there is no support for Java and Flash for smartphones running Microsoft-created operating systems; HTML 5 casino applications are required. Again many popular and trusted online casinos – mFortune, Vera and John, Tivoli, Guts and more – will open smoothly into the Internet browser. No app downloads are required.
All that users of Windows-powered mobile devices need to do is to register with a chosen online casino and make an initial deposit. Follow all instructions to make sure you claim the welcome bonus to which you are eligible, noting the rollover requirements to release the bonus (the amount of money that must be gambled to validate the bonus). Once you have done background research and find a trusted online casino posting money into an account is as safe as dealing with any reputable Internet vendor.
By gambling online through a browser on a Windows Phone device rather than a downloaded app the graphics may not be as crisp and the pickings at the casino game buffet will be slimmer. But one advantage of a browser-accessed casino over a downloaded app – and it is the biggest advantage – is that real money can be gambled in countries like the United States which are under legal restrictions. Those fancy apps at the iTunes store and the Google Play store may look sharp and play easily but they do not allow gambling for real money due to these prohibitions.
As for those games, punters will be able to find enough action at the blackjack tables and roulette wheels and baccarat tables to satisfy any level of player. While the available slots games and video poker machines may not number in the hundreds like casinos crafted for more popular mobile platforms, operators can be found that put several dozen popular slots on offer. Windows Phone players can also get in on progressive games that are tied to play across many casinos – even ones that you will never see on your Microsoft-powered device. Some of these games, like Mega Moolah slots, manufactured by Microgaming and available to Windows Phone casinos, have paid out millions of dollars on a single twenty-five cent bet to lucky players.
Microsoft was again late to the party with its Surface tablet. When it finally arrived in 2012 it was the first time in Microsoft’s storied history that engineers in Redmond, Washington had attempted to infiltrate company-built hardware with the Windows operating system. Like Windows Phone, the device was generally well-received but lukewarm sales have failed to move the needle on increased online gambling attention for Microsoft. To date, the biggest buzz the Surface has received in the gambling world was when Harrah’s installed six rectangular tables in its Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas that were impregnated with 30-inch flat screens so patrons could order drinks, watch videos and flirt 21st century-style using Surface technology.
Gamble in online casinos, not so much. Maybe that will change in 2015 when Windows Phone is phased out and replaced with Windows 10 – Mobile that is designed to deliver a universal experience in lockstep with Microsoft’s signature desktop computer product, Windows 10. Or perhaps the mistake admitted to by chairman Bill Gates is a fatal one.