With the spotlight of competing mobile operating systems focused on Apple’s iOS versus Google’s Android (now with the latest version Oreo), one can quickly forget that Microsoft also has a mobile version of their Windows OS. Windows Phone first made its entrance in 2010 as a mobile version of Windows 7, with its latest actual update being Windows Phone 8.1 back in 2014. With support for this MOS having ceased last July to focus on the new Windows 10 Mobile, devices with 8.1 are now on the figurative chopping block for replacement. Nowhere is this situation more pronounced than with the NYPD, which is planning to switch out their 36,000 Windows Phones for iPhones by year’s end.

Solo choice

It was a monumental embarrassment to the City of New York when their “bold modernization move” of purchasing Windows Phone-using Nokia models for their officers backfired with the July announcement that the OS will no longer be supported, just months after the last units were issued. Mayor Bill de Blasio had called the new police-use smartphones, part of the NYPD Mobility Initiative costing $160 million, a step into the 21st Century. Now they have to do reacquisition for new smartphones all over again.

The decision to buy no less than 36,000 Nokia Lumia 830 and Lumia 640 XL with Windows Phone 8.1 was reported to have been the sole call of the NYPD’s Deputy Commissioner for Info-Tech, Jessica Tisch.

She is now being scapegoated for the sheer waste of resources in her choice of device for police use, with tech observers remarking her strange choice over the more obvious iOS-using Apple iPhones and the variety of Android smartphones available. The fact that the Windows Phone 8.1 on the Nokia mobiles was packaged with specially-commissioned 911 apps could not change the fact that as of the NYPD acquisition, Microsoft’s MOS had a less than one percent US market share against the big two.

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Enter iPhones

When asked about how Deputy Commissioner Jessica Tisch managed to get her way with the Windows Phone choice, the most charitable answer that sources in the NYPD would give is that it is due to compatibility. Before the issue of the phones, the police video surveillance network at the Lower Manhattan Security Initiative Command Center already uses Microsoft software, which Windows Phone could easily link with.

The less charitable replies have it that Tisch, granddaughter of a co-founder of Loews Corporation, was “a terror” used to getting her way.

Meanwhile, the NYPD is back to the drawing board with finding a replacement iPhone for their now-obsolete Nokia with Windows Phone 8.1. Although the iPhone 8 was recently announced, the department does not think they will go with that at once.