Wednesday, December 29, 2010

My Experience with Windows Phone…So Far


I was/am a huge fan of the Zune HD and its unique interface and most anyone who knows me knows I was always wishing out loud that Microsoft would make some sort of Zune HD phone. On most of the Zune websites and some other tech blogs, rumors were always swirling about when, if ever, Microsoft would turn the nascent, barely-marketed Zune HD into a mobile phone device. It wasn’t until Microsoft unveiled Windows Phone 7 on February 15, 2010, at Mobile World Congress 2010 in Barcelona that we finally saw what Microsoft had been doing behind the scenes while Windows Mobile faded helplessly in market share.

Greeted with both amazement and trepidation, the Windows Phone 7 user interface sought to do something that many companies weren’t prepared or just plain didn’t want to do: break off from the pack. Windows Phone’s interface was familiar, but different at the same time and many questioned whether these large colorful, but plain-looking “live tiles” were what consumers wanted. Up until now, we knew the new generation of smartphone UI’s to be essentially glorified app launchers with rows and pages of mixed games and apps. And this was fine, because this is what the people wanted.

Microsoft sought to change the idea of a phone UI by incorporating an application launcher with the added ability to show the user valuable information without having to open each application. Many applauded the Redmond giant for taking a different approach, but many also predicted the failure months before launch. So, with that introduction, how is it going owning one of these devices? Can it do what other major mobile players can? Is it a viable alternative to Android and Apple?

Almost two months into ownership of my Windows Phone 7 device and I’m both pleasantly surprised by the “fit and finish” and also sometimes frustrated by the lack of attention to certain aspects of the mobile OS. Let me be clear that my frustrations have nothing to do with the talking-points that most critics use, which is copy & paste and multi-tasking. I realize I’m not every user, but I have neither the use nor the battery life for such features.

Most of my complaints are about the little things, such as: the inability to call someone directly from the text messaging screen, the lack of a unified inbox for all of my mail, the inability to save camera settings, the lack of a larger color palette for live tiles. There are also things that I don’t need, but others do such as: copy and paste, multitasking and custom ringtones. The point is: Windows Phone is a new OS and there are shortcomings, but is the current base platform coupled with the future potential enough to make this thing the next must-have device?

I’ll not spend time going over the strengths of Windows Phone 7 because Mike Halsey has already done an excellent job of this which you can find here. Also, there are so many strengths and high points to consider, especially for a first generation device that it’s already been said over and over. What I will say is that if you haven’t tried a device for yourself, get to a mobile store and pick one up, you may be surprised at what you find. You may find that you still prefer other devices, but if Windows Phone is for you, one trip to your carriers store may be worth your time.

To return to my original question about whether this is a viable alternative to an everyday device (with regards to Android and Apple). Windows Phone certainly is, but you’ll need to be patient and realize going in that there are some things unfinished and here’s hoping we get those updates from Microsoft sooner than later.


No comments:

Post a Comment