What’s Wrong With the Windows Phone?

by Harry C. Marks   |   September 12th, 2013

If you read the gadget blogs, especially those run by people who focus primarily on a single company, the overwhelming feeling is that Microsoft should just give up the consumer phone market and let Apple and Android duke it out. After all, what good is trying when you only have 4 percent market share I certainly hope none of these people are teachers.

I’m not here to argue in favor of one operating system over the other, nor am I here to declare my allegiance to any particular flavor. I don’t want any OS to fail. I want competition. How boring would the mobile market be if the only two contenders left were iOS and Android? It wouldn’t benefit anyone.

Instead, I’m going to ask some questions: Why isn’t Windows Phone gaining the traction it needs to thrive in such a cut-throat industry? What’s holding it back and what can be done to fix the problem? And I do want this problem fixed because Windows Phone has a lot to offer and the mobile world would be worse off without it.

How It’s Sold

I performed a little experiment recently which led me to a few carrier stores to see how they pitch phones to customers. I went in with a story, one that isn’t entirely untrue, about how my wife is planning on buying her first smartphone soon (she carries an old school Nokia flip phone) and was looking for some recommendations. I told the sales people she needed:

* Something easy to use
* A decent web browser
* Apps for reading, social media, and watching TV

At the Verizon store, the salesman immediately said, “She’s going to want a Galaxy S4 or a Droid.” I asked why and he said, “She’ll be able to run a ton of apps and the browser’s pretty good.” I asked him about the iPhone and he said it was also great, but she wouldn’t be able to download attachments from the browser. I wasn’t sure why that was such an important feature, but I let it go.

When I asked about Windows Phone, he said, “I love Windows Phone. I really liked it when I had it as my work phone, but there just aren’t enough apps.” From my brief interaction with this gentleman, it sounded like he was pushing Android because he used Android personally, but I wasn’t entirely sure.

At the AT&T store, I spun the same yarn about my wife and the salesman’s first choice this time was the iPhone. Not only that, but he suggested that if this was her first smartphone, she might want to skip the iPhone 5 and just get the 4S. He said it’d have the same great apps and browser, and it was super easy to use.

Once again, I had to ask the sales person for information on Windows Phone and once again, he said he loved it and that it was also very easy to get the hang of, but it lacked a lot of the apps people wanted.

So, two recurring issues I encountered in the carrier stores were:

1. Lack of mention of Windows Phone at all without further prodding from the customer.
2. A lack of apps when compared to the ginormous app stores of iOS and Android.

It was a matter of, “We love it, but we can’t recommend it.”

Advertising

Okay, so carriers aren’t exactly encouraging customers to buy Windows Phone devices. Surely then, a phone that isn’t the iPhone needs solid advertising to propel it forward. What’s fascinating about Microsoft’s Windows Phone ads is that many of them are quite fun and charming, unlike the Surface ads with break-dancing office workers.

The “Really?” ad that first appeared with the launch of Windows Phone 7 made it clear what the OS was all about: getting you your information without the need to open individual apps. It was funny and poignant and told the audience, “Here’s something new and different.”

Then came the celebrity-endorsed commercials featuring Jessica Alba and Gwen Stefani, which featured the entertainers explaining to the audience why they loved their Windows Phones. These ads were what we’d been clamoring for from the likes of Motorola and Samsung, who decided being robots and insulting prospective buyers were the ways into shoppers’ hearts. These new celeb ads demoed the capabilities of Windows Phone, like the Kid Zone, pinning apps to the Start screen, and getting pertinent information via Live Tiles, similar to how Apple’s first ads for the iPhone were essentially 30 second tutorials.

It’s hard to say whether celebrity endorsements matter much these days. Some of the least beloved iPhone ads were the ones where actors like Zooey Deschanel and Samuel L. Jackson used Siri to order soup and make gazpacho. And since many smartphones offer the same basic functions, ads need to show off the “killer features” and leave an impression with viewers, which is where the Siri ads work, but would they have worked just as well with “normal” people?

Enter the “Wedding” and “Perfect Shot” Microsoft/Nokia ads. In the first commercial, feuding guests take verbal and physical shots at one another while defending their respective “tribes” (iOS and Android), all while the Windows Phone-wielding catering staff mock them for their silliness. This commercial didn’t demo any features, but it did make a splash when it first aired and for two good reasons:

1. It was funny.
2. It prominently featured Microsoft’s competitors, Apple and Samsung.

Number two is what confused many. Microsoft/Nokia, already a distant third in the mobile race, were airing an advertisement that clearly displayed devices made by the competition. What made matters worse was the line uttered by the male waiter: “Do you think if they knew about the Nokia Lumia, they’d stop fighting all the time?” The Lumia 920 featured in the ad had been out for almost a year before the commercial aired. If they didn’t already, why would they want to know about a phone that was going to be obsolete in a matter of months?

The Microsoft/Nokia “Perfect Shot” ad for the Lumia 1020 features much of the same cast from the “Wedding” ad and shows off a new, currently available phone. More specifically, it advertises the biggest draw of the device: the 41-megapixel camera and its impressive zoom.

“Perfect Shot” has a similar theme to “Wedding” in that an audience of proud moms, dads, and grandparents are all fighting with one another in order to get a prime view of their kids putting on a play. Again, the ad is chock full of iPhones, iPads, and Galaxies. Perhaps that fact doesn’t matter so much for this commercial, since there’s a clear narrative here: the Lumia 1020′s camera blows all other phone cameras and tablets out of the water.

It seems Microsoft/Nokia are getting a better idea of what advertisements work vs. which ones don’t. Got an amazing feature the other guys lack? Show it off and leave the break-dancing at home. But are these ads working for customers? Based on the growth of the platform over the last year, it’s certainly possible.

Growth

Let’s put the whole “Windows Phone is stagnant” idea to bed. You might not know it from the articles out there, but Windows Phone has grown since Nokia began exclusively making devices for it in 2012. Shipments nearly doubled from Q2 2012 to Q2 2013 and Nokia sold a record 7.4 million Lumia handsets last quarter, a 32% quarter-to-quarter increase in sales. Those aren’t the double-digit numbers of a Samsung or an Apple, but growth is growth and it’s good to see a company actually gaining market share instead of losing it.

What most bloggers tend to forget or ignore is that Nokia (the predominant and almost sole manufacturer of Windows Phones) makes a lot of its money outside the United States. The majority of Nokia’s sales occur in Europe and Asia where the company has held onto a sizable chunk of the market. Last quarter, sales in North America fell by 100,000 units from 600,000 to 500,000, but it will be interesting to see where things fall after the holidays. The Lumia 1020 with its 41-megapixel camera has been hyped up by several prominent bloggers and it’s all but convinced this fearless commentator to switch from iOS to Windows Phone when his contract is up next year.

Yes, that’s right. Pending any major breakthroughs announced between Apple’s iPhone event on September 10 and the end of my contract in the spring, yours truly will be switching to Windows Phone–specifically, to the next iteration of the Lumia 1020. That camera is the killer feature and enough to sway me away from iOS.

I know what you’re thinking. “But Harry, that’s crazy talk and it’s making me uncomfortable. Up is down, black is white, and I’m starting to think Hayden Christensen might not be that bad of an actor.” The world is indeed a scary place, but I was lucky enough to talk to some others who took the Metro-fied leap before me and inquire about their experiences with Windows Phone 8. What I found may shed some light on why the OS isn’t taking off, but why those who use it really love it.

Testimonials

I interviewed several people who use Windows Phone daily about their phones. What do they love? What do they hate? What do they wish they had?

The overwhelming theme I heard was that Windows Phone is a “polished” and “fluid” OS with a coherent, cohesive UX.

Kevin R. says:

“I still really love the flat design – particularly after maturing with Windows Phone 8. And I love the fluidity of live tiles, and that I can get headlines delivered right to my start screen. I also really love that it’s the best of both worlds between iOS and Android. It’s all very tightly controlled and integrated like Apple’s OS, but has a wide range of hardware options like Android.”

While the people I talk to on Twitter write off Live Tiles as a pointless gimmick, those who actually use them on a daily basis see much value in them. Additionally, Windows Phone 8′s “Me” tile, which brings a user’s social media content all under one roof, has gone over surprisingly well.

As Zack W. puts it:

Being able to go to my Me tile and post a quick update to Twitter or FB is really handy, and seeing my social notifications in a single stream is just so damn convenient.

But all is not well in Windows Phone land. There are some serious issues Microsoft needs to work out to appease most users. Zack W once again:

“There are some simple features that I feel are missing (custom alert sounds being one of them). What needs the most work? As a dev, I think it’s gotta be API access to developers. There needs to be more access to OS-level code, and more congruency with the WinRT API on the desktop.”

Zack wasn’t the only one who mentioned Windows on the desktop. Kevin R. noticed a serious schism between Windows Phone 8 and Windows 8:

The way you share content is completely different, each platform has its own gestures for the same function, live tiles animate differently and display differently, selecting text works differently, the way the time and connectivity icons are display is different etc. Even when Windows Phone 8.1 drops the new app killing feature requires a different technique to Windows 8.

Windows Phone 8 and Windows 8 may have Metro-style Start screens, but that’s where the similarities end. If Microsoft isn’t going to split Windows 8 into proper tablet and desktop operating systems, it’s going to have to work at unifying the experiences between its mobile and desktop platforms to make adoption easier on users.

Daniel, a third interviewee, rattled off a list of issues plaguing Windows Phone:

I believe OS functionality needs the most work. It’s missing core features and some of the current features need much improvement; the overall impression I get is that many aspects are half-baked. Here are some examples that I can remember off the top of my head:

  1. Push notifications totally disappear after only appearing very briefly, and sometimes only appear after I’ve unlocked the phone and used it for a bit. Also, the banners don’t show enough information.*
  2. Text selection is annoying; I find myself wrestling with it often.
  3. Autocorrect doesn’t correct often enough.
  4. I’ve found that Internet Explorer doesn’t render some websites properly.
  5. Mail shows emails that are in the spam folder in Inbox for my Yahoo Mail account.
    You can’t set a static IP address.

The lack of a proper notification center is a problem that keeps coming up and it’s something Microsoft is allegedly working on for an upcoming update.

Finally, the biggest complaint from sales staff, casual users, and the press is, of course, the lack of apps. But how accurate is that claim? And is it a matter of Windows Phone not having *enough* apps or not having *the right* apps?

Kevin R. thinks the “not enough” claim is bogus:

Windows Phone has some great developers who have brought Vine (6sec) and Instagram (6tag) apps that even official apps would find difficult to improve upon. The biggest issue is immediacy. We get everything too late, often when nobody cares any more. By the time w got Draw Something nobody remembered if even existed. That’s a common tale. And Words With Friends is a slow, buggy iOS app squeezed onto my Lumia.

It’s not a matter of which apps are coming to the platform, but, rather, a matter of *when* and their quality. There are already a number of great photo editing apps, productivity apps, note-taking apps, and games available on the platform, including FlipBoard, Jetpack Joyride, Hulu Plus, and apps from major content publishers like CNN and ABC News.

Obviously, iOS and Android get the best apps first and sometimes exclusively, but that’s not to say Windows Phone is lacking anything substantial. It’s just a matter of looking for the equivalent on the other side.

But none of the problems listed have been horrible enough to prevent these users from sharing the love. When I asked Daniel if he’d recommend Windows Phone to others, he said:

If they disliked iOS/Apple, yes. The kind of person who would benefit from it is someone who wants a fairly basic, but good smartphone.

Zack was even more forthcoming about his feelings:

I absolutely would, and do on a daily basis. If you want a smartphone that has modern style, plenty of speed, and provides a unified experience, no matter which device you choose to own/use, Windows Phone is definitely the platform for you.

The tech press is only too happy to declare Microsoft a failure and its deal with Nokia as a “strategic blunder“, but I’m going to take the optimistic route. I do think there’s room for a third contender and Windows Phone could very well fit that role.

Windows Phone is a platform hindered by poor word of mouth and Microsoft’s lack of updates. However, Nokia’s hardware execution is, in this writer’s opinion, on par with the HTC One and anything coming out of Cupertino. I’m hopeful Nokia will have a positive influence on Microsoft and force the company to take its mobile OS seriously. There’s so much good in there, it’d be a shame to see it disappear.

Harry C. Marks

Harry Marks is a novelist and web columnist from New Jersey. He owns and operates CuriousRat.com and has written for various publications, including The Magazine, The Loop Magazine, and Macgasm.
  • James King

    I used to have a Windows Phone. I actually thought it was pretty great… until it got hacked to death and then ACTUALLY died less than a year after being purchased.

    And there’s the rub. When you think of Apple, you think “Just works.” When you think of Microsoft you think “buggy, frustrating software that gets bent over and abused like the new guy in prison by hackers jammed onto shoddy, lowest common denominator hardware.”

    What’s killing Microsoft is both its own and the Windows BRAND. Windows Phone 8 may actually be a very good product on what is undeniable a good product (Nokia hardware), but I don’t think the Microsoft or Windows brands conjures up any positive feelings.

    Microsoft should not only rebrand its phone OS and hardware, it should do everything possible to distance itself from the Windows brand (at least). When I think Microsoft, I think “sucks!” immediately afterwards. I don’t think I’m in the minority on that. MSFT needs some help with its image, particularly when it come to consumer.

    It actually has a decent consumer brand with XBox but it degraded it significantly with the heavy-handed XBox One roll-out.

    • steve_wildstrom

      Something doesn’t ring true here James. Your iPhone got hacked to death? By whom and how? Whatever else you say about iPhones, they have been hack-proof unless you first hack them yourself. And they come with a one-year warranty, so if your phone died within a year, it should have been replaced, unless you had voided the warranty.

      • James King

        Steve… WINDOWS phone. :)

        WP7 to be exact.

        • Anders CT

          Yeah, that little thing about selling lots of Windows Phone 7 devices, and then replacing Windows Phone 7 with WP8 without an upgrade path, alienating a lot of their first moving customers. That was just epic incompetence.

          • Jared E.

            Yes this is true more so of Android. Someone somehow in the dog and cat eating lands of South Korea and China managed to save a horrific OS by Google with a similar flaw and make it work. I sincerely hope MS can get people to stop being led by peer pressure. I was a very early adopter. I had a G1. Gee, I remember that phone – the first commercially sold Android phone. It could not even get one update past the launch version installed on the phone. Waste of money. I found this out very early and opted for the second phone to be sold commercially with Android – the mytouch3g. Surprise! One partial update to the Android OS on a new phone and only one of 2 at the time to carry the Android OS. We waited over a year and got a partial update to the next version and then the phone was again useless. That, along with all the malware and Google’s lack of vetting apps and letting anyone slap anything in what is now Google Play was the last straw for me. Talk about abandoning phones so fast – Google actually did it faster in the beginning than even MS… we’re talking ‘faster’ than Kin speed. I’ll stick with my windows phone and iphone.

        • steve_wildstrom

          Sorry, I misread your comment somehow.

    • bdagosti

      I think your comments may be misleading…what do you mean hacked to death? Did you root your phone and put unofficial apps on the device? Or maybe you ran out of hard drive space? I’ve had a windows phone for 3 years and the thing i’m most impressed with is the reliability. No matter what hardware you use, the experience is just as stable.I did have a problem with the battery in my first focus but a warranty replacement fixed this.

      I will agree the windows and Microsoft brand is killing the windows phone. I’m really scared that losing the Nokia brand now will only makes things worse.

      Another side-note that very few writers focus on is the Music experience of Windows phone. Zune/Xbox Music (who cares what it is called) is amazing. In about 10 seconds i can hear a song on the radio, and use windows phone’s integrated features to identify the song, then download it while also syncing it via cloud to my laptop and desktop. For 10 bux a month you can have unlimited music access as well…no .99 cents per song.

      Also, for people who use their phone for work as well, office integration (outlook, word, power point, excel, onenote) is lightyears ahead of anything on android or ios.

      • James King

        No I didn’t root it. It was just my personal experience, your mileage may vary.

        • Chris Bordeman

          A lot apparently. You’re the only person I’ve ever heard of who has ever had their Windows Phone hacked. Knowing the system very well, it’s incredibly difficult to “hack,” if that’s what actually happened (not just damaged somehow).

          This just doesn’t sound true to me.

          • James King

            I think it is perfectly reasonable that different people can have different experiences with products.

            If you are somehow making the claim that WP7 was “hack proof,” that’s pretty extraordinary. If not, then you have to accept that it could be compromised. In the end, whether you believe me or not is irrelevant. What matters is the plausibility of my statement. Unless to can show that WP7 was even extraordinarily difficult to hack, then questioning my veracity is simply trolling. But that is your prerogative.

            Since we are throwing around unsubstantiated claims… if you are a Microsoft astroturfer, tell MSFT that their money would be better spent in building better products.

          • Chris Bordeman

            WP is extraordinarily difficult, and unlikely, to be hacked. If you knew anything about the platform, you wouldn’t be making such claims.

    • Matt J

      You have absolutely no idea what you are talking about with computers or phones. Windows out-performs and has always out-performed Apple OS with the same hardware. This is a well known fact amongst the tech community and anyone who knows enough to build systems. Apple released a series of anti-microsoft ads several years ago and people still use these as a source of their information. The unfortunate part is most of them are lies and/or misleading.

      • James King

        Way to troll.

      • http://drvasu.net Vasu

        There is no shame in accepting you haven’t used a macbook. I was saying the samething as you are, until i touched a macbook. you just need to see it yourself to understand the harmony between OS and hardware. Oh I still use windows 7 just because I spent a fortune on my laptop just a few months ago and still regretting the decision (could have got a macbook pro for the same price) and made another blunder – bought a windows 8 phone – there the disillusion started. I have waited long to get a decent windows 8 tablet – well, definitely not going to wait any longer.

  • Anders CT

    What is wrong with windows phone?

    1) They were just too slow. When the iPhone emerged the Android group reacted very quickly. The first iteration of Androids touch-interface was horrible, but they reacted immediately and improved things at a fast pace. Nokia and Microsoft on the other hand mucked around for three years still thinking that Symbian and Windows Mobile was their mobile future.

    2) Lack of apps. I’m not talking about the top-50 apps, but about your local banks, public utility, buscompany, supermarket chain, jazz-clubs or sportsteams app. All those highly useful and personal long tail apps get made to iOS and Android and almost never to Windows Phone.

    3) License fees. Microsoft charges a non-trivial amount of money for letting hardware vendors spread Microsofts platform and services to consumers. That business model makes little sense anymore.

    You can either sell your platform and bundle exclusive apps and services to raise your margins: That’s what Apple and Samsung does. Or you can give away your platform (or sell your devices with very low margins), in order to gain market share and monetize your bundled services. That’s what Google and Amazon does.

    Microsoft wants to earn a large profit on each Windows Phone (40$) while still expanding it’s market share. That is just not realistic.

    • steve_wildstrom

      The first androids phone did not ship until more than a year after the iPhone, and it was designed primarily to compete with Windows Mobile. Android did not really begin to compete with iPhone until 2010.

      • Anders CT

        Yeah, that’s correct. But still, in 2010 Android was all ready maturing (though still kind of ugly), when Microsoft and Nokia was scrambling to build their own solutions.

        But still: When you see the HTC Dream next to, say, a Nexus 4, thats a pretty amazing development in four years. I still think that Android was succesful by simply moving a lot faster than Blackberry, Nokia, MS, Palm etc.

        • Hosni

          @Anders CT – “I still think that Android was succesful by simply moving a lot faster than Blackberry, Nokia, MS, Palm etc.”

          I agree. Android developed more quickly than Blackberry, Nokia, Microsoft and Palm for a good reason: Those companies were working on their own OS’s rather than copying iOS.

          • Ken Hodson

            I won’t agree, because you two are a little unclear about the actual history. Nokia never had their own smartphone OS – they were initially using the same Symbian OS Samsung was in bed with. And in the early days of the smartphones, Symbian operated 73% of all smartphones. Further, Nokia is today going full tilt Microsoft. Everyone knows this. I’m reading the Anders CT and Hosni posts and have to say, you guys shouldn’t post on tech review forums anymore. You two are beyond ignorant.

          • steve_wildstrom

            Once Psion faded from the scene, Symbian became pretty much a Nokia project, oddly enough, even more so after Nokia turned over ownership to a nonprofit.

  • DarwinPhish

    Amongst Microsoft’s problem with Windows Phone is that most consumers, especially late adopters to a technology, are risk averse. Buying a Windows Phone device is risky because, amongst other reasons, Microsoft has failed (or it is perceived to have failed) in the market before, there are few apps (or they come late or are not as good) and fewer people are using it. If you are a first time smartphone user/buyer and most everyone you know has an Android or Apple device, you are going it alone. There is no one to help you learn the device/OS, recommend apps or even commiserate with you when you experience annoyances (which all platforms have).

    Brand awareness often mitigates risk, bu I think Microsoft over estimated the value of the Windows brand amongst consumers. They likely got some boost from the Nokia brand, but most of that was probably negated by the fact that Windows Phone and the Lumia are so different than past Nokia phones and smartphones (there is a great post somewhere of a list of 100 things common in Symbian phones and even Nokia feature phones missing from Windows Phone).

    At this point, consumers need to be presented with an overwhelming benefit (e.g. the camera that swayed you) in order to accept all the risks. Without a killer app or feature, its potential is limited.

    I almost forgot to mention that salespeople are risk averse, too. Unless they are given additional incentives to push Windows Phone, they are not going to waste their time offering it to customers when they have easier to sell (and less likely to be returned) options.

    • Hosni

      @DarwinPhish – “Brand awareness often mitigates risk, but I think Microsoft over estimated the value of the Windows brand amongst consumers.”

      Agreed. Regardless of direct comparisons of Windows Phone with other smartphones, Microsoft has alienated huge numbers of Windows & Office users over the past decade. That is a major barrier standing in the way of the Windows Phone’s success. What’s wrong with the Windows Phone? It’s a Microsoft product.

      • Ken Hodson

        Point taken. MS software products have a history of being inferior to what they’ve eaten. MS Word < Word Perfect; Excel < Lotus 123. MS was evil. However, Apple is now the evil empire. Hell, their notebooks breakdown after 2 years and can't be repaired. $1100 notebooks, btw. More and more people are abandoning Apple (because they suck) but will refuse to go to an Android product. Windows is going to blow up in 2014. (Full disclosure, I was the biggest Apple fanboi while I was in college getting my Math Ed degree. Apple was innovative and marketing to education and that was awesome. They don't do either of those anymore… they just go for image now.)

  • Defendor

    This reads a bit like advertising copy.

    Testimonials from fans and an author announcing he is switching.

    Apps are a primary cause. It isn’t a case of checking a few big ones off the list. The lack of apps is reinforced whenever some commercial comes on TV finishes with mention of their iPhone/Android apps, and no mention of Windows Phone. This gets reinforced every day.

    Windows phone is all but irrelevant to the small player that make a huge swatch of apps.

    If you want a full selection of Apps you MUST go with Android or iPhone.

    It is kind of like the advantage Windows Desktop owns against Linux. Linux is a credible desktop OS, but lack of Applications will keep it forever in irrelevance.

    Its also a catch 22 for any OS with a big lag in market share.

    Almost no one will buy your OS, till you catch up on Apps, so market share struggles.

    Almost no one will build Apps, until you catch up on market share, so apps struggle.

    There might be secondary issues (like I personally don’t actually like Tiles), but they are trivia compared to the App problem.

    • bdagosti

      Given the amount of marketshare in the US, Microsoft and Nokia did a good job catching up. As time goes and phones get more powerful, I believe we will just be able to use the web browser more instead of apps.

    • qka

      … some commercial comes on TV finishes with mention of their iPhone/Android apps …

      If you want a full selection of Apps you MUST go with Android or iPhone.

      Except for those ads that only list iPhone apps. Particularly banking apps.

  • Nathan

    Let’s not forget the statement by microsoft to not allow for further development of the OS for quite some time, claiming that the current WP 8 OS is ‘optimal’ and functions just as it should. They went on to say that the phone is not a desktop and therefor the OS has no necessary application for landscape mode and told users to buy windows 8 for desktop if they desire such a feature. MS also accused devs of wanting to steal vital kernal information when api restrictions were brought up. MS wants the WP 8 to function only as they see fit. I’m typing this on my Lumia 822 and although I recommend WP to others, I make sure they are aware of the points I discussed above.

  • http://twitter.com/jdrch jdrch

    I’m a multi-platform, multi-OS user: Windows 8 on the desktop, Android on mobile. Here’s my opinion on WP8:

    PROS
    - THE fastest mobile OS I’ve ever used. There’s literally 0 lag for anything, period. Put Android to shame
    - Innovative UI

    CONS
    - UI, while innovative, is really foreign and not that intuitive at first if you’re used to the iOS/Android model
    - The apps issue alluded to in the article
    - Google manages most of my personal cloud: Gmail, GCal, etc.
    - Lack of rooting options
    - Lack of access to the filesystem

    • bd4gs

      These are really really good points to consider when switching from android to windows phone. Google does not go out of their way to support windows phone AT ALL, so beware. Luckily for me gmail UI has changed enough times in the last year that it irritated me enough to switch to outlook.com (have you ever tried to adjust the font or bold something in gmail…so many damn menus). I’d be interested to see what you think of skydrive vs drive, outlook.com vs gmail.com, and same with the calendars. I was on google for years and I’m really impressed with the Microsoft services so far.

      • http://twitter.com/jdrch jdrch

        I’m not denying that MS’ cloud services are impressive. It sure looks like they are. It’s just that I don’t have the time to troubleshoot a massive personal cloud provider switch right now. That could change in the future as I do use my MS Account to sync PC settings, Office 2013 & for VS2012 & 2013, Xbox, etc. Google hooked me into their cloud with email, MS might go the PC/device settings route.

        • Toufiq Alam

          I just have bought a seemingly beautiful looking (very true) Lumia 900. As I am very much used to PC to Cell phone connectivity, the first thing that I noticed is that I need a Zune software. So, zune set up done, conn. done, and there it is I can see my cell phone. But, I CAN’T see the f..king HDD? I am not too obsessed with watching videos and listening to music, but I read big size PDF and other docs and a HDD of that size should have been perfect for me. OH MY GOD!!!! I cannot use my Lumia HDD to transfer any docs needed and read it later during my travel. I Mean WHY!!!??? Was that very big of a deal to do such programming in the WP7? HOW CHEAP!!!! Such an expensive phone has become a BRICK to me…. WHY will Microsoft have control over my purchased PHONE HDD???? WHY? The moment I buy a cell phone, it is mine… The HDD, and everything…. But This IDIOTs are simply amazing!!! The are so selfish, that they have put restriction of data I transfer to my HDD… It is the Simplest of all features that I should be able to access my HDD at will and DO whatever I want to do with it…. THIS IDIOTS feel so content thinking that they have control over everything, while in Asia, people of third world country just go and buy Windows that are hacked cracked and dissected in as many ways possible with only about half a dollars. And the windows that are in the market work just fine!!! They don’t wanna let even a spec of dust go from their TIGHT grip, while behind their backs an elephant pass by unnoticed.

          The biggest and perhaps the simplest way to come back to the market , for the WP7, is perhaps to let people use that f..king BRICK of a phone’s HDD to be used at will by the consumers….

          FOR crying out Loud, people at MS have some brains will you?

          • tony are

            When you connect your WP7 phone to your desktop, you can access it’s drives as usb drives

          • Toufiq Alam

            Dear Sir, I have tried that trick… I know how to access… but what good is it, if you can’t read your HDD from your cell phone? there is no way you can read your PDF once you have transfered it from your PC to Cell phone… you have to use the skydrive every time you need the document… the size is just huge 200 MBs. There are other software to do the trick but you have to read it directly from the PC…. Look, guys, I know exactly what I am talking about…. I have used android, I have used other nokia smartphones… so, do not retell the same story as if I am in the wrong here…

          • Josh

            People like this are the reason Windows Phones get a bad name. It’s not hard or very time consuming to take a few minutes to look through the OS and figure it out. It’s also not time consuming to use a search engine to find a solution for a problem like this. You want a smartphone, but aren’t smart enough to use the “smart” part of the phone to figure something out. Makes sense to me…

          • Toufiq Alam

            Wait wait wait… did you just give me a bad name? You think you are the wise guy here and everyone else is from the Dark Age? I know how to find my info alright….can you deny the fact I have put up here? You cannot… so, I think you would reconsider your comment…

          • Toufiq Alam

            Mr. Josh…. what do you really do with your WP? I guess social networking is the only thing you do, and taking photos and uploading it… WP7 doesn’t even recognize Bluetooth from other nokia symbians…and most probably it won’t from other devices as well. Window 8 can’t add my lumia 900…. I didn’t leave anything unturned….. and who told you I have not gone through the OS? Oh man you ARE something you know… ok…then you do the search and find the info for me….heh… let us see how well you do… I bet you will not be able to provide even one solution to my problems here…. give me some then we will talk …otherwise don’t come here run your mouth as if you know a lot yourself…

      • Chris Bordeman

        “Google does not go out of their way to support windows phone AT ALL”

        Not just that, they actively and frequently sabotage Windows Phone clients.

  • Peter Buckton

    Of all the metrics used to measure value, merit, utility – and future prospects – I still think the question that provides the best assessment, is to ask current users if they would buy another one.
    Would current Windows Phone users buy another one when they come off contract, or their phone dies.
    Apple/iPhone have been killing it there. How do all their competitors fair comparatively – and especially Windows Phones.
    I think that answer will tell you all you need to know about M/S’s future in mobile.

    • rosbiffer

      Would I go through the pain and hassle of learning all about a new operating system? Resetting all those preferences? Downloading all those apps all over again? Configuring them all again? Getting rid of all the crap that comes pre-bundled? No thanks!

      It’s pretty brave of Harry to say he will – but then he gets paid to talk about this stuff. Most of us just want the damn thing to do what we want, with as little aggro as possible.

      Smart phones are like banks – inertia and apathy means you rarely, if ever, change. Is that a good thing? Probably not. But it’s the way of the world.

    • cyloncat

      Yes, I already have bought “another one” on switching carriers. Things I like include Nokia’s maps and driving apps, painless email triage, drop-dead-easy tethering, Bing weather, contact and calendar sync with Windows 8, SkyDrive, and yes, live tiles. The user experience is fast and really the easiest phone interface around.

  • Kizedek

    A Tangent, but I couldn’t let this go:
    “I asked him about the iPhone and he said it was also great, but she wouldn’t be able to download attachments from the browser. I wasn’t sure why that was such an important feature, but I let it go.”

    Salespeople need to be called on this kind of ignorance/misinformation/outright lie.

    On my iPad, I just navigated to a webpage I know has a link for a Word.doc file for visitors to download. The second I clicked the link, not only did the file display fully and immediately on-screen in mobile Safari, but it also presented me with the option to open the file in… 13 different apps I currently have installed!

    • AlfTupperDarlin

      Kizedek: “Salespeople need to be called on this kind of ignorance / misinformation / outright lie”

      Salespeople will push the make that pays them the highest commission. They will twist the truth to that end. Sometimes that is also true for reviewers.

      • jfutral

        “Salespeople will push the make that pays them the highest commission.”

        I would say that is true of sales people who know how to maximize their pay check. I would say most in-store carrier sales people are the more typical kind who think what they want/use/are comfortable with is what everyone else should want. One of the hardest things to learn as a true sales person is how to disassociate personal preferences from what the customer might actually want/need/use.

        Joe

    • Jared E.

      I agree with most replies about ignorance, but you have to throw in a bit of peer pressure in with their dose of ignorance as another reason they push pointless info. Most people use their phones to take pics, text and look at facebook… yet they, as the salespeople do, yap about must haves that either don’t exist or 90% of the market don’t even use – or have a clue how to use. The apps thing comes down to a “dumb” sell. Most businesses and even a lot of perceived ‘app only’ sites have mobile versions as well if it’s that important. haha I stopped paying MLB and told them why… they had zero presence on my windows phone and devices… that turned out pretty well. Now I have them. More people need to do this complaining and informing to get more businesses to build apps for win 8 or lose the business.

  • jfutral

    Really interesting. I’ve been thinking about this app thing. I do think the old Mac OS vs Windows software is sort of similar, though no one really pinned it then, either. It wasn’t the popular and common stuff that people were really talking about. It was the esoteric or the surprises.

    With phones I hear it all the time “Hey I found this cool app that does… something no one has thought of… something that really only applies to our hobby… something that only applies to our work… something that only applies to our neighbourhood… our bank… this _new_ game…etc.”

    It’s like listening to the radio and hearing a song for the first time and going out and telling all your friends about it. Or turned around, when all your friends start telling you about a song they heard. That is when you start to notice the lack of apps, when you can’t hear the song they are talking about.

    Joe

    • tony are

      Apps are gimmick things the bloggers keep talking about. I had WP7 & read about lack of apps by bloggers. I still managed 130 apps and games on it. I barely used 5 apps daily on it. How many apps people need or use?

  • Steven Zahl

    TILES are flat and 2 dimensional.

    First immpressions are not good.

  • Mauryan

    Nothing wrong with Windows phone. They have less apps because they came to the party late. Give them some time and developers will start making apps for them. There are only so many apps one needs anyway for productivity. And Microsoft can create them soon. It is just a matter of time. Microsoft will definitely not get to dominate the mobile market (one never knows though), but they will grab a bigger piece of the pie. With leadership changes coming to Microsoft, I strongly feel they have a bright chance to reinvent themselves. Do not write them off. BTW, I have all Apple products at home. Yet, I welcome Microsoft into the mobile market so that they can provide the needed balance to the market. I do not want two companies dominating the market. Three is a good number. More will be even better. That is the only way to force companies like Apple to cut their prices.

  • maeneak

    Nice article. WP is still evolving, I think Microsoft need to throw some more resources at the project as it seems to be taking a long time to get even minor improvements to functionality. As they prepare for new larger devices, current users get left waiting for basic software upgrades. Apps will start flowing as market share increases and I’m confident that will continue to rise if there’s a constant flow of new innovative devices like the 1020 or the upcoming 1520.
    Nokia and Microsoft need to work on retail presence as well, here in Australia there is little if no presence where it really matters and there’s a large Apple display in every store. But its still young and with rumors of RT consuming WP in the near future it will be an interesting coupe of years for the ecosystem.

    • Chris Bordeman

      “it seems to be taking a long time to get even minor improvements to functionality”

      Which is why MS just bought Nokia.

      • maeneak

        I agree, it was a great move by Microsoft. Now they can benefit from nokia’s skilled WP developers. All the cool Nokia tweaks will become standard os functionality.

        • Chris Bordeman

          I’m more concerned with the ability to coordinate between OS and Nokia teams. Having to wade through the bureaucracy of another company, even a partner, is a major pain for development teams.

          They should have bought the maps, too, though.

          • maeneak

            Nokia employees have a lot of experience working with partners, especially in OS development. Let’s just hope Microsoft don’t hold back the creativity that has made Nokia so unique in the marketplace.

  • Joerg Beekmann

    When it came time to buy a phone for my daughter I choose a Lumia 520, why? $99.99 off contract pay as you go. She is on her 3rd phone and if I had been buying iPhones I would be down by $1500 so far. Turns out it is not only good value but a great phone. The only issue are google services. Google is playing hardball and not providing quality versions of their apps.

  • Roy Liu

    Toni Ahonen accurately predicted the reaction and the underlying reasons for the carrier rejection of Windows Phone: MSFT bought Skype! To otherwise deny this cause/effect is simply denying reality.
    I ended up buying a Nokia Windows Phone under pre-paid contract for a foreign exchange student who is living with us this semester, as it was simply the only phone left in the store (start of college around Boston led to stock-outs of pre-paid contract phones at phone stores everywhere). While the design has some interesting features and is not initially un-pleasing to the eye, the user interface is difficult to use, type-faces are virtually un-readable, and the overall ease-of-use for things as simple as entering in contact info or looking up names in the address book are non-intuitive, at least if you’ve become accustomed to the clean interfaces in iOS. Between the required “re-learning” that would be required of iOS or Android switchers & the on-going, and probably never-ending carrier boycott well-documented by Toni Ahonen, I see Windows Phone getting no serious traction. It’s just not even a debate anymore, in my mind.

    And for those delusional enough to believe that Windows Phone could survive and prosper in the same way the Apple Mac platform did for years? Please. Has anyone picked up a Nokia phone? Cheap, plastic feel through and through. It’s hard to believe that this is the same company that designed & built the N95.

    P.S. The “41 mega-pixel” camera factoid is a complete canard. Yes, it is a better camera, but not wildly better, and certainly not significantly better than what is coming with the iPhone 5s, and certainly not a reason in and of itself to switch.

    • tony are

      Lol, you’re number one joker. ‘un-pleasing to the eyes’. That statement has stupidity written all over it. In mobile phone, no OS comes simpler than Windows Phone

      • Roy Liu

        the market is the final arbiter, and the message it’s sending is crystal clear

  • DocNo42

    Hmm – I wonder if Harry switched – and what he thinks about the rumors that 8.1 will require the re-purchasing of new hardware just like going from 7 to 8 did. Not a good trend… as for:
    “From my brief interaction with this gentleman, it sounded like he was pushing Android because he used Android personally, but I wasn’t entirely sure.”

    He was pushing Android over iOS because Verizon and Samsung pay him to. It’s called a spiff. Apple doesn’t do spiffs. Microsoft was at one time but they probably aren’t anymore, or Verizon/Samsung are paying out better ones. Follow the money….

  • Disapointed

    Windows phone stinks, I can’t print. Most apps I need are not on windows phone and I can’t email files store on my SD card. if anyone has help to allow me to use these let me know.

  • http://drvasu.net Vasu

    - One touch control for wi-fi, data, bluetooth etc (rather than just shortcuts in tiles) with immediate update of tiles
    - simple way to add phone numbers quickly
    - simple file browser
    - option to move apps/content to sd card
    - simply transfer files from pc to sd card and use with any app (who cares about ‘skydrive’ when there is dropbox)
    This is a common requirement for any ‘basic’ smartphone user. What the devs in windows phone 8 need is just ‘common sense’.
    This is the story of how windows 8 loses one hardcore windows user… to android !

  • Jayson

    I agree with the above in all cases with this addition, why have a forward facing camera that in my opinion is really for video calls, or facetime as the other platforms would call it, but then depend on a clunky app like skype to make it work, but then not make it easy to use. I got my windows phone and expected to get straight into using it as i would use my samsung galaxy 4 (i have a Ativ S). By all accounts the ativ s is excellent, apart from not allowing me to place my telstra (Australian provider) sim card in and start calling. I had to actually put the apns into the phone, the last time i did that was 8 years ago with a nokia. Then i thought, id call my kids on facetime. The skype tile was there, but i had to install the app…..huh? So the phones dependant on an app that isnt installed…….but then my kids had to install skype on their phones to receive the call. And after they did, i got a big, Insufficient funds warning and it still didnt work. So i paid all this money for a phone that doesnt do the basic stuff right that other platforms now have 16 apps a piece to do without a glitch. If you want to be taken seriously, play serious. Half-baked is exactly right. Its pointless releasing a product to do half the things the competitor does, you have lost from the get go. Then to release an update (WP8.1) that doesnt even fix the basics but makes it look prettier while not doing it? Good luck getting new clientelle.