In Praise of Windows Phone
Not long ago you had the opportunity to read Evan’s Editorial on Android where he concluded: “I feel like Android, and not WP7, has actually become the spiritual successor to WinMo, a platform that offered (at the time) unrivaled power and endless configuration options“.
This could be very well true! When Microsoft decided to take Windows Mobile a step further (first to Windows phone, which was basically just a small rebranding with a couple of tweaks and new features) and then to the Windows Phone we know today, Redmond decided to start fresh. The platform was built from scratch and Metro is probably the most polarizing user interface out there: simply put, some hate the colored squares and other love the Live Tiles.
Windows Phone is nothing like Windows Mobile was back in the day and the target audience for Microsoft and its OEM partners is different to begin with. While Windows Mobile was very “power-user friendly”, Windows Phone tries to bring the smartphone to the average user who just wants the best out-of-box experience possible.
The other day I was asked by one of my friends who prefers another platform to name three things that I like most about my Windows Phone (an LG Optimus 7). The first thing that came to my mind is illustrated in the image to the left, which is pretty self-explanatory: Windows Phone just loves batteries and batteries love it back. I can easily go two-to-four days on moderate-to-heavy usage. The important bit is not that the battery saver has been activated once the power dropped below 10% (which is already there on other platforms too) but the fact the current charge has been delivering juice for the past, well, see for yourself how many days!
How did Microsoft achieve this? Windows Phone doesn’t need a truckload of raw horsepower in order to get things done, and in a very fluid and elegant way at that.
The second thing I love most about Windows Phone is the concept of Live Tiles which gives me all the info I need, at a single glance. When a friend or coworker updates the Facebook status, posts a picture, tweets, e-mails, calls or texts me, the information is right there, with the Tile coming to life with anything new.
Third comes the Me tile, where I can see all the interactions with my friends or followers (including Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter) and where I can easily update my status, post a tweet, go online for Facebook or Windows Live Messenger chat as well as check in to places.
I didn’t even mention Zune for music streaming and the Music and Videos Hub, the People Hub (with all the info related to my contacts and their activities), the E-mail experience, the Marketplace, Internet Explorer, the Office Hub, the Games Hub.
At the end of the day, each and every one of us uses phones differently. If you don’t care about jailbreaking, tweaking, flashing and all the other stuff us “geeks” love ergo you’re an average user like most of my friends, Mom, Dad, your sister, and I can go on then Windows Phone is the way to go. If music, pictures, e-mail, social networking, browsing, mobile office and games are your thing, Windows Phone is “the fun platform” to use. and with all the great hardware currently out there and even more exciting coming soon (think Samsung Focus S, the upcoming HTC Titan II or the Nokia Lumia 900 if you’re in the U.S.) it’s a sheer pleasure.
Of course, Windows Phone doesn’t do things that Android or iOS are not capable of. As a matter of fact, and I need to be totally honest here, there are probably applications for Android and iOS which are not yet there for Windows Phone, even if the Marketplace recently reached 60,000 apps. But, at the end of the day, all the major players are there, more or less, and others are definitely coming. Where Windows Phone is unique is that it does things differently.
What’s there in Windows Phone that would make someone purchase it over iOS and Android? The way that it does things differently; the way that you are not presented with a huge list of icons on the home screen, in your face, but with a set of colored tiles that come to life every time something that requires your attention happens.
Windows Phone doesn’t need a custom launcher or user interface on top of it to make it more appealing (and sometimes TouchWiz can be a pain in the neck, even if HTC does a good job with Sense). You don’t need a pictures, contacts, music or weather widget because the Live Tiles do the job (in showing off a slideshow of your images, news related to your friends, album art of the song playing or the current weather).
You don’t need to install a bunch of applications like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook Chat, or third party messengers for you social networking needs. You can even start a conversation via SMS and then seamlessly continue the discussion of Facebook or Windows Live Messenger. You don’t need to learn how to use an application because they all follow the guidelines; you don’t need to worry about fluidity across devices because they are standardized. To sum it up: Windows Phone is different, and it’s pretty elegant and user-friendly at that!