The Short Life of a Windows 8 Phone
I was able to get my hands on a Windows 8 Phone and 24 hours later I found myself going back to my iPhone5. Why?After all I have been following Microsoft closely for the past year and I really like their push towards a unified operating system across all platforms. I also believe that the new Windows 8 operating system brings innovation to a company that only a few years ago was staggering in respect to the mass consumer market. Microsoft, with their Windows line of software and Outlook products has a stranglehold on enterprise customers. This is not in doubt. However the mass consumer market has been flocking in droves to Apple and a lesser degree Android. Microsoft obviously has made a decision to get into the consumer market game and I believe that they are on the right track. However, and this pains me to say, the Windows 8 phone is not quite ready for prime time. My experience is with the HTC Windows Phone 8X.
The operating system is a great fresh design. In place of flat icons you get “live” tiles that display content like news, weather and photos. The navigation has a great ease to it and it look really really dynamic. Moving the tiles around and designing your layout is also very easy. The “store” is also nicely designed and the process of finding apps, downloading and installing is also well thought out.
Out of the box, Microsoft Office is built in and is easily linked to your Skydrive and Sharepoint accounts. The setup could not be any easier and the application use is mastered in minutes. This I will miss the most.
The HTC Windows Phone 8X is limited to a built in 16GB with no expansion slot. That’s right. No expansion slot. This shocks me. In today’s consumer market these devices are used for music, video and more. After the 3GB of space needed for the OS (operating system) you are left with under 13GB. This is simply not enough for many users and this alone will deter many from switching to this device. I also discovered that most Windows 8 phones are limited to the 16GB storage.
I admit it. I love my apps. The Windows store has about 120,000 apps while Apple’s store has over 700,000. This will surely improve over time as developers start to write applications for Windows 8. The success of the app store will also depend on the success of the Windows 8 phones. It’s kind of a “Catch-22” for Microsoft. Why would a developer take time and money to design a Windows 8 app if the customer base remains small? While at the same time, most users will probably remain with Android & Apple simply because there are more things they can do with those phones as compared to the Windows 8 phones. Microsoft needs to intice these developers as much as possible to write applications for their platform if they want to succeed in the smartphone market. I am hoping for the best here because I really do want to see Microsoft succeed.
The music app is a bit too complex. Music apps should have an ease of use quality. This is simply because users are often physically involved in other activities such as walking, running or working out while listening to their music. The Windows 8 built in app (remember Zune anybody), although nice to look at requires much thought & action then it should.
Windows 8 is not going anywhere and Microsoft is working hard to push this into the marketplace. However unless the Windows 8 phone can be improved soon it will be DOA before it has a chance to succeed. This would be very unfortunate as with RIM’s demise there is a real opportunity and need for a reliable work and home smartphone platform, other then Apple & Android.
I have not given up. I will be keeping a close eye on the continued development of the Windows 8 phones. The app store must grow & additional memory storage must be available otherwise I fear for this very capable smartphone platform.