Windows Phone, final thoughts…

Ok, well I’ve had this phone for almost three weeks and am less optimistic about it than when I started.

Physical Keyboard
Let’s hear it for the Pre and vertical integration. It is clear that Microsoft didn’t design Windows Phone assuming that a keyboard would be present all the time. There are many places when typing on the keyboard did nothing useful or nothing at all. The Pre was not like this, the physical keyboard added value everywhere. Also, on certain screens (say, when I hit the search button or entered the Evernote app), there is nothing to do except type in a text box. Why do I have to click on the text box before it will let me actually enter text? There is nothing else to do on these screens. Save me a step and have the focus defaulted.

Another example is universal search from anywhere. I had not realized how completely unweildy my contacts had become, it’s actually a complete mess. But I never noticed it before now because I always “just typed” my contacts names instead of scrolling through a giant list of death to find it (on that note, I really miss the first initial-last name method of searching for names, it really worked really well).

Coming from Pre, I was loathe to give up my physical keyboard because it was so excellently integrated. Here it just feels tacked on, and almost leaves me open to consider going without.

Buttons
The only way to turn on the Arrive is via the power button, a tiny ass little thing at the top which is not simple to find just by touch. After having a home button and a keyboard and a slider, all of which turned on the screen, this just felt limiting. Actually a physical home button would really have helped with the accidental touches with that.

Windows Phone App Structure
One thing which I find troubling about Windows Phone is that the experience relies greatly on the core apps and their integration into each other and the social media sites. This reduces the value of third party apps to provide functionality because the core apps do so much. While fully functional core apps are great, this setup leaves me concerned for the following reason – It places the onus solely on Microsoft to provide functionality upgrades and feature enhancements. I find it hard to believe that Microsoft can innovate as fast as an army of third party developers and leaves me concerned that the UI will be permanently behind the curve.

The funny thing is, it feels like if they tried pulling some of these shenanigans on Windows, they would get slapped for trying to block out third parties and being anti-competitive.

Google Calendar
Seriously? Win Phone would only sync to my primary Google calendar. I use Google pretty extensively for my cloud data needs and this shortcoming, while seemingly simple (and admittedly, is recoverable with some time and effort), makes it hard to overcome. It the rest of the system was so jaw droppingly awesome, then maybe I would take the time and effort to change my cloud data to conform to Microsoft’s expectation, but we are definitely there yet!

In conclusion…
Overall I was left feeling that Windows Phone is a solid effort, a worthy future contender but still just too rough a cut to consider now – kind of like how WebOS was when it was released. Everything that I have read about Mango, seems it wil address some but not enough of the shortcomings. In any case it won’t come before my 30 days are up and I don’t want to wait.

I am going to revert back to my Pre. I’m tired of having my OS of choice mature as I use it and still feel like using iOS means I am joining the Borg so will probably just wait for the next greatest Android superphone and see how the majority of smartphone users live.

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