Giving Windows Phone a Chance

Oh I can never leave well enough alone can I? I mean really, the iPhone is fine. It does phone things. But I’m just not a huge fan of iOS7 (more on that later this week). I don’t want Android. I tried that. Recently. And I’m sorry, there’s still not an Android phone with a camera worth a damn. So, I took a risk. Even with all of my concerns, I’ve gone Windows Phone.

Why Windows Phone?

Windows Phone Home Screen

My Windows Phone home screen.

Why in the world did I pick Windows Phone when Android has become so robust? For one, my recent foray into Android left me less than impressed. And secondly, my email and calendars are through Outlook.com. Outlook.com has free email for domains. GMail does not. Easy choice.

Plus, I really just like the OS. Its simple. It does what I need a phone to do. It gives me quick glance updates. If I want to do some heavy work I prefer a PC or my iPad. I need to look at my phone and just get a quick overview of what I need to know. Granted I was also one of two who had a Zune (the other being Tony over at GeekingInIndiana.com), and I loved the software behind it (the hardware was utter crap).

Besides, Verizon has a 14 day return policy if I hate it. At which point I’ll just get the iPhone 5s.

Which phone?

I went with the Nokia Lumia 928, basically the 920 with a flash(bad blogger! I read this in a few places and didn’t confirm. Release week at work makes me lazy at blogging). I looked at the 1020 but 41 megapixels is too robust of a camera for a phone. Because of the sheer amount of data, it takes 6-7 seconds to take a photo. Unacceptable.

The Good

Windows Phone Lock Screen

My super useful lockscreen that I love.

There are some features of my 928 that I’m already in love with.

  • The Charger is on Top – I use my phone when I’m falling asleep. The charger on top allows me to have it plugged in and use it without the awkward not-really-good-for-your-cable cable bend.
  • Disqus - I’ve wanted a Disqus app forever. Apparently it’s a Windows Phone exclusive. Who knew? (Really Disqus, what the hell are you thinking?)
  • Boxy - I like angles. I like boxy. So a square phone with a square OS is more visually appealing to me than the soft rounded corners we have on iOS and Android.
  • Combined Texting – Facebook Messenger and SMS are in the same app. Finally. Really, Facebook uses XMPP, so this should be a normal thing.
  • Third Party Apps - On iOS and Android, third party apps for major applications are shut down pretty quickly. But, since there aren’t official apps for all the services (Facebook Pages and Instagram for example) they allow third parties to thrive on Windows Phone. And you know what, a lot of them are more fully featured than their official counterparts.
  • Lock Screen - It shows me what I have to do and my notifications. It’s useful. I like useful.

The Bad

Most (but not all) the gripes I have about Windows Phone is around the ecosystem. I know technically this isn’t a problem with the phone itself, but you can’t talk about a phone without talking about it’s ecosystem. Microsoft, this is why you can’t’ have nice things.

  • XBox Music- Remember how I said I loved my Zune? Heck, even as recently this week Lifehacker readers voted Zune one of their favorite desktop media clients. XBox music is nothing like Zune. It’s web based. It has no features. You can’t even favorite or rate songs. And while the Zune software is still available for download, it doesn’t talk to XBox Music.
This does music better than Windows Phone.

My old Zune does music better than Windows Phone.

  • SkyDrive – SkyDrive is Microsoft Office in the cloud. Which is great, except that it doesn’t act like cloud software. It acts like desktop software, which means you have to click save instead of it happening asynchronously. SkyDrive does other things asynchronously like OneNote and photos.But the Office Suite, not so much.
  • No Gages – No battery indicator. No reception gage. No WiFi status. It’s awful. I need to know these things Microsoft!
  • “Contact the Manufacturer” – The support at @WinPhoneSupport is fantastic and responsive. But, then they said “contact your phone manufacturer.” Want to be like the Apple store Microsoft? Make it so I can take a phone in there and walk out with a new one if you can’t fix it.
Not Ok. Not anymore.

Not Ok. Not anymore.

  • Purchase History – If you buy an app, and reset your phone, and go to download the app, it will want to recharge you. If you want to redownload it for free, you have to go to WindowsPhone.com. Edit: This is how the Microsoft support rep told me to do it. You can do it through the app.

Worth the Risk?

I’ve only had the phone a few days, but so far I really like it. I’m leaning towards making it my phone permanently, but I do have concerns around the support system and ecosystem. It’s definitely not a phone for everyone, not yet anyway. You have to be willing to search and find the best alternatives to the apps you need. Not something I’d feel comfortable sending say my parents in to do.  Microsoft, you’ve got to double down on this platform if you want it to succeed.

Don’t Zune me bro.

42 Responses to “Giving Windows Phone a Chance”
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