Open letter from a fanboy: Windows Phone 8 must deliver, no excuses
May 29, 2012 at 12:43 GMT | By Darlington Moyo
I am what people would generally refer to as a Windows Phone fanboy and poweruser to some extent. I have for a long time been obsessed with mobile devices specifically running Microsoft operating systems. I religiously read blogs that are dedicated to Microsoft mobile devices such as wpcentral, 1800pocketpc, pocketnow, wpthoughts, wpdaily, WMPU, etc. At some point, those around me (and admittedly myself) questioned my sanity, suggesting my loyalty and love for Windows Mobile/Windows Phone was unhealthy. I'm sure by now you get what I am alluding to - I have been a long time loyal user of WM/Windows Phone. I vividly recall getting my first WM phone. Over the years, I graduated to WM6.1 courtesy of Samsung's Omnia, then moved to the Omnia 2 which I swore to all my friends was going to be the iPhone killer. On the 21st of October 2011 I took the plunge and got myself the Samsung Omnia 7 before trading it for the HTC Titan.
Being loyal to a Smartphone OS and ecosystem for us fanboys is a bit like supporting a football team, even when they get beat, you still argue that they are the best. For me, arguing for is becoming embarrassing now. When I talk to people about my magnificent phone, the response is always "Windows what, Windows who?" To put things in perspective, I live in a fairly populous city in England and have never come across a single Windows Phone owner. Not any of my 500+ Facebook/Twitter friends own one. Even my wife has the damn-it SGS2.
Android & iPhone
To me, Android is just Windows Mobile done right. Using an Android device always brings back sad memories of WM6.5.5 which packed a mean punched feature wise but had a rubbish user interface. Android is obviously benefiting from the solid support it receives from OEMs (Original Equipment Manufacturer) who regularly refresh their line-ups, equipping them with the best and latest hardware and features. On the other hand, Apple's iPhone is refreshed annually and doesn't exactly boast of record breaking specs but is able to capture peoples' imaginations to such an extent that some of their customers actually believe that their phones are 'magical' (like hypnotised sheep). Admittedly, iPhones are aesthetically pleasing and fairly straight forward to use. When Apple does something, they do it well. Take Siri for instance, which is nothing new. Windows Phone and Android have had speech recognition integrated well before iOS but the way Apple has implemented it is far superior and you can bet your last dollar that they are going to make everyone believe that they invented speech recognition through clever advertising. Windows Phone 8 MUST deliver a lot of features to keep at par with Android and iOS. Early adopters have persevered for 18+ months and cannot be made to endure another few months of being beta testers. Lately, we have caught wind of the features that are supposed to be coming to Windows Phone 8. For the benefit of those that live under a rock, here is what we are to expect:
- Support for multicore processors
- Support for new screen resolutions, a total of four
- Support for removable microSD card storage
- Support for NFC
- Inclusion of Windows' core elements, including kernel, networking stacks, security, and multimedia support
- New data-tracking capabilities, showing users a breakdown of their data consumption by various networks
- Use of a proxy server to deliver pages more efficiently and quickly to Internet Explorer 10 Mobile
- Of special interest to enterprise users: Addition of native BitLocker encryption and Secure Boot
- Of special interest to developers: New app-to-app communication capability that sounds like Windows 8ís contracts feature, as Thurrott noted
- A separate but improved Skype application, but not integration of Skype into the operating system
- Replacement of the Zune PC client software with an update mechanism more akin to ActiveSync
It seems everyone but Microsoft can see that Windows Phone is suffering from lack of strong advertising. It's a bit like the Arsene Wenger (football team manager) situation where everyone knows he needs to buy a defender but he doesn't do it either because of stubbornness or plain stupidity. I'm sure the likes of Joe Belfiore & co are very intelligent folks but they all seem to lack common sense that your average fanboy like me and you seem to have. I constantly hear them talk of 'word of mouth'. Apparently, the word will soon get round that Windows Phone is amazing and everyone will get one. Well, its been 18 months now and it doesn't seem to be happening. The first round of adverts put out by Microsoft and its partners when Windows Phone was launched were utter tripe. I'm no PR guru but I can tell you that they were uninspired, uninformative and somewhat confusing. Apple has proved that ads should focus on features and functionality and this should now be a case of 'if you can't beat them, join them' for Windows Phone. Microsoft should put out ads that tell people what Windows Phone can do for them, not their usual noisy and flashy ads that are likely to induce an epileptic fit rather than inspire you to get one. Nokia seem to be doing it right with their Amazing everyday campaign. Their ads are catchy and informative. Ben '@BenthePCGuy' Rudolph's #smoked campaign hasn't done Windows Phone any harm either.
A lot of Windows Phone haters always remind us how marketplace only has 80000+ apps at present and supposedly this is not enough for Windows Phone to compete against android and iOS. Though this point is legitimate at present, I believe the Apps team is doing enough to reach out to developers and it shouldn't be long when Windows Phone has all major devs on board. Let's not forget that the OS is 18 months old and has already surpassed Blackberry, Symbian and WebOS in real apps. However, attention has to be paid to popular apps such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, etc. I love the integration in Mango but there is still a need in standalone apps. I find it unacceptable that Windows Phone can't collaborate with Facebook in developing a decent app for Windows Phone considering how much Microsoft is invested in Facebook. Bing and Skype are integrated features on FB and i also understand Microsoft is a FB shareholder yet us Windows Phone users have to make do with a half-baked and inadequate third party FB app developed by an inept company called Clarity Consulting who have failed at every level in developing and updating the app. Also, I feel like I'm being mugged when i pay top dollar for apps that are free on Android and iOS like Fruit Ninja and Angry Birds. These are small battles that might lose the war for Windows Phone.
The recent debacle sorrounding the Nokia Lumia 610 not being able to run a handful of games has to be addressed. Like I said earlier, it's no deal breaker but gives anti-Nokia/ Windows Phone websites ammunition to shoot the OS down.
Hardware & OEMs
Time and again we are told that Windows Phone doesn't need dual core CPUs, doesn't need big RAM and so on... Utter garbage! Windows Phone needs them all and more. When people buy gadgets, they like to know and feel they got the best. Take for instance when people buy laptops, they want the biggest specs their money can buy them despite the fact they will never fully utilise them. Motorola came back from death's door with their Atrix which for time they claimed was the worlds' most powerful phone and in the process managed to capture peoples' attention. It's obvious some OEMs don't believe in Windows Phone. Motorola flirted with Windows Phone before jumping straight into bed with Google. Ericcson seems to be bidding their time while others like Dell seem to be losing interest. Samsung see treats Windows Phone like an ugly stepchild that only gets leftovers and second-hand clothes (What Samsung is doing in Europe is confusing). LG remains ambiguous, while HTC is plodding along with the Radar and Titan, which are is not enough to allow them to continue being the strongest Windows Phone OEM. NOKIA, NOKIA, NOKIA, the saviour of Windows Phone. I don't want to speculate as I could be proved wrong when Nokia unveils their Windows Phone 8 device(s). I hope that the rumours of Nokia readying an "iPhone Killer" of a device are correct. What most of us are crying out for is a standout premium device, something you can place alongside an iPhone 5 or SGS3 and not automatically feel inferior.
Despite all the negatives, Microsoft has got it right at times. The Mango update was a smooth and seamless for most of us. The way they it was synchronised the update in different countries via different carriers is impressive. What was more impressive was how they delivered the Mango Beta clean-up update which meant that we didn't need to revert to NoDo to be able to update. It showed that Microsoft is finally listening to their customers. The Mango update went a long way in eradicating the bitter taste left by the NoDo debacle. Now, we wait to see if Microsoft listening isn't selective. Windows Phone 8 has to be delivered to all current device without excuse. I have no doubt Microsoft are in this for the long run and have faith that Windows Phone will not suffer the same fate as WebOS. I'm sure they have a strategy that will gain Windows Phone a healthy chunk of market share. The way Xbox has overtaken Sony's Playstation is reassuring.
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