At a time that seems to be long long ago, I wrote an editorial giving my reasoning for considering Windows Phone as my next handset. While I was generally positive in that editorial I expressed several concerns that ended up keeping me on Android. Let’s take a look back at that editorial and see what qualms of mine Microsoft managed to address at today’s press conference , which ones they didn’t, and whether my mind will likely be changed come upgrade time.
Does Windows Phone perfectly mirror my use case on Android? Hardly. The app store is still a bit small, even at 65,000 apps, there are key names that are missing. Pandora internet radio is a perfect example. A big name app like this should be on Windows Phone 7. It’s already on Windows Phone Classic. That and it’s one of the “key apps” that people look for when comparing platforms to choose.
Microsoft addressed this head on today. Both Joe Belfiore and Steve Ballmer said that the app story is indeed getting better on Windows Phone with 120,000 apps in the Marketplace and 47 of the top 50 smartphone apps present and accounted for. They also insist that hundreds are being approved each day as well. Pandora, for example, is finally on Windows Phone in an official form. To put the significance of this into perspective, even HP’s WebOS had a official Pandora app. Other big names are hitting the platform too like Temple Run and Disney’s Where’s My Water. These are big name titles that consumers use to judge the viability of a smartphone platform. It remains important for Microsoft to keep courting devs and get them onto the platform. More importantly, I’m finding the apps I use often in the Marketplace.
Another issue is a lack of compelling devices on my carrier. Verizon’s notoriously been ambivalent toward Windows Phone. They’ve picked a very unassuming handset, the HTC Trophy as their launch device and haven’t gained any new models since. This is disappointing in more ways than one and Microsoft needs to figure out exactly what the deal is with Verizon and Windows Phone. Is it beef with the KIN? Is it the lack of carrier control that Windows Phone has?
Consider that fixed:
All the major carriers save for Sprint are on board with Windows Phone. Multiple devices, multiple carriers, it’s really looking good this holiday season. Oh yeah, about that. They’ll almost all be released around November, even Verizon’s devices. That’s far better than the last Windows Phone launch. Verizon’s all in on Windows Phone this year and it shows. Not only do they have a compelling lineup of 3 smartphones from HTC, Nokia and Samsung, but they’re even the first carrier to take full advantage of Windows Phone’s new Data Sense feature that’ll stretch user’s data allotments. That’s huge not only for them but for consumers. It was honestly something I expected another carrier to do instead. Kudos Verizon.
Can Microsoft still improve? Certainly. They’re still forcing you to plug-in your device for major updates (Notification about impending updates is done OTA, ditto small patch updates) and that’s something that has to change. I shouldn’t have to plug-in my phone, not in the world we live in now. Furthermore, it turns out that the carriers have more power over phone updates than Microsoft first let on. They are allowed to block updates, as many updates as they want actually. This is disappointing as that brings on the risk that fragmentation can occur and sure enough, there’s at least one carrier who’s blocked at least 2 updates…some of these updates actually FIX legitimate bugs like a disappearing keyboard and SSL Certificate errors. Microsoft might not have the leverage that Apple has but hopefully they will in time.
Microsoft has finally gotten that leverage with Windows Phone 8. Now, Windows Phone 8 devices have an update guarantee. You’ll get updates and support for 18 months. That’s huge because many people sign new 2 year contracts for discounted pricing. To basically have your phone get updates throughout that life-cycle and possibly beyond that is something Android simply cannot touch right now without major intervention from Google. To me, a user who’s been disappointed by broken update promises with his Android handset, this represents a very interesting proposition if I do decide to keep on a stock Windows Phone build. I wouldn’t be missing anything, which is something I cannot say about my current device which cannot even run Google’s Chrome for Android browser.
Oh and they cut the cord for OS updates, large or small. Excellent and the way it should be.
Windows Phone 8 might not look significantly different or appear to have a lot of features on the surface that push things forward. But it’s when you dig a bit deeper into the benefits, the features like Live Lockscreen that are small but make oh so much sense, the integration between it and your Windows 8 machine, the advantages in cloud services it has over competing platforms and it all begins to come together.
Windows Phone, for me, is finally truly compelling. And I cannot wait to get my hands on one.