OPINION: Windows Phone: Sweet on the outside, sour on the inside

OPINION: Windows Phone: Sweet on the outside, sour on the inside

One thing that I’m getting a little sick of is people who stick up for Windows Phone, but haven’t actually used it full-time.

I remember first seeing when Windows Phone Series 7 was announced. I also remember eventually using it in store. It was smooth, fast and I really liked the look of metro. I was excited. Finally, an alternative to iOS and Android which….looks good!

Eventually I ended up with a developer device (HTC Surround) and, while at first I was excited, that feeling eventually turned into annoyance and then also into just plain hatred of the platform.

Firstly, it’s stale. When was the last time you heard about a cool new app on Windows Phone? Yeah, I haven’t heard of one either. That’s because there aren’t any new apps that are exclusive to Windows Phone. There aren’t even any multiplatform apps that do something unique with Windows Phone. And whenever you hear about a company that’s announcing an application, Windows Phone is almost always excused from support.

Why? Because Microsoft isn’t working hard enough. And because there aren’t many new devices. Because it’s stale. And Microsoft is a pro at leaving things to grow stale. Look at Bing. Same look (ugly) and same actual tool. While Google adds cool things, like searching for the time somewhere and getting it, Bing remains crap. And Windows Live does the same thing.

The OS also looks and feels exactly the same as when it was announced in…woah. Feb 2010. February 2010! And nothing has changed. It has had one “big” update (with nothing much in it) and it has barely any apps. No devices (excluding Nokia, which is still on the distance for Australia), no updates, no apps. It’s stale.

But why fix what isn’t broken, huh? Well, it is broken.

So far, Windows Phone supports ONE resolution. Now, Metro might actually look good on a high-res screen, but I wouldn’t know. Because on every Windows Phone I’ve seen, it’s looked either too big for the screen or has been a crappy screen. You know the HTC Titan? It has the same resolution, software-wise, as my HTC Surround. And while we can’t entirely blame bad hardware on Microsoft, this can 100% be blamed on Microsoft.

Now, back to the apps. Sure, there aren’t many, but quality over quantity right? Wrong.

Trying to make Windows Phone your main device is impossible. The official Facebook application, made by Microsoft, wastes space, is laggy and doesn’t work. It doesn’t work! While scrolling down my feed the whole thing jumps as it loads. My iPod touch doesn’t do this, the Galaxy Nexus I’m borrowing doesn’t do this, but Windows Phone does. And the app wastes so much space too. There is a dedicated Status bar, which might sound good on another phone, but is terrible on this phone.

The Twitter app is a little better, but not by much. There are a number of problems, I can’t go over them all, but it’s not a good user-experience. And what do people do with phones? Facebook, Twitter, SMS, Calls, Web and Gaming, and that’s a bit of a generalisation, but it’s still what people do.

And every app uses Windows Phone’s terrible multitasking. For example, an application called RunKeeper, which tracks your excercise via GPS, pauses when the screen locks.

So just put yourself in my shoes. I’ve just ridden 10KM and the screen has gone to sleep. The app has now stopped tracking your progress and the whole thing is pointless. Sure, I don’t ride because of that, so it’s not bad, but it is annoying.

So Facebook and Twitter suck. How about the browser?

It’s actually not too bad. Streaming videos on it, for me, is terrible as the videos cannot play without lagging, literally stuttering and making the video unwatchable, but the browser is fine. Sure, websites still treat it like Windows Phone 6 with Mobile websites worthy of your old Nokia in the draw, but it’s a fine browser.

And lots of these problems can be linked back to Metro. It’s terrible. Swyping, while fun on an in-store display, is terrible on a real device. Instead of tapping to what you want to do, you have to go through every other menu, watch it stutter and freeze, and then go to the next menu until you get to the one you want. Ugh.

And the thing you should remember is that I’m just pulling these experiences out of the top of my head. There are plenty of other problems. And Metro is really a lazy UI when you get deeper into it. And don’t get me started on the search key which, instead of searching in the app, is actually dedicated to Bing. You can’t change it to Google either (I hate Bing, not because Microsoft hasn’t marketed it or shoved it in my face, but because it’s ugly and terrible).


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