“Close, but no cigar”… “So near, yet so far”… “Better luck next time”…
It’s hard to know how to begin to write this post, and it’s even harder for me being the semi Microsoft-fanboy that I am. I’ve been using the HTC Trophy and WP7 (Windows Phone 7) OS for a little over a month now. There aren’t many fully independent and unbiased reviews of the WP7 OS yet, so I thought I’d add this to my blog. Don’t be too scared of the opening line, this OS has lots to offer, but it also needs a lot of extra work before it can rival Blackberry/iPhone/Android competitors.
First impressions of the device and OS are good. Navigation through settings, and preference changes are intuitive and generally very easy. It’s live tile ability where “live tile” developed apps can display notifications and updates without it being opened is great, and mostly very quick at performing. Email setup for corporate Exchange and Google/Hotmail is very simple and fast. For me, email ability of the phone is easily comparable to that of a Blackberry. The phone screen clarity is excellent, and this helps its performance on the gaming front. The handset itself is lightweight and very aesthetically pleasing, just a little scratch prone.
For me, one of the best features is the seamless and unified integration of all the various contact hives that everyone now has. Outlook/Exchange contacts, Facebook contacts, Windows Live contacts and Google Gmail contacts are all brought into one place, and where possible, are linked into a single contact view (would love to see Twitter in this as well). So where previously I had an Outlook corporate contact with an email address attribute, a local contact stored in my phone memory with a phone number, and also that person added as a Facebook friend, this is now all in one place. 1 single contact, with email/phone and any latest status updates and Facebook activity in one place. No duplicates! It also means that all my contacts are preloaded with their Facebook profile picture, so incoming calls from a contact display a picture without any additional configuration… None of that running around and taking pictures of your mates to save against a contact business anymore!
The gaming aspect of the phone is superb, a lot of the marketplace games are xbox live enabled/aware, and so any achievement points go towards your Gamerscore. This is all nicely presented on a front screen live tile as well. Most games utilize in one form or another, the devices accelerometer, which I have to say, in the HTC Trophy, is superb. It is very precise, and I’m hard pushed to fault it in any way. Others use touch screen, and as you would expect are also faultless. The choice of games is still a major grumbling point, as are the prices, but this is still a relatively immature OS, and developers are still very much getting to grips with it. Microsoft are however putting their weight behind developers in a bid to push more games/apps onto the WP7 platform by offering payments to developers. Until Rovio release angry birds (this is of critical importance for use as a business phone!). Skype develop a WP7 client, and there is a fully functional voice guided nav app available, I’m remaining sceptical.
A lot of people have been barking about the lack of muti-tasking, but for me I haven’t found this to be much of an issue. My emails delivers and sync via live tiles without having an app open, and I can play music while using other apps. For me it’s as functional as it needs to be.
So… That’s the positives. It’s probably easier to get the negatives out in a list format, so here goes…
It’s been said before, and it’ll be said again. I just can’t believe Microsoft launched without this function. When I first starting using the phone, I didn’t think I’d miss it…. I do. When manipulating emails, contacts, text messages…. Allsorts. It’s a big oversight, and needs addressing. Quickly.
It’s new, and is still work in progress, so the lack of apps/games can be forgiven. However, the stability and usability of the marketplace app desperately need improving. It’s impossible to do any kind of granular search within the marketplace. While trying to search for apps, you end up with results for music artists and games. Put this on top of the frequent crashes of the marketplace app itself (which can only be resolved with a reboot) and it’s a real sore point of the OS.
The calendar is functional, and quick, but just missing a few things. In single day view, you cannot see the day name. The only way to determine what day a certain date is. Is by exiting back out to monthly view…. Yes, monthly view, there is no weekly view at all. For someone using this as a Blackberry replacement business phone always arranging, and re-arranging appointments, this is painful.
• UC Ability
I’m a UC engineer working in an environment where presence is everything, people using WM6/Symbian/Android devices all have the OCS clients installed on their devices, so they are permanently available. MS still haven’t released a WP7 OCS client, and by the looks of things, there are no plans to in the near future. For the time being, this is the brick wall reason my company will not be rolling out this device/OS. Which is a shame, you would have thought that a Microsoft OS and Microsoft server software should natively be somewhat functional together.
Currently it isn’t possible to connect to any wireless network with a hidden SSID, and yes, I know the risks, yes I know it doesn’t provide any extra security. The fact remains that some businesses, hotspots, hotels etc, use hidden SSID’s, and for such a small addition, I think this needs addressing.
The simple fact is that this OS has been rushed, and the final result just stinks of small issues that have a big effect on end user impression. It’s rumoured that a big update in the first quarter of this year (2011) will address a lot of my and other users concerns. The amount and quality of marketplace apps will grow over time, and hopefully reduced in price. Until then, the WP7 OS, for me has bridged the gap between the iPhone/Android devices being very much personal gaming machines, and Blackberry devices being hardcore business machines. It still has some way to go before it comes the force that Microsoft hope it to be though.