Hey @Microsoft, I’m Getting Rid of Windows Phone 7 and Here’s Why!

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I love trying out new operating systems and gadgets. That’s why I blog on technology. So despite any doubts I had on Microsoft’s latest effort in the mobile arena, despite their history with Windows Mobile 6.5 (could have been way better than what it was) and KIN (duh!), I decided to give Windows Phone 7 a try. I had been using Android and iOS so I had a pretty good idea of what to compare WP7 with. And after giving it lots of chances, here’s my honest and unbiased opinion on Microsoft’s efforts.

(Sure, Microsoft has been late to the mobile game and it has changed quite a lot since the iPhone arrived at the scene. Apple showed how it’s supposed to be done with iOS and Google showed how Windows Mobile 6.5 should have been. Still, I’ve decided not to include comparisons here, as much as possible.)

Windows Phone 7

First of all, I love the user interface. It has been a refreshing change from iOS and Android. I love how the tiles tilt depending on the point at where they are pressed. The same goes for the updates in the People hub and so on. The interface is minimal and should supposedly be easy to get used to for new smartphone users. While this isn’t really true in a real world scenario (more on this in a while), the UI is really simple which is a good thing in most cases. From the browser to the camera UI to photo navigation, it’s all good. The little tidbits of information that tiles are supposed to provide are sometimes very helpful too. The Facebook integration is also the best I’ve seen in a mobile OS. The messaging UI is also top notch. Auto uploading to SkyDrive? Awesome! But, if I have to choose just one favorite feature of Windows Phone 7, it’s definitely the UI.

But, there are a lot of issues with Windows Phone 7. Here are the things that bother me (you’re welcome to correct me if I’m mistaken on any of these):

  • You know how important battery life meter and the signal meter are on a phone? Well, they are hidden by default. You can’t just glance at the screen and know when it’s time to charge or why your call just dropped. You have to pull down these meters just to find out. It might seem like a great idea to keep the UI minimal but guess what? It isn’t.
  • The apps list. I have around 70 apps installed, including the built-in ones. To get to any app, I have to do tons of scrolling. There’s no search either. Either you pin your most used apps to the home screen ( which also becomes a pain to scroll just like the app list ) or you just keep on scrolling in the apps list.
  • Call history doesn’t show call duration for individual entries. I don’t need to say anything more on this except for it’s just ridiculous.
  • Push notifications. Yes, Microsoft did a good job of copying this trick out of Apple’s playbook. Good job. But, they somehow forgot to make a standard UI for showing which app had shown the notification. Every third party app has a different way of showing them if they do at all. I’m not talking about the notification bar that shows on the top of the screen but the number of notifications that should show on every app if they’re one of the rare useful ones that actually support push notifications.
  • The address bar in landscape browser mode disappears. Why, Microsoft, why? Did you even bother to do any testing on this?
  • Camera settings don’t save. I’ve read why they ‘thought’ this is a ‘good feature’, but it’s not. Hey, Windows Phone 7 team! Ever used a camera? Great, take a clue from it.
  • Brightness. Just low, medium and high. Why isn’t there a slider for this? What age are we living in? I know you’re a Nokia partner now, but you didn’t have to take design cues from Nokia’s series 40 phones.
  • Slow apps. Try scrolling in the Facebook and Twitter apps. Elements will start disappearing if you scroll too fast. Also, try zooming in and out, notice the choppiness? Is it the OS or the 1Ghz processor that fails to keep up with touch gestures?
  • Marketplace. Rarely does it happen that apps update fine? Mostly, I have to delete them and reinstall them from the marketplace. And I’ve checked, I’m not the only one facing this issue.
  • No virtual button in the camera app. Sure, you have a physical button but an option of a virtual shutter button wouldn’t have done anyone any harm whatsoever. We’re used to on-screen keyboards and buttons so why don’t you understand, Microsoft?
  • App crashes. If the Marketplace crashes ( it does that a lot ) or Music & Videos app does, it wouldn’t work again until I restart my phone. Same for third party apps. What the heck?
  • App quality in the Marketplace. I want Reeder, there’s no app comparable to it, though. YouTube? There’s no app good enough. Oh, wait, Google Maps? Nope. Bing Maps show 3-year-old maps in my region. Messenger? None integrated and none good enough available. But yes, if you have $499 to waste, you can find an app for that in the Marketplace. Microsoft is apparently fine with just increasing the number of apps and not the quality. There’s no push notifications integration in the Facebook and Twitter apps.
  • I can’t back up my Windows Phone 7  using the Zune desktop app.
  • I can’t sync my contacts or calendar entries or bookmarks using the Zune desktop app either.
  • For many tasks, I actually need a lot of taps. Take Wi-Fi for an example. Need to open up Settings > Wi-Fi and then toggle it on or off.  It would have been great if the power button brought up some on-screen menu for quick toggles.
  • Xbox Live. Doesn’t the ‘live’ part mean multiplayer games? I haven’t been able to find/play any yet.
  • The Marketplace. iPhone never launched in my country. Still, there has been a regional app store for us. The Marketplace is only available in a few countries. I can’t buy any apps. Although, Windows Phone 7 handsets are officially available here.
  • It’s definitely not easy to use for new smartphone users. The icons don’t explain themselves. I’ve had people getting confused over how to make a phone call because the icon in the phone app doesn’t say ‘keypad’ until you raise the menu. The UI is the same throughout the OS. The sometimes cryptic icons aren’t helpful for most people until they open the menu for text. There is a learning curve involved. It might not seem like a big thing but compare to competitors, it is.
  • Resale value. Pathetic. The OS has had no positive impact on users so far. I’ve seen older Samsung Galaxy S handsets selling for more than Samsung Omnia 7.
  • The ads are misleading. Taking photos with Windows Phone 7 is not faster than iPhone or even Android.
  • The video quality is pathetic. It records at around 24fps on most Windows Phone 7 handsets. There’s no Windows Phone 7 device that does 720p video recording at 30fps.
  • Office is terrible. It’s too basic and I’m unable to open a lot of simple Excel files which work on every other platform.
  • I can’t setup a static IP for my Windows Phone 7 device in Wi-Fi settings in my home network. They’re always grayed out. What gives?
  • I haven’t even touched on the lack of HTML5 ( coming soon ), Flash, multitasking ( coming soon ), copy/paste ( also coming soon ) currently yet.

I’m expecting people to tell me that this is a version 1 product so we should expect more features soon. But it’s not the lack of features I’m annoyed of, it’s the issues. Most of the things mentioned in the list above are what should be there in the OS as basics. You can’t forgive a company for not including basics like call duration! Sure, Microsoft has innovated on a lot of fronts in Windows Phone 7, but it has also made a lot of annoying mistakes. So until Microsoft fixes these issues, I plan on getting rid of my Windows Phone 7. Hopefully, the next time I buy a Windows Phone 7 device, it’ll be worth it.

Good luck Windows Phone 7 team.

  • Oh I like this… beat the crap out of ol’ Windows like anything :)

  • I feel your agony my friend!

    I too sold my Omnia 7 yesterday.. *sigh!*

  • I will now wait for Nokia

  • Similar articles could be written about all of the mobile operating systems. They all have comparitive strengths and weaknesses. I have a Samsung Focus and there are definitely things that annoy me, but I’m staying with it.

    I disagree with you about the camera. It IS faster than taking pics with iOS and Android. If you start from lock screen to picture, it’s faster. If you to lock screen to sharing, it’s not even close.

    You missed my biggest issue…Bing. I hate that my old WinMo6.5 version of Bing had turn-by-turn directions with voice but WP7’s doesn’t. I gave up a dedicated GPS system years ago and have counted on my phone for that. Now I have to drive and scroll through directions which probably isn’t legal and definitely not safe. I have a conspiracy theory that the carriers requested this to sell their overpriced subscription services.

  • Percu

    – Bluetooth: You can’t send/receive files, you can only pair it with a speaker system (car)
    – Exchange / Outlook. You can’t sync with an Exchange server that is not serving in default https port (443). If a system administrator for security reasons publish exchange in a port other than 443 you can’t sync (there’s not problem with Android or IOS).
    – Office Live: By now you just can access OneNote files (not Word or Excel) though a future update (if no errors ;P) is solving this issue.
    – Wifi: You can’t connect to a hidden wi-fi. It’s not supported.
    Xq

  • Sadly dude, most of your reasoning was pretty much wrong. Example: Xbox Live, doesn’t live mean multiplayer…. No, it doesn’t. Does Windows Live mean multiplayer? Some of your reasoning just sounds like u have no idea what ur doing…. or u just want attention. I donno. I’m just saying my piece. But that being said, the part that were actually right, (crashing apps that need u to reset ur whole phone) are decent reasons. BTW: I have a WP7

    • Windows Live isn’t for gaming. How you can draw parallels between the two is strange. See Game Center for how Xbox Live for Windows Phone 7 should be like hence ‘multiplayer’ is missing.
      I have no idea what I’m doing? Good one.

  • Irfan

    thank God I have android, i will put off buying a windows phone 7 device till at least some of these issues are taken care of as I also use the device for business purpose. cant afford to experiment.

  • andy

    I agree its a terrible system, you cant just connect your phone to a pc and drag and drop your music into a folder to get it onto your phone, you have to connect it up to the awful and stupid zune software which is a nightmare. seriously wtf microsoft are you trying to make things as hard as possible !!!

    I will be going Android with my next phone and never getting a windows mobile again, they should have just stuck with 6.5 and saved a lot of money.

  • omegajb

    I agree with most of what you say, Ive been a Windows Mobile user since the the CE days. I don’t understand why MS didn’t take some of the good things about W6.5 ie. Bing maps with navigation, the ability to connect to hidden WiFi network and develop with those in mind.
    I understand iOS and Android were lacking several things when they first launched but that was years ago and with MS coming late to the party they really dropped the ball on some things.

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  • Arturo

    Great article. I fully agree with all the points above.

    Here is what is missing on WP7 according to me:

    1. WiFi and USB tethering
    2. Full integration of Skydrive in the Office Hub
    3. Support for third party keyboards (e.g. SWYPE)
    4. Multilanguage keyboard (e.g. French + English)
    5. Ability to save camera settings
    6. Volume: Separate ringer and music volume
    7. Volume: Force silent text message alerts when using headphones
    8. Volume: Remove camera-shutter sound
    9. USB mass storage support (even limited)
    10. Ability to delete multiple texts just as multiple emails (with the checkbox)
    11. Ability to delete multiple pictures
    12. Smart dial to make dialing faster
    13. Option to set how wi-fi operates while in sleep/standby
    14. Emails: Peak notification for emails (option to disable push notification at night)
    15. Screen capture
    16. Support for front-facing cameras and video chat
    17. Turn by turn text-to-speech navigation with offline support
    18. Sharing options for video (MMS, Facebook, Twitter, Skydrive, etc)
    19. Add image and video results to Bing
    20. Native DLNA and Bluetooth 3.0
    21. File explorer
    22. Emails: Solve the issue with embedded pictures that fail to download
    23. Emails: Ability to edit the content of an email before you forward it
    24. Zune: more Codecs
    25. Zune: Improved search function in Zune: the Zune search function will only look for music into the Marketplace and not even browse into your own music collection if you search for a specific song
    26. Zune: Scrubbing controls in the Zune player
    27. Zune: Ability to create and save playlists directly on the device
    28. Zune: Ability to download podcasts over the air
    29. Zune: Ability to add or update podcasts directly from the phone
    30. Zune: Scrobbling on Last.fm for ALL countries
    31. Multitasking, multitasking, multitasking !!!
    32. WiFi toggle button directly accessible from the Home Menu
    33. A real YouTube application
    34. native flashlight app (using LED flash) on ALL wp7 devices.

    + DECENT BING MAP for EUROPE
    + More generally, more freedom, more openness and more flexibility

  • Colin W

    Had my LG Optimus 7 for about a month now. Wish I had taken it back straight away …

    Some of it’s lovely to use. I like the tiles … like the messaging for the most part.

    Can’t believe how lacking this phone / operating system is …

    Here’s my list of things I think are missing / wrong / misguided ….. in no particular order …

    1/ Simple sync to Outlook via PC. We don’t all want to use the cloud. I personally want all my emails, contacts, calendar, tasks and notes on my phone …. simple … no ?? I use Outlook alll the time and have done for years. I don;t want to have to copy calendars to Windows live etc etc …. Tried … and its a nightmare.

    2/ What’s with the ringtones ? …. Can I please just have a simple ring ? I don’t want a horrible tune. We are not all 18 yrs old ! Maybe at least the option to download new ringtones ?

    3/ No Windows Live messenger ??

    4/ Facebook … no chat ? ( not Windows fault I suppose )

    5/ No Flash support ?

    6/ No way to check actual battery charge percentage ?

    7/ Please colour code SMS messages similar to iPhone ( each person has different colour text box )

    8/ Very poor Office application

    9/ Am sure I’ll remember 9 as soon as I have posted this …..

    What gets me is that lots of the operating system seems to be a step backwards from 6.5. Am I wrong ? Or have Microsoft just abandoned their long time business users in favour of the social user ?

    And … I have an iphone as well. I moaned about it when I got it for some of it’s lacking features ,,, but in actual fact …. it works better with Outlook than the Windows 7 phone … I’m confused !

    Thank you … I’ll be quiet now …

    Colin W

  • Mark Wicks

    I am so glad I didn’t actually buy this phone. Sadly, my wife bought 2.

    My biggest rant about the Windows phone (Lumina 710 Win 7) is I speak in very remote locations of the Philippines without wi-fi and at time even signal. I have not yet found a way to access my Office docs where and when I need them. I cannot store email attachments to the phone (docs ppt excel etc.) and then access them in such locations.

    For a phone purported to be business friendly, this is the worst joke of a phone I have ever seen. Well it was developed by Gates and his cronies who seem to enjoy torturing his consumers so I guess this is no different is it.