When HTC released a gorgeous, powerful, innovative, distinctive Android phone a few weeks ago, we realized Android was suddenly an option for everyone, even the very rich. But yesterday, Nokia unveiled its newest flagship smartphone, a gorgeous, powerful, innovative, distinctive Windows Phone, and I suspect it won't sell any better than the Lumia 920, the last flagship Nokia Windows Phone (which in its first quarter sold 4.4 million units, compared to the iPhone 5's 27.4 million). Or the Lumia before that. Or the one before that. That's because Windows Phone has a serious problem: its hardware is improving rapidly, but its operating software is not.
Two years ago, we reviewed Windows Phone 7.5, the first major update to the then-new Windows Phone operating system, and said we were still "waiting for it to really live up to its promise." One year ago, we reviewed the Nokia Lumia 920, with the Windows Phone 8 update, and said "Windows Phone has huge problems. That doesn't mean it's bad, but we're two years into this operating system, and it still has basic issues that impact daily use."
The new Lumia looks great--I was very impressed with the camera technology when I saw it last year, and the aesthetics of the Lumia line have always been stylish and playful in a way that's totally different from anything else on the market. But that doesn't matter at all, because Microsoft is not improving the Windows Phone operating system at anywhere near the pace it needs to. Here's a brief list of major problems Microsoft has yet to address.
- Multitasking is sometimes inscrutable, in that you never know which apps will show up in the "currently running" list of apps.
- Email threading often doesn't work, especially with Gmail accounts.
- Lots of features, including Rooms (sort of a mobile, multimedia chat room) are Windows Phone exclusives, meaning they can only be accessed with Windows Phones--cool, but it's pretty unlikely all your friends have Windows Phones too.
- Speech recognition is lousy, nowhere near as good as Google's Android voice control or even Apple's Siri.
- There's no place to see notifications at all; if you get an alert on an app that you haven't pinned to your homescreen, you'd never know.
- Bing Maps doesn't have public transit directions, let alone bike directions.
- It's not easy to share photos to services like Twitter and Facebook; Android and iOS let you do that in one touch, but not Windows Phone.
Microsoft can fix all that stuff. Microsoft needs to fix all that stuff. But the biggest problem might be the hardest to fix: there aren't nearly enough good apps available for Windows Phone.
App developers are often low-budget and understaffed, even wildly successful ones, and it's expensive and time-consuming to assign people to port apps to another platform, like Windows Phone. They'll do it, sure, if they have the resources and it seems like the userbase is big enough to make them some money... and therein lies the problem.
It's a cyclical issue. Developers won't make apps for a platform nobody uses, and nobody will buy a phone with no apps. No customers leads to no apps leads to no customers.
Microsoft can break the cycle, though. All it has to do is take advantage of the fact that it's one of the biggest and most powerful companies in the world: take a cannon, fill it up with money and talented developers, and aim it south from the Microsoft campus in Redmond, Washington straight at Silicon Valley. (Or wherever else the developers call home.) Aim the cash cannon east, at London, and give King.com, the makers of massive hit Candy Crush, a couple hundred thousand dollars and a team of developers to port the game over to Windows Phone. Do the same for Instagram (which is still not available on Windows Phone), Snapchat, Dots, or whatever else people are using on other platforms.
Microsoft has the clout and capital to fix its own problems--it just needs to actually spend the time and money it'll take to do it.
Are you serious?
Have you used Windows Phone 8?
- Email threading works great for me, and I have Gmail, Yahoo, and an Exchange address.
- Speech recognition had a big improvement recently, and is getting better. Very workable.
- Bing Maps? Most of the Lumias come with Nokia HERE. Have you tried it? It's great! Has all the features you want.
- Sharing pictures? Snap, Share, tag, add caption, and sent... Or, Snap, Share, Sent, bot on Facebook or Twitter, very easy. Are you sure you're not using Windows Phone 6?
What 'Good Apps' are you missing? People keep saying 'Microsoft doesn't have the apps other stores do' but time and again they never mention what apps are missing? I have on my Windows Phone all the apps I need, Weather, Social, Streaming media...
Instagram? Seriously? That's the big killer app that's missing for Windows Phone? Are you an 80 year old Grandma or a 13 year old girl?
Have you tried Windows Phone games like Asphalt 7 or Spiderman? How about speech recognition right into OneNote?
If media people like you keep badmouthing Windows Phone using outdated standards, it's no wonder people are mislead into not buying this great device.
I took my wife into a phone store, and had her try iPhones, Androids, and Windows phones, and asked her to pick what she liked without my input. She doesn't like technology. She picked the Windows phone because it did well what she wanted it to do. Make calls, Text, and apps that actually do something useful. Every week (it's been over 6 months) she tells me, 'I love this phone!'
You keep mentioning 'Last Year' or 'Two Years ago'. That explains it, you're a technology dinosaur, you haven't seen the updates to Windows Phone... It's a good thing you don't write for a Technology magazine. Ooops, looks like you do.
That's basically windows phone in a nutshell. Everyone already uses Android and iOS, so app developers focus on those two platforms. The end result is that windows phone has no mainstream apps or games, and the apps and games that are on there are terrible, so nobody buys them and it continues the cycle. And to be honest, even if they did manage to scrape together some half decent apps, I doubt people would switch to windows phone anyway. The UI isn't very good or intuitive, and it doesn't have all the extra goodies you get with android or iOS.
Wondering what extra goodies Android and iOS have. I'm willing to listen.
Windows Phone has built in Song Recognition. Maybe that's why there aren't so many apps, the OS does so much already.
Windows Phone allows for 3rd party Lenses built right into the OS camera system.
I have had friends with iOS and Android phones for over a year still asking me questions about how to use it. I hand them my Lumia 920 tell them a couple gestures to find what they need, and they say 'Wow'.
I am willing to hear honest, real-life, current (not year or two old) examples of issues or problems. Anybody?
I gotta agree with mkenyon2 on all points.
Sharing photos is easier on Windows Phone platform than any other. Its been built into the OS and camera app since the beginning.
you never know which apps will show up in the "currently running" list of apps? there is no list of apps. you scroll through the running apps. I have never had a problem here for the 7.0, 7.5 and 8 versions of the OS.
I use speech recognition every day for messaging for hands free receipt and send. Accuracy is very good.
Nokia Here maps (on all manufacturer devices) has great transit maps, and offers free offline maps too.
Mr. Nosowitz, this story is inaccurate. If you think otherwise, you are a <<insert kindly worded derogatory stuff here>>.
Ohh my god... using Social Tools like Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin so easy... plz plz its a request must go and use Windows 8 in Lumia 920...
and voice recognition works perfectly much much better than Google and iOS... BING MAPS (Ha ha ha ha) Nokia has the best MAP... + most innovative apps City Lens... Here rocks...
I love my Lumia and will buy 1020 for sure...
Well I personally hate the interface for one thing. And the severe lack of customization. I couldn't find most the apps I had on Android or iOS. The apps that did exist seemed clunky and not well made. I think it had some kind of half baked multitasking system.
I never see anyone using a windows phone. The only place I've seen windows phones is in pawn shops going for about 50$ because nobody will buy them.
And yes I did briefly own a windows phone, until my frustration with its lack of anything resulted in it suffering a high velocity impact with my floor.
I have to also agree with mkenyon2, this article is wildly inaccurate.
I can chime in too. I've been with wp for a few years and it is great. Simple and intuitive.
Bing once sucked, but is rapidly improving.
The nokia apps are very impressive.
I love all my photo apps. I don't feel I'm missing anything here. Instagram might be nice, but its also nice not giving a crap about what people had for breakfast or what their babies look like, or feeling the need to tell people how awesome I am.
The calendar system is great and syncs perfectly with google.
Skydrive syncs with my computer.
WP has native twitter client, which is great because their app sucks.
I don't have facebook for the same reason I probably wouldn't have instagram, but everyone says that works great.
I honestly don't see a reason to not use wp; although, I haven't used droid or apple, so I'm massively bias. Hopefully thats not the case for 'WhatsUp' and 'mken'. I've also been getting a sense from the press that it would be blasphemous to give wp a positive review. It seems everyone goes into wp expecting something terrible and because of that all they see are the quirks, which to me are few and far between.
Notice, I've not bashed either iOS or Android. Simply defending WP.
Blarg_King - What customization could you not do? Specifically? When did you own a Windows Phone? Which one?
Anything Microsoft touches is going to lag, be a memory hog, and do all kinds of shit you really don't want it to do. It may feel fast to some users who only use basic features on it ... but to the people who are more serious, expect tons of lag.
41-megapixel camera - wo..
I think blackberry is able to run android apps, its all open source so I don't think there is even a licensing issue. M$ could do the same thing but I doubt they ever would. Of those millions of apps out how many do you actually use continually. There are quite a few apps I dl use for a week and never touch again. The non stock app I am most dependent on is an RDP (remote desktop protocol) client that turns my phone into a real computer. I'm sure windows phones have an app for that.
Dosbox is cool too but I need to lug around my bluetooth keyboard to really use it.
@popsciuser2: Really...what an empty comment. To users who are more experienced? What are you using your phone for that's so advanced microsoft's OS can't handle it? You're talking out of your ass, just like the people who bash Windows 8 because they took away the start menu.
I mean I won't upgrade to windows 8 because of the start menu. Be the same thing if Apple removed the dock from Mac OS. It would serve no purpose other than to make a different version to sell more copies.
But I had a Lumia 610 running WP 7.5. First of all, I couldn't change the background to anything but black. There was a meager selection of preset colors instead of a color wheel for setting the tile color. Tiles are either 1 wide or 2 wide.
And the damn tile interface. I hate it on Xbox, on Windows 8, and on Windows Phone. Its ugly, blockish, and its pastel colors and flat font reminds me of some kind of interface for little kids.
I use two cans and a string over anything apple, lol.
This phone above reads great and I like to try it!
Yeah, this article seems a little biased and as though it's regurgitating old views. I have an HTC WP-8X, and it's really great. I, however, don't use bing or voice recognition, so I'm not sure how that's worse than the ridiculously retarded SIRI. The sharing feature for FB is built in, I don't use twitter religiously but I got a sweet MS app for it anyway. Everything works great on it. I can use Adobe programs as well as running at least 10 different apps, movies and junk. I don't think I've ever run more than that at once, but I didn't experience any lag at all. My wife has an android device and likes it fine, but likes mine much better because of ease of use (of course, now she's started playing friggin candy crush, she'd never switch unless MS picked that one up), and my mom has the iphone 5...but is always complaining about it! I could use a better battery and more storage, but it is an extremely slim phone with awesome graphics, so I'm willing to deal with it (it lasts me all day but has to be charged when I go to bed). I'm just wondering if this is a specific rant on Nokia phones, or is it supposed to be general for MS OS? When my contract is up for renewal, I'm all about that 1020...or the HTC One.
That being said, I do have a list of notes and complaints about the windows OS, but none of them are in this article (except my nearly narcissistic need for more apps). Some of my complaints are, browsing windows should have independent "close" buttons that close all apps and programs in that thread, and what happened to the "forward" button? If I accidentally go back too many pages, I have to start all over in my browsing navigation. It's a pain. And the "open in new window" button? I guess what I'm getting at here is, the interface should echo a good web browser like chrome.
Blarg, now you're adding in the desktop OS. And it sounds like what you're saying is 'I don't think I would like to work without a Start Menu'. But there is a start menu, it's just bigger. It is a different experience, but as you use it you realize the benefits. It's much cleaner.
As for your phone, the 610 on 7.5 really was lacking in features. The 920 on WP 8 is a world of better, and more colors for you to play with.
I respect your feelings on the OS tiles. I like them, you don't, that's fine. Most icons are squares/rectangles with invisible pixels, so you're using blocks anyway, just don't see it. The live tiles are pretty nice tho. I have a package app on my WP8 that shows when the package has moved/arrived without me having to go into the app. That's pretty convenient for me.
I don't agree with 'anything but apple' or 'anything but microsoft' thinking. I tell my friends and anybody else that asks, buy and use what works for you. Doesn't mean you have to bash what works for me. :)
This is actually the first time I have felt the need to comment on an article, simply because the misinformation here is just sad.
"Multitasking is sometimes inscrutable, in that you never know which apps will show up in the "currently running" list of apps."
I'm not sure what's inscrutable here - you hold the back key and the app selector comes up with the currently open apps, similar in style to the cards in WebOS. The only thing that could be seen as confusing is that WinPhone7/8 uses the back key to close apps, so if you tap back until outside the app it closes the app process. This is different than other OSes but it's hardly inscrutable...
"Email threading often doesn't work, especially with Gmail accounts."
I have three gmail accounts that I monitor through one shared inbox on my Lumia 920, I haven't run into threading problems - but I suppose it could exist.
"Lots of features, including Rooms (sort of a mobile, multimedia chat room) are Windows Phone exclusives, meaning they can only be accessed with Windows Phones--cool, but it's pretty unlikely all your friends have Windows Phones too."
And this is different than other phones how? My wife's S3 has similar features that are locked to other samsung androids, I don't hold that against the phone...
"Speech recognition is lousy, nowhere near as good as Google's Android voice control or even Apple's Siri."
I haven't used the most recent Google update that I hear is really good, but I have used the older one on my wife's S3, I found it comparable to or worse than my 920, and both were far better than my experience with Siri. That's not including the recent MS update to the voice processing which has improved things significantly.
"There's no place to see notifications at all; if you get an alert on an app that you haven't pinned to your homescreen, you'd never know."
Fair enough. The next release has already leaked a unified notification center.
"Bing Maps doesn't have public transit directions, let alone bike directions."
I actually don't know - because using a Nokia handset I use HERE maps, which I have found to be just as good as Google's (surprisingly enough, because I have always used google maps on the desktop) And yes, Nokia HERE does include public transportation and pedestrian routing.
"It's not easy to share photos to services like Twitter and Facebook; Android and iOS let you do that in one touch, but not Windows Phone."
This is the MOST egregious nugget of misinformation in this article. In WP7/8 when looking at a picture the bottom menu has "share..." which opens a list of available services to send the picture to. Facebook and Twitter have native support in the OS, and have had that since the first WP7 launch, so as long as your Facebook/Twitter accounts are setup those are options in the list. Along with those are email accounts, MMS messaging and downloaded apps that implement the API properly (so new services get the same quick access). So click share, pick the service I want to share to, I'm not sure what is not easy about this...
As for throwing money at app devs - MS has been doing that, there is a $100,000 bonus up for top tier apps. As for instagram - this seems to be an instagram issue, MS and Nokia have both offered support and financial incentives for this. Rumor has it that it is in the works, but rumor is rumor... In the meantime I have no problem using Instance (3rd party app) which I find to be better than the official client on my wife's S3. Except for the new video support, waiting for that update. =)
I agree with not upgrading to 8 because it doesn't seem worth it if you're coming from say... windows 7. But people complain way to much about not having a start menu. I've said it a million times, there are tons of freeware start menus out there that take .78 seconds to download and run flawlessly. Windows 8 runs so smoothly on my computer i really have no complaints. I hate the blocky touch screen interface as well, but it doesn't make windows 8 a bad OS. You don't even need to use it on a desktop computer, and i never do.
I don't usually post to comments, but I had to post in to say how inaccurate this article is. I'm sure the writer has never used a Windows phone, he just relied on other bad information posted on the Internet.
1. To see which apps are running, merely press the back arrow.
2. My Gmail account works just fine.
3. Cool features don't matter because your friends have other phones? That's not a reason NOT to buy something.
4. Speech recognition works as well as I need it to, but I usually use it only in the car to call somebody. It gets all of my contacts right. I remember laughing one day as I watched my brother yelling at his iPhone trying to get it to phone his son. He could have pressed the phone number in 12 times before he finally gave up on the Siri.
5. Toast notifications pop up, but you are right on the lack of a notification area. I don't miss it, but I understand that lots of folks do. It's coming.
6. You don't need to use Bing maps with a Nokia phone. Nokia Here map apps are far superior to anything Bing or Google has developed. It does have transit directions, walking directions, etc. It's great.
7. It is a snap to share photos on Facebook or Twitter. Take the photo, press the dots, press 'share' and pick your sharing app. I have 14 apps on my Windows phone that I can immediately use including sending a text, email, facebook, twitter, onenote, Reddit, and more. I think, in every "Smoked by Windows Phone" ad I saw during the running of that campaign, photo sharing was far faster than with any other phone.
You are right that many corporate apps are not available. You can pin their mobile sites to your desktop and use those, instead. Most of these kinds of apps don't do much, anyway. There are plenty of games, some that are unique to Windows Phone. Wordament, the best word game ever, started out as a Windows Phone app.
On a Windows Phone, you can connect to your Xbox account and earn achievement points for playing games. I can see my Xbox avatar, customize it, and communicate with my friends who also use Xbox.
Everything is automatically synced with my SkyDrive account - when I take a photo, it's immediately available on my PC. Same with my OneNote app or my Office Documents. I can work on an Excel spreadsheet on my phone and open it on my PC when I get to the office without have to hit an upload button.
Please do some more research next time. I know a lot of people who find phones valuable for them for one reason or another. And everyone won't like Windows Phone. But not for the reasons in your article. It is just inaccurate.
Lets just chalk it up to everyone is different, and some people simply don't like it. I myself prefer Android and iOS, and don't find Windows 8 appealing.
Honestly I think the real issue with WP is that they came into the game after Android and iOS were already established as the main phone OS's, and now they're having to play catch up to get all the apps that people use on other platforms. And it seems that the only difference WP brings to the table is a different UI scheme than Android and iOS. If people are on Android or iOS, WP doesn't really offer any groundbreaking features to make switching worthwhile.
And yes, the 610 may be a budget phone, but I find that similarly priced budget android phones offer more features and somewhat better hardware.
I look at articles like these and ask... who's footing the bill? One of the competitors I'd imagine. There are some good observations in here - Microsoft needs to continue to improve. I hear new strategies for notifications are in the works for WP 8.1. Both the 1020 and the 920 will receive ample updates in due time (as will the 925 and 928). Nokia is great at updating.
But the idea that Windows Phone is limited at this point is just crappy negative PR spin. It has a few goofy inconveniences (like the placement of Rooms above Groups in the People Hub), but not a ton, and it is plenty easy and fun to work with.
Sharing to Twitter and Facebook and email and all that is very simple.
This guy is still saying there aren't enough apps. Please. There are plenty. Camera apps are ample and stellar. News feeds. Social sites. Instrument tuner. Egg timer. Pandora. Netflix. Roku remote. Skydrive. Office. One Note. Translator. Solid GPS. Great maps and map integration with Bing Search.
No, Nokia will not fail, nor the 1020, and neither will Windows Phone. I just see it growing in a steady, sustainable way. Google has no reason to sweat. They have wonderful services, including YouTube and GMail. Android is a very nice OS. And Apple phones are really pretty too - buy a strong case though. Accidents happen.
I saw the name of this article in my facebook feed, and INSTANTLY knew who had written this piece of gargabe. Dan Nosowitz is the most biased writer for a so called "science" magazine. It's beyond me how this gets past the editors. He bases his information off of speculation and second hand knowledge, NOT FACT. So tell me, why would Microsoft's main divestment for this phone be how easy it is to share photos to facebook, twitter, etc.? It must not suck and you must be misinformed. BAM!
Same camera and an OS better than Windoze with HDMI out = Nokia 808. I sure wish Nokia had either improved upon Symbian or gone Android =(
Wrong. Microsoft does not need to pay dev's to transit their aps to WinPhone.
All it takes is to sell a flagship WinPhone at a subsidized price. Just like Google did with Nexus 4.
The writer of this article must be fired. A misleading post like this can ruin reputation for Popular Science, as well as Microsoft and Nokia.
Maybe Bill needs to effect a rescue, like Steve did with Apple? I'd really hate to see Microsoft die.
Oh dear, look at all the Microsoft/Nokia astroturfer shills in this comment section. And every 'hater' who doesn't fall in love with those Metro tiles, is automatically a 'Fandroid' or 'iSheep'.
Give it up. Nokia and Microsoft are locked in a mutual embrace and circling the drain. Almost no one cares about getting a Windows phone. Even other manufacturers (Samsung, HTC, LG) are backing out and focusing on Android.
The Nokia Lumia 1020 will not sell many units because it carries a steep price, caters to a very niche segment of the market (hardcore photographers), and the AT&T exclusivity in USA doesn't help when you're the underdog in market share.
That said, the Lumia 1020 has an impressive camera, I'll give you that.
This is a well-written article which succinctly summed up the shortcomings of the Windows Phone platform. Even existing apps which have been ported over to Windows Phone generally suck compared to the Android/iOS versions. For example, certain prominent chat/video call apps other than WhatsApp and Skype. A lot of apps in the Windows App Store do not get updated frequently and are buggy.
Instead of spending time and resources to improve things, what does Microsoft do? Launch negative attack ads targeting Apple (iZombies) or Google (Scroogled), and employing these armies of paid shills (tech evangelists) to write nonsense on tech websites.
You know who you are. Shame on all of you.
This isn't a problem with specific OS incompatibility nec. This is a problem with the ability to be able to automagically port software to a new OS. This is the ONLY problem. If someone wants to start making new software that auto ports then great!! I would bet we are not far off. There are only so many ways to code something that makes it faster, more functional, etc. Eventually, OS development will become more uniform. Platform dependency will be a real joke. Coding will become so minimal, to a degree, that there won't be that many better ways to do it. In fact, its doubtful in the near future that humans will be writing code. Simply tell a computer what functionality you want a program to have and it will be able to spit out a far better version than any human could write. The best code is not extensible and readable. Its very abstract in its use of expression and usually a less expressive machine language is the best choice for optimization and speed. Take Haskel for example. I think the argument here over the best software, and how portable its apps are, will be a moot point in the near future. Rewriting an app for any platform will be as simple as breathing. Let's not get too hung up on technical semantics and short lived disadvantages of modern day smartphones. 15 years ago we were using Netscape Navigator on 586 machines that had less processing power and bandwidth than your average smartphone today. Also, remember that you are all moving to cloud based apps. You login to almost everything you use from social networking to email, etc. Having your apps based off of a server that requires no special hardware/OS of a users device is the future. Yet another point that makes porting obsolete in the near future. Higher res cameras, better sound, better resolution, these will be things that will constantly advance for a little while. Eventually there will be a limit on the demands that even these need to fulfill. This isn't a limitation of Moore's law but a limit of the user to need more computing power past a certain point. Eventually, you don't need more power in a personal device. Other industries may need more power but not everything will evolve exponentially. Smartphones/PCs will reach a Goldilocks zone. Besides, your brains are the fastest processors on the planet and they already come with the best peripherals for sound, smell, taste, feel and visual resolution. Why continue to make PCs/Smartphones after brain interfacing is more advanced? Also, Windows8 phone is awesome. I like it enough to almost switch over from iPhone right now. iPhone is the only Apple device I will use and its app registration policy is so F'ing gay that I can't stand it! Forcing Objective C development? For reals? Thanks Apple. Way to be greedy. :)
"Do not try and bend the spoon. That is impossible. Only try and realize the truth - there is no spoon."
D49: Are you serious about making the move from IOS to Windows? After reading this article, and the comments which are basically a complete 180 i really want this phone. My contract has been up for a few months and i'm considering moving from Verizon to AT&T and IOS to Windows all for this phone lol. Is it worth it? Maybe i'll have to go check this phone out at an AT&T store soon.
"Wrong. Microsoft does not need to pay dev's to transit their aps to WinPhone.
All it takes is to sell a flagship WinPhone at a subsidized price. Just like Google did with Nexus 4."
Then why is Microsoft doing it? Methinks they know what WinPhone needs more than you.
MSFT subsidized the Surface, it bombed ($1B write-off). It was forced to subsidize the XBox for nearly a decade before it finally turned profitable.
Google's Nexus 4 barely sold 1M units in nearly a year, almost microscopic in a world where the iPhone 5 is already over 55M units in 9 months.
Subsidizing a sub-par product can't make it a winner. Android and Apple dominate this space for a reason. Android is far more open, cheaper and easy to customize than Windows phone, MSFT will never convince the huge flotilla of manufacturers to give up an OS they can customize at will that is FREE to them for Windows Phone.
They also can't catch up to the 700K+ apps the iPhone has, the easy integration with other devices including AppleTV, or convince too many iPhone users to dump all the music, apps, and movies they've bought from iTunes to switch to Windows Phone.
I'm an Mobile App developer. I have two choices if I want to make a living. Apple's iOS, where app developers earn $1B every QUARTER! Or Android, where developers are earning maybe $300M a quarter but is growing faster. I can't afford to develop for Windows PHone even if MSFT pays me to port my apps over because once they stop paying me I can't make a living off a phone that's a tiny portion of the market.