Microsoft's Windows Phone 8: The Bad - InformationWeek

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Software // Operating Systems
Commentary
6/20/2012
02:15 PM
Eric Zeman
Eric Zeman
Commentary
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Microsoft's Windows Phone 8: The Bad

As exciting as the new features for Windows Phone 8 are, here are several reasons for Windows Phone 7 users to get angry.

Second of two parts. Read Microsoft's Windows Phone 8: The Good.

Windows Phone 8 has some significant new features on board. Consumer-facing features such as the new Start screen and broader hardware support mean that Windows Phones will come in more shapes and sizes, and will be more customizable by end users.

The good news doesn't stop there. Windows Phone 8 adds a slew of under-the-hood changes for developers, including a shared kernel with Windows 8, new support for native C and C++, and Internet Explorer 10.

There's some bad news, however. Windows Phone 7 users get left in the dust, so to speak. Here are the specifics.

No WP8 Upgrade for WP7 Owners: None of today's shipping Windows Phone devices will be able to update to Windows Phone 8. That means the shiny new Nokia Lumia 900 that consumers just bought last month won't get the latest system software from Microsoft. In other words, Microsoft is screwing early adopters. That's not going to go over well.

Partial UI Tweak: Microsoft is going to deliver the most significant new feature of WP8 to WP7.5 devices in a small update called WP7.8. This update will bring with it only the Start screen changes that were detailed by Microsoft on Wednesday. As nice as this gesture is, there are so many other new features being left out that current hardware owners might feel as if they've been slapped in the face.

App Fragmentation: Apps written in the native Windows Phone 8 code will not be backward compatible with Windows Phone 7/7.5. That means the best apps for the best new platform won't work on older devices. Again, early adopters are screwed. However, all apps written for Windows Phone 7.5 will work on Windows Phone 8.

Old Hardware Left in the Dust: One of the big problems across the entire smartphone industry is the rate at which devices become obsolete. Windows Phone 8 completely obsolesces all previous Windows Phone hardware. The new hardware specs that will be featured by WP8 mean it can run on dual- and quad-core processors, offer high-rez screens, and add nifty features such as NFC. Aside from just the platform itself, WP7 device owners will be using badly outdated hardware, too.

Aside from leaving early adopters out of the party, Microsoft still failed to provide a deep-dive into all the consumer-facing features. Will the core apps will be updated, if so, how? What about integration and sharing across Windows 8 devices. Will users be able to sync content, user data, and settings across the Windows 8 ecosystem?

What Microsoft showed is certainly a good start, but the company still has to flesh out the details if it hopes to win over iOS and Android users down the line.

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Morris Otte
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Morris Otte,
User Rank: Apprentice
11/19/2012 | 4:39:37 AM
re: Microsoft's Windows Phone 8: The Bad
"Microsoft is screwing early adopters"

That says it all.
ANON1237925156805
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ANON1237925156805,
User Rank: Apprentice
6/25/2012 | 11:11:06 PM
re: Microsoft's Windows Phone 8: The Bad
The Windows Phone OS is scarcely 18 months old and of course devices didn't come out right away. The partnership with Nokia is a little over a year old with devices hitting their stride within the past six months really. Microsoft seems to be targeting the enterprise as its beachhead, hoping to slide into RIM's spot.

In this context it's just too soon for so disruptive a break. I'm not saying that you can never orphan old devices; just that you can't do it cavalierly, particularly when you are looking for credibility in the enterprise. A smartphone isn't a mainframe but it's not a disposable razor either, especially for hundreds of employees.

NFC and micro-SD are nice to have, and flip to silence actually sounds like a fantastic innovation but none of them is critical to making a smartphone tick. Why can't Win 8 simply disable these functions if the hardware does not have them? That way you have one version of the software and everyone is in the current ecosystem running whatever apps its hardware allows.

Apple has perfected this and its non-disruptive upgrade path is no doubt one reason that it's been let into the enterprise.

You say that 7.8 offers an up upgrade path for users of Win 7 devices comparable to their having purchased a Win 8 device. Not so. 7.8 apparently won't have the full new interface; it surely won't run the newer apps, all of which will surely be designed for Win 8. And 7.x is now a train to nowhere.

Who would buy the lovely Lumia 900 now? Not I, said the wolf. How does this support partner Nokia? With no other partners truly invested in the future of this OS, how does that play out?
ANON1237925156805
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ANON1237925156805,
User Rank: Apprentice
6/25/2012 | 2:55:26 PM
re: Microsoft's Windows Phone 8: The Bad
Not for the first year anyway.
RobMark
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RobMark,
User Rank: Apprentice
6/25/2012 | 1:32:31 PM
re: Microsoft's Windows Phone 8: The Bad
So, those upgrades are easily made by any user of those devices? My understanding is they are not.
RobMark
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RobMark,
User Rank: Apprentice
6/25/2012 | 1:27:51 PM
re: Microsoft's Windows Phone 8: The Bad
So, if I buy my first WP when the WP8 devices are released, I'm not subject to any of the "bad".
White_Lotus
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White_Lotus,
User Rank: Apprentice
6/22/2012 | 5:20:03 AM
re: Microsoft's Windows Phone 8: The Bad
Window Phone 6 (aka Windows Mobile) is getting swept under the rug here. My friend has one and MS has all but abandoned it, including the app store. Seems like MS is doing this with all their phones all the time.
White_Lotus
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White_Lotus,
User Rank: Apprentice
6/22/2012 | 5:17:14 AM
re: Microsoft's Windows Phone 8: The Bad
Not true at all. My old Nexus phone was upgraded to Gingerbread. I upgraded my Galaxy Tab from Froyo to Gingerbread as well. I expect Ice Cream Sandwich to be available for my HTC Amaze eventually. It's fair to expect at least one update for popular Android devices.
EVVJSK
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EVVJSK,
User Rank: Apprentice
6/21/2012 | 6:35:22 PM
re: Microsoft's Windows Phone 8: The Bad
How do you explain iPhone upgrades as well as SOME Android Phones which had Android 2.3 and are now getting 4.0, also Symbian S^3, Anna, Belle, etc... (obviously some people have come to expect upgrades)?
EVVJSK
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EVVJSK,
User Rank: Apprentice
6/21/2012 | 6:33:12 PM
re: Microsoft's Windows Phone 8: The Bad
Some will say the reason the Nokia Lumia 900 only cost $100 or so was because Nokia, MS, and maybe even AT&T knew that it wouldn't get Windows Phone 8. My personal philosophy is that users should have been told it would not get it and then they could have decided. Microsoft owes Nokia about 4 or 5 MORE Billion. Stephen Elop MUST be sitting at Nokia shaking his head and saying "boy I got screwed" ! They problem is that is what his Nokia employees and Nokia customers have been saying since the Nokia Windows Phone announcement in February of 2011.
ianlee74
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ianlee74,
User Rank: Apprentice
6/21/2012 | 6:08:58 PM
re: Microsoft's Windows Phone 8: The Bad
Yawn... Since when has this not been the case. It doesn't matter what brand phone you buy. If you expect an upgrade path then this is obviously your first smartphone purchase. It's unfortunate, but it's simply the way this sector works.
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