Windows Phone 7: Don’t Bother with this Disaster. Hmm….
July 15, 2010 19 Comments
Just to add, I would’ve liked to comment on the actual blog post, but my registration has been pending ‘moderation’ for a while…..
Update(19/07) – If you’re looking for a good laugh, head over to InfoWorld’s article, but if you want reviews by people who have had technical preview versions of the device sent to them, you can see a list of them here. Also, I’m still waiting for my registration to be moderated…..
I’ve read many articles regarding Windows Phone 7, some positive, some negative and some on the fence. Of course, no one knows for sure what the outcome will be, so these articles are welcome and an interesting debate can be brought to the table. This, being a WP7 blog, obviously believes that MS have a real chance with WP7 and are on track to really reinvent themselves in the mobile market. Having said that, I base my judgements of reasoning and facts and am willing to admit that it may not all come up roses. But, like most forecasting, I’m hedging my bets and am developing for the WP7 platform.
When I come across negative articles, even misinformed ones, I just brush them off and move on. But, I happened to catch an article on Infoworld which makes no attempt to hide its bias against MS. The first article (which is also referenced to in the main article) claims that developer’s are ‘tepid’ about the whole beta kit. Their source? A few developers. That’s right, these few developers (one of whom wanted to remain anonymous) has suddenly become the voice of developers worldwide. I obviously missed that meeting. That sets the tone of their articles and journalism style. Now, I’m not naïve to believe I’ll convert the author Galen Gruman to WP7, but there are many readers who come across these articles and take the information on face-value. Just like in my “Bringing Light to a Darkened WP7” article, this post is designed to help bring balance to the picture to show the neutral reader that there two sides to the coin (and not the one side shown in Infoworld’s 2D article).
The title of Galen’s article is “Windows Phone 7: Don’t Bother with this Disaster“. Eye-catching, intriguing and the headline fulfils its job of luring the reader in. Good job. Now lets analyse!
“And the distinct UI — though based on the unsuccessful Zune media player…“
Yes, the Zune wasn’t very successful on the surface. Now, he may be right, it just didn’t take off. Or, it could’ve been a business decision seeing as the MP3 market was not growing as fast as the smartphone market. Coming into the MP3 market worldwide, at such a late stage and on the trail of the iPod, may not have made much business sense. Instead, it would be better to focus on the Zune service, see what the reception to that is, integrate music functionality into the smartphone and expand the Zune service globally – which is what’s happening. The Zune service is said to be better than the iTunes one (from pricing, interface and their respective music recommendation services). However, I’m not going to post links that back this point up, so reader’s can do their own research, see the broader picture and then decide on what they feel the general consensus is. If the latter wasn’t the plan, and it was a failure by market demand, then it’s a failure of a service I look forward to welcoming on a global scale.
Anywho, lets get to the facts the author has up his sleeves to have him ultimately jump to the conclusion that WP7 is a disaster.
“Now that I’ve seen [the Metro UI] more in action, all I can say is how clunky it is. You will scroll and scroll to find what you want, thanks to how Microsoft has oversimplified all tasks. Each tile has just a little bit of information — often just three items — and you’re supposed to scroll sideways via finger gestures to see details on each option in full, then click the one you want to get more details. But if you have more than a few apps in a tile, for example, this approach quickly gets too ungainly, hiding most options and requiring navigation down (and up) several layers of interface. It will be the gesture version of spinning your wheels.“
I believe Galen has missed the point of having information on tiles. They’re there as a brief overview of any new news. I wouldn’t expect my whole email text to be present in the mail tile, a number showing how many unread emails I have would suffice. Now, explaining the process in a verbose manner -which is what is done here – makes the UI seem long-winded. However, watching it in action is the best way to see it. In order not to show only the best video to prove my point, again I’ll let the reader decide what they think of the UI. Naturally, UI is something that is personal to a user and so I can’t sit here and tell you the UI is great. I can only say I think it’s great and I don’t personally have the same problem with it as Galen seems to.
He also adds
“The developers at Mobile Beat quickly recognized the labor-intensity of this UI method and one asked the Microsoft rep if anyone had bothered to test it with users. The answer was essentially “no” — a scary thought indeed.“
I personally don’t believe an MS rep would claim that they hadn’t test the UI with users.
“Also, the big tiles quickly eat up screen real estate (about four fit)“
…I guess that’s why not all the tiles are made large?
“It’s a subtle difference: Using a panorama basically means the tile continues because it won’t fit on screen, while using a pivot means you have a series of what are essentially pages. I bet developers and users will get confused very fast“
I’ll be honest, this may have come up many times, but this is the first time I’ve heard anyone get confused about this.
“The maps app also had a strong clunkiness to it, both visually (the overly thick borders on things) and operationally (panning and zooming caused a lot of awkward screen redraws).“
Once again, I don’t see the awkward redraws. (Check 2:10). Maybe the ‘redraw’ was caused by blinking…?
Ok, now Galen gets into undeniable facts – these are fair points and if the entire article was like this, then it would be worth a read.
1) It uses IE 7 with bits of IE8 – I agree, this is something I can’t defend. I don’t know the reasons behind this decison and I hope that they embrace HTML 5.
2) It’s this whole issue of multitasking again. There’s a reason people have complained about the battery life of iPhones and Android devices. Most consumers are not technically minded. If they see the ability to run multiple apps, they will. However, this will drain the battery and the phone will be blamed, not the fact that multiple applications were run continuously. Now, add to that, the fact that anyone can develop for these phones. This means inexperienced developers greedily hogging resources (purposely or because they don’t know better) creating buggy and battery draining applications. I would love to have multitasking and I have so many app ideas that would benefit. But if you’re going to introduce it, do it right – not just because it sounds cool.
3) It’s a continuation of multitasking and the fact that 3rd party apps cannot launch other 3rd party apps. Again, I would love to have this feature, but there are security issues at play. Just to clarify one point made here, is that when a 3rd party app launched a first party app, it doesn’t close completely. It undergoes a process called ‘tombstoning’ and, although it might be automatically closed by the OS in this state, it can just as well be reactivated by the user.
4) It doesn’t support Copy and Paste. Once again, I’m sure many people would like to see this, but it’s something that’ll be in a future update.
“Microsoft has not only just made an imperfect copy of an old iPhone, it has not kept up with the current mobile OS crop nor moved ahead of any of them“
Really? I would’ve thought offering free cloud service, including remote locking/location tracking and data erasing is quite new? Or maybe the integration with XBox Live? Could even argue that the fact it centralises all contacts from various sources rather having an app for each is something quite innovative. Possibly even the opportunity for developers to create code that can be deployed across three platforms? I must’ve missed a lot in the mobile market if all of this is old news….
“Microsoft has no establishment advantage in mobile today, so delivering an outdated, hamstrung mobile OS and hoping to fix it later just won’t fly.“
No establishment advantage in mobile today? Don’t forget, nowadays, ‘mobile’ isn’t just what you have in the handset market. Everything now is about the web and connectivity. I think MS have plenty of advantages in terms of potential :
WP7 hitting the market cannot be compared to Android’s introduction. Google never had the same number of users and services as MS do when it comes to cross-platform integration. MS have Xbox, the Xbox Live service and the PC market – all of which naturally integrate well with the phone.
“Windows Phone 7 should have been Microsoft’s “man on the moon” project, but now it’s clear that the Windows Phone 7 was Redmond’s equivalent of the bungled Hurricane Katrina response effort.“
Is it clear? Correct me if I’m wrong, but Hurricane Katrina is an event that has occurred and the response effort can be judged. The phone isn’t even out yet, so how Galen has managed to predict the outcome is impressive. Anywho, the article continues.
“If the iPhone is the platinum standard, Android is the gold standard, WebOS is the bronze standard, and Symbian and BlackBerry tie for tin. Windows Phone 7 is clay — a clay pigeon, in fact.“
I only quoted this bit because I genuinely laughed. Not just clay….a clay pigeon :D! But don’t take the metals as literal descriptions. After all, platinum has a high resistance to temperature and stable electrical properties.
“Microsoft needs to kill Windows Phone 7 and avoid further embarrassing itself by shipping this throwback. It’s not a question of whether Windows Phone 7 will fail — it will — but how long it will take Microsoft to admit the failure. For the company’s sake, the earlier it fesses up, the better.“
I love how people are quick to jump to conclusions based on arbitrary meetings of a couple of developers and playing with prototypes. Obviously the article Galen wrote was most likely designed to increase hit counts and garner a reaction. As I mentioned at the beginning, I usually let most of them fly, but I had a bit of time and I feel readers should be made aware of all aspects. I’m not here to say that WP7 will definitely be a success or that you should go out and buy one on launch day. I’m just saying I believe in it and that readers can make their own minds up given a small thing known as facts.
Feel free to comment on what you think (including criticisms of my side of the arguments – they won’t be censored ;)). And Galen, I welcome you to join in as well.
Hope you’ve enjoyed the read and if there’s something in the original article you’d like me to comment on, let me know 🙂