Friday, May 18, 2012

Why I Chose Windows Phone

I was chatting with several people from the IT and phone industry at a meetup yesterday and someone, asked me what I found so appealing about Windows Phone. Many people I meet, like some of my friends who work in the tech mobile industry, seems flabbergasted whenever it is revealed I currently use a Windows Phone device, like I am some kind of weirdo, especially when they know I switched from a powerful Samsung Galaxy S II to a Nokia Lumia 800. It was a fascinating question because it just seems like yesterday when similar questions were asked about Android and iPhone and before that PalmOS and Pocket PC.

I pointed out how similar Android is to the old Windows Mobile, and before that PalmOS and how dated the OS felt. There is no doubt that the tweak-able nature of Android is great, but perhaps that is its only redeemable quality. I am a geek at heart. I just can't help customising. So when I had the SGS2 I would spent hours a week simply customising, experimenting with widgets, resizing pictures, moving icons etc. Each time I settled on a theme, I would get bored and start tweaking again. It was a never ending cycle. In fact, as I told my friend yesterday, I was spending more time tweaking my Android device than actually using it.

When I switched to Windows Phone 7, the lack of full customisation did not bother me one bit. This was simply because of the fact that it an already beautiful OS. Animated Live Tiles enriched with information, not only looks amazing, but are also useful proving that Windows Phone isn't just form over function. And because of how Metro homescreen works, any tiles pinned to the homescreen looks like they belong there. There is always a consistency no matter what I do. On the other hand, with Android, different widgets by different developers don't often mesh well together and I was always on the look out for one that fits.

To be honest I never thought I would last long with a Windows Phone. When I acquired the Lumia 800 to review it in early November, I assumed that I would last a month with it before settling down for a Galaxy Note (a natural replacement to the Galaxy S II which I sold when I got the Lumia). I actually debated a few times about whether to keep the Lumia (because Mango was such a huge improvement over the original WP7) or switch to my newly acquired Note as planned. But faced with the prospect of customising yet another TouchWiz Android phone to make it more appealing, I immediately balked on the idea. The Galaxy Note was sold soon after, with my promise of a review unfulfilled. It's been seven months now since I made the switch, an eternal in the world of mobile tech.

In some ways, I found Microsoft's lock down on the OS and its design language to be liberating. Rather than endless evenings customising, downloading and installing launchers, widgets and custom ROMs, these days the only time I use my personal phone is to get things done. If you asked me five years ago I would have scoffed at the idea of using a locked down OS. Perhaps I am getting old, preferring to spend more time doing other stuff than staring down my phone 24/7 and moving shortcuts around. I just want something that works, and in my case at least, Windows Phone works just as I want a mobile OS to. I am not saying Windows Phone will appeal to every mobile user - but the UX is just about near perfect for me.

Do I miss using a complicated but tweak able OS? Of course I do. I still remissness of the long forgotten PalmOS and Pocket PC days where the more complicated the devices were, the more marketable they were. Doesn't mean I want to use them again. On the other hand I know of plenty of people who doesn't mind the customisations and openess than Android brings to their life, and more power to them! After all, there is no such thing as an OS to rule them all.


Anonymous said...

Great article. We have the same experience. I have high hopes for Windows Phone to get even better. I'm expecting WP8 will have the feature to customize the look and feel of tiles and background where i can adjust the radius of the tile corners and personalize the background. It would be a good feature to convert more fans.

Jon Choo said...

Thanks. :)

I do hope there are a few more customisation tools, but nothing that takes away from the basic Metro design. Perhaps custom colours for tiles and background colours/wallpapers like on Windows 8.

Exciting times ahead!

Anonymous said...

nice posting.. thanks for sharing..

Anonymous said...

Agreed. Windows Phone really is a mobile UI designed and made to keep us moving, yet I've been frustrated at the direction Windows Phone 8 has taken with the start screen - my Start Screen never feels quite right and I find myself always fiddling around with the layout, what tiles to include and so on.

I still love Windows Phone, mind. Only webOS has stuck with me as a user interface I really enjoyed beforehand.