30 Days with Windows Phone 8.1: Day 1
It is almost exactly two years to the day since I last looked at the Windows Phone platform in depth with the 30 Days with Windows Phone 7 series. A lot has changed in two years.
For one thing, Microsoft now owns Nokia. Nokia was virtually the sole manufacturer of Windows Phone devices anyway, so now Microsoft owns the entire end-to-end ecosystem from software to hardware á la Apple with iOS and the iPhone line.
Other smartphone manufacturers are joining the party as well, though. HTC—a manufacturer that led the pack in terms of both quality and innovation back in the Windows Mobile days—just launched a flagship device that runs Windows Phone 8.1. The HTC One M8 for Windows has received a fair amount of praise from early reviews.
One thing that hasn’t changed much in two years is Windows Phone market share. In spite of a vast array of improvements and new features in the mobile OS, and a wide variety of stunning devices running the OS, Windows Phone is still more or less an afterthought in an otherwise two horse race between Android and iOS. Windows Phone clawed its way past BlackBerry to take third place overall, but it would be a significant stretch to say that it is even remotely competitive with the two industry leaders right now.
The struggles and relative failure of Windows Phone are perplexing. At the end of my previous 30 Days with Windows Phone experience, I summed up with, “As I wrap up the 30 Days With Windows Phone 7 series, I can honestly say I found myself torn between Windows Phone and iOS, and seriously considering moving from my iPhone 4 to the HTC Titan when it becomes available from AT&T. In the end, though, I ended up sticking with iOS and pre-ordering the iPhone 4S.”
I concluded with, “I can’t stress enough, though, that you should take a look at Windows Phone if you’re in the market for a new smartphone. It is a very capable mobile OS and I am confident that you will not be disappointed. You owe it to yourself to at least check it out and seriously weigh the pros and cons before making a decision.”
Two years later, I still stand by those sentiments. I am still not a fan of the Android OS in spite of owning a few different devices that run Google’s mobile OS, and I still maintain that if the iPhone didn’t exist, or if I were forced to choose any smartphone that isn’t an iPhone, a Windows Phone device would be an easy and obvious choice for me. I have also continued to pitch and sell Windows Phone to anyone who asks my opinion but is not—for whatever reason—interested in getting an iPhone.
Now, I have a Nokia Lumia Icon to test out the latest and greatest release of Windows Phone—Windows Phone 8.1. Microsoft has made a number of improvements since I last played with the platform, not the least of which is Cortana—Microsoft’s equivalent of Google Now or Apple’s Siri virtual personal assistant. I’m also excited to dive in for some hands on experience with the Nokia hardware because Nokia has been setting the bar in certain areas like camera quality.
As I pointed out when I announced that I was preparing to embark on these 30 Days experiences, I am actually doing two simultaneously. I started the 30 Days with Surface Pro 3 series, and I will alternate back and forth between the two series. That means there will actually be two business days between each “day” of the series, and it will actually take 60 days for me to complete the 30 Days series.
Like I pointed out with the 30 Days with Surface Pro 3 series, this is a team effort, or—more precisely—it will be a better and more informative series for you if readers participate and contribute. Let me know what you love about Windows Phone. Let me know what you hate about Windows Phone. If there are specific features you want me to explore, or questions you have about either Windows Phone 8.1, or the Nokia Lumia Icon smartphone, tell me in the comments below. I am looking forward to this experience, and I am looking forward to your participation.
Let’s get the party started.
A complete list of all the posts from the 30 Days with Windows Phone 8.1 series: