Now that the Embargo on Windows Phone 8 has been lifted blogs are free to post their reviews of the OS itself, since we don’t have any WP8 devices to share with you read what TheVerge, Engadget, Pocketnow and Slashgear have to say:
While there are many new features that have been added to Windows Phone 8, some of the most interesting and potentially life-changing features are still up to 3rd party developers to integrate. Windows Phone 8 has made 3rd party app and content integration much easier than previous versions. Now, developers can integrate with the global speech user interface. That’s a huge deal and really hasn’t been done before. Being able to press one button on a Bluetooth headset and having voice command access to any number of third party application functions really opens the door to a huge number of possibilities while maintaining a high level of consistency and cohesiveness. The new “real” speech UI isn’t the only place where integrated app extensions could get interesting. The lock screen for Windows Phone 8 is now highly customizable, as is the Camera (via “Lenses”), the phone service (any VoIP service can be fully integrated now), and automatic content uploads (auto uploads to whatever you want is an app install away).
If all of that wasn’t enough, Windows Phone 8′s rebuild on top of the Windows 8 core means its hardware support is as scalable as the full desktop operating system. We just need some one to make a phone with 64 processor cores and 192Gb of RAM now. We had to take a couple of points off of the score for the lack of Xbox Video cloud collection support and removal of the awesome Zune sync capabilities of the older Windows Phones, but as the cloud connections become more immersive, those frustrations should subside.
Just as the Apollo space program of the 1960′s was the third human spaceflight program carried out by NASA, Windows Phone 8 is Microsoft’s third attempt at re-launching its smartphone operating system. Whether or not it will be successful remains to be seen, but it certainly is gaining some significant propulsion power.
In the end Windows Phone 8 is a much improved beast from what we’re used to using from Microsoft. Everything is brighter, bigger, faster, and of course available in HD. The platform as a whole has been improved in ways that current Windows Phone fans, and new smartphone buyers can all enjoy. We just aren’t sure if these alone will attract customers by themselves over the competition. Is this the best Windows Phone we’ve ever seen? Absolutely! Is it fast, efficient, user friendly, and easy to use? Of course. Are these small changes enough to compete with Android and the iPhone’s growing market share? We don’t know.
Before Windows Phone 8 the platform needed hardware, software, and developers to improve in order for this ecosystem to thrive and succeed. Microsoft now allows for the hardware to be high-end, and they’ve improved the software tremendously. WP8 can attract customers based on the personal and social experience, not to mention Kid’s Corner, but we still need developers to truly make Windows Phone 8 shine. As we’ve said before, the future of the platform relies on developers to build apps and games to make this a viable option in the mobile world.
Windows Phone 8 fans, get excited for what’s coming. Now that developers have access to powerful processors, better graphics, larger HD displays and more the quality apps and games we all love from competing platforms will continue to grow on Windows Phone. Get excited and prepare to get your own Windows Phone 8 smartphone starting in November!
With the exception of a few new features, Windows Phone hadn’t changed much in the last two years. The new version of its OS, however, definitely makes the platform feel more refined and even brings back some of the freshness we originally felt when we first laid eyes on the firmware. We demanded support for hardware that’s relevant to today’s market, and Microsoft brought it; we wanted more app integration and customization, and it’s now much improved over WP7. Indeed, Windows Phone 8 is precisely what we wanted to see come out of Redmond in the first place.
There’s only one major question mark still looming over its head now; how will developers respond to it? In 2012, an OS is only as strong as its ecosystem, and regardless of Microsoft’s best efforts to sell the platform to big-name developers (and even amassing over 100,000 apps to date), it’s been an ongoing struggle for Windows Phone to appear relevant enough to attract popular titles. What the new firmware has, however, is much more potential than WP7 ever had; Microsoft has finally laid the proper framework to make the platform desirable to developers. We’ll also likely see a large number of Windows 8 customers eventually drawn to Microsoft’s phone OS as they begin investing time and money in the desktop or tablet versions.
Let there be no doubt — Windows Phone 8 is a definite improvement over its predecessor, and it’s long overdue. In general, we like what we see, and users and developers have been eagerly awaiting this update ever since the Windows Phone platform first launched. It’s still far from perfect, but Microsoft has finally caught up in many ways to its competitors (and come up with some clever new features in the process), and by doing so, the momentum is now in its court. If Microsoft loses that momentum in the near future, however, we have a hard time seeing its OS recovering from it.
With each new generation of Windows Phone, Microsoft not only closes the gap with iOS and Android in important ways, but it also differentiates in important ways — and that might be more true in version 8 than ever before. But at the risk of sounding like a broken record, there are still countless annoyances that trace back to 7.5 or even 7: the status bar that only occasionally appears (who doesn’t want to see time, battery, and signal strength at all times?). The attractive animations and screen transitions that can turn into annoyances and time-wasters after you’ve seen them 50 times. The lack of a unified notifications tray. The fact that the hardware search button isn’t contextual (and often appears alongside an on-screen search button that is contextual). The “Resuming…” animation when loading an app back up. And speaking of apps, just today, I pined for Uber, United, and a real first-party Starbucks app. There’s still a big app gap between Windows Phone and its competitors — don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.
That’s not to say you shouldn’t give Windows Phone 8 a serious look going into the holiday shopping season. Nokia’s troubles aside, Microsoft is showing as much commitment to making Windows Phone work as ever. Between Office and Xbox alone, Redmond is presenting one of the most compelling ecosystem stories in the business right now, and the 8X and Lumia 920 are both lining up to be formidable flagship phones over the next several months. For the moment, though, buy into Windows Phone because you want to try something different, not because you want the flat-out best and most complete mobile experience you can possibly have.
Interesting side note, the embargo on Nokia devices doesn’t seem to have been lifted, as the reviews for HTC’s and Samsung’s devices are up, but not Nokia’s
Category: Windows Phone