Windows Phone is a nascent mobile OS and, while it has many good features, there is room for improvement. We already showed you the Top 7 Things To Love About Windows Phone 7, so we thought we’d offer a counterpoint and show you what’s not to love.
Here are seven aspects of Windows Phone 7 that need some TLC from Microsoft:
Before you continue, though, you should check out our Top 7 Things To LOVE About Windows Phone 7
One of Windows Phone most controversial and glaring omissions is the lack of copy and paste. All the other major mobile platforms have copy and paste in one form or another but not Windows Phone. While copy and paste is not used all the time, it is a feature that is essential under certain circumstances. You will feel the pain of this omission when your friend sends you an address and you can not copy and paste it into maps. Microsoft promises an update in early 2011 to add copy and paste so hopefully this will be the first item that we can cross off this list.
No Multi-tasking or State Retention
Multi-tasking is another major feature that is missing in Windows Phone. Its omission is surprising as multi-tasking was the hallmark of Windows Mobile and a feature that was highly touted by Microsoft. Multi-tasking allows applications to run as background processes and permits users to switch between them easily. Without support for multi-tasking, switching between applications in Windows Phone is a cumbersome process reminiscent of the early days of iOS. To switch from one app to another, you have to go the home screen and then to the launcher before you can fire up your app. It’s unfortunate as e-mail and the browser run in the background, so the capabilities are there.
Windows Phone also lacks state retention in several core apps. An excellent example is the camera and camcorder. The camcorder default, for some unbeknownst reason, is set to 640×480 recording and not 720P. Every time you want to take HD-quality video, you have to change this setting back to 720P as the handset does not remember your previous settings.
Media Playback and Transfer
The all-you-can-eat streaming offered by Microsoft’s Zune Pass is an excellent feature but, unfortunately, the default media player that handles this content is lackluster. No landscape playback of audio is one of the biggest gripes I have with the native media player. This lack of landscape support is mind-boggling as several Windows Phone handsets are equipped with a kickstand for landscape usage. Video plays in landscape and works well with the kickstand, but not audio.
The other major drawback is Windows Phone’s reliance on the computer and Zune software to transfer media. While audio files can be streamed or downloaded with a Zune subscription, local media and Zune media such as tv shows and movies must be transferred to your phone using the Zune software. You can’t even stream an audio podcast over WiFi and must manually transfer the file to the handset via your computer. Yes, media is large and could eat up a tiered data plan in a blink of an eye, but consumers should have the choice to download over WiFi. To make matters worse, there is no USB mass storage support so you can not drag and drop files to your phone. Android has it right by letting you choose the USB connection method when you connect you device.
Notifications are another area that is hit or miss. Similar to the iPhone, an incoming SMS message will generate a tone and an onscreen alert but there is no comprehensive notification bar like Android or webOS. Both Android and webOS have a collapsible, multi-alert notification bar that lets you view notifications like missed phone calls, unread emails, alarm events, and application alerts. Though Windows Phone does show alerts at the top of the screen, it does not have a single-click, comprehensive view of items that need your attention.
Notifications and syncing were also inconsistent. Sometimes new email would appear right away on my phone, other times I had to manually refresh the account. I noticed the same thing with the People Hub. When I visited it, the People Hub was usually filled with old content. New content was not pulled down in the background and the content was only refreshed when I opened the Hub.
Social Integration is Weak
Windows Phone ships with Facebook integrated into the OS. The social network plugs into both the People Hub and your contacts list and is nice addition for Facebook users. Outside of Facebook, social networking support is very limited. There is no built-in Twitter, FourSquare, or IM client included on the phone. Yes, you can download these apps from the Marketplace but it would be excellent if one or all were included on the handset. Even better would be a Social Hub similar to the People Hub but dedicated to your social networks.
The Marketplace on Windows Phone integrates music and applications into a central repository. While it is nice to browse for music and apps from the same application, searching is a nightmare. A search for “twitter” pulls up album information in addition to applications. There is no filter for the search criteria and you are stuck wading through a plethora of useless search results. It is awful and, quite frankly, embarrassing for a company that runs a search engine.
Lack of Maturity
Windows Phone is elegant but it lacks maturity. Its pretty exterior is tempered by the overarching sense that Windows Phone is a first generation platform. It is not as polished and refined as iOS or Android. Steve Ballmer may think Windows Phone is not late to the game, but the rest of the market is well past the 1.0 stage and Windows Phone has a lot of catching up to do. That said, we can’t wait to see what Windows Phone 7 looks like once it hits the 2.0 generation.
While this post focused on the negative aspects of Windows Phone, it is not meant to be taken as a condemnation of the platform. Overall, I think Windows Phone is an excellent new start for Microsoft. It is smooth, flashy, and fun to use. I look forward to the future of this platform and will watch it closely to see if Microsoft can take it to the next level. Make sure to check out our Top 7 Things To Love About Windows Phone 7 post to see what makes it so good. Our official Windows Phone 7 review is here.
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