Product Type: Microsoft Operating Systems
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Windows Phone 8 - Well Worth The Expense
MS Windows Mobile
Member Name: hotrock4
MS Windows Mobile
Date: 16/12/12, updated on 16/12/12 (45 review reads)
Advantages: Great, slick, easy to use operating system.
Disadvantages: Price and Exclusivity
I was lucky enough recently to have been testing a Nokia Lumia 920 for Ciao with the brand new Windows Phone 8 operating system. I was unsure what to expect from Microsoft's latest offering; whilst exclusively owning Windows driven computing technology , I have never used a Windows Phone operating system. As you may well be able to imagine I couldn't wait to get my hands on the new phone to put both the phone and the operating system (OS) through its paces. The main reason I was keen to try this operating system is I believe it is the first version of Windows Phone to be designed specifically around operation on a mobile, rather than a scaled down version of normal windows with calling and text message features added on. This means that WIndows Phone 8 is actually designed to run on the slower processor speeds of phones as opposed to those of laptops and desktops supposedly making it super smooth and quick to use.
The first thing that advertised that this phone was running on the new operating system was the Windows Microsoft Phone text on a blue background when I started the phone, very simple but also very smart. After this came the more interesting stuff when the operating system actually got running. The home screen for Windows Phone 8 actually looks like no other OS that I have seen and I thought that this would be a problem whilst I was trying to figure it out. However I was pleasantly surprised to find the OS was in fact very simple to start getting to grips with.
The first thing that struck me was that the whole home screen of the phone was covered in tiles relating to different features of Windows 8, after a couple of minutes playing around I was proficient in resizing the tiles and unpinning them from the start menu, and also to add new apps and features to the start menu that I wanted. To resize or remove a tile is simply a case of holding a thumb on the tile that requires editing until it becomes highlighted then just tapping the relevant icon. To add a tile is just as simple with a simple swipe of the screen so the features list slides across, it's again just a case of holding your thumb on an item and selecting the relevant option. When I first saw the tiles I thought I would miss the fact that I didn't have my own personal picture on the home screen but this did not bother me too much as I could set a picture as my lock screen. The one thing that did bother me about the home screen was the limited colour selection for the background either black or white, whilst the tiles can be set to any number of colours from orange to blue.
The tiles are all live which does kind of take away the problem of not being able to have a picture as I just set my photos tile in the middle of the screen as large as possible, and it was constantly scrolling through my pictures whilst the phone was unlocked. The live tiles are a great idea as I found it gave me my life at a glance, new text messages, e-mail, Twitter and Facebook notifications are all displayed on their individual tile so that I would know that they are there. Obviously it is impossible to fit all of the features and applications on the home screen so there is the list I mentioned above reached by one swipe that allows the user to access all of what is on the phone. This may seem like an impossible filing system but it is all in alphabetical order with a section for each different letter of the alphabet, it is simply a case of tapping on any letter wherever you are in the list and it will bring up the whole alphabet to allow the user to skip to where they require to be. I think that pretty much sums up the basics and face of Windows 8 which overall is very slick, clear, and user friendly; in my opinion better than the Android and I-Phone platforms I have played with recently.
The new Windows OS is crammed full of extras which really do make for a great user experiance and allows any phone that it is installed onto to make the very most of its connectivity, attached hardware such as cameras and most importantly the phone itself. The most advertised of these that I have seen are the Rooms and Kids Corner features. The Rooms feature is a place that allows the user to set up a room that they can then invite select people such as family and friends to join to share pictures, appointments and generally keep up with each other. The Kids Corner effectively seperates a part of the phone that is then used to add only the things you wish for the little ones to see, whilst in this mode the rest of the phone is pin protected should they try to stray away from the pre-selected programs/areas on the phone.
Another perk of Windows Phone 8 is the inclusion of Microsoft Office allowing Powerpoint, Word and Excel documents to be made and edited on the phone. The occasions that I have used this I have found it more useful for editing documents that I had uploaded to Skydrive rather than creating new documents; I feel this feature would be much more suited to creating documents when being used on a tablet device. Skydrive in total allows up to 7GB of online storage with pretty much all content of the phone being able to be uploaded to and therefore backed up on Skydrive should the worst happen to the Windows 8 phone.
One of the other features I see fit to mention here is the photo taking and video recording capabilities of Windows Phone 8. This OS allows the phone to instantly be available to take a picture or video by holding the camera button down even whilst locked so is always available for instant use. On the Lumia 920 I was using both the HD picture and video quality were great, super crisp and super smooth especially when considering they were shot from a phone. Windows 8 also allows each and every picture or video to be instantly shared via any social networking sites, email or text straight from the pictures page without the need to navigate elsewhere in the phone. Pictures and videos are also able to be directly saved to Skydrive whilst using Windows Phone 8.
X-box accounts, avatars, and x-box contacts can be connected to the phone via the OS as well as X-box music accounts to allow downloading and streaming of music all via the Games Hub. There is also a feature available for download that will allow an X-box to be controlled from a phone, unfortunately I haven't been able to test this out as I'm a PS3 owner so I have mentioned here for purpose of letting people know the feature is actually there.
Find My Phone is another great feature of Microsofts new operating system, it is simply a case of entering your phone number at the Microsoft website and asing it to find your smartphone. The website will produce a last known location, as well as allowing you to call, lock, or erase the content of the phone remotely from the website.
Thats all I can really think of that would be interesting/useful to the average consumer of a WIndows Phone 8 in the way of features, so I will stop here before this section starts to delve into the realms of too long and boring as the list of features is huge and the best way to find out what ones suit you or catch your interest would be to check a Windows Phone 8 out in store it will be worth going out of your way.
The Bad Bits
OK so after prattling on about how good this operating system is for so long there are a few small things that stop Windows 8 being 100% perfect. The most commonly required settings such as vibrate and personilisation settings are hidden quite deep within the OS however are easy enough to find and use after having spent 5 minutes finding them first time round. I have managed to find apps for most of the things I feel are missing from the phone which has allowed me to pin tiles for these settings to the home screen; I just feel these should be installed as standard.
The main other complaint I have heard is that there are only 120,000 apps available but I have had my Windows 8 phone a while now and have not yet noticed any shortage of apps in any way shape or form. Just thought I would voice my disagreement on one of the so-called dis-advantages to Windows 8 over Android.
As it is such a new OS Windows Phone 8 is only available on a choice of I believe 5 phones at the moment, the Nokia Lumia 920 and 820's, the Windows Phone 8X and 8S from HTC and last but not least the Samsung Ativ S, I see this as a bad point as these are all at the moment super expensive phones due to the exclusivity of Windows 8 but hopefully we'll see the usual trend of these prices falling and handset options opening up.
Even with the few bad bits mentioned previously I feel that Windows 8 has blown any other operating system that I have used way out of the water. I use to be a dedicated Android user and swore blind that I would never change, however since getting my hands on a Windows 8 phone it is now going to take a lot to convert me to any other operating system as Microsoft really do seem to have it all sorted with this one.
I would most definitely recommend giving Windows Phone 8 a look and would say that once the prices become more competitive definitely consider having a look at a Windows 8 phone before settling for an Apple, or Android offering. Despite the high price tag that is unfortunately associated with this product, and all new technology I am giving this 5/5 stars as I feel it is worth it in this case with Windows Phone 8 being 99% perfect.
(Also published on Ciao under username MrGump)
Summary: Great Operating System
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