Making do with Windows Phone, loving Metro

Every now and again you should go out of your comfort zone to get a new perspective on things. Or so they say. I love my comfort zone, it took me 43 years to build the damned thing after all, so please leave me be, will you?

But things break and in this particular case the screen of my trusty old Samsung Galaxy S2 went dark, literally. I brought the phone in for repairs and grabbed the only test-device left at work as a temporary replacement. It was a Samsung Omnia 7 with Windows Phone 7. Now look at this little droid-boy getting pushed out of his comfort zone!

I’ve been using it for 5 days now, so why not make a small list of what sucks and what’s great? Here goes:

What sucks:

  • The browser. It’s not I can’t live without Firefox Mobile, but boy does Mobile IE7 suck.
  • No Internet connection sharing (not over USB, not over Bluetooth, not over WiFi)
  • The fact that the phone doesn’t present itself as a USB storage device when I connect it over USB with my Ubuntu netbook
  • The lack of an SD card slot
  • I can’t login with my Live ID (my ancient Hotmail address) on my phone (but it does work in Zune), which means I can’t install applications from the Marketplace (I’m asked to call support! Seriously?)
  • The fact that after installing Zune on my work PC and then waiting until I got home because Zune doesn’t do proxies, I still wasn’t able to upgrade to Windows Phone 7.5 (which does have Internet connection sharing and a more decent browser)
  • There’s no way to reliably fetch information from the Exchange servers at work. Every once in a while mail gets downloaded, but in general there’s error code 8501001D ruining my Exchange experience

What’s great? Just one bullet point actually;

  • The UI!

Really, despite my grievances about how poorly the device integrates with the outside world, my general feeling about Windows Phone is positive, and that is because Metro really is that great! The screens are sober, with lots of space and a prominent place for content (text & typography). Applications scroll horizontally to display different views and it’s the typography that makes this pretty discoverable. The graphics effects and sound add to the great responsive “feel” of the UI. And tiles are a radical break form the icon-based approach that is typical of iOS (and Android, classic Mac OS, Windows 3.11 and …), you could compare them to widgets (as seen on Android), but without the anarchy and clutter.

So yeah, really, I Metro! I hope Google (Android), Mozilla (b2g) and Ubuntu (Unity) take clues from what is, in my view, a pretty radical break in graphical user interface design, because I would love the computing environments in my comfort zone to be more about content and less about chrome as well!

5 thoughts on “Making do with Windows Phone, loving Metro

  1. Random Person

    Well…

    “•The browser. It’s not I can’t live without Firefox Mobile, but boy does Mobile IE7 suck.”

    I must say i agree on this: the browser is slow, not enough options are available, and 30% of the time it isn’t showing anything, because the page isn’t fully loaded yet :| (especially with pubcenter / addhup pages, *sigh*)

    “•No Internet connection sharing (not over USB, not over Bluetooth, not over WiFi)”

    Well.. you can just configure the phone as a modem, and use the internet connection of your phone via USB on your laptop… so.. it is possible (not yet tried it myself though)

    “•The fact that the phone doesn’t present itself as a USB storage device when I connect it over USB with my Ubuntu netbook”

    Not sure if this is possible with Ubuntu (or any linux), but with windows it is… (all you need is a small change in the register, and you can use the phone as a storage device on windows)

    “•The lack of an SD card slot”

    Well… clearly you dont understand why windows has decided that “SD cards” may not be used: SD cards are (terribly) slow… only factories that produce budget phones (aka android phones) use SD card slots, so that the user can buy a cheap a$$ phone, and invest a little more in it. SD cards, compared to memory chips, are slow. Microsoft want windows to be a good product, and therefor SD cards cannot be used.
    If you truely need more than 16GB storage on your PHONE, than you are doing something wrong :) (e.g. navigon + cards = 4 GB, music: 4 GB, random apps (500MB), still ±6GB free space for pictures and videos :))

    “•I can’t login with my Live ID (my ancient Hotmail address) on my phone (but it does work in Zune), which means I can’t install applications from the Marketplace (I’m asked to call support! Seriously?)”

    I’m using an hotmail address too, works fine: If youre not able to login that hotmail adres from your PC (via hotmail.com) than dont expect windows phone to work with it eighter :)

    “•The fact that after installing Zune on my work PC and then waiting until I got home because Zune doesn’t do proxies, I still wasn’t able to upgrade to Windows Phone 7.5 (which does have Internet connection sharing and a more decent browser)”

    well… in Zune itself there is no “proxy settings”, but what i have read, it turns that it uses the settings, set in Internet Options:
    Settings (Control Panel) – Click Internet Options > Click Connections (tab) > Click LAN Settings (button) – in the Proxy server section – check the checkbox for “use a proxy server”. Setting it correct there, should make Zune work.. :)

    •There’s no way to reliably fetch information from the Exchange servers at work. Every once in a while mail gets downloaded, but in general there’s error code 8501001D ruining my Exchange experience

    yup, thats a really terrible one :( had it myself a few times… basically: setup the account again on the phone, resync and it works… takes a little more time than when it works normally, but well… it is and stays a computer!

    GL with the windows phone! (for as long as you use it) hope you enjoy it as much as I do :)

    Reply
    1. frank Post author

      well, I already switched back to my refurbished samsung galaxy sII :-)

      some feedback (i’ll try to be brief :-p ):
      * usb storage device: guess the thing you had to edit in the registry is what would have made it work on my netbook (probably something with the usb id’s). but it’s … silly that one has to dive into the registry/ configuration files just to get a computer to recognize a usb storage device, no?

      * sd card: 16Gb is plenty (as on my sammy), but i indeed still like to use sdcards. even if they’re slow, i like to have the ability to take my sdcard (with mp3′s, movies, …) out of one (to be repaired) handset and shove it into the next. but are you saying winphone doens’t do sdcards at all?

      * live id login: my hotmail account does work with the exact same credentials (duh), I could even login in zune (on my desktop), it just didn’t work on the phone.

      * zune & proxies: my lan settings in windows were set correctly, guess zune just didn’t like them (msie8 has no issues with them)

      Reply
  2. Leona

    Funny, I was just reading about the windows 8 / metro UI and I personally cannot wait for it. I played with someone’s windows phone a while back and I thought the UI was awesome.

    Still lovin’ my SGS2, but tablet-wise, if the asus transformer won’t come out with ICS / android 4.0, I am just going to hold out for a Windows 8 tablet. I will be able to use it for work as well as a lot of personal things. I mostly want a tablet I can write and draw on with a stylus…

    Reply

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