Stepping Into the Unknown: Windows Phone 8

Stepping Into The Uknown: Windows Phone 8

I've always said, "loyalty in tech is a suckers game." But how often do I follow my own advice? If you look at the past few years of phone's I've owned, you'd think I was a pretty die hard Android fan. I am. I believe in Google's vision, especially when it comes to a mobile operating system. I believe in an open source platform. I believe in installing the software that I want to, whether Google likes it or not. But here's the other thing I've come to realize about myself as well; God, I love an underdog...

It's a pretty topsy turvy world when Microsoft is seen as the underdog. I mean, it's Microsoft we're talking about! But the more I read about Windows Phone 8, the more I am willing to bet on it and make a leap of faith. That Lumia 920 looks so damn sexy.

We've seen really flashy demo's of it from Nokia, HTC, Samsung, and Microsoft themselves, but there's quite a bit still unknown. I'm satisfied in what I've seen in terms of bells and whistles, but what about the everyday kind of stuff? We know it has support for NFC, and wireless charging, and has some neat camera tricks, but what about it's simple core functionality? Functions that most take for granted on Android or iOS?

I've decided to make a checklist of items that are unknown (either to myself or to everyone) about Windows Phone 8. All of these functions are things that I use everyday or pretty frequently on my current Galaxy Nexus. They'll need to be checked off if I intend to switch. A few of these functions are things that drive me nuts about Android and can hopefully be better addressed by WP8. Let's get started...

Your Update is Right Here Good Sir (on time as promised)...

I admit, I bit on the "Nexus Promise." The promise that since I owned a Nexus device, my updates would be coming straight from Google. Ahem, not so much. My updates come through Verizon. Still patiently awaiting Jellybean with no end in sight. Better get to rooting, as I shake my head in disgust.

How will I get WP8 updates? Does Microsoft have the say or do the carriers? I suppose that's hard to say since only a few US carriers have been 100% confirmed. It appears though, the Lumia will come to all the major's, but nobody has said how updates will be handled.

This concerns me I admit. Microsoft really needs to step up in this manner and be more like Apple. Do the big press conference about it followed by, "This update is available to ALL of our phones, on ALL carriers on THIS DATE." And then deliver on it.

Tethering, I'm Gonna Need Tethering...

Android has a plethora of ways to tether on any of their phones. For free. The way it should be dammit. This is a function that must be present on WP8. Yes, it's a deal breaker to me. I tether my phone to my Nexus 7 everyday. I use the Nex7 in my car to stream music from the cloud. I use it out in the field when I'm doing photography. I use it to read books and access work documents. I do a lot of this stuff on the go, so it relies very much on being connected.

I need to tether. WP8 must offer this. I'm not familiar enough with the current Windows Phone to know if tethering apps exist, or if it's built right in to the software?

Without it, I'm sunk and so is a move to WP8.

Email. Somebody Show Me The Email

For being an Android user of a few years, surprisingly I'm not that dependent on Google core apps. Gmail is the most important to me. Is there a Gmail app? If not, is WP8's email client any good? Of all the WP8 demo's I've watched, not much is being said or shown of the email client. I'd assume it's pretty good considering Exchange is so vital to Microsoft's business core.

Maps - Nokia's Maps app looks really solid. I'd certainly have no issues it appears, by swapping Google Maps out for Nokia's maps. Poor Apple. Still though, I'd love to see a really good detailed demo of this app in action.

I Have Authority Problems

Like I mentioned earlier and as cliche as it is to say, Android's openness is a big seller to me. Lewis Black once said, "My problem is with huh huh, authority!" I don't handle authority very well. WP8 seems like the perfect blend of an operating system that has standards and rules, but not in a 'boot on your throat' kind of way.

I'm glad that I can do virtually anything I want on my Nexus, but on the other hand, I wouldn't mind sacrificing some of that freedom if the apps were better or a little safer.

WP8 must combine Apple quality control, but still not have to hold my hand to walk through their barb wired garden. Let me explore and tinker, but keep me safe from malware. Too much to ask?

No Bloat

If I see an un-installable app show up on this phone, I think I'll throw up. WP8 must avoid the pitfall of being loaded with unremovable bloatware. If I see Verizon Navigator, Blockbuster Video, and game demo's that I cannot remove from the phone, then I'm gonna be pissed. Again, I know a lot of this is a carrier issue, but Microsoft has to have the balls to stand up to them and say 'No.'

Sadly, if any Windows computers I've owned is any indication, then we might have a bad time.

A Nexus Looming...

In all likelihood, my WP8 ambitions will probably be derailed for a few days. I have a pretty good feeling that we will be seeing a Nexus event before WP8 comes out. And I admit, I get pretty giddy when I see what's next from Google. Having said that though, the rumored partners of LG or Sony for the next Nexus device tempers some of that excitement. But when Matias does an interview with Josh talking about how great it all is, I eat it right up. It's my greatest weakness.

If the new Nexus does have holograms, or some sort of weird laser technology, the Lumia might have to wait. I would be the sucker who bites.

Conclusion...

I have great hopes for WP8. It looks really solid and seems like the perfect combination of everything I like about Android, and none of the annoyances and inconveniences that come with it. Basically, give me good core apps, tethering, and a little bit of customization and I'll be pretty happy. And please, at least let me remove the bloatware if I don't want it. I loved growing with Android over the past couple of years, but now I'm ready for the peaks and valleys with a new underdog. Let's do it!