Five days with Windows Phone 8, by an Android user.
Should I be posting this in the Windows Phone forums? I guess I will later on if that's the case!
So I bought a Lumia 520, the cheapest and most cost-friendly Windows Phone 8 device. I have a Galaxy Nexus, and I had tried WP7.5 for a month before going back to Android (it felt too limiting), but I decided I'll try out WP8, and if I didn't like it, give it to my girlfriend (who's on an old keypad Symbian phone right now after losing her Android phone).
First, I'd like to say that WP is still the most beautiful and fluid OS out there. The social integration is awesome and extremely well done, the tiles are a great idea, and stuff like external storage support is welcome in a world where no OS maker wants you to use anything but cloud. And the keyboard is great too. Being used to Swype on Android, normal typing isn't something I'm good at, but I could do it extremely well on WP8's keyboard.
But now the issues: the two things I mentioned as good points - smoothness and tiles - are actually not all that they seem. WP is smooth, extremely smooth, but things like loading third-party apps and resuming them is a pretty time consuming affair. Heck, the "Display" setting in settings is a third-party Nokia app too (to integrate settings for high sensitivity), so that too takes a second or two to load.
Granted, I'm using a low-end device, but my Android low-end device, the Xperia tipo, with a 850MHz single-core processor with the ancient Adreno 200 GPU running Android 4.0 (the most heaviest and slow to respond version of the OS ever in my view) is often faster at loading and resuming apps, specially third-party apps, while my Lumia makes me wait for stuff to happen. Hell, even swiping between the Timeline and Mentions section of Twitter apps like official client, Rowi, etc isn't fast, the text in the section I've swiped to shows up after a second of the swipe completing. Default stuff like phone or SMS apps are fast, or even Office, but third-party stuff sorely isn't. Which is something I hope Microsoft fixes soon.
Now, tiles. A great idea done right by Microsoft, great for "at a glance" info, but they are also extremely limiting compared to Android's, which are now expandable and actionable. I must constantly open each app to see its content on WP, which gets tiring. On Android, I can at least get some part of the content and decide if it's important, or press the reply or call back or share button (in case of a screenshot) to perform an action quickly without ever opening an app. I heard a guy once say that Android is "app-centric" but WP is not, but things like this make me feel the exact opposite (though he meant it in a different way I guess). Nothing beats Android's notifications IMO, so I really think a notification center is something MS should have in the next update, despite what some WP users might say (some think it's not required, talking about those).
Last is multitasking. I still don't know how people can cope with WP's (and iOS') multitasking. Let me take an example of, um, my chat client (applies to any chat client like WhatsApp): I have a service open for push messages, but when I click on an incoming message, the app has to reload everything as the app itself was closed when other stuff was opened. This makes you wait for a) the splash screen of the app b) all the messages to load again. For stuff that always should be running and quickly accessible, WP (and iOS) make a poor show of it. I don't want to wait for WhatsApp to load every time I get a message, I want it to open quickly.
I wanted to download maps in HERE Maps. The message I was shown was that I should stay on that screen or the download will pause, so basically I'm supposed to wait on that screen for everything to finish, or go back out and come back to resume it if I want to do something else. This is extremely unintuitive, and wastes my time at the merit of preserving some battery life that a true multitasking OS (which isn't Android, though Android comes close with services running in background where required) might not save. One good aspect of multitasking on WP is that it tries to resume most apps, even after they've gone out of the 8 max apps allowed to be paused in the background, but again, the time waiting for resuming is quite irritating.
These are just some of the things that really make me pick up GNex every few minutes, to respond to the latest tweet most of the times, and make WP the totally wrong OS for me. There are some good things about the OS, and it's perhaps great for the average user, but some things are just too counter-productive. I thought Microsoft would make a lot of changes from WP7.5 to WP8, but most of it seems to have gone into the core of the OS, though third-party app loading performance seems to have been ignored.
Again, my device was low-end so maybe some things like performance may be much better on the high-end devices, but after seeing people say WP is so optimized etc on low-end, I found a poor experience and would rather face the occasional lag and not so smooth animations on Android than wait for apps to load and do simple things.Also, WP is quite young at just around 3 years old so these things are excusable, but I remember Android being much better at the same age when it came to loading apps etc.
Microsoft needs to work fast - it's great they have limitations in place and don't add too much so as to not confuse or trouble the average user, but that's where both iOS and WP fail for me: they fail to cater to every type of user, mainly like me who want a customizable OS with good multitasking (give us a hidden option to enable it or something?) and want to get more out of it than just social media and consuming a few apps.
Sorry for the long post (waiting for the TL;DR comments :)), but just wanted to say my thoughts on the OS. Windows Phone is quite a good OS, some nice features, but I was expecting changes for the better in this one year that passed since I used WP7.5. You're welcome to disagree and counteract my points of course, maybe I'll learn something or correct myself if it was wrong.
For now, I'm content with Android, but I hope more flexible and powerful OS like it become an option in the future. Right now it's either the open gardens on Android vs the closed and locked down ones on WP and iOS, so not exactly good for people like me.
Thanks for reading!
P.S: I do use a Nexus device, where performance is optimal (unless you're talking about the Nexus 7, which seems to have a lot of complaints of poor performance), everything works right, etc, so if you're using a bloated non-Nexus device ruined by the manufacturer, your story on Android may be totally different.