Mobile OS three-way cage fight

Summary:The pre-Christmas versions of the three major mobile operating systems have now been released. Windows Phone 8 is challenging the dominance of Google's Android and Apple's iOS. How will it play out?

On this week's Patch Monday podcast, we take a look at each operating system's strengths and weaknesses, including ease of use, their app creation environments, and the incentives for developers, enterprise integration and security.

"For me, the difference between Android and iPhone iOS is the ease of use for normal people," said Kate Carruthers, corporate IT consultant and founder of Social Innovation.

"I did an experiment with an Android phone of handing it to a normal human being, and seeing what they did and how they used it; and I gave an iPhone to another one, and the iPhone definitely wins out for those guys on usability and simplicity."

That view is supported by Leslie Nassar, technology director at digital agency Amnesia Razorfish and founder of TweeVee TV.

"There's definitely a steep learning curve between Android, generally, and iPhone or iOS. And surprisingly, there's a bit of a learning curve around Windows Phone as well, at least around Windows Phone 7.5," he said.

But could Windows Phone 8 change that? We've previously discussed its radical new user interface , and there's evidence that people do find it more intuitive.

Nassar said that he loves Windows Phone 8. "Outside of iOS, it absolutely has that most consistent, innovative, and intelligent user experience that I've seen. There's little things that it lacks, and I'm sure that comes down to not being on iOS: that ease of app switching [...] and the email experience can be a little jarring sometimes. But these are all things which can be refined."

But Microsoft is coming from behind, and needs to kick BlackBerry out of third place before they can take on the top two. Carruthers still stood by the view that she has expressed in a previous episode, that Microsoft is delivering too little too late . That's despite the panel agreeing on Windows Phone 8's clear strengths, particularly in a corporate, bring your own device (BYOD) environment.

"The battle at the moment in enterprise is trying to get the transformation dollar, and I think that is driven by smartphones," Nassar said.

Companies want to choose the BYOD-and-cloud platforms they'll be using for the next five years. Will Windows Phone 8 prove attractive to businesses that already have a decade or two of Windows knowledge? Or is the tiled interface too much of a change so soon after Windows 7?

Another key question is security. Where will Windows Phone 8 sit in the spectrum, from Apple's walled garden to the wild west of Google's Android?

"Some of the security measures that have been improved in [the desktop version of] Windows 8 have just been quite extraordinary," said Michael McKinnon, security advisor with AVG Australia and New Zealand. He expects that those lessons will carry across to the mobile operating system.

"Microsoft really doesn't have any legacy ARM architecture hardware," he said. "Microsoft really has this advantage that they can turn every conceivable security feature on by default from day one."

This is all just a brief introduction to a half-hour discussion, so do have a listen before commenting.

To leave an audio comment on the program, Skype to stilgherrian, or phone Sydney +61 2 8011 3733.

Running time 31 minutes, 37 seconds

Boxing bell sound effect by Benboncan, used under Creative Commons BY 3.0 license.

Topics: Mobile OS, Android, Apple, Google, iOS, Microsoft

About

Stilgherrian is a freelance journalist, commentator and podcaster interested in big-picture internet issues, especially security, cybercrime and hoovering up bulldust. He studied computing science and linguistics before a wide-ranging media career and a stint at running an IT business. He can write iptables firewall rules, set a rabbit tr... Full Bio

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