This week I've spent a lot of time in phone stores playing with Windows Phone devices. This effort has reinforced my impressions of Windows Phone: it's a solid smartphone platform with lots to offer. I like playing with Windows Phones, but something keeps nagging at the back of my mind that it could be better. I couldn't put my finger on what bothered me for a while, but after careful thought I realized that Windows Phone just doesn't excite me like other smartphone platforms.
It's not the hardware, I find most smartphones today to be comparable on the hardware side. Most current phones have good hardware that performs well, and these Windows Phones are no exception. The problem I have is the software, specifically the user interface with its lack of pizzazz.
I am a mobile enthusiast of the first order, I like phones, tablets, laptops, you name it and they get my motor running. I can pick up just about any device and get excited about something no matter what it is.
Take Android for instance. No matter what hardware a phone uses, Android as a platform stimulates the geek in me when I use one. I attribute that to the ability to customize every aspect of operation, especially the user interface.
The multiple home screens with folders and widgets let me make any Android phone feel like it was made special for me. In just a few moments with an Android phone I can make it look, feel, and operate just like I want. That makes using one a real joy, and a constant source of excitement about the phone.
Even iOS gets me excited using the iPhone. It's not as customizable as Android by any means, but the ability to organize apps into meaningful folders works well for me. I put favorite apps into the dock making them always one tap away, and I like that. Like Android, the concise multi-page home screens lets me organize everything just like I want, and that makes it a joy to use.
That doesn't happen to me using a Windows Phone. The home screen looks polished, don't get me wrong. I can drag the tiles around to any order I want, but it doesn't feel personal. Perhaps it is the constant scrolling of the home screen to find that particular tile I need. Multiple pages would work better than a long screen with constant scrolling. No matter what I do with a Windows Phone home screen, it is still boring. More accurately, it doesn't invoke that geeky passion the other platforms do through use.
Windows Phone is a rare beast in that it works well, has great potential, but still doesn't get my geek juices flowing when I use it. It's like Windows on the desktop, it gets the job done but that's about it. Maybe this is just me, but I don't think so. A couple of my non-techie friends own Windows Phones and when I ask them how they like it they usually respond with a "it's OK" or something similar. No excitement like I usually get from other platform users.
This could spell trouble for Windows 8 with the Metro interface. The more I use Windows 8 the more I feel the same as I do Windows Phone. It works fine but doesn't float my boat. The Metro interface looks fine, but it doesn't excite me in any way. Maybe this will change with time, I feel strange having no passion using a gadget. A passionless platform is foreign to me and I don't like the feeling, or lack of it.