By Guido Marchetti, Office 365 Specialist for O2 Telefonica, MJ Flood Technology.
It’s all about the latest and greatest smart phone. Apple and Android are without question the dominant market forces, for now. Apple clearly captured first mover advantage with its market leading and trend setting iPhone. Equally, Android has a number of manufacturers producing simply stunning devices, the best of which in my opinion, is probably the Samsung.
And then there is Microsoft’s offering which has undergone quite a number of reincarnations over the years. Microsoft could be accused of having a few ‘false starts’ under their belt with their mobile platforms, but their latest, Windows Phone 8, could be about to change all that.
Microsoft has a similar model to Google and Android in that they are making their own hardware for the device like Apple. But Microsoft has chosen a number of strategic partners to take their product to market. Nokia, which for a while struggled to keep pace with new operating system and form factor developments, represents what could be called the flagship partner. And it’s this relationship which is helping to support Nokia’s image as a serious mobile player once again. HTC and Samsung have also jumped on board, manufacturing outstanding handsets that look the part, and can now boast an operating system that was designed for a smart phone and not a PC.
And this is perhaps the secret to Microsoft’s new-found success in the mobile market. Market analysts, Gartner are even predicting that by 2015, Microsoft could be the third biggest player in the smart phone wars – quite a turnaround in a relatively short space of time.
So what makes Windows Phone a true warrior? Here are my personal perspectives of using the phone over the last few months.
I have been using a device from the Nokia Lumia range, but unlike Google the operating system is the same on all platforms. A word of note: some applications may differ as different vendors have specific apps pre-loaded onto their devices. For example Nokia has the free of charge Nokia Drive – a phenomenal navigation system that will call directions out to you as you move through the city.
There’s also Nokia City Lens, which uses your phone’s camera display to reveal the best shops, restaurants, and points of interest as virtual signs overlaid on the buildings right in front of you, so you instantly see what’s there – such clever tools for when you travel. But that’s not why I love my Windows Phone 8.
This is where I find my contacts, and not just their phone numbers. Using People Hub settings, I can add various social media accounts, like Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter along with my corporate email and Hotmail accounts.
So what does this mean in practical terms? Well, this is such a clever tool that I don’t need to install the Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn dedicated apps. What? That’s right. I don’t need to install them as People Hub accesses all of these accounts and shows me the latest updates from these sources. I can even find an individual and focus on their activity under their contact details. It’s so simple, so intuitive and seamlessly plugs you into all of your important social media information, professional and private.
Microsoft really plays to its strengths here. Like other smart phones I can open mail attachments on my Windows Phone 8, but unlike other smart phones it won’t change the format and I can edit the document on the phone if I want to.
How? It ships with pocket versions of Word Excel and PowerPoint and let’s face it, the vast majority of us use those full versions. Suddenly, it turns a smart device from an effective email monitoring tool to an effective productivity device. Now don’t get me wrong, you wouldn’t edit a 70 page document on a smart device but you can make small urgent changes and when working on the move, this is very often all that is required.
There is also an Office Hub, where you can instantly access your corporate SharePoint and all associated business documents. You can also access SkyDrive – a cloud-based storage space for personal data and soon to be launched professional space. This ease of access to Microsoft based corporate tools combined with personal social services is what makes this phone so loveable for me.
And finally a new development with Windows 8 and something that will appeal to all parents out there is Kids Corner. It’s a built in setting that allows us to segment specific apps and games for our children to play with. So if they want to play ‘Angry Birds’ for the next four hours non-stop, they can without any risk of stumbling into your email, or any other business related links you have live on the phone. It’s like logging a new user in without having to shut down your profile. It simply gets tucked away.
When you couple the above features, with the power of Windows 8 on the desktop that plugs into the same services as on your phone, you very quickly realise that you have a seamless and consistent experience across your desktop and phone and that to me is the really clever and innovative part of what Microsoft are doing.
It doesn’t matter what device I’m on; it looks the same, behaves the same and ultimately is the same with little loss of functionality or added complexity via third parties. Quite simply I’m productive no matter what device I’m using. I use Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8 and I love it. Yes it has its annoying little quirks but my experience has been nothing but positive.
So if you’re looking for a change, I would say give Windows Phone 8 a try, and who knows, you too might end up wondering why you didn’t try it sooner.