What are the critics saying about Windows Phone 8?

What are the critics saying about Windows Phone 8?

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Some actors claim they don’t care what reviewers think. But I can tell you that several hundred engineers who’ve poured sweat and soul into software code sure do. Since we launched Windows Phone 8 on Monday, the reviews have been pouring in. If you haven’t had time to keep up, I thought I’d share a few personal favorites.

An impressive piece of work

“While 2010′s Windows Phone 7 was good; last year’s Windows Phone 7.5 was really good. And Windows Phone 8, from my brief time with it, seems to be really, really good.”

That’s the verdict of Time’s Harry McCracken, who spent some time with a Windows Phone 8X by HTC.  In his review, McCracken specifically called out new “people-centric” features we’re introducing like Rooms and Kid’s Corner. Taken together, he said, the new features and improvements in Windows Phone 8 “all adds up to an impressive piece of work.”

In fact, McCracken said the first thing he was planning to do after publishing his review was head to the nearest AT&T store and “ask someone there to switch my account over from the Samsung Galaxy Nexus I’ve been using for the past few months to the 8X.”

Kid stuff: Microsoft’s Joe Belfiore demoes the new Kid’s Corner feature, a reviewer favorite.

PC Magazine’s Sascha Segan was also impressed. Windows Phone 8, he wrote, “absolutely shines for those who use their smartphones for a lot of calling, texting, and Facebooking, and especially people who connect to Microsoft anything—whether that's Outlook, Hotmail, Exchange, SkyDrive, Office 365, or Xbox.”

He added: “If iOS bores you and Android intimidates you, Windows Phone will likely dazzle you.”

‘That’s a really pretty phone’

Speaking of being dazzled, in her review today, Katherine Boehret of the Wall Street Journal said that her Windows Phone 8X actually inspired some outright shoulder surfing: “Someone who glanced over my shoulder and looked at the user interface of Windows Phone 8 said, ‘That's a really pretty phone.’ He was right.”

Boehret said she particularly enjoyed the look of Windows Phone 8 apps, calling them “stylish and refreshingly different.” And boy does she like her apps. The ones she reported trying out included Amazon's Kindle app, Zite, All Recipes, WSJ Live, Facebook, Twitter, ESPN ScoreCenter, Evernote, Weather Channel, TripAdvisor, Daily Beast, BBC News, USA Today. Many of them, she wrote, “mimic the overall look of the Windows Phone software, displaying extra menus and features as I panned horizontally.”

She also noticed some of the subtler design touches. “The animations in Windows Phone 8 are smooth and playful. When you send an email, the email message appears as if it is backing away from you, then shoots up….Tiles on the Start Screen fluttered with info.”

Summing up her time with Windows Phone 8, she concluded: “Its combined good looks, functional features and sexy new hardware make it a winning smartphone.”

“Refreshingly different”: Windows Phone 8-optimized apps also pleased some reviewers.

Taking the lead

All the parents here love the new Kid’s Corner feature of Windows Phone 8, which lets you choose which apps, games and other stuff your kids can access, so they don’t (accidentally?) mess up your important stuff. The feature also resonated with Laptop reviewer Michael Prospero. “Windows Phone 8 does more for parents out of the box than Google's OS or iPhones.”

That wasn’t all he liked.

“Welcome features like Rooms, Kid's Corner and Lens apps makes us feel like Microsoft is taking the lead, rather than following others.” His final recommendation? “If you're looking for a smartphone experience that's more personal than iOS and more intuitive than Android, Windows Phone 8 will delight.”clip_image001

Ditto for Wired’s Alexandra Chang. Like any good reviewer, she did have a few nits with how we designed one thing or another (she didn’t love the new Internet Explorer address bar, for example, and also wondered why we weren’t more clever and offer 8GB of free SkyDrive storage instead of just 7GB.)

“But that’s the great thing about Windows Phone 8: All of my complaints are pretty minor and quirky. I’ve grown to really prefer Windows Phone to Android, and can imagine people switching from there.”

The new Start screen is what really wowed The Verge’s Dieter Bohn and Chris Ziegler. “Windows Phone 8 has the best home screen — the perfect combination of flexibility, design, and simplicity — of any major platform right now,” they wrote.

Who would have thought?

I could go on. “It’s spare, colorful, clean, and simple, but also hip and a bit exuberant,” wrote CNET. “Microsoft’s phone software is fast, simple and beautiful,” noted David Pogue of the New York Times.

But my favorite line of the week so far came from the notoriously tough-to-impress Josh Topolsky of the Verge, who tweeted:

“Who would have thought that in 2012 Microsoft would be the company with the boldest phone and software design?”

Family3 resized 

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  • Gevabar
    0 Posts

    Microsoft needs to fix Facebook, needs to ask tweeter to fix there app, which both only have 3 stars many complains, design is nice, but people can't do everything on them, the need to convince Instagram to make an app, and need maps that work with voice Street name on every phone including htc 8x. Otherwise people will fall out. Those apps should have been perfect by launch of windows 8.

  • I am currently looking into purchasing my first smartphone and with my contract with Verizon soon to end in mid-December, I will be eligible to upgrade. My first thought was iPhone 5 I have to admit. But after hearing about the HTC 8x and doing more research, I believe the new windows phone may be the one for me. However, the one issue hindering my decision is the window apps. I currently am very familiar with the Google play store as I own a nexus 7 tablet. The variety of apps is great! Upon doing further research, I have found out that many of these play store apps are not available on the Microsoft app store. This is a huge letdown for me despite the attractiveness of all the wonderful software the 8x has to offer with win 8. Does anybody know at what rate the win app store is expanding? And also, does the win app store have Snap chat? Thanks.

  • also, there is a comment about not having seperate volumes for phone and music? Well, it is seperate on mine...while in music, I can adjust volume from 0 to 30. I just tested it, I set it at 25. I then went into phone, which was already on 10, phone can be set from 0 to 10. I adjusted phone WHILE IN PHONE to 5. Went back to music, music was at 25. What is the issue? Works for me.

  • Well, I bought a Lumia 920. And all I can say is, its way more FUN than the iPhone I used to have, and that was a free phone supplied by work. My old personal phone was Android, Gingerbread, Motorola Bravo. I also have a work provided iPad, and, a personal Nexus 7 tablet. And right now, I can't keep my hands off the 920. Music, social, mail, etc. It just does it all better, faster, smoother.  Some things I like: Text messaging is simpler. I get all my texts from Facebook and mobile all in one place. They update FASTER than thru FB even. I like the Bing music ID service. I have the Shazam app, but Bing crushes it because it takes you right to Xbox music if you want. No Search Youtube thingee...I like the voice dialing...I like the voice texting...I like the built in 7 band EQ with Dolby... and the Live Tiles are great. And it all syncs up nicely with my Acer Aspire One running Win8 Pro. and my Xbox. In five years, and millions of dollars spent, Apple has managed to add another row of icons! Hillarious. Win Phone 8 is fresh, unique, FAST, quality, and not boring. It just makes more sense to me. Good job Microsoft, and thanks.

  • TryllZ
    1 Posts

    I'll always remember today, as today I felt a bit hesitated to buy a new Windows Phone 8. Here is why.

    I work as A Customer Care Executive for an authorized Distributor/Service Center for Nokia in UAE, and just as Lumia 920/820 on the 20th Nov. I prepared myself for expected problem as with every device.

    So Today I came across my fist customer who bought a Lumia 820. His problem was nothing new as I already know this was coming, he asked me how to change the volume of the call without affecting the music and other volume controls, and I was so embarrassed that I failed to answer it, and said that is no such option, he said that he looked so stupid that when he increased his phone's volume level and wanted to type in a new number, every looked at him like a new creature in the room, the keypad presses were so loud, MICROSOFT, WHAT IS THIS ?. I thought it was going to be solved in Windows Phone 8, but silly me.

    And the funny thing is what this customer said to me, he said I was a loyal Noka customer, until Nokia started to get boring, thus he shifted to, you guessed it, Android, and only returned to Nokia because of the change it brought to the market.

    The lesson to lear here, ahhmm Microsoft ARE YOU LISTENING, that you can easily capture market with some small features, like segregating volume controls for each part of the software, how about allowing dislay control levels for display brightness.

    MICROSOFT, CAN YOU PLEASE GIVE A THE LOGIC OF HAVING 1 CONTROL FOR ALL LEVELS ?, BECAUSE TO MY AMAZEMENT, EVEN A CLOSED OS LIKE IPHONE, ALLOWS DIFFERENT VOLUME CONTROLS FOR AUDIO LEVELS ?

    O MICROSOFT, I DEMAND AN ANSWER, OR YOU LOST ME ALREADY..!

    AN UPSET PROSPECTIVE BUYER.

  • I recently bought a Lumina 710 which uses Windows 7. This is my first experience with a Windows phone, and everything I want in a system it has....and more. In fact, coming to this site, I find out there's still even more than what I thought there is. I never heard of a Windows system for mobile phones, so I wasn't sure if that was a bad sign, but I am gonna definitely get the word out that Windows is the system to look for. The only issue I have is I'm going to be using it so much now that my battery will need replace more often than my other phones did. Lol. Thank you Windows...I am a customer for life. :D

  • I fully agree that Windows Mobile need a good migration tool on a PC or at least as a service on the cloud. Lately I was asked by HTC to reset my Windows Mobile 7 to resolve SMS not working problem. I followed the steps and was told that I will loose all my installed applications and data. I will loose all my phone history and SMS history. All my contacts will not get lost. After the reset I lost many of my contacts. It was hell. What happened was the person who sold me the phone had created a temporary Gmail account for uploading all my Windows mobile 6.5 hand-phone contacts and later downloaded to my new Mobile 7. Now I don't know the user ID and password. It will be great for Microsoft to set up a service which can grab all my contacts whether it is Windows Live, Google or others and put it in a new phone. If it can also preserve the history, apps and data it will be wonderful. Else the good experience of owning experience 8 will be hampered with losses of contacts, history etc.

  • I've been waiting for WP8 like everyone else, with hope and expectation.  When Microsoft launched the UserVoice feedback website because of all the suggestions that poured in on the Answers forums, I really thought they were going to take their time for WP8 and listen to the WP7 users who love this product and want it to succeed.

    I love Windows Phone 8 and it's a certainly big improvement over WP7 for sure.  But even for a diehard WP fan like me there are some glaringly obvious gaps that scream out at me.  Gaps that I believed were finally going to be banished from the records and put to bed, once and for all.  Sadly, I’m still waiting.

    The problem with WP8 is not with the way it does things; we all know and love the typographic metroized nature and the connected way that it's organised.  It feels special and works beautifully in most scenarios.  For what is does, WP8 executes well and I can’t argue with that.

    They say that the devil is in the detail and I’m starting to get the picture that these details are never going to be resolved and I’m either going to have to jump on-board (again, because there’s no upgrade) or jump ship for good.  The problem for me is that whilst Microsoft is trying so hard to differentiate itself from the other guys with innovative features, it’s forgotten about the little things that make using a smartphone useful, not just wildly clever.  WP8 is like a geek’s Paradise Lost, a solution in search of a problem in many ways.

    Classic example (there are many) - who asked for ‘Kids Corner’?  No-one doubts its cleverness or its slick design or its easy-to-setup experience but no-one screamed for it, no-one complained it was missing, no-one demanded it to be included or hell would freeze over.  Who asked for ‘Rooms’?  The list goes on.  My point is that I would have much, much preferred that MS fix some of the issues first, bridge some of those feature gaps and innovate second.

  • toybook
    0 Posts

    Smartphone's are only as good as the network allows and at the moment that's pretty poor. I live in a large town and struggle to get a decent 3G signal so my Samsung G2 cant do its job.. http://www.bankinfoonline.com/

  • Nater
    147 Posts

    Why is everyone always blaming BestBuy, OfficeDepot, whatever?  Just the stock apps on the iPad are worth getting it over a Surface.  The power in Windows 8 on the desktop is that you get the entire Desktop Ecosystem on top of the Quasi-Mobile Metro Experience (best of both worlds).  Surface with Windows RT looks pretty but it isn't even close to competitive with the iPad from neither a stock functionality perspective or an app store/ecosystem perspective.

    The metro apps on Windows 8 are the same as those on the Surface RT and they're borderline useless.  Sharing to Social Networks from Windows 8 is a huge cludge (SkyDrive links, or use the website, are you kidding me?).  The Stock Contacts, Email, Calendar, Messaging, and Photos apps are shamed by their iOS iPad equivalents and Microsoft doesn't seem to be iterating quickly on them despite them being disconnected from the OS, because there has been no update to them since I installed Windows 8.

    The browser IS nice, though, I give it that.  IE10 is fast through I seem to be having lots of issues on a lot of websites with things being unclickable (like comment text box on YouTube, click it and it doesn't activate so I can enter a comment, until I refresh the page, Facebook seems to lock up a bit as well with pop-up boxes for deleting status updates and things like that).  The metro version seems to have more issues than the desktop version.

    The first thing I was basically *forced* to do after installing Windows 8 was install Live Essentials.  You cannot do that on a Surface.  Photo Gallery and Movie Maker are basically compulsory for doing anything even casual on Windows 8.  Live Mail and Messenger are basically required to have a decent email or social networking experience.  You can upload Photos directly to Facebook or Twitter from Live Messenger, but not People Hub.  You can manage your Folders in Live Mail, but not Windows Mail.  Live Mail Calendar and Contact Management is miles ahead of the Mail/People App.  Live Messenger has none of the connection issues that Messaging has and reliably sends/receives messages.  Photos isn't even close to being in the same league as Photo Gallery.  And there's nothing like Movie Maker in Metro/Surface RT.

    This is precicely why a lot of people aren't even considering a surface RT.  They're waiting for Surface Pro.  Desktop-less Windows 8 is a bit underwhelming right now.  It'll probably take a year before it's totally usable for a heavy device user, at the rate Microsoft moves.

  • But where are the PHONES?  I't VERY aggravating to constantly get "MeetYours" tweets when you can't even buy one in the U.S.  This is pointless carrot-dangling.

  • Does WP8 fully support USSD ?

  • KR
    503 Posts

    Talking about productivity, we need a phone with video out. I do a lot of présentations and i believe entreprise users do the same, so i think it will be great to just have my power point on my phone,plug it into a profector and boom!

    Even better if this could be wirelessly accomplished.

  • jasonxz
    0 Posts

    @Hawk -- I feel your pain.  Technically we have a Microsoft store -- in Frisco.  Apparently the people in the Northwest don't understand that Frisco is an hour+-long drive from 400K people in Arlington, 700K people in Fort Worth and another half a million people in the mid-cities/Burleson/Mansfield/Cedar Hill/South Dallas, etc....

  • Hawk
    61 Posts

    I totally forgot to share a story with everything that I think MS would like to address.  I was at Best Buy the other night.  Found some dumb employee and asked him when the Surface tablet would arrive.  He immediately said "oh man, you don't want that, it's a piece of junk and do you know the price tag, it's like $499...I have something way better that I can show you".  I then asked him "have you actually used it yourself or are you only saying that because you don't know anything about it and you've been instructed to push people to some other tablet"?  He gave me a "oh crap I'm busted look".  MS...if you want your new products to be successful and you know people still go to Best Buy, if I were Steve Ballmer, I would pick up the phone right now and beotch slap the Best Buy CEO!"  Even before the new hardware is in the store, the employees are dogging it!  BTW...Dallas/Ft Worth is a HUGE market...why is there still NO Microsoft Store here in the metroplex?

  • Hawk
    61 Posts

    Sure, WP8 looks awesome.  Great new features, bug fixes, etc.  Nice hardware on the new WP8 devices.  Nice cameras.  BLAH BLAH BLAH...What we CUSTOMERS, not actors, really care about is APP availability and support.  WP8 will finally bring us Pandora, Temple Run and a few other apps we've been waiting for but 6-12 into it's release cycle, will we see the same drop off on apps production and support that we currently deal with on WP7.5?  Why should I buy a new WP8 phone if developers go back to ignoring WP like they do now???  I'm so sick of friends telling me, "hey dude, you should try this new app...it's called XXXXXX".  I then check my Samsung Focus and Surprise Surprise Surprise...THE APP ISN'T THERE FOR WP!  Happened just the other day when I was at a coaches meeting. A great app called Coaches Eye, available on both iOS and Android but as usual, not on WP.  It's a BIG risk to buy a new phone when you try to MS is hoping on the theory of "if you build it, they will come".  Didn't work for WP7 nor 7.5.  

  • Good to hear that critics finally shed some positive light on a very good system. Hopefully this will translate into bigger market share and better (not more) apps, which integrate better with the system.

    However, I really wonder how the reviewers are testing these devices…do they literally live with them, use them as their primary smartphone for a while? I bet…no!

    And you, as Microsoft employees, do you live with the phone, and use it as a companion and an instrument of organizing your schedules? You all surely have to have a calendar, if not to manage your free time, at least for your business scheduling? And…how do you and the critics display your calendar on your desktop? Month, week, day? I bet, many have the Outlook Week View set as standard.

    So, didn’t you, Windows Phone software developers and managers, never feel the need to have a week view in your phone? Especially since the month view does not really allow to see your appointments, it‘s more a day selection table.

    Quite some users claimed that they need a week view:

    windowsphone.uservoice.com/.../1549665-week-view-in-calendar

    We have a really nice Office Suite in Windows phone, but some essential productivity tools are still missed, eg. this one:

    windowsphone.uservoice.com/.../2282243-calendar-live-title-should-display-more-events-al

    Anyway, congratulations for the positive reviews!

    But please, have an eye also on your business users, which happen to have more than one appointment per day.

    They do not seem to be well represented by the reviewers and critics, unfortunately.

  • xpclient
    50 Posts

    Well Windows Phone 8 does definitely feel like a COMPLETE product. Windows Phone 7 was LARGELY incomplete. Good job MS.

  • HTC
    14 Posts

    Yup, need a migration tool.  Just use the Microsoft account to migrate, requiring both phones to be logged in at the same time and almost everything would be automatic from app data to alarms to account setup and sync frequency to accent colour to installed app list (queue them for download) to IE favourites to tile placement to background.........

  • abm
    268 Posts

    @Michael,

    I am supposed install -- unfortunately -- the last update on my Windows Phone 8 before the Christmas.. The platform is 2 years old and its already fragmented. A paradigm shift without bridging with old devices..

    The backup and restore functionality is still very basic on Windows Phone 8. Compared with Titanium backup app on Android, we cannot even preserve our app-data while talking a backup of existing Windows Phone 7 devices if we think about shifting to WP8 (or even between the 2 WP8 devices)! If not out-of-the-box, at least develop a PC based migration tool  (like Welcome Home for Nokia) to backup the apps data offline and restore on WP8 devices.

    ***** ***** ***** ***** *****

    we need a Windows Phone Migration Tool:

    -> Installs on Windows 7/8.

    -> Take complete backup, including sms/mms/pictures/videos/apps/apps-data of old device (WP7 or WP8) and a> save the backup on filesystem OR b> restore on second device (WP8) if you already have one

    So, after I format the old phone, sell it and then buy the new WP8, I would still have a backup to recover my data from my PC.

    ***** ***** ***** ***** *****

    Please consider it because this is very vital to many folks running Windows Phones.

    I wonder, in the last two years, haven't you played any game or used any app which saves its data locally in your  WP's memory which you care about and don't want to lose in case you switch to the next generation Windows Phone? Ofcourse every would need it !