Windows Phone Mango Quick Guide

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I recently had access to an HTC HD7 device running Windows Phone 7.5 (Mango) for close to three weeks and have used it extensively so I can share some of my thoughts on Windows Mango.

Let’s take a look at the outstanding features and weaknesses of Windows Phone Mango in a concise list before I jump into more details:

Pros
1. Clean, elegant UI
2. Excellent Email implementation
3. Good Web Browser
4. Microsoft Office integration

Cons
1. No USB mass storage
2. Pseudo Multi-tasking
3. No proper Bluetooth file transfer

Now for the details.

User Interface And Experience

Windows Phone has a very different, decent user interface. as a matter of fact, the UI is my favourite among the existing mobile platforms. I prefer it to all others.

Everything is fluid and seem to flow into one another with lots of space. I am a minimalist at heart and so really do find the UI and UX top notch. This is a well-done minimalist interface.

Multi-tasking

Microsoft say they have added multi-tasking to Windows Phone, but it isn’t quite through. What has been done is an implementation similar to what obtains on iOS in which an app is frozen when you leave it and resumes when you return to it. This is in sharp contrast to what obtains on Symbian, BlackBerry, WebOS and Android. On these other platforms, apps actually keep running in the background.

Still, the experience is not actually bad. Some services are able to keep running in the background regardless of what else you are doing. For example, music playback goes on even when you move away from the music player.

Performance

Running on a 1GHz single core processor, the HTC HD7 purs along nicely without hiccups. However, I observed that 3rd party apps resumed a bit sluggishly when you return to them. Perhaps this is due to the fact that the developers hadn’t had time to make them Mango compliant yet.

Text Entry

The Windows Phone onscreen keyboard is the best of any of the mobile platforms that I have used. It really is very good. however, I also noticed that the keyboard takes up over half of the display when launched. Perhaps this is why it is that good.

Web And Email

Microsoft has a reputation for putting out the worst web browsers. Well, forget that on Windows Phone. This browser is powerful, fast and sleek in use. The user experience is nice. There is no Flash support though, but then a lot of people don’t seem to be bothered by that.

Email is another area where Windows Phone shines. Setting up and using email on mango is such a pleasant experience. Again, it is my opinion that it is the best email experience on any of the existing mobile platforms.

Social Networking

Social networking is baked into the Windows Phone contacts hub. Log in to any of a number of available services, including Facebook and Twitter, and you are good to go. As a matter of fact, you can do Facebook Chat right from inside your Contacts app. You can also update your profiles and view what your social networking contacts have posted. It is all very neat and cohesive.

Apps And The MarketPlace

The Windows Phone MarketPlace has grown quite fast and now has over 70,000 apps. Much of what you need is in there. The problem is that I was not able to buy a single paid app, because of Microsoft’s restrictions. The MarketPlace is not open to a lot of locations yet.

As such, I was stuck with only free apps. I saw apps that I had both the desire and the means to pay for, but I was unable to make a purchase.

Dependence on Zune and SkyDrive

Windows Phone depends heavily on Microsoft’s Zune desktop software (which has never been a favourite of mine, though it has its following). The platform also relies heavily on SkyDrive, Microsoft’s cloud service, for file storage and transfer.

While I love the UI, email and web on Windows Phone to bits, this lock-down to Zune and SkyDrive are big issues for me. and for many others around. Still, there are those who don’t mind.

Conclusions

WPzune
Windows Phone Mango is a significant upgrade for the platform. It has made Windows Phone more relevant in the smartphone race. Still, some glaring omissions need to be addressed. USB mass storage and Bluetooth file transfer are two key ones. The MarketPlace needs to be opened up too and more countries supported.

For now, the only way to get files on and off a Windows hone are through Zune on PC, email or Microsoft’s cloud service. You can’t take a picture and share it with a friend via Bluetooth. Same for office and video files.

Should you buy a Windows Phone device? Only you can answer that question. Like all other things, your decision will depend on your needs and situation. That’s why I have prepared this guide. You take a look at what you want and run them against what Windows Phone offers. The call is yours.

  1. Well written piece, Mr. Mobility. The Windows phone platformed has always enticed me. Me need to try my hands on it. The glaring omission of Bluetooth file transfer and mass storage mode is very reminiscent of iOS. It appears Windows phone has all iOS weaknesses and few of its strength!

    Tha said, I’m using this medium to call on Nokia to make WP Lumia available in Nigeria. It’s about time, Methinks!

  2. Windows Phone Mango is a significant upgrade for the platform. It has made Windows Phone more relevant in the smartphone race. Still, some glaring omissions need to be addressed. USB mass storage and Bluetooth file transfer are two key ones. The MarketPlace needs to be opened up too and more countries supported.

    These vital features that were deliberately left out by Microsoft may never make it back into the WP7 OS especially if it should grow market share fast enough. I guess Nokia might be able to persuade Microsoft to reconsider its stand on these omissions if WP7 fails to take off in America and Europe and Nokia is unable to impress third world countries with their locked down WP7 devices.

    One reason I believe is influencing Microsoft on these omissions is the fact the Apple is still doing very well despite not having these features, but being the prime mover, the first in the market with a particular product, unique feature or technology has its big advantage, which is what Apple is enjoying now. To do what they are doing and surviving as a competitor, you have to bring something that is entirely new to the market and I can’t see any such thing from Microsoft right now.

  3. @yemko, yesthe tiles require data to update. Just read about DFT bluetooth app for Windows Phone. It allows you to have your conventional bluetooth transfer function on the WP7. Its good the developers society are beginning to make the WP what it should be out of the box.

  4. yemko, Belushi,

    Not all Live Tiles require an internet connection. A calendar live tile, for example, updates from entries in your calendar.

    Another example is the messaging tile, which notifies you of how many text messages you have.

    Same for quite a number of others. Some Live Tiles e.g. Weather, do require an active internet connection to display updates.

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