We're quickly approaching the one year anniversary of Windows Phone 7 in the States. Microsoft's most recent attempt at the mobile market was met with quite a fanfare, but soon fizzled in the midst of the unrelenting onslaught of Android phones. No, Windows Phone 7 was not forgotten. It's always had potential and equally mind share, but without the extra push from carriers, the lack of some blatantly critical features and a vast selection of devices, Windows Phone 7 has only managed to muster one percent of the US smartphone market share.
That said, the entire Windows Phone 7 camp has been eagerly awaiting the arrival of the major Mango update, which is said to bring the platform up to speed, for the most part. Some of the improved features include more landscape support, multitasking (sort of, it's more like task switching seen in iOS), more group communication-based features and social media integration, etc. In short, everything has been improved upon at least a little; a shoe shine here, a little polish there, and the features necessary to compete have finally arrived.
On the hardware side of things, Windows Phone 7 has been far less active than the Android camp, obviously. There are a handful of options when it comes to Windows Phones, but only if you're willing to switch carriers for a specific phone or form factor. Each carrier has one, maybe two, Windows Phones and selections are scarce. Aside from some design and form factor differences, all of the specifications are nearly identical. And in comparison with their Android counterparts, they are fairly under-powered. Granted, Windows Phone devices have hardware-accelerated graphics, yielding higher performance out of more lightweight specs, but a little extra oomph wouldn't hurt. A hands-on with a pre-release version of Mango from Sascha Segan of PC Mag revealed that IE9 on “the Focus fell far short of the latest dual-core Android phones” when put through the “Sunspider and GUIMark browser tests.”
Personally, it has been tough for me to suck it up and buy a Windows Phone to use as my personal device for two reasons. I reviewed the Focus, the Surround and the HD7 late last year and was mostly underwhelmed. At the time, hardware nor specifications were an issue, and for first version, software wasn't bad either. But comparing it to the other devices laying on my desk at the time, Windows Phone was missing some key features (copy and paste, multitasking, etc.). Several updates later, those features have since been added. And I'm almost ready to give Windows Phone a second try, but not before Mango officially lands. I want a phone that was meant to run Mango – a late 2011 or 2012 device, if you will.
Even with the Mango update, however, Windows Phone 7 is far from perfect and could use a little more work, from what I've been told. The Metro UI is simple and easy to navigate, but it grows old very quickly and could use a little more pizazz – more colors, personalization options, anything to make it more interactive and inviting. Microsoft has focused so much on creating software for a phone to “save us from our phone” that they have created software almost too boring to use.
I know that not everyone agrees. Some actually find Windows Phone 7 to be a refresher and openly enjoy the Metro UI, as is. But there are so many possibilities that could make Windows Phone look and feel much better. Upon browsing tonight, I stumbled upon this banner image in a XDA member's forum signature. I have to say, if I could have Windows Phone in any form, this would be it. I would add the ability to theme the Metro UI – different style tiles (size, appearance, color transparency), wallpapers, tile-like widgets (notice the Sense-like clock) that display information more appropriately than bland, two-tone tiles, etc. And I'm not necessarily picky about specifications. However, I would like to see advanced 5-megapixel cameras and higher resolution displays. That's all it would really take for me to truly be happy with Windows Phone as my personal platform.
This leads me to ask, WP fans, what would you change about Windows Phone given the opportunity? What software or UI features would you add? And what about hardware? Would you have Microsoft bump the specifications to match those of current dual-core Android phones? Get creative, the ball is in your court.
Image via XDA