I still remember the first time I saw Android. It was a review video for the T-Mobile G1, the very first Android phone we saw in the U.S. In a world where BlackBerry was King and iOS (then known as iPhone OS) was not everyone's cup of tea, Android was a revolution. It was different; it represented freedom; it was refreshing; it was fun. It was not perfect; far from it, in fact. The idea was there, and Google had it in spades. The execution was commendable but there was a lot of work to be done. Still, Android grew and it grew fast. You could attribute its speedy growth despite its many imperfections to the fact that there just weren't many choices at the time. Regardless, we're just now getting to a point, in 2012, where Android looks as amazing as it is. The edges have been rounded out and the kinks are becoming fewer and fewer.
Now there's another OS that wants to repeat the same history, and that is Windows Phone. It's new, fresh, and different. It is not perfect. The Marketplace is stocked with not even 20 percent of the number of apps in the Google Play Store; its multi-tasking could use an upgrade; there is no turn-by-turn navigation; even its heralded features like Twitter and XBOX Live integration are nothing to brag about. These faults have been well-documented, and while most bloggers agree that Windows Phone is certainly a desirable OS, it supposedly is 'too flawed to recommend' or, even worse, offers a 'death by a thousand cuts'. Its flaws are thrown in its face (and the faces of consumers) and it is dismissed by many as not ready for the competition and we are told to 'stop giving it a free pass' by ignoring its imperfections.
People act like Android and iOS are perfect and like we've never given them a "free pass" when in reality, we have and still do. How long were we going to give iOS a free pass for having the worst notification system on the market? Or how long are we going to give the iPhone itself a pass for still only being a 3G device and having a ridiculously small display? How long did Android get a free pass for having a design described by many as looking "beta"? How long are we going to give Android a pass for having a laughable update system and a well-documented fragmentation problem? Or how long will Android phones themselves get a free pass for having poor battery life? People talk about the fact that there's not much that differentiates one Windows Phone handset from another when iOS and the iPhone have seen very few updates over the past couple of years. We give a free pass to Android and iOS all the time.
Does anyone realize that iOS didn't have multi-tasking until 2010, roughly two years after its first release? Windows Phone had that after one year on the market. iOS didn't have a respectable notification system until 2011, three years after its release. Windows Phone (and Android) had that from the start. And not to pick on iOS, but again, does no one realize that it still does not have native turn-by-turn navigation? And yet, bloggers are picking on Windows Phone for not having this? As far as app-selection goes, the Windows Phone Marketplace has matched or beat the early growth of the iOS App Store and Android's Market/Google Play Store. In terms of hardware and performance, Android was behind iOS for years before it finally caught up. Things like pinch-to-zoom, scrolling, and navigating were simply slower and more laggy on Android phones compared to the iPhone. Despite Windows Phone handsets being behind in specs, its performance is ahead of what Android was like at the same stage in its life. But some people (including some bloggers) only seem to focus on how it doesn't support a dual-core processor. Windows Phone handsets also get knocked because of their resolution, typically 480 x 800. While HD displays are becoming more and more popular among Android phones, that trend really just started in the past couple of months.
The fact is that no operating system is perfect. Yes, Windows Phone should have turn-by-turn navigation. Yes, it would be nice to see some Windows Phone handsets with better displays (not that the ones we're seeing now are terrible). Yes, Microsoft will need to add support for multi-core processors. Should we simply ignore these problems? No, of course not. Microsoft needs to fix them. But Google also needs to fix Android's fragmentation problem. Apple needs to get with the times and make the iPhone a 4G device already or at least give it a larger display. Windows Phone does deserve a free pass, as long as we continue to give a pass to Android and iOS. When those OSes are perfect with absolutely no flaws, then you can start complaining about Windows Phone's imperfections.