I feel like I’ve been writing a lot about Windows Phone lately, but I find it to be one of the most interesting developments in the mobile industry right now. There’s nothing quite like the prospect of the underdog being able to come from left field and take everybody by surprise – which is what I’m hoping Microsoft will do when with comes to Windows 10.
Thus far, I’ve had certain qualms in finding reasons to love Windows Phone beyond the surface. I love the way the OS looks and I am a fan of the Nokia Lumia models for their focus on delivering a great smartphone camera experience as well as their previous contributions to the Windows Phone app store, but other than that there wasn’t a whole lot I could say about it. In the end, it always seems like Windows Phone has the potential, but needs work.
I’m no stranger to citing the well-known “app gap” of Windows Phone as being one of its major downfalls, but there’s one other aspect of Windows Phone that really drags the experience down for me, and that’s the fact that I really don’t like using any of the browsers offered on Windows Phone at all.
Windows Phone’s native browser is Microsoft’s Internet Explorer, which is to be expected given that it’s still widely popular and… well, it’s made by Microsoft.
Personally, I really only like Internet Explorer (on Windows Phones) for one thing and one thing only, and that’s the location of the address bar on the screen; instead of being placed on the top, the bar is conveniently located at the bottom, where my thumb can easily access it to put in a new address. Other than that, I’ve grown out of Internet Explorer when it comes to my main browser. I’ve moved on to other alternatives on my PC, namely Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox. I find these browsers to be easier to use and more intuitive. Neither of these browsers are offered in Windows Phone, though.
There are still alternative web browsers in the app store, but none of them are really that great (in my opinion) either. I’ve tried UC Browser, Maxthon, Opera, Nokia Xpress, and none of them have really stood out to me as being browsers that I would care to use anywhere outside of Windows Phone. With no Chrome and no Firefox on Windows Phone, and not really wanting to use any of these other browsers on my PC as well as my phone, certain features (like bookmarking) made my browsing experience between phone and PC feel very disconnected when using Windows Phone.
I don’t have high hopes of seeing Chrome or Firefox on the phone version of Windows 10. I suppose it’s possible depending on how far Microsoft plans to take its unification, but what I’m really looking forward to is Microsoft’s “Project Spartan”, which is supposedly Microsoft’s new super browser with Cortana integration and note annotation. Instead of hoping for Chrome and Firefox to make an appearance, I’m hoping that Microsoft’s new browser will make me want to add “Spartan” to my collection of web browsers that I use.
As a Windows PC user, I’m extremely interested in the unification of Windows 10. I’ve never really had a totally unified OS experience. For example, right now I’m using an Apple iPhone 5s, my tablet is a Samsung Galaxy Note 8.0, and my computer runs on Windows 8.1. It’s not a bad thing – I like being able to change it up easily – but at the same time, I imagine it would be much easier if I used the same platform all around. Seeing as I like Windows more than I like OS X (say what you will, I’ve heard it all already) I would prefer to go the Windows route. I’m just waiting on Microsoft to make Windows Phone an all-around great smartphone experience, rather than a partial one. The web browsing experience is a big part of why I’m not the biggest fan of Windows Phone all the time.
Microsoft is no stranger to rising from the ashes like a phoenix, given how often their operating systems just didn’t pan out for consumers in one instance and then turning around and making some crazy awesome operating system on the next go-around. Although Windows Phone has yet to really rise from their ashes, I think Windows 10 really holds that potential. If Microsoft can fix the app gap, and if Project Spartan really is as innovative as it seems (when it comes to web browsers, that is) then I could see Windows 10 being a significant turning point for Microsoft. As always, that’s what I’m hoping for, at least.