Those smartphones destined to run the new Windows 8 – the Nokia Lumias, Huawei Ascend, and the HTC series 8 – are carrying the torch of Microsoft’s solution for handheld devices onwards. But to what end? The reviews and criticism of Windows for phones has been fairly divided since the beginning. Everyone agrees that 8 is by far the best and fastest version of Windows for phones that has been seen yet, but not everyone is a fan of the boxy operating system at all. With contentious competition from Team Android, the Apple lovers, and even less popular platforms like Blackberry, Windows 8 is going to have to step up its game in order to stay in the game.
The Windows 8 lovers – and there are quite a number – are diehard. They praise the live animated moveable tiles on the home screen user interface of the program, which are constantly changing and updating themselves with useful information and notifications. The apps themselves scroll smoothly and transition beautifully in and out of the default screen. SkyDrive, Wallet, and OneNote make organizing, sharing, and securing data safe and easy. Kids Corner enables you to create a separate Start screen just for your kids to use to play games or use apps, akin to a separate login on a Windows computer.
Perhaps the Windows 8 phone’s most desirable trait, though, is its Microsoft Office Suite. Phones running this OS are the only handheld devices that have the capability of working within Word, Excel, PowerPoint and more. The mobile version of Office allows business people who are most comfortable in these environments to continue viewing and editing their Microsoft documents on the go in a seamless Windows device. Patrick Gray, tech consultant, calls Windows 8, “The ultimate charge it and get to work device,” in this regard.
Another aspect in favor of the 8 is Nokia’s partnership with Microsoft. Nokia Lumia camera phones now run Windows 8, and the 1020 model is without a doubt the best camera that has hit the market, with its outrageous 41 megapixel camera and HD video zoom capabilities. So, if you are a professional photographer wanting a professional camera phone for video, action, and low-light settings, chances are that you’re going to go with the Lumia – which means you’re also going with Windows 8 by default. You win some, you lose some.
Those who turn up their nose at Windows 8, saying that Microsoft should stick to making Office software and keep its anti-productivity charms away from sleek and chic smartphones, bring up the bugs of the software over any perks. The OS feels less “modern”, less sleek, and more Windows-y than others – which is great, but only if you love Windows. Multi-tasking is a chore, as you have to utilize the “back” button too often, instead of one swipe open and close, like many smart phones. There is no central hub for notifications that aren’t live on your Start screen, meaning you may miss some. The camera interface is difficult to use and counter-intuitive, forcing you to dig deep into menus just to change a setting before taking the photo. Transferring media files to-or-from a computer via the Windows 8 device is not as simple as it could be, sometimes requiring users to manually drag and drop again and again.
Finally, the biggest letdown of the Windows 8 OS isn’t so much its own fault inherently, but a result of the fact that Windows phones have such a comparatively weak hold on the market: compatible apps are severely lacking. While the Droid and iOS running phones have more apps available to them than they could ever dream of, many app-creators have simply decided not to make their programs compatible for the Windows 8 because it’s just not worth it financially. So, while apps run just fine on the platform, there simply aren’t as many to choose from, leaving users to speculate how much longer Windows 8 will hang on.