Windows Phone 8: 5 Ecosystem Advantages Poising it For Future Success

When Microsoft announced that it would be starting all over with Windows Phone 8, many users wondered how the company would position its smartphone operating system as an alternative to iOS and Android. Businesses wondered if this would finally be the operating system that gave them a way to easily enable workers to use their devices for work-related tasks.

Users questioned whether Microsoft would finally deliver a smartphone experience that was user-centric and modern. The thing is, Microsoft did manage to create a smartphone ecosystem with distinct advantages over Google’s Android and Apple’s iOS.

Hardware Choice

The Nokia Lumia 1020 is a unique Windows Phone flagship.

The Nokia Lumia 1020 is a unique Windows Phone flagship.

Windows Phone 8 continues the middle-of-the-road approach its predecessor began where hardware choice is concerned. All Windows Phone vendors must adhere to a chassis spec: that is, a list of minimum requirements to run Windows Phone.

Together these requirements, along with Microsoft’s dedication to ensuring that the Windows Phone software isn’t altered in any huge way by companies like HTC and Samsung, guarantee a quality experience for everyone. Users can go from a HTC HD7 to a classy new Windows Phone 8X and not have to relearn the operating system or suffer from a hardware manufacturer’s decision to take out buttons or run operating system skins like HTC’s Sense 5.

Xbox Media

Xbox Music

Microsoft’s Xbox services are finally starting to show up across the company’s devices.

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Users who have never played a game on an Xbox 360, can pick up an Xbox LIVE game on Windows Phone 8 and feel right at home. To make matters even better, Xbox LIVE achievements are built into most of Microsoft’s in-house games.

Not to be forgotten, Microsoft’s SmartGlass takes being a media remote to the next level. Using the application on your Windows Phone allows you to instantly control, and learn more about what you’re watching, on your television set. Sure, it’s not particularly a Windows Phone exclusive, the application is available on both iOS and Android. However, only on Windows Phone does it completely integrate into your device’s media experience.

For just $10.99 users can download as much music as they want using the Xbox Music Pass Service, and have that content sync to their Windows Phone and Windows 8 devices.

Office

Windows Phone 8 includes a free copy of Office 2013

Windows Phone 8 includes a free copy of Office 2013

As the only mobile platform that ships with a modern version of Microsoft’s Office suite for free, Windows Phone is the destination for anyone who uses Office often. Even though it is a mobile version, users can edit Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote notebooks without the need to download any third-party applications or pay for any other applications.

SkyDrive

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The process of taking and backing up your pictures is painless with Windows Phone 8’s SkyDrive integration. With it you can back up the photos on your phone by simply taking them and letting the operating system handle the rest. Depending on your settings, that can mean an automatic backup of that picture in its best resolution to SkyDrive or any application that’s been designed to integrate with the operating system, like Flickr.

Xbox Music also attempts to remove the pain points from smartphone usage with its automatic syncing of music downloads from its Windows 8 counterpart.

Office 2013 on Windows Phone 8 allows documents to sync directly to a user’s SkyDrive account automatically, just like your photos. These files can then be opened on SkyDrive.com, Windows devices and even devices running iOS and Android.

Text messages, settings and a list of installed applications are stored on service as automatically too, which is why restoring a Windows Phone device doesn’t mean that users have to lose all of their device’s information.

Microsoft Account

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By far, one of the most aggravating experiences on any computing device is maintaining accounts across devices. Thanks in part to Microsoft’s Hotmail and Messenger clients, anyone who’s ever used a Microsoft Account to connect with any service will have their information show up immediately on their device, once they’ve logged in.

Currently, users can tie in their live account to Xbox, Outlook.com, Skype, Gmail, Flickr, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. No other smartphone platform has that ability on this number of services.

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With these advantages, Microsoft has created a mobile platform that can at least stand up to its rivals, So far sales numbers of Windows Phone devices haven’t reflected this yet, but as users start to look for things that expand their mobile experience, it’s clear that these advantages will become more important.

Comments

  1. Allan says

    Now if Windows phone would just sync with Outlook on WIndows without needing third party applications or jumping through hoops with connectors and creating cloud accounts just for syncing it might be worth looking at.

    I really REALLY wanted to switch from an iPhone 4 to the Nokia 920 until I saw the pain in the rear just to get my contacts and calendar from Outlook 2010 to sync with it, not to mention the horrible notification screen (what? You want to see more than just a number of emails?).

    I wound up taking back the 920 and buying an iPhone 5. Plugged it in, it synced with Outlook without asking any questions, without any additional connectors, without any cloud accounts. Anyone want to tell me why the Apple device works better with Microsoft software than the Microsoft powered device?

    • Rich says

      I love my 920 but hardly agree with the lacking outlook function on the windows phone. The phone has much promise.

    • michael says

      That’s weird my outlook calendar syncs with my phone just fine. Matter of fact both me and wife have phones and using outlook any changes made to either phone syncs with each others phone as well as master calendar in outlook. As for contacts any changes made in either outlook or my phone auto sync with each other. Haven’t managed to set up sync with wifes phone yet. Though I run windows 8 and believe it has something to do with having Microsoft account.

    • Daniel says

      Unfortunately you are having a problem that most people don’t have with Windows phone. I would have someone look into your setup and practices and I’m sire there will be a simple explanation

    • joseph says

      HELL U DONT KNOW TO SYNC UR OUTLOOK TO LIVE. THEN DIE… IF U SYNC… IT WILL AUTOMATICALLY COME IN UR PHONE CONTACTS… THATS CALLED CLOUD OK ….

    • John says

      I’m not having any sync problems. In fact, the syncing is beautiful and perfect. I am an IT manager for a state agency. I have issued Windows Phones to all the big shots, set them all up, and it was a breeze. No sync problems.

  2. Allan says

    Michael: Yes, if you have a Microsoft account it works fine, none of my current seven email accounts are Microsoft accounts.

    Daniel: Yes, many people have this problem, see the official Microsoft answer to this issue here: http://www.windowsphone.com/en-us/how-to/wp8/people/sync-contacts-and-calendars-from-outlook-on-my-pc-to-my-phone.

    Joseph: Which of my current seven email accounts (mostly work) should I sync to the cloud? How many of the emails back to the late 1990s will the cloud account hold (since my PST file is well over 2GB)? And lastly, why is it that the Windows phone requires cloud services to sync Outlook at all when the Apple phone can sync locally with Microsoft software or with the cloud?

  3. Charles says

    I respectfully suggest you probably don’t want to synchronise such a huge volume of email to your phone. The Windows Phone mail client is not designed to manage several GBs of locally stored email, and with good reason. I’d recommend, at the very least, archiving your older email to reduce the volume in your inbox. Apart from anything else, this will improve your desktop experience using the Outlook client. You can still search your archives for old stuff.

    Do you really need to search large quantities of historical mail via your phone? If yes, then surely the only sensible approach is to offload the processing onto some centralised email server using, say, IMAP’s SEARCH command. That means either some corporate account or a standards-compliant cloud-based account with sufficient storage capabilities. Microsoft’s public Outlook service can provide sufficient storage for your needs, but only if you are prepared to pay for it. Windows Phone syncs just fine to other vendors’ public email services, so you could maybe search for an alternative vendor who is prepared to provide all that storage for free.

    • Charles says

      …in fact, I’m out of date. Microsoft now offer unlimited storage in Outlook.com. I hadn’t realised! There are, though, a number of restrictions on the number of emails you can send in one day, the size of individual emails and other issues concerning anti-spamming functionality.

  4. Allan says

    I appreciate your comments Charles, and I realize that there are indeed workarounds. There is even a neat program that allows me to do exactly what I want to do (I found after I returned the phone, and besides, it costs more money). My primary issue at this point is not “can it be done”, to which the answer is “absolutely, if you are willing to work and/or pay for it”, but rather why does the Apple device “just work” without having to jump through hoops/purchasing software/setting up more accounts/etc?

    It never dawned on me that the Microsoft Windows Mobile phone would not sync with the Microsoft Windows based PC running Microsoft Outlook right out of the box. That just seems insane. Maybe I am just naive.

    • Charles says

      I do understand. If you really need to sync directly with the Outlook client in this way, the absence of this functionality within Windows Phone must be annoying. However, Windows Phone was never a replacement for Windows Mobile. It represents a different philosophy and approach, created by an entirely different team. Yes, when Ballmer (largely) disbanded (sacked) the Windows Mobile team, he sort of set up the Windows Phone team in its place. The old Mobile team could not convince him that they had a workable strategy with regards to smartphones. If you ever saw Windows Mobile 6.5’s dreadful attempt at a touch interface, I think you would agree. It didn’t even work well as an OS for handheld stylus-driven devices, let alone the wild world of consumer smartphone technology.

      Windows Mobile has passed into history, and with it, an entire out-of-date philosophy about the nature of ‘mobile’ devices. Windows Phone is for smartphones. It caters for a highly connected world. Downloading and processing large volumes of historical email onto a smartphone doesn’t really feature as a major usage scenario for these devices. Good on Apple for continuing to provide a solution for your requirements. Google, on the other hand, retired their support for ActiveSync a few months ago in favour of the sort of standards-based cloud-connected approaches built into Windows Phone.

      Microsoft uses a single kernel now for everything from smartphones to servers. They don’t yet exploit this fully, but they’ll get better in the coming months. Windows RT hasn’t worked out too well for them, so there is certainly a credibility gap in terms of supporting mobile devices the next level up from smartphones. We’ll see how they try to deal with this going forward.

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