Life and Tiles of a Windows 8 Convert: My Windows Phone honeymoon begins

Windows 8 phone

Due to circumstances beyond my control, securing a Nokia Lumia 920 in Canada (my Northern home) was an unfairly hellish affair. It was two full weeks before I finally held that hulking, black slab in my sweating palms, but it was worth it. I was in love. Though my knuckles dragged on the pavement, unable to support the tremendous weight of Nokia’s latest brick, I was assured it would get easier by my sales rep, Kelly, who flashed her own Samsung Galaxy Note 2 at me. A week or so later and it seems her prediction has come true. Not only have I adjusted to the Lumia, but I am flourishing. I’m enjoying the Lumia’s bulky build and actually find it more comforting than a lighter device. The Lumia 920 feels solid, built to last, meant to conquer.

The whole experience has been surreal, like I have been let into an exclusive, underground club. I show my phone off at every opportunity, making sure I check my Twitter feed in the most conspicuous way possible. I smirk as friends marvel at the Lumia’s bold design and rainbow-colored operating system. They ask things like “What kind of phone is that?” “Is that the new iPhone?” “Can I hold it?” and I humor them, handing my Lumia over so they can swipe through the foreign-looking Live Tiles. As kindly as possible, I break the news that what they are holding is not the next iPhone. Most are surprised to hear Microsoft is behind the operating system.

This all sounds very self-absorbed and ostentatious but coming from an iPhone 3GS – after a brief affair with a Nexus S – the Lumia 920 is paradise. At least, for now. Why shouldn’t I share that experience with everyone that comes within ten feet of me? Yes, it’s obnoxious and probably annoying as hell, but I feel like it’s my duty to spread the word.

My Lumia and I have our own fun too, it’s not all about the glitz and glamor of popularity. I have spent hours downloading new apps and experimenting with Live Tile configurations. The core software is speedy with hardly a hiccup. Most of my core app needs are met as well: LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, etc. It’s not all perfect. Some of my favorite apps, like Pocket and Dropbox are missing, which I am struggling to live without. I bought Angry Birds Star Wars (my new favorite version of the popular physics game) and basked in the supersized screen. Obi Wan “Bird” Kenobi soared effortlessly through the air before blasting through a tight group of piggies. It was like freedom on a 4.5-inch screen.  

The standout aspect of Windows Phone 8 is its fluidity. WP8 is leagues ahead of Android in terms of stutter-free animations. Apple’s iOS is generally smooth as well, but WP8 still feels faster, even if it is grounded more in perception than reality. Not only is WP8 fluid, but it’s also one of the most visually consistent operating systems on the market. Design elements like the cut-off text and a focus on typography remain prevalent throughout the user experience. Core apps like Phone, Mail, and Messaging all showcase this minimalist approach to smartphone software with impressive results. Some third-party apps succeed at this, but others need work. Even with a lackluster turnout from developers, it is an impressive feat for a relatively new mobile platform – Android only recently implemented a cohesive design. Consistency was never a problem in iOS, and Windows Phone is finally up to snuff.

The cloud storage offered by Microsoft Office has already proven itself to be useful. The other day I was in a coffee shop working on an article and instant messaging with my editor. In the middle of our in-depth discussion, catastrophe struck (an event I will delve into at a later article) and I was forced to hastily vacate the premises. I had no time to alert my editor of the situation as I quickly slammed my laptop shut, grabbed my bag, and ran out. On the way to another, more secure location, I pulled out my Lumia 920 from a pocket and picked up right where we left off. The conversation was synced with the cloud so I was able to tell my editor what happened. And as we continued to chat, I used my Lumia to open the document I had been working on along with some point form nonsense in OneNote. This might seem commonplace, files syncing in the cloud, but it was the way it came together that has me falling for the platform. I didn’t have to specifically save my document to SkyDrive because that happened automatically. My smartphone knew it was the most recent document I had been working on and provided a link to it when I opened the Office app.

It may be too early to tell, but it feels like this is truly Microsoft’s time to shine. 

Stay tuned next Monday for the next edition of Life and Tiles, where Andrew’s WP8 honeymoon comes to a halt. To catch up, read the entire Life and Tiles of a Windows 8 Convert series.