Windows Phone 7: The First Week

Mark Berry February 20, 2011

My LG Quantum arrived five days ago and I’ve been trying to get used to Windows Phone 7 after saying good-bye to Android 2.1 update 1 on the Samsung Captivate.

The Good

I like some stuff about this phone:

  • Physical keyboard can be handy.
  • Active tiles on home screen are cool and sometimes useful.
  • Easy to arrange home screen tiles.
  • I can remove all AT&T apps (tiles) from the home screen.
  • Most apps are easy to set up.
  • Word, Excel, OneNote.
  • Importing the StartSSL root certificate was easy.
  • Facebook integration shows friends’ pictures on emails. I was telling someone about this and they said, “Oh, that’s cool, so it’s a Facebook phone.” Yeah, that’s disturbingly accurate.
  • The Facebook app is easier to use that Facebook on the web. But its live tile is, um, dead (just a big, static “f”).

The Expected Problems

I knew I would be missing these features:

  • Turn-by-turn voice navigation. Here’s a thread on that:  No CoPilot planned. In the comments, some tantalizing ideas about Ovi, Navigon, Nokia… but for now, you’ll probably have to buy a separate navigation device.
  • RDP client. This one is still hard to believe.
  • Cut and paste. Hardly ever used, so not a great loss.

The Unexpected Problems

Outlook Email

I have two primary Exchange 2007 accounts. I use Outlook 2007 to retrieve mail from both accounts into one account’s Inbox. Many, many messages are automatically moved to subfolders using rules. Win Phone 7 does not handle this setup:

  • Can’t see unread mail in all folders at once—I must open each folder individually. This means I will miss most of my mail.
  • Can’t reply to mail from a different account. I can easily set up multiple Exchange accounts on the phone, but when reading mail in one mailbox, if I Reply, there is no way to select another account as the From account.

Other Outlook issues:

  • Tasks do not sync. I used task sync all the time on Windows Phone 2003. Workarounds (not tried yet): WinMilk, Windows Live. Appa Mundi offers a $3.99 Tasks app for direct Exchange sync.
  • No server search. I can only search the mail that has been downloaded to the phone.

Here’s a chart comparing Exchange feature support by different smart phone operating systems. Windows 7 is one of the least capable of the bunch.

Non-Email Issues

  • Searching the Marketplace app store includes songs. Looking for the “Pandora” app? The search returns dozens of artists and albums with that word in their title. (BTW there is no Pandora app. Maybe the lack of multitasking is the issue; maybe it’s not worth their time financially.)
  • Voice recognition is poorly integrated. After installing the Voice to Text app, I can create memos and emails using dictation, but I first have to go into the Voice to Text app to do it. If I’m reading an email and want to reply, voice to text is not available. I am able to use voice if I search the web from the phone’s Search button, but I can’t use voice if I start Internet Explorer.
  • Super-awkward file manipulation. You can save Word and Excel files on the phone, or from email attachments, but you cannot drag and drop them from your desktop computer. You can only drag and drop media files.
  • The phone turns on when you plug it in to charge; it will not stay off when plugged in. LG support tells me this is due to the Microsoft OS. I’m not sure about that, but it’s annoying to not be able to charge the phone in the bedroom (I don’t care to be awakened by cell calls and notifications during the night).

Downgrade from Windows Mobile

I know this is the first version of the new Windows Phone 7 OS, but like other authors, I’m amazed at how poorly it supports Microsoft technologies. How can it not sync tasks? or contacts and files from the user’s computer (without needing to upload to Live or Hotmail)? How can it make handling email in multiple folders and accounts so difficult? How can it not have RDP, or voice navigation? Most of these are available in earlier Windows Mobile OSs, and were in fact primary motivations for buying a Windows phone. I wouldn’t be surprised if forcing people to use the (Microsoft) cloud for storage, while removing so many Microsoft phone differentiators, are big reasons why Windows Phone 7 hasn’t done well so far. I only hope that some of the more glaring omissions are rectified in upcoming releases, sooner rather than later.



1 Comment

  1. Sally W   |  May 17, 2011 at 1:08 pm

    Thank you very much for this and your other Android feedback.
    Just struggling with my new Android having been a WM6.1 (and earlier) user, and I’m so frustrted by the lack of email folders, that I was seriously considering returning the Android for the Windows Phone 7, that felt wasn’t quite right yet.
    Your comments let me know that neither is right, so I have to cope with where I’m at….
    Why do people mess with what works?
    I might just go back and buy an old WM 6.1 phone instead!

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