Tag Archives: microsoft

Windows Phone 8.1 vs. iOS 7: a personal dilemma

Update 11.08: thanks to Michael, Ivan, Simon and everyone else that’s offered workarounds for my various cons. The Pros list is expanding and I am increasingly sold!! My apologies to Amanda for boring you endlessly with phone chat…

I have been a (reluctantly) loyal iOS devotee since the 3GS came out, and have struggled to even look at rival OS – I was burned by the gradual deterioration of Windows Mobile in the mid 2000s, never convinced by the sluggish responsiveness of even the fastest Android phones (and the updates flowing to my Nexus 7 tablet – a gift – haven’t convinced me it will improve). However, of late, the flagging battery life of my ageing iPhone 5 (needs 2-3 charges a day depending on usage), and the phenomenal lack of joy you get from a new handset (oh… it looks and acts exactly like the old one), as well as the inevitable obsolescence caused by ageing handsets and upgraded operating systems, AND the crippling cost of an upgrade…. well, you get the picture.

TL, DR – I bought an older Lumia 925 handset and am trying it out. If I hate it and go back to the iOS fold, it can go back on eBay and I should make most of my money back (it’s already lost most of its year one resale depreciation value).

So, making a list of the things I like and dislike about it, with a view to weighing them up and thinking about a more permanent ecosystem shift. Let me know if I’ve missed anything to test, or you know a workaround to one of my cons, or you think I’ve missed a ‘pro’ on anything in particular. I’ll update this list ‘live’ over the next few weeks as I test it properly.

Updated list (11.08.14):


  • Beautiful screen
  • Slick UI, v natural interface, live tiles are helpful, searching through apps is cool
  • Very responsive typing, swype is remarkable
  • Less punishing autocorrect than iOS
  • Battery life is better – not ridiculously so but noticeably. Even running 10k using GPS (1h10 mins of GPS usage) the battery lasts through to the evening. And as you can imagine, with the new OS I am playing with it a LOT and unnecessarily so
  • Here maps is amazing! Local storage limits need to draw on data transfer for a variety of mapping services, e.g. Caledo (run keeper integrated running app)
  • Lock screen / photo rotation feature is lovely – love that it can draw on Facebook albums
  • 4G on O2 (Need iPhone 5S or 6 for that) – blisteringly fast
  • OneDrive >> iCloud as far as I can see, if I can get used to using it
  • IE actually seems pretty fast
  • App multitasking in most regards seems superior – apps genuinely ‘suspend’ unlike the iPhone which seems to have suffered greatly with the introduction of background app refresh. Lovely feature with the voice/music apps that they pause when voice notifications come in (e.g. running app telling you your splits pauses audible whilst playing, or music, or whatever) rather than speaking over it (as iPhone does)
  • I actually already prefer email handling in Windows phone – the left tap / multi-select option is actually quicker to use than repeatedly swipe/deleting emails in iPhone (and I know iPhone has an equivalent, but who uses it?)
  • I also like unlinked mailbox options – didn’t think I would but separating the personal from the professional is good for my work/life balance
  • DLNA projection via Nokia play-to doesn’t require an Apple TV or changing channels – just works. Not for all apps, but to be fair – we mainly use it to share pics and videos
  • 1 year old hardware feels new with new software (unlike Apple, most of the time) although see note re: camera responsiveness
  • Whilst I initially disliked Kindle’s nerfed capabilities (can’t open docs) I’ve discovered Tucan reader – a lovely independent ebook reader that uses the phone’s (amazing) text to speech capabilities to read stuff to you if you need it to. Much better for reading personal docs.
  • Dead heat
  • Cortana seems exactly as useful as Siri, i.e. a little but not ridiculously so. Absence of a ‘timer’ function is a fairly major omission but reminders/alarms work much to the same effect without a real-time countdown.
  • Camera picture quality seems superior but response time is worse than the iPhone so it comes out even – photos blur if you are expecting iPhone style responsiveness and don’t get it. May improve with newer hardware.

Still to be tested: 

  1. Skype video call quality
  2. High contrast mode in bright sunlight.
  3. What else? You tell me!


  • Few apps I want aren’t there in ‘proper’ versions (Feedly,  Todoist & some random lesser apps) – suspect I just need to ‘re-buy’ the premium versions of some of these. Lots of lesser apps don’t have a decent implementation at all… all in due course, no doubt. I heard that the Windows Phone app store doubled in scope in 12 months and Windows Phone’s market share is up to 10% – pretty remarkable given the trajectory it was on. I hear good things about Universal Apps too.
  • UI in some of the apps a little clunky (Facebook seems less natural)
  • Less punishing autocorrect than iOS (you have to go back through and correct red-underlined words that it doesn’t just guess and change for you, both a pro and a con)
  • Locks you into its ecosystem (as does Apple, to be fair)
  • Much vaunted wireless charing requires an additional case (OK, Apple doesn’t do this)
  • Screen smudging that much more obvious
  • No FaceTime or iMessage or O2 Tugo for offline / interoperating comms with, say, Amanda’s phone…
  • Limited Google ecosystem love – no Google Chrome, no native Gmail app, etc. – and I have in the past been a devotee (though obviously not of Android)
  • Camera lag – probably a consequence of the dated hardware the phone is running on, or the image stabilization which I haven’t turned off.

Original list: posted 6th August 2014


  • Beautiful screen
  • Slick UI, v natural interface, live tiles are helpful, searching through apps is cool
  • Very responsive typing
  • Less punishing autocorrect than iOS
  • Battery life seems better
  • Lock screen / photo rotation is lovely
  • 4G on O2 (Need iPhone 5S or 6 for that)
  • OneDrive >> iCloud as far as I can see, if I can get used to using it
  • IE actually seems blisteringly fast

As yet untested

  • Battery life – sim card adapter hasn’t arrived yet so can’t give it a proper run-in
  • Photos/camera
  • Cortana vs Siri


  • Few apps I want aren’t there in ‘proper’ versions (Feedly, Runkeeper doesn’t seem to work, Todoist & some random lesser apps)
  • UI in some of the apps a little clunky (Facebook seems less natural)
  • Less punishing autocorrect than iOS (you have to go back through and correct red-underlined words that it doesn’t just guess and change for you, both a pro and a con)
  • Kindle app doesn’t display documents
  • Haven’t figured out how to get Kindle to read to me yet / accessibility features
  • Email isn’t as intuitive (no ‘swipe to delete’, not clear if I’m archiving, deleting an email doesn’t take you to the next one in your inbox to review)
  • Locks you into its ecosystem (as does Apple, to be fair)
  • No DLNA projection / Apple TV equivalent in the 925 – and I have Apple TV and iPad
  • Much vaunted wireless charing requires an additional case (OK, Apple doesn’t do this)
  • Screen smudging that much more obvious
  • No FaceTime or iMessage or O2 Tugo for offline / interoperating comms with, say, Amanda’s phone…
  • Limited Google ecosystem love – no Google Chrome, no native Gmail app, etc. – and I am a devotee



With Windows 8 and mobile computing, CPU manufacturers are interesting again

One of the bizarrely fascinating things about the next generation of computing hardware and software is the fact that microprocessor manufacturers suddenly have an interesting stake in the game. Over the last few years, the Intel/AMD speed race turned into a tediously uninteresting one-horse race, and the mobile processor guys just kept quietly plugging away in the background… and now; ARM and Qualcomm are suddenly a threat to Intel – which – other than its Atom line – hasn’t made significant inroads into the mobile computing market at all.

In a bizarre twist, Microsoft is trying to tie chip vendors to a single hardware manufacturer for Windows 8 (I have no idea how this would work). I suspect this is its ham-fisted attempt to get some consistency of experience established – so that one Windows tablet is very like another – but like the Acer CEO JT Wang, I’m extremely doubtful about the effectiveness of this scheme. The theory makes sense; Qualcomm chips are suited to different form factors to Intel chips (right now, anyway) so it’s not like the Intel/AMD battles of old – where one chip was interchangeable with another.

Still, it will be interesting to see if this new wave of competition will spark some interesting form factors. Perhaps a shoe-tablet

Windows 8 – designed to annoy CIOs?

OK, so the Windows 8 first look is out and – on the face of it – kind of cool. Finally, Microsoft has worked out what a touch screen interface should do differently! Although it does feel like a very early look – judging by the fact that when they showcase non-Windows 8 HTML5 apps – it looks exactly like Windows 7…

My comment about CIOs is not so much to do with the specifics of the platform – of which we’ve seen too little to say anything other than ‘oooh, shiny’ – but the speed of the refresh cycle. Thanks to the mediocrity of Windows Vista, most enterprises that run Windows (even smaller ones like the one I work for) skipped it, and are probably in the midst of a migration from Windows XP to Windows 7. That was the best part of a 10 year gap.

The migration – especially in smaller enterprises, although I know of larger ones doing this too – will let happen naturally with hardware refreshes.

Now: it’s partially my obsessive tendencies, but I’d really like a uniform OS estate across my company. It’d make management and training so much easier. Ditto rollout of new services. So every three years for a new OS? Too fast, if they’re going to change as much as it looks like they might in UI and usability. And even though hardware refreshes tend to take place every three years or so – they tend to happen in waves, especially in growing companies. Not everyone gets a new machine at the same time…

Also; touch in the enterprise? Wonderful for marketing and useful on tablets (or ‘slates’ as Microsoft bizarrely insists on calling them) – but really not useful for knowledge workers. Well, maybe on a Microsoft Surface machine – not on a desktop, for reasons I’ve gone into before – as long as we need to type, touch is a secondary interface for most people.

Regardless, will watch with interest. I’m afraid my home-life slide into Jobs-land is probably irreversible (for the moment) with any incremental upgrade but will watch with interest.

Outlook 2011 defaults to local Exchange server details [troubleshooting]

I can’t fix this one or find information on it anywhere, but – probably due to Outlook 2011’s clever autodetect capabilities – when its within a corporate firewall it takes the local name of the server – not the externally visible OWA address – so when you leave the firewall the server doesn’t resolve.

My only fix at the moment is to keep changing the address manually in the settings. I’ve tried this but it doesn’t work – I’ve also tried configuring the mailbox manually from outside the corporate firewall but that resets once I’m on the office Wifi too.

Any tips from Macheads or Microsofties appreciated. Will keep scouring the forums, too.

Windows 7–ready for touch screen interface?

In a word, no. I tried HP’s all-in-one touchscreen HD machine briefly today and whilst it is a stunningly put together piece of hardware – almost of Apple-esque proportions – the Windows7 UI is absolutely hopelessly adapted to touch. There’s little Touch specific UI, no friendly icon driven interface like the iPhone has, and doing anything with touch alone (with the exception of zooming into and out of stuff) is hopelessly fiddly.

HP & others – Apple has been slower on this stuff, but when they come in (and now that they have the AppStore on OSX it’s only a matter of time), they will be good. Don’t believe Microsoft’s bullshit marketing (‘To the cloud’ my ass, you’d be lucky to hit the browser bar with a finger), Windows 7 can’t do this by itself. Do what HTC did, skin the OS to a point of usefulness, and THEN you might find you have a sleeper success story on the cards.

But I doubt it. There’s a lot to do…

More of my thoughts on the future of human/machine interaction soon.

That Nokia/Microsoft story

Yeah, this one. Feels like Schadenfreude in Google’s direction. Given Nokia’s persistence in developing a thousand different mobile form factors, why would you choose an OS that restricted you?

My guess? Nokia’s bitter that Android topped them out for market share last quarter. Two Turkeys make an Eagle. Heh.

Curious to hear what people think of WP7, and whether the addition of Nokia hardware is the thing that’s holding that platform back – I was scarred too badly by previous generations of Windows Phone / Windows Mobile / whatever it was called to go back there, am not sure Android is quite refined enough for me, and so sticking with the Faustian iPhone option for now.

Features I want to see in iOS5

Dear Mr Jobs (and also FAO the nice folk at Google).

Five months into my iPhone 4 and a few days ahead of the release of iOS 4.2 (which I don’t imagine will fix any of this), here’s some things I’d like you to do in iOS 5.

1) Fix the on-screen notifications. One notification at a time only? With a multitasking phone with push notifications on dozens of apps? BORKED.
2) Swype. Android and Nokia do it for text input, and its pretty awesome.
3) Proper Gmail client. Y’know, again, like Android. Your threaded conversation is ok, but not great. Google, don’t be petty about the platform. Plenty of loyal Google users use iPhones, get over it!
4) Proper Gmaps client. Y’know, again, like Android… with turn-based Nav and other good features. As above to Google folks.
5) Pre-emptive dialling. This was the only thing I missed from Windows Mobile 6.x (and earlier) – where you typed in a number and it used pre-emptive entry to work out who you wanted from your address book. Much easier than searching for a name in the contacts…
6) A more dynamic home screen. This time its Windows Phone 7 that has stepped up its game.
7) Speed up Appstore browsing. It’s a little slow.

I’m happy for you to leave out Flash. It sucks, and the sooner the world realises that HTML5 is the way to do things, the better.

Well, that’s it from me for now. What do you think needs changing in iOS?

Multiplatform life

In a break from the monotony of soup reviews, I bring you a take on technology.

Conversations with some friends lately about new mobile phones inevitably led in one direction – “I don’t like Apple, I don’t want to buy an iPhone.” It’s a semi-rational objection, merging a dislike of Apple’s corporate practices and the known limitations of the iPhone – lack of replaceable battery, no multitasking, no native Gmail app etc.

The implication of the non-technological objection seems to be that if they start on this slippery slope, they are endorsing all the ‘closed’ business practice that Apple espouses — from App approval in the AppStore, to a relatively constrained development platform, to their close-lipped strategy around announcing new technology.

My view? Nonsense. Buying an iPhone doesn’t convert you to the Cult of Jobs and owning a Windows PC doesn’t make you inherently unfun or David Mitchell-esque. Of course, if Apple’s business practices extended into human rights violations then I think the argument might extend, but to the best of my knowledge this isn’t the case… you’re just making a decision about the technology you use, not advocating any greater moral principles. The iPhone, I admit, should come with a health warning – “this phone may make you whitter on tediously about its greatness.” And I do think it is great, but I nonetheless manage to maintain my broader dislike of Apple’s corporattitude.

I live a multiplatform life; I use Windows 7 PCs at home and at work, a Windows XP netbook, most of my ‘applications’ live in the cloud (we planned our wedding in Google Docs), but use Microsoft Office applicatons for much client work, I use Google Talk, Windows Live Messenger and Cisco Webex Connect and I own an iPhone – previously I’d used Windows Mobile handsets – since 2001!

I have nothing against Linux but I have no use for it, and I prefer Windows 7 to OSX. I may well try Android when it comes round to 3.0 and I’m next due an upgrade. I have an Xbox 360, a Wii and a PS3. I use a Sony e-Reader. I have a Nikon DSLR and a Canon compact digital. I use Twitter and Facebook for my status updates and social network interaction.

My digital life is complex… I won’t be pigeonholed by my choice of phone. Will you?

Goodbye Windows Mobile…

So I’ve been a faithful user of Windows Mobile since 2002 or so and the SPV 100 first launched, an underpowered but otherwise apparently well specced and capable phone. For me its ease of use, the instant familiarity of the OS and the fact it synched with my desktop were all strong motivating factors, and I was especially fond of the pre-emptive dialling feature, where you typed a contact’s name in numbers and it found it for you and let you dial them from the homescreen… Making it useful as a phone as well as a primitive Internet device – astonishing at the time.

Today, despite having used a succession of ever better designed devices, I bid it farewell. Despite the fact that the HTC Touch Dual, my last phone, was the first phone i haven’t immediately retired on becoming eligible for upgrade, it was no longer up to the job. It wasn’t really geared up for touch, had lagged behind with its Internet capabilities and the newest incarnations have shown little improvement (WM 6.5… Really?) so I’ve had to jump ship. The fact with hundreds of different Windows Mobile devices and millions of handsets, both the iPhone and Android are ahead in mobile Internet access kind of underlines the point, as does the fact that most of this post was drafted on the bus on the way to work using the new handset, the iPhone 3GS, with a WordPress app. Outstanding.

I’m not an Apple fanboy (seriously, I resisted this purchase like you wouldn’t believe), but for now, this fits my purpose. If Microsoft start innovating again (and not just relying on their hardware vendors to fix the problems in the underlying platform with innovative ‘skins’) then I will look at them again (Zunephone, please). But I suspect that both Android and Apple have stolen a lead that MS will never recover from…

Windows Mobile 6 Caller ID not working – how to fix

I had this problem when my phone came back from the repair shop rebuilt and managed to find a solution (with the help of Oly from Admiral).

Here’s the problem:

1) If you have your numbers saved as +44 7xxx xxxxxx – caller ID works for text but not calls
2) If you have your numbers saved as 07xxx xxxxx – caller ID works for calls but not texts

You need to download a Windows Mobile Registry editor (like this one) and then find the following in the HKEY_CURRENT_USER bit:
HKCU\Control Panel\Phone\CalIidMatch

Then double click the ‘CallIDMatch’ and change the number in there – in the rebuilt phone I was sent it defaulted to 12 digits, it should be 10 for the UK.

So far, seems to work. Thanks to this MS forum for the advice, and hopefully I’ve made this slightly more Googleable for anyone else troubleshooting the same issue,