Office-Watch.com has a Windows Phone and we’d like to write about the Office related features for our readers. Sadly there’s a problem with the device so that will have to wait.
In the meantime here are some thoughts on how Microsoft shoots itself in the Windows Phone.
Consistent Interface Delusion
Windows Phone has some useful parts and other things that are clumsy, to put it mildly.
For many years, Microsoft has persisted with the fantasy that customers want the same interface on all their computers and devices. This fantasy persists despite all the evidence and logic against it.
The evidence is clear and market driven. Every day, millions of people switch to and fro between Windows or Mac computers to Apple, Android or, in fewer cases, Microsoft devices. These countless people have no trouble with the different interfaces of devices from different companies. Often they buy a newer product with the same interface so they can’t be that unhappy with the interface.
The reason is simple and logical – a large screen with a keyboard and mouse is a very different type of interaction from a much smaller screen with only your finger. The size of screen and available options for interaction demand different interfaces. Just in the same way that motorbikes and cars have different control methods because the handlebars and pull levers work for the bike while a wheel and pedals are better for a car. ‘Form follows function’ is something that designers, architects and engineers understand – but not at Microsoft.
Despite the evidence and logic presented to Microsoft over many years, they insist on trying to make all their Windows software fit into the same model.
The common interface delusion is shown at its worst in Windows 8 which has a tile/Metro interface rammed at users even though it makes sense best for touch screen devices that aren’t even public yet.
Connecting to other Microsoft products
Microsoft phones in their various guises have always had a consistent problem, connecting to other Microsoft products.
That’s surprising because Microsoft loves promoting the ‘Microsoft Advantage’; supposedly having all Microsoft products is better and easier. In the case of phones that’s never been the case for as long as we can remember.
The most consistent problem we’ve had is simply connecting a device to a computer via USB. Seems simple, Apple and Android devices do it, but with Microsoft phones we’ve often had the problem of the device not being recognised. Sometimes switching to another USB socket will work, or reinstalling the desktop software but sometimes it just won’t work at all.
Microsoft itself doesn’t see this and other issues as a problem. The company is so entrenched in the idea that their products work best with each other that, when they don’t, Redmond simply puts its corporate head in the sand. The result is that problems don’t get fixed and they continue for years.
The other Microsoft support problem is the separation of responsibilities. If there’s a problem between Microsoft products of different divisions, no-one wants to accept responsibility. Instead there’s a furious round of ‘pass the buck’ blaming the other Microsoft product for the problem. The ‘Microsoft Advantaged’ customer is left hanging.
Zune software needed – really?
Get a Windows Phone ‘Mango’ 7.5 and right away there’s system and other updates available. That’s normal and to be expected in a fast moving industry. What’s abnormal about the latest Windows Phone is how you get those updates.
Apple and Android devices can update themselves. You download the updates directly, usually via wifi, the device will update and usually reboot at the end.
Not Windows Phone even in 2012. You have to install Windows or Mac software to handle the updating via a USB cable.
And what software? ZUNE software!
You may remember Zune – Microsoft’s iPod rival that was finally given a burial (with no mourners) almost a year ago.
But the clumsy Zune software lives on as the essential tool needed for updating a Windows Phone.
Tech Support troubles
This final moan is a personal one but indicative of the problems Windows Phone buyers face.
Office-Watch.com has a Windows Phone – but it can’t connect to Exchange Server. Apple and Android devices connect right away to the same server. The Windows Phone error message is misleading and unhelpful. Microsoft’s own Exchange Server test site can’t find a problem yet the Microsoft approved Phone won’t connect.
We’re lucky; we have a way to ask Microsoft for help that isn’t available to most people, including our readers. Yet even then there’s no response from Microsoft Support. If we can’t get help with a Microsoft phone connecting to a Microsoft server, what chance do regular customers have?
Apple and Google spend a lot of time and effort to make sure their products work with Microsoft services. Microsoft doesn't extend the same courtesy to Windows Phone users. No wonder people buy iPhones and great phones like Samsung Galaxy SII or SIII instead.
Article posted: Sunday, 12 August 2012
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