Moving to Windows Phone 7 from iOS–Day 1

With Apple’s announcement of the iPhone 4S, I skipped my annual early morning efforts of pre-ordering the new handset. For the first time in three years, I wasn’t giving Apple more money!

You see, two weeks ago, I picked up a Samsung Omnia 7, Windows Phone 7 handset for development purposes. I decided that since I wasn’t getting a new iPhone, I might as well give this phone an honest go as my primary handset, just to see if the platform is as good I’m hearing. I will put together a few blog posts over the next couple of weeks, discussing my likes and dislikes of this new platform and how it fits into my daily grind.

The first thing I had to do was get my Omnia 7 unlocked from the 3 network. Thanks to mobileunlocked.co.uk that was very easy. For a price of £14.99, they sent me a code after about 30 minutes and I used that to unlock the phone.

As a note to anyone doing this, my WP7 prompted me for a PIN number after I inserted my microsim (you’ll need the adapter). This is actually the NCK code that you receive from MobileUnlocked. O2’s iPhone sims don’t have a PIN code so it’s a little misleading.

Whilst I was waiting on the code from MobileUnlocked, I forced the device to update to Mango using the unplug your network cable method.

With the phone all updated, I decided to use it this morning on my commute to work and here are a few things that I like and don’t like:

Zune Account debacle! [dislike]

I’ve already posted about this issue, so I won’t go into it again, but basically I cannot sign into Zune using my Windows Live ID as it’s got the wrong country value on it. I hope to resolve this over the coming weekend, by detaching my existing Zune account and creating a new one.

Zune won’t fill my device with music automatically [dislike]

Since this device only has 8GB of storage, rather than my iPhone’s 32GB, I knew the music loading was going to require some sacrifice. What I didn’t expect was Zune’s absolute inability to manage this limited size. Anyone with an iPhone will know that iTunes will just try and cram as much music onto the device as possible, regardless of the space available. It will give you the option to remove podcasts and movies etc., just so it can fit more music onto the device. Zune on the other hand, just says you don’t have enough space. That’s it! You then have to manually select everything you want to copy over. A small thing I know, but another thing that could have done better!

I just dragged a couple of dozen albums onto the phone and let it sync up. Of course I need to decrypt my entire iTunes library, but that’s a project for another day!

No Audible support! [dislike]

This actually shocked me. Audible don’t provide a native client for the Windows Phone 7 platform! I’m an avid audible user and it’s become an essential part of my commute. I listen to Audio books anytime I’m walking or jogging. I hope that I can simply load up the phone with the Audible MP3 files.

Audible, of course, have not committed to developing a Windows Phone 7 app and given how long it too for the Zune HD to get support, I’m not holding my breath.

Onscreen music controls [like]

One thing I do like is that when you’re playing music, the onscreen controls are present on the lock screen. One click to access. iOS offered something similar, but required two clicks. Every click counts okay!

Onwards and Upwards

I’ll be keeping the phone with me over the next couple of weeks and I’ll blog again when I have more likes and dislikes. Anyone else trying WP7 for the first time?

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3 thoughts on “Moving to Windows Phone 7 from iOS–Day 1

  1. I’m probably going to give the new batch of windows phones a try, currently looking at the HTC Radar which is now available on O2 here in Germany. Had my sights set on the Omnia 7, but I hear they’ve had some problems updating them to Mango, at least in Spain and Germany. Have you had any issues with yours?

    I really like the UI of WP7, it really is a joy to use. However, what stops me from buying one right now is this Zune debacle that you also mention. I cannot believe how difficult Microsoft has made it for us Europeans – moving from one country to another, for work or study, is arguably almost as common here as moving between states in the US. It is laughable that you cannot change your country under account settings, and update your bank card details accordingly – and then keep all the stuff you bought and paid real money for!

    And don’t get me started on the language settings. I’m not a German national myself, but since I live here I have to register my Zune account with a German address and a German bank card, which means that Zune defaults to German instead of English – and there’s no way to change the language! Oh well, it ‘ll probably help me learn the language a lot quicker…

    What also worries me about this “you have to live in this country forever”-scheme they have going on is that apps you’ve paid for and used in one country all of a sudden disappear when you move somewhere else, as access to certain apps on the marketplace is country specific from what I understand. If you’re signed up as a WP7 developer, perhaps you can confirm this story: is it true that you have to pay per region/language category that you want to sell your apps in, and if so, do you think this partly explains – in addition to some rather obscure legal issues – why Microsoft is keen on keeping things the way they are?

    As I see it, this outdated Zune account/Windows Live ID/Xbox Live ID ecosystem that they’ve set up – which locks you into one specific country – is a major obstacle for those of us considering migrating from iOS or Android to WP7. They’re really making it difficult for their customers.

    I wonder whether this geographical discrimination within the EU is somehow in breach of EU legislation pertaining to the common internal market – you know, free flow of goods and services and all that. There’s talk of a Common European Sales Law, which would have a significant impact on, e.g., the sale of apps for smartphones across Europe.

    I’ll let you know if I decide to give it a try in the end.

    • I’ve had no issues upgrading my Omnia 7 to Mango. I did have to use the “plug out the network cable” trick, after it required a few updates, but  overall it works fine. I also unlocked my phone my the 3 network, so I could use my O2 sim.

      The Zune account issue is just unbeliveable really. I spoke to Zune support and read hundreds of posts on the subject and it seems it’s all down to licence restrictions. If you’ve purchased music in one country and move elsewhere, that music might not be legal. It’s an interesting topic that extends beyond Zune.

      I’m sure that as the platform gains adoption, things will chance. The XBox for example, does allow you to move your gamertag’s country once a year, but unfortunately, the list of available countries is small, and mostly eastern European. It is a start though.

      I do hope you give it a try. I’m pleased with the OS so far and the things I like about it almost cancel out the things I don’t like, so that’s positive, in a strange sort of way 😉

      Do let me know if you pick up a WP7 – we can compare notes!

      • one more thing about the language settings – I’ve searched around for a bit of information and I’ve discovered that if your regional settings are set to, for example, Germany, which they have to be in order for you to access the marketplace while living in Germany, then you can’t change the language of the content that you download either. For example, if you rent a movie on Zune on the German marketplace, then that movie will be synchronised, i.e., with German voice-over, and you can’t wtach the original version of the movie. The same goes for apps that have been translate into other languages – Microsoft decides for you what language you should read/listen to, and you don’t get a choice in the matter.

        That’s a pretty big deal.

        This turned out to be a huge problem in Belgium, where 60% of the population speak Dutch, but Microsoft decided that the marketplace and all the content should only be available in French. Go figure…

        They really need to sort this out, how difficult can it be to allow people to chose their own language settings?

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