Why should I buy a Windows Phone smartphone?
As the name suggests, Windows Phone is Windows for your phone. Forget any bad experiences you've had with Windows on a PC, though, because while Windows Phone is related it's newer, brighter and better than the software you use on a computer. Solid, affordable and innovative, it's a real alternative to Apple and Android. It's a lot of fun, too.
What is Windows Phone?
A few years ago Microsoft decided to scrap its mobile operating system (Windows Mobile) and create a brand new one from scratch. The result was Windows Phone, a system that had even the most hardened Microsoft critics going "Ooh, that's pretty". Many manufacturers now offer Windows Phone handsets, including HTC, Samsung and Nokia.
Is there more than one version of Windows Phone?
Yes, there are several versions. The best version is the most recent one: Windows Phone 8. Older handsets may still be running Windows Phone 7, which is currently at version 7.8.
You can't upgrade a Windows Phone 7 handset to run Windows Phone 8, because Windows Phone 8 has been completely rewritten - it looks the same, but under the hood it's more like the Windows 8 you'll find on tablets and laptops. So if you want a new Windows Phone mobile, Windows Phone 8 is the one to go for.
What are Windows Phone's key features?
The most obvious feature is Live Tiles, which are brightly coloured squares and rectangles displaying information. That information could be a weather forecast, your next appointment, your best friends' Facebook updates and so on - it's entirely up to you. That means every Windows Phone will look different from each other. In Windows Phone 8 you also get:
- Kid's Corner - a safe mode that enables your kids to play with the phone without causing problems or seeing things they shouldn't
- Rooms - private spaces you can create to share notes, photos, calendars and chat
- Photos and OneDrive - store your photos online with Microsoft's OneDrive service, formerly SkyDrive
- People Hub - brings your contacts, chats, emails and even Skype calls together so you can manage them easier
- Skype - chat and make voice and video calls over the internet
- Lens - to spice up your photos with special effects
- Local Scout - find nearby places to eat, drink or shop
- Xbox Games Hub - get the latest games, which share your Xbox Live profile if you?re a console gamer
- Office Hub - mobile Microsoft Office document creation and editing
- Wallet - store all your card details safely and securely
- NFC sharing - wirelessly send stuff from phone to phone
- Visual Voicemail - so you can see who left you a message
- Voice control
What are the pros of Windows Phone?
If you're fed up of ?me too? smartphones, Windows Phone 8 is completely different and thoroughly refreshing. The Live Tiles are particularly good, enabling you to see everything that matters without opening lots of apps, and Windows Phone is far and away the best platform when it comes to completely customising your phone's look and feel. If you use Microsoft Office already, you'll really like the Office Hub, and the People Hub can help tame social networking overload.
The handsets are good, too, with Nokia's Lumia 1020 looking particularly tasty, and as Windows Phone is currently the underdog in this market there's going to be lots of discounting - so you?ll be able to get a very nice Windows Phone handset without spending an awful lot of money, compared to, say, an iPhone 5.
What are the cons of Windows Phone?
Windows Phone doesn't have as many high-quality apps as Apple iOS or Android, there aren't as many handsets to choose from as there are with Android, and Windows Phone 7 handsets don't look too great when you compare them to more powerful rivals. Unless you're being offered the bargain of the century, avoid the older Windows Phone devices and make sure you get one running Windows Phone 8. It doesn't look much different, but it's a completely different and a much better operating system.
What's the verdict on Windows Phone?
Let?s face it, Android and iOS are awfully similar these days. You can?t say that about Windows Phone - it looks and works completely differently from the smartphone kings. It?s a refreshing, responsive and extremely intuitive operating system.
But the lack of support from App developers is a problem. While there?s loads of software to download, you often won?t find the latest and greatest apps on a Windows Phone - at least, not until they?ve appeared on Apple iOS and Android.
But if waiting for apps doesn?t matter to you, and you want a feature-rich, easy-to-use smartphone, there?s a heck of a lot to love about Windows Phone.
Official links and social network information
- Official website - Windows
- Apps - Windows App Store
- Twitter - @WindowsPhone
- Facebook - Windows Phone on Facebook
- Google+ - Windows+
- You Tube - Windows Videos
- Windows Phone 8 overview - http://www.windowsphone.com/en-GB/features
- Windows Phone 8 full feature list - http://www.windowsphone.com/en-GB/features/all
- Windows Phone 8 phones list - http://www.windowsphone.com/en-gb/phones