Everybody likes to root for the underdog, which is why Microsoft and Nokia are weirdly attracting a lot of positive vibes these days. As the New York Times pointed out just before the Consumer Electronics Show started in January, Microsoft in particular was getting rave reviews for its new Windows Phones, a trend not usually associated with the storied software maker.
It’s funny that both companies are now underdogs, given that only a few years ago they were the undisputed kings of their respective realms - Microsoft in software and Nokia in phones. But in a span of only a few short years, Google and Apple largely displaced both and relegated them to also-ran status in the mobile world, which prompted their team-up - with Canadian Stephen Elop at its head - last year.
The fruits of that tag team, the flagship Nokia Lumia 800 smartphone, has finally come to North America via Telus. I’ve been playing with it for the past week with an eye to answering one question: is it a big deal?
First, there are the positives. If you’ve seen the new-ish Windows Phone operating system in action, you know it’s dramatically different than just about everything else out there. Rather than having several screens with grids of apps, Windows Phones have a vertical stack of square tiles. Many of the tiles, such as the “pictures” one, are live so they’re constantly updating with new information.
It’s a very cool interface that makes the phone feel like it’s living and breathing, with new stuff always going on - just like its user’s life. And because it’s so different, it’s a near certainty that Microsoft will manage to avoid the ridiculous patent wars going on between Apple and Android manufacturers over who ripped who off. Read the rest of this entry »