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Preparing for the Great Windows Phone Experiment

Preparing for the Great Windows Phone ExperimentI’m a Mac. And I’m a PC. And for nearly five years now, I’ve used an iPhone. That’s about to change.

Listeners to Entertainment 2.0 may know that I recently “lost” Microsoft’s Windows Phone Challenge—which means I’ll be getting a new Windows Phone soon. For well over a year I’ve talked about just how impressive (and important) Microsoft’s reboot of Windows Phone has been, but I’ve also been concerned that they’re late to the game.

I’ve been using an iPhone for nearly five years now, and that platform has served me (and a few million more) quite well. It’s my phone, it’s my instant camera, it’s my calendar, notepad, and address book. It’s my media (and, perhaps more importantly, podcast subscription) player, it’s my social tether, it’s my bank. It’s more things to me than I ever imagined one device could be.

At home, I use Mac desktop and laptop computers (I switched about five years ago), and I have an iPad that I use every day. I use Airport Express and AirPlay to channel audio and video to different speakers or TVs around the house, and my iPhone integrates tightly with both cars. I’m clearly deeply invested in Apple’s hardware, software, and media ecosystems.

At the same time, I’m not a complete Apple geek. I have a Windows Media Center home theater PC in the den and other PCs around the house. A Windows Home Server backs everything up and hosts my complete music and photo libraries.

Nonetheless, integrating a new phone/camera/calendar/… into my daily life is going to be tricky at best, so I’ve been doing a little up-front research, and here’s what I’ve learned:

  • Microsoft released a Windows Phone 7 Connector app for the Mac to sync media from iPhoto, iTunes, and other sources.
  • I’ll need to rely on cloud services to sync calendars and contacts.
  • I’ll have limited connectivity options in the cars—an auxiliary input cable at worst, Bluetooth at best. Neither is ideal.
  • None of the financial or travel institutions with which I do business have apps for the Windows Phone platform.

So here’s how this is going to work: I plan to use my new Windows Phone for two weeks after completing the initial configuration and data transfer. If I’m satisfied, I’ll go for another two weeks, after which I’m going to ask myself the big question: should I switch?

This is not going to be about divorcing the Apple ecosystem but instead an experiment in blending ecosystems. Can a Windows Phone exist in symbiosis with the rest of my digital life? I expect I’ll rely more heavily on my computers, my iPad and other devices around the house for media consumption and distribution…and that’s OK. What’s more important is whether the Windows Phone can live up to what I need and expect to carry around in my pocket.


About the author

Richard Gunther

Richard is a product experience consultant with a life-long interest in consumer electronics. He has been immersed in smart home tech for decades now and hosts The DMZ's home automation podcast, Home: On and co-hosts Entertainment 2.0 with Josh Pollard. Richard looks at products through an experience lens, always seeking the right mix of utility and delight.