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back to article Windows Phone 8: What Nokia and Microsoft MUST do

Next week, we're expected to get a sneak preview of Nokia devices based on Windows Phone 8 at a special publicity event in New York. Here's a view on what Microsoft and Nokia need to deliver - based on something a bit unusual: the user experience. I find there's a yawning empty chasm in consumer technology coverage. You can find …

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OpenGL

If MS/Nokia want things like games on windows phone then they will have to support OpenGL.

I've seen posters on other forums post silly things like "but they have direct3d and windows", that's all very nice. But the big mobile games aren't made to work on windows, they're made to work on the iphone and android phones. Which use OpenGL.

No sane developer/publisher is going to go through the major porting headache and major money/time investment over to winphone unless the market and money is there. And it most certainly is not.

MS would be very smart to support OpenGL, but they won't because of their obsession with MS only tech. And that, is why wp8 will continue wp7's failure.

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Re: OpenGL

Good point, although it's cool that UE3 is coming to WP8. This I guess will at least mean that big ]-budget game engines are likely to follow suit, along with their associated games.

And nice article; probably the best analysis of WP that El Reg has done. Personally I like the look of the Lumias (especially the 800: white body, black front, light WP theme looks lovely and modern) but I get that it's not everyone's COT.

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Holmes

Re: OpenGL

This is actually a good point and its not only OpenGL its the entire closed philosophy of these propriety systems.

When are they going to get the message that what people actually want is choice and not get things shoved down their throats.

MS thinking should be more like porting Direct3D to other platforms, to add to the choice and let it compete on its own merits.

And this is the true power of Android, when I look for an App I get several to choose from, granted a lot of them are sh!t but its improving all the time.

The my way or the highway method just doesn't cut it any more, take note Apple.

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Boffin

Re: OpenGL

Qt Support wouldn't go amiss either - There's a lot of Qt devs out there with nothing much to do at the moment.

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JDX
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Re: OpenGL

Yes but PC (and XBox) games makers use MS tech all the time and now suddenly the same tech works on phones too. So it's not all one-sided.

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Re: OpenGL

I've seen the same argument made on other forums.

The reality is that porting games made for controllers to touch screen devices and vice versa does not work.

They're totally different and again, just because devs are familiar with MS tech does not mean they'll suddenly start making games for WP7/8.

Look at it from their perspective; "I can spend lots of time and money making a game for a platform that has less than one percent of the market and it won't be easilly portable to the two dominant platforms which covers 90% of the market because of the MS specific tech (read: direct3d etc). Or I can make my game using OpenGL for the two dominant platforms, guaranteeing I make money."

It's a no-brainer, MS are shooting themselves in the foot. They simply are not in the dominant position like they are on the desktop. They cannot expect devs to write games specific to their tech. The money simply isn't there. Game devs and companies are not run by idiots, they'll look at the numbers.

It's the angry birds syndrome, they publically said it isn't worth the effort to port their games. Hell, the only reason they eventually changed their mind is because MS gave them money to port it. MS cannot afford to give every single game dev money to port their games over. The shareholders would have a fit.

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FAIL

Re: OpenGL and other stuff

Isn't Open GL on a slow death, most games these days are DirectX which WP8 supports, so why bung in support for a technology that's going the way of the dodo? As for the article, it's abundantly clear that the author hates the platform with a passion, with about 5% of positives and the rest is just a continual rant. I switched from the iPhone after Saint Jobs the Hallowed spaketh to me and enlightened me to the fact that the iPhone 4 was perfect and that I, as a mere left handed pleb was holding it wrong. Admittedly, there are several rough edges but on the whole WP makes iOS and Android look Jurassic in comparison. Mr Author, you stick to your device with it's neat little rows of icons looking like a Windows 3 desktop or World of Warcraft bag inventory and I will take your article with the salt it was meant to be taken with :-)

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Re: OpenGL and other stuff

Err... No.

OpenGL is used on every platform. So, the Nintendo Wii, Playstation 3, all Android phones, IOS devices (iphone/ipad), Mac OS X.. heck even Windows via the gpu makers has OpenGL support.

OpenGL was withering on the vines a few years back but is now in quite a resurgence. Heck, even the new 3d web standard (WebGL) is based on OpenGL. It won't be long before that really takes off. (look at some of the newer 3d game demos showing off webgl in Firefox and Chrome.. some really amazing stuff)

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Re: OpenGL

It's not all about market share though - there was a developer bandwagon to support Iphones, even in all the years that it was 3rd, 4th, or 5th place, with tiny market share. Even now, with Android nearing 70%, and Iphone around 16%, we see more developer support for Apple (which is sad). Symbian rarely got support, despite being number one until 2011, then still outselling Iphone for another 6 months until the WP switch, and still probably having a larger installed userbase. Not that this means therefore MS will get support - but it isn't simply about market share.

Whilst I'd love to see OpenGL on WP simply because choice and openess is good, it's not clear to me it's the right decision for them. Whilst WP is harmed by it, they are probably looking at the longer term of the Windows platform as a whole. The idea that Direct X would become the dominant API on computers once seemed mad - the API was a mess, OpenGL was open, industry people like Carmack supported OpenGL, and why would you limit yourself to only Windows for no apparent benefit? Yet look what happened.

Also consider that any competent developer can support DirectX and OpenGL. Remember that the far bigger challenge right now is that mobile platforms use entirely different languages (modified-Java for Android, C# for WP, C++/Qt for Symbian, Objective C for Iphone). So if you're rewriting your entire game anyway, the use of a different API seems secondary to that. Ironically, using C# is one of the few ways to get something that runs on Android and IOS (thanks to Mono), which of course is WP's native language. And many games will use 3rd party libraries/engines, so MS will instead focus on getting them to support DirectX, then it's a non-issue.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: OpenGL

Your observation is no longer relevant, with Unity (http://www.wpcentral.com/unity-coming-windows-phone-8-they-tell-us-why) and Unreal (http://wmpoweruser.com/nvidia-and-epic-demos-unreal-engine-3-on-windows-8-and-windows-rt/) allowing simple ports of Android and iOS games to WP8.

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Re: OpenGL

They do need to support OpenGL. There's a long weird history that Microsoft needs to forget and move on. OpenGL was not doing well in the late 1990s, because SGI was holding it to a model based on their hardware's functionality, functionality that could not scale up to what we see on PC games today. Direct3D (which was not just designed by MS, but also nVidia and ATI) was a much needed innovation with its vertex and pixel shaders and triangle meshes. Immediately, the hardware vendors added all the Direct3D functionality to OpenGL, via its extension mechanism. Probably both Microsoft and SGI were annoyed by this, but today OpenGL and Direct3D essentially do the same things. So it was never really the lock-in that Microsoft might have hoped for.

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Mushroom

Re: OpenGL

Xbox is the leading current generation console, and PCs are also a leading gaming platform - both of which rely on Direct-X for 99% of games. There is no need for MS to support Open GL. they are already on top of the graphics market with Direct-X.

If those games makers want a share of the soon to be massive Windows Tablet market, then they will have to write for Direct-X - and this is regardless of how well Windows phone does.

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Pint

I thought 30 years of M$ was more than enough

Why would this writer bother to give advice to Microsoft? If you have great advice, you should not offer it..

Remember? Microsoft wants to copy Apple's walled ghetto. Its all about Tollbooths for them.

Do humans need to be walled in, after many years of being able to choose what they want to do with the computing products they purchased?

I say continue your boykott as before...

Microsoft won't wise up under Ballmer, and Elop isn't even worth a lopsided grin.

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Stop

What's a Nokia?

And what's a Windows Phone?

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Re: What's a Nokia?

what's an arse...

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FAIL

Re: What's a Nokia?

Who are you? (see the white font after this text).....

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WP user

I have had an HTC WP for 18 months and I hate the search button too. I would also like a quick way to turn off sounds and vibrations (there might be something I am missing there though), and it needs much more storage capacity or ideally SD card expandability, but overall it is the best phone I have had.

This was a work phone and we are just about to change again, I hope there is a WP8 phone with a sliding keyboard as I have now and have had several phones in that format.

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JDX
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Re: WP user

Not sure about vibration but with sounds, every time you change the volume a "ring+vibrate" text appears on the top right. Tap it to toggle the ringer.

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Re: WP user

A quick test on my Omnia7 shows that it's a bit hit and miss. if you have vibration alert off in the settings then that icon in the top right toggles ring / silent. if vibrate is on, then it toggles ring+vibrate or vibrate.

What would be ideal would be to make that button a triple state one... i.e. Ring+Vibrate, Vibrate, Silent (assuming that most people most of the time wouldn't want a ring only option on there.)

Back on topic and for what it is worth i think that WP7 is pretty good and i'm interested to see what else is coming in WP8 - i think that SD card support and more bluetooth functionality are already in there, lets hope there are a few more interesting features too.

it would be good to have a few other systems doing well, not just iOS and Android.

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Holmes

That Bing button...

Oh, so so true... Annoying when you hit it while composing a message. Doubly so when play(test)ing games - especially that due to the location of the headphone socket, I find that the only way to comfortably use the Lumia 800 in landscape mode is with the hardware buttons on the left, thus putting the bing button uncomfortably close to where most virtual sticks are located, and I've got "fat thumbs"...

... on the plus side, it doesn't half help give my tombstoning code a workout! But as a player, it's so damn irritating. If search is not relevant for an app, it should at least be possible to switch it off.

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JDX
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Re: That Bing button...

I've never accidentally pressed it that I can recall, but this is my first smartphone so maybe I learned good habits of not touching the screen from the get go?

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Physical buttons rule!

I have the 710 which has physical buttons instead of the capacitive strip and they are almost impossible to hit accidentally.

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FAIL

Re: That Bing button...

You must have "Porkinson's" fingers bud, I have zero trouble at all

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Re: Physical buttons rule!

Indeed. I''m glad I have the 710 - I see none of the lag the article complains about, and have no issues with unintended button pressing. The main gripe for me is locked down contact management - no I don't want to see _all_ my fb/linkedin contact's birthdays on my calendar thanks. Plus, max 20 contacts in a group!?! WTF? And Zune on the PC blows goats of course.

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Childcatcher

The camera could be the key

Year after year it's the same story. Nokia: Amazing cameras, crappy unsupported o/s. If next weeks model announcement has a camera comparable to the N8's (or even 1/2 what the 808 can do) I'll be right there with my chequebook in hand. If they don't my Aging N8 will be replaced by something Androidy. If they do get a decent camera they should do a marketing campaign showing the typical iPhone/Android night out, duckface blurrycam shots uploaded to Facebook versus the awesome Nokia equivalents. That may get the young ones to notice.

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Re: The camera could be the key

Pureview is a coming. See bit.ly/SkjsFv

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Re: The camera could be the key

> Pureview is a coming

The prices have not been announced yet, were you expecting a Pureview phone to be $50 ?

Also, decent cameras with zoom lenses and running Android with phone features are starting to arrive and these may make Pureview just another hybrid camera/phone, possibly an expensive one.

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Re: The camera could be the key

> Pureview is a coming

I still don't understand why Panasonic LUMIX has not sued Nokia over the LUMIA name. It is sure to confuse when Nokia make devices that are more like cameras. Panasonic make phones too.

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Re: The camera could be the key

Looks like the Lumia 920 has been leaked and yes it has a PureView camera. See the Verge's article http://t.co/FUOyL9Ag

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Re: The camera could be the key

As an owner of a lumix i never recall a single time i tried to dial home on it.

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Re: The camera could be the key

You dumb-ass. Nokia NEVER gonna get MY money again. They screwed me with the lumia 800 and they can rot in hell for all I care.

Nokia is a scam! They fool you into buying an expensive phone (500 euros), make it as fragile as possible so it DEFINITELY breaks down, charge exhaustive repair fees (so you decline to get it repaired) and gone is +500 euro´s in their pockets!

This is called extortion!

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Re: The camera could be the key

only upto 20mpixels!

Normal phones deliver 13Mpixels for their 2013 line~up so what's the big deal!

And it could well be a fucking 16 Mpixel camera "pureviewed" down to 4 or 8 Mpixels for all they care.

Which is still good for WP "current" 2012 lineup.

It's a scam to stop sales of iPhones and Android devices through confusion. Ppl will hold and hence don't yet buy that phone they would have had if it wasn't for Nokia's magical WP8 device. Which will fail like the previous models failed. F U Nokia, YOU OWE ME A LUMIA 800 OR 499 EURO!

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marketing & bragging vs reality

You can say to your mates that your 13Mpixel camera on your phone is better than his Pureview pumping out 4 to 8Mpixel images, but the reality may be somewhat different. More megapixels does not always a better picture make.

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another Poorly researched poorly written Nokia / MS bashing article

i have both the iphone 4s and nokia 900, my iphone 4s is now used as an ipod ...the iphone is a great media devise, but the 900 is a better phone..

Lumia 900s network (2g,3g,H) is far superior to that of the iphone, i get signal (tested) where my iphone couldn’t. The battery life last ALL day ie at least 18hours with multi push email accounts and media usage. Call quality is also a big lumia 900 strength, far better than the iphone..

I dont agree that the fast switch on the lumia is overly slow, perhaps you were using an old SW version or like many apps have not bee updated to support it.. However in general i do agree with you but Ms has confirmed TRUE MT is coming..

every morning i get looks of interest with my 900, similar to the iphone 3gs i had it stand out fomr the crowd much the same as the iphone USED too...

theres much more to a smartphone than spec and tech and what stopped the present lumia range from selling well was being not being able to upgrade to WP8, not the that the fast switch doenst work.. :))

both android and IOS have MANY contraints but people live with them...

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Re: another Poorly researched poorly written Nokia / MS bashing article

I think the author was beaten up by a MS bouncer as a kid and now has a personal vendetor against anything MS :-)

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Headmaster

Re: another Poorly researched poorly written Nokia / MS bashing article

You're entitled to your opinions.

I thought it was a great article by Andrew. It really did read as if he'd lived with the phones for a while and came up with some very interesting and valid conclusions. It's nice to see an article that stands out from the crowd.

Microsoft have a massive hill -- of their own making -- to climb. This is just the start of some very interesting times for all Smartphone producers.

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Happy

Re: another Poorly researched poorly written Nokia / MS bashing article

Perhaps you mean vendetta? Maybe he was beaten up by a Microsoft OS? Most of us were at some point or another in our youth.

But most of us grew up and moved to something better.

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Stop

Re: another Poorly researched poorly written Nokia / MS bashing article

Don't you just hate Microsoft shills? They are so stupid that they don't even recognise when an author is actually attempting to boost the company they spin for. AO has long been a supporter of competition, and, as explicitly mentioned in the article, an *actual* user of the device in question. So go ahead Simonbuk and Zarniw00p (gah, don't you hate it when someone takes a Hitchhiker reference as a handle and turns out to be a complete turd?), keep attacking a journo who is at the very least is fair to your product - you might just succeed in turning him into an MS-hater.

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Silver badge

Re: another Poorly researched poorly written Nokia / MS bashing article

Most people don't use an MS OS? News to me. Don't get me wrong, I dual boot Ubuntu, and on phones have run Symbian and now Android. But I'm aware of what OS most people run, and I think Windows these days is as good as any other - personally I prefer Windows 7 to Ubuntu, though each have their pluses and minuses. And I do hope you're not suggesting it's better to run the other mainstream desktop OS, that involves paying money to a patent troll - sorry, with the recent Samsung news, it's no longer cool in geek circles to be running OS X over Windows. Only on Linux or something can you claim to be running something different :)

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Re: another Poorly researched poorly written Nokia / MS bashing article

True, true. I have been scouring mobile device websites to find a useful review of Windows Phone - one that will help me decide on purchasing a new Nokia/Windows Phone 8 vs. getting an iPhone 5 or the copycat Android. Almost all reviews focus on the hardware and only superficially on the user experience. The experience that results from using the phone for more than a couple of hours.

Andrew's review brings up extremely relevant issues. He gets behind the simple "Contacts" are great in WP to laying out exactly what is good and what is bad. Even to the extent of pointing out how managing the contacts on Live can be cumbersome.

Excellent article. Enormously useful. This is the kind of review that I would pay for.

Thank you, Andrew. I look forward to an equally indepth update when the new Nokia WP8 phones launch.

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Re: another Poorly researched poorly written Nokia / MS bashing article

No but i was ROBBED by Nokia and NOW has a personal vendetta at Nokia!

I want Nokia GONE! I will personally convince everybody who comes into contact with me to AVOID nokia as the plague. I have EVIDENCE of their business tactics and will not rest until they are gone!

I will post this antiñokia propaganda as much as I can until Nokia correct their fault (either pay me back the 499 euro or get me my Lumia 800 FULLY repaired!)

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Lol OpenGL? Why when they have a backlog of tens of thousands of DirectX games ready to be ported now that DirectX is available in WP8

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live tiles and pit to start

how you can call the live tiles useless is beyond my, they are FAr superia to what IOS provide and to me a better option to android widgets..

Pin to start is fantastic, it allows me to lauch what i want easily, my document i use regulalry are pinned to my shome screen , i dont need to open office or ibook then find/select it...

i dont see your issues with contacts, mine works perfectly well once again far better the iphone and gmail..

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Anonymous Coward

Re: live tiles and pin to start

Indeed. It's as simple as going into your weather app and pinning your home location to the screen.

Or in my case I pin home automation devices (using Grasshopper) to my start screen so I can turn the TV on and off or activate other scenes.

With iOS I would have to open the app, wait for it to read the state of my devices, scroll through a list and then click an icon. There was no way to check the state of an item without opening the app.

iOS and Android are just glorified app launchers.

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Windows

@AC

Agreed on the live tiles; in contrary to what the author claims these really have an added value. But obviously if you're not going to use applications which make good use of it you won't be able to see it.

WeatherMaster for example also allows you to pin your current GPS location to the start screen, which is how I use it. So even if I spent the night somewhere else; the next morning I can still see what kind of weather it is around me, merely by looking at my startscreen.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: live tiles and pit to start

I agree, live tiles are one of the most useful features of the UI, I use them all the time. I can tell the weather at a glance, where I am (ie: name of the local town), how many mails are pending, if Linkedin has any link requests, etc. etc. etc. Even pretty useless things like an image from the last album I listened to on the phone are a nice touch.

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Happy

Re: @AC

er..... rather than looking at your Windows phone can't you just look out of a "window" for that?

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Coat

Looking at the weather: @ShelLuser

Ah, the joys of modern technology - see what kind of weather it is around you by looking at a screen instead of outside ;)

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Re: live tiles and pit to start

The problem with the live tiles is that most developers haven't found a decent use for them.

I have one app that has a decent live tile, the unofficial giffgaff app gives you your balance and remaining airtime on the front screen of your phone.

Most of the other apps I've seen with live tiles either don't work properly, or they don't give you enough information. The weather tiles are an obvious example they all show you the current weather in your current location. As pointed out I know the current weather in my current location because I'm there. If they could find a way of displaying future weather for my current location in an easily readable way it would make more sense.

I think the live tiles will improve a lot when Windows 8 comes out and there are more options for the size of tile, there just isn't enough space on the current tiles to show a useful amount of information.

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Thumb Down

Re: live tiles and pit to start

Android phones have been doing this from year one, on my HTC Desire I have all my most used apps pinned to my start screen as icons against my nice chosen background instead of those ugly tiles.

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