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back to article Windows Phone 8 must be Microsoft's priority one, two AND three

Unless Microsoft gives Windows Phone some urgent attention, all of its hard work will go up in smoke and take Europe's largest technology company with it. We've now seen Windows Phone 8 running on four strong handsets - two each from Nokia and HTC - and it's fair to say the manufacturers have kept their side of the bargain. HTC …

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Wrong tense.

The Windows phone platform should have been Microsoft's priority 2-3 years ago. They should have had engineers working on apps, and tools. Windows 7 was certainly sufficient on the desktop for another year or so, and they should have put the resources from Windows 8 into the phone platform. As it is, early adopters aren't happy because WP7.5 is de-prioritised, and they lack apps, and they pass on their grumbles to the folk thinking of getting a WP8 phone.

I find it hard to see how Microsoft can gain ground from here, unless something major happens. It is a shame, because it has the potential to be a good platform - but the same could be said about a lot of potential platforms that have fallen by the wayside.

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Re: Wrong tense.

I completely agree with all of this. Nobody was chomping at the bit for Windows 8 on the desktop, but Phone 7 being sidelined and 6.5 being on the market when it was inappropriate for such an archaic platform to be marketed - these are the big mistakes.

The problem is, I don't see who Phone 8 appeals to right now - the people who bought phones with 7 are probably not future customers, as they'll be flat out pissed Microsoft dropped them so quickly - they aren't the nerdy plaything that is Android, and they aren't quite as simple and mass market as the iPhone.

There's no doubt the new HTC and Nokia devices are attractive pieces of kit - but I would argue in spite of Phone 8, not because of it.

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Re: Wrong tense.

*A* phone platform should have been Microsoft's priority.

Putting the word "Windows" first is, i suspect, their essential mistake. Firstly, it raises negative expectations in the marketplace because people know what "Windows" is and can't really envisage how that might work on a phone. Google didn't make the mistake of referring to their phone platform as "Linux Phone".

Secondly, it ties the phone project into a whole raft of dependencies and messy compromises with totally unrelated products in the mistaken belief that the corporate vision of a seamlessly ubiquitous plaform can some how be delivered from the spare parts bin.

Build a good phone platform and you have a bridgehead. Extend your "Windows" branding to it later if you want. Building an unfocussed platform for products most of which you haven't really thought about and lending it your most valuable brandname unlikely to bolster the appeal of either - it's more likely you're going to torpedo your own flaghship.

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FAIL

Re: Wrong tense.

Everything Andrew has said is completely right...WP8 has the potential to be a really great platform. But I am seeing the same half-hearted and uncordinated marketing approach we saw 1-2 years ago. Who are the big names in the UK that MS have signed up? Holly willoughby and James fucking Corden. I don't hate James Corden as much as many people seem to (although he is quite annoying) but this is the point - who at MS decided that James Corden was popular enough to sell their snazzy new OS? Holly Willoughby is a smart-ish enough choice, but as Andrew mentioned, with their social networking strength these phones will appeal more to the kind of young mums, young females etc and the kind of audience who watches Willoughby...but the phones are priced far too highly to appeal to this segment. It's a complete disconnect; spending £35-40 on a phone they may as well get a known quantity, one that all their mates have and get an iPhone. And that...is about the only two celebrities I know that they've signed up. All those billions and they sign up a morning television presenter and a supposed comedian that everyone hates and who hasn't done much for about 3 years.

And then there is visibility; I have seen about 4 television spots and one billboard for WP8. Microsoft should be using their mountain of cash to put pictures, videos and posters of these things everywhere but underneath the toilet seat, especially as two of their most significant partners aren't exactly flush at the moment. If MS don't pull their fingers out and properly advertise then come next year HTC and Nokia may well not be here anymore...and MS will be left all alone with Samsung (who probably couldn't care less about WP8) and themselves (if they do another 'Surface', which will surely only end one way). The whole thing is a joke.

It's a real shame but I think we're getting to the point where the band is playing...but the Titanic sinking...and HTC and Nokia were first class ticket holders

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Re: Wrong tense.

If I buy an Apple phone, then I know I will get support for the phone's software for years. I know I will still be able to get the latest apps when I want them.

If I buy an Android phone, then I know I will probably, depending on manufacturer, get support for the phone's software for years. I am fairly confident that I will still be able to get the latest apps when I want them.

If I buy an MS phone, I know that I probably won't be able to upgrade it to the 'next' version, and that as soon as the 'next' version comes out, I won't be able to get the latest apps for my phone as they are only available for the 'next' version, MS want another license payment for their new OS, and the only device that will run it is a new one.

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Headmaster

Re: Wrong tense.

where the band is playing...but the Titanic sinking...and HTC and Nokia were first class ticket holders

So where is Nokia's lifeboat? HTC first class, Nokia at best second class in that analogy.

Completely agree with the original poster, by the way.

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and Wrong Market

In the past, MS phones have always done best in business where there has been a reasonably compelling story to sell "seamless integration" from corporate servers to mobile platforms/

W8 is unashamedly aimed squarely at the consumer as a social media phone. It is Kin2. In this market they need to compete with "cool" something they have never done right.

Corporate customers will want to keep their PCs on W7 and are not feeling the need to go with W8, but in mobile it is worse - there is no compelling MS choice. MS are, for all practical purposes, forcing their corporate customers to shop around and stop drinking the MS Kool-Aid.

Microsoft have completely cut off their traditional markets at the knees and are betting on a switch to consumers. This is a very high risk strategy and depends on everything being nearly perfect.

This must surely accelerate MS's demise.

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Re: Wrong tense.

>If I buy an Apple phone, then I know I will get support for the phone's software for years.

Apple more and more is going out of their way to force obsolesce on products to keep the gravy train rolling from their upscale customers. After seeing Apple refuse to support Mountain Lion or even allow purchase or installation on older Mac Pro desktops (which with hacks I was able to install the DP version and it not only ran but faster than Lion, so the hardware excuse doesn't fly) I have to say honestly even Microsoft is less likely to pull this crap.

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Re: Wrong tense.

Not defending Microsoft as their consumer products for the most part are crap but the advantage to M$ not being the hardware vendor (until recently) is they don't try to tell you you can't install an OS your computer is perfectly capable of running (as long as you pay for it of course).

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Re: and Wrong Market

Agreed. And I disagree with the article - phones are not where MS needs to start.

The phone market is too hard for MS to compete in - it has no leverage and the "Windows" (sounds like office equipment) brand is a disadvantage when buying a personal phone and there is no loyalty

MS should focus on integration between tablet, PC and cloud - even if that means making nice with Google and Amazon. Make itunes look like the ugly brute it is. Don't try to make Windows Live the only option, make gmail work really well. If MS want to gain traction, they will have to do without some income. For example, they could offer ad-free search on their own tablets (for the time-being at least) via bing or back off music/video purchases to Amazon rather than trying to take a cut.

With the cpus in phones increasing in power, it won't be long before they become a de-facto thin client, with wired or wireless KVM. What happens when the GPU's are strong enough to drive a 2560x1440 screen, or monitor manufacturers put in a cheap graphics unit so android can play on a normal screen or two, with bluetooth keyboard/mouse for input? Suddenly, your "too small to use" device gains legs, and MS has accustomed users to a touchscreen-look UI on their work pc. Add to that, the fact that unix can run individual apps off different servers. So email can run off a cheap ARM unit and your big spreadsheet can be running on a beefy x86, being shared without any virtualisation/citrix (or any other) licenses required.

MS have to get people using the windows APIs on tablets or its game over.

I'd go further - create RT blades for mass VDI deployment (also usable as thin clients), because if the linux/android crowd manage to get their ARM bits popular its going to hurt. From VDI, you can back into the tablet and phone markets. You can also re-use a single RT blade as a home-microserver if you have HDMI and some sata ports.

The aim here is to loss-lead your new environment by offering cheap but lower-spec windows and Office.

That's what I'd do if I were them. I don't think they will though. I think they have more hubris than common sense. They think (or at least project that they think) that their product is good enough to to win on its own merits. I suspect not.

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Linux

Re: Wrong tense.

Why am I feeling so smugly in agreement with you about everything you have said?

Microsoft does very little innovation - 95% of everything they do is just rebox last years shit, put new wrapping paper around it and then change the use by date.

Personally I'd like to see the giant take a fall...... and a mighty dust eating fall it shall be.

A jolly mix of their avarice, and greed tangling up in each other foots boot laces, and my malicious delight.

Linux - because I and my OS is superior.

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Developers Developer Developers????

The problem with developing for Windows 8 phone is the SDK forces you to use Windows 8 Pro if you want to use the device emulator to debug your code. Ask my development team if they want to install Windows 8 on their desktop PC`s/Laptops and wouldn't want to repeat the answer......

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Unhappy

Re: Developers Developer Developers????

It's worse than that. By deprecating XNA in favour of DX and C++, Microsoft have effectively forced the majority of their indie developers to start over from scratch. Add to that the late release of the SDK and the other restrictions for WP8 development, and it's no wonder that the app store growth is stagnating: various reports put gaming as 50% of all mobile app use, and having only a small market share, Microsoft needs indie developers to boost up the app numbers.

Like myself, I can see a lot of XNA developers trying to decide which way to go now, and I can see a lot of them picking up tools like Unity or Monogame, then jumping platform.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Developers Developer Developers????

I'm contemplating some minor WP8 development, but am holding off until I see what Unity brings to the table. They have a joint presentation with MS scheduled for early next year.

@Lee Taylor I have installed Windows 8 in a virtual machine on Windows 7, and have yet to run into any significant problems. I had to install Windows 7 first though, as the $39.99 Windows 8 Pro licence is an upgrade.

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Re: Developers Developer Developers????

Deprecating gives you the chance to move, these platforms still work they just won't get extended.

You're always fighting against the language barrier on any platform, every smartphone platform is now using a totally different language.

Perhaps if people hadn't moaned about the original iPhone being limited to Apple apps only then this while app ecosystem wouldn't have appeared in such a dramatic form and the mobile web would have developed?

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Re: Developers Developer Developers????

Erm dude you can still write for WP8 using C# and VB.Net. Also, I have Java on my CV - and I'd rather not. It's stuck in the 90's (generics, anyone?!?). WP dev jobs in London are paying twice what Android or iOS roles are paying (a "popular music company" is looking for WP8 developers at the moment, find it and compare).

Option 3 as we've discovered isn't quite valid, but assuming you develop for Windows Phone 8 right now you stand to make a lot more cash than you would for the equivalent Android or iOS app because:

a). WP8 users are hungry for apps that target the new WP8 features (check the Amazing Weather HD tiles to see what tiles are really capable of).

b). All the useful apps already exist in iTunes and Google Play, but not WP8.

If you have criticisms, you might constrain yourself to real issues, like Microsoft's obsession with cloud which means store-and-forward requires you to write your own persistence tier (no database), or the fact that there's no API access to things like setting device volume.

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Re: Developers Developer Developers????

I did the exact same thing. The UI is a big sluggish but it's certainly usable. I had to do some jiggery pokery with SLIC table and OEM keys though before it would activate as it installed from an OEM DVD ISO - I'll be f****d if I'm paying Acer $50 for a DVD of something I already own.

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What MS should have done is standardise on Java

I suppose Oracle might be willing to give them a new Java licence, Sun stripped the 1st one when MS applied their usual 'it only works properly on Windows' strategy. Just can't see MS wanting to backtrack to Java OR make cross platform dev easy - because it works both ways after all, allowing ports out from Windows.

They've used DirectX as a tool to lock in developers, going as far as dropping OpenGL on Windows. Ceding control is just not the MS way.

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Re: Developers Developer Developers????

--Erm dude you can still write for WP8 using C# and VB.Net--

And it's locked down to a single platform - WP. They won't run on Android, iOS, Blackberry, OS X, GNU/Linux, or Windows. Who in their right mind is going to expend precious development resources on that for 1-2% mobile marketshare? Only those getting huge bribes from Microsoft.

--Also, I have Java on my CV - and I'd rather not. It's stuck in the 90's (generics, anyone?!?)--

You should take it off pronto then, because you clearly haven't been using it within the last eight years:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Generics_in_Java

But then again, whenever someone brings up a language feature that's not actually used very often anyway as a means of discrediting another, It reminds me that this person doesn't have a clue what he's talking about and probably hasn't written a real world application in his life.

Java is a hell of a lot more useful than dotNet, C#, or any other proprietary, lockin language Microsoft invents. Java code will run on virtually every platform. That's a marketable skill and one that will endure. dotNet has already been sidelined by Microsoft in favour of C++.

--Option 3 as we've discovered isn't quite valid, but assuming you develop for Windows Phone 8 right now you stand to make a lot more cash than you would for the equivalent Android or iOS app--

Can I have whatever you're smoking please? I'd like a holiday from reality too. Windows Phone has 1-2% marketshare at best. Samsung's Bada has more than that. How can developers possibly make more money on that than the two leading OS's Android and iOS?

--a). WP8 users are hungry for apps that target the new WP8 features (check the Amazing Weather HD tiles to see what tiles are really capable of).--

Yeah those thousand Microsoft employees using Windows Phones are real hungry for apps, and are willing to spend big bucks to get them! haha!

--b). All the useful apps already exist in iTunes and Google Play, but not WP8.--

And that's one of the reasons no ones buying Window Phones. The other is that it's just generally a crappy OS.

After getting burnt (abandoned) with Windows Mobile 6.5, and now WP7, even rabid Microsoft fanboys are wising up to the fact that they're being taken for a ride.

I remember when Windows Phone first came out and we heard never ending complaints about how Android phones never get updates and that WP will get updates immediately and forever. Then the gimped Windows Phone 7.8 update was announced for all current WP users instead of the full version, and I just laughed for about an hour straight. I love it when the fanboys fall for Microsoft's promises time and time again, only to get shafted down the line.

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Go

Re: Developers Developer Developers????

.NET is portable, and runs on iOS and Android. Ref. http://www.mono-project.com/.

The tech in me wants to explain how the Java generics implementation is flawed. Your statement is fine as-is though. Speaks volumes about your skillz. 'Specially where you suggest generics aren't used a lot. *shakes head in wonderment*

There's of course the minor detail that Java on Android is the performance equivalent of a swamp donkey. It's why Android devices obsess over teh Megahertzes. Given that I doubt you're open to anything that might reasonably challenge your delicate sensibilities, I'll let you compare with WP7/7.5/8, if you're bothered.

IDC pegs WP market share at 2.6% globally (http://www.idc.com/getdoc.jsp?containerId=prUS23818212#.UMHxb-FFDIU). Some say more, others say less, but it's around there. You pull your numbers from your [expletive deleted]?

*patient tone reserved for kids* The way developers stand to make more money is to be a big fish in a little pond -- instead of writing an app for saturated markets in which said app will fail to even be noticed. Did you know that only 25 developers are responsible for 50% of apps revenue in iTunes?

Finally, what makes you think no one's buying WP? Have a look at focums/comments/discussions on sites like WP Central, WM Powerr User, Microsoft Answers, and conversations.nokia.com to see how misguided your comment is. Nokia can't produce the Lumia 920 quickly enough (Germany, UK and US have run out of stock more than once). The HTC fanbois are even more vocal than the Nokia fanbois. The Samsung fanbois are cursing Samsung because the Ativ *still* hasn't been released.

Do some homework. And like, srlzly, skill up on your dev skills.

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Re: Developers Developer Developers????

Mono? Please, not that abandoned piece of glorified crap... Not even Icasa defends it any more.

As for the lumias selling out - you might be right. I've found a couple of news on that. Oh sorry, those links seem to be for that huge hit, the lumia 800, just some months before WP7 was abandoned by Microsoft. It is just that they seem so eerily similar to the news of the Lumia 920 selling out this time...

Oh well, we can all assume that this time the news of the Lumia's selling out are real, and that it will be a huge success, despite having the same fischer-price interface and the same garish colours as last year sold-out failures, the lumias.

Of course they will be a success! After all, last time we didn't have all those "users" on WP Central, WM Power User, and Microsoft Answers, as well as on Slashdot, Slashgear and the reg, all extolling the virtues of the WP phones, how you were not allowed to criticise until you had used one for a month, etc. Oh sorry, we had exactly the same reactions last time... But maybe this one is for real, right?

And maybe this time there will be some success stories for some developers, unlike last time. Maybe WP this time will prove more successful than Bada or Meego. And maybe,just maybe, pigs will grow wings and fly. After all, everything is possible, right?

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Stop

Who are Nokia?

and what is this Windows Phone you speak about? It it like Bada?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Who are Nokia?

You know Barry, they're the phone company and phone OS that you rant on about all the time, you must remember?

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Re: Who are Nokia?

No, it's not that popular.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Who are Nokia?

http://gadgetshow.channel5.com/gadgets/phones/nokia-lumia-920

"Windows Phone 8 is beautiful and modern, and a world away from iOS, a list of icons that’s starting to look a bit long in the tooth."

"Is it the best camera phone you can buy today? Yes and yes. "

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Re: Who are Nokia?

You might want to check out who their major sponsors are this year.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Who are Nokia?

@Jonathan 29 - According to their web site, the sponsors are Currys/PC world.

Having said that: There are very strict rules about using sponsorship of a program and advertising of the products of the sponsor within the program. If you think there is a legitimate complaint, complain to the ITC.

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Stop

Re: Who are Nokia?

Wow, people still citing Gadgetshow.

I stopped watching when i became obvious that they were no better than QVC for trying to offload any old shite, depending on upon advertiser...

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Re: Who are Nokia?

I just can't understand why anyone thinks the windows phone ui is nice? It is just a series of rectangular boxes in a limited number of colours? Everyone I know thinks it looks childish or fugly. and once you get past the tiles you have a widget set that make the android gingerbread ones look good and look so bad next to iOS or modern android itciukd make your eyes bleed. (Although some of the new iOS apps by Apple make me want to cry too. Pretend leather wtf).

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Joke

Re: Who are Nokia?

--"Windows Phone 8 is beautiful and modern"--

Quote attributed to a time travelling Bill Gates from 1989 who had a penchant for fisher price toys.

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Meh

This article is spot on . . .

. . . and hard to fault.

Whether MS takes any notice or realises this on their own is of supreme irrelevance to me as I left that building a long time ago. But new users are born every minute, so playing the long game may work out.

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Someone's making a list of improvements for Windows Phone

Stumbled across it in Google but couldn't view it due to firewallage :)

Caveat emptor: http://101fixes.blogspot.com/

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They should have called it the Xphone as Windows Phone 8 sounds so dull.

I had a WP7 phone (HTC Mozart) but will be buying an Android phone this time around. The lack of apps was a real issue for me even though I actually grew quite fond of the device. Being left unable to upgrade was also a bit of a kick in the balls.

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Critical mass

I have never seen anyone use a Windows 7 or 8 phone. I've seen adverts. I've seen store displays. I've seen demo models. But I've never seen a real phone in the wild.

Software ecosystems need critical mass. Windows 8 doesn't have it and I can't see how it will achieve it.

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Re: Critical mass

I would have said the same until last weekend, but I found my neice has one. However, she will have bought it because iPhones don't come in pink.

Nice girl, but put her in a shop full of shiny things and she becomes as thick as a brontosaurus omlette.

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Coffee/keyboard

thick as a brontosaurus omlette.

Nice phrase.

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Re: thick as a brontosaurus omlette.

Thanks, just seeing if idle whimsy can get me a bronze!

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Re: Critical mass

I have seen at least three in use in the wild (and those three people were all connected with the same Christian weekend conference)

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Big Brother

Social phones...

From the sound of the article it looks as if today's 'smart' phones were extremely focused on social networks and sharing... and no doubt most of the phones won't let you remove social bloatware either, huh?

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Social bloatware

Good term! Tight Facebook/Twitter/whatever integration may be great if you want it, but is worse than a useless feature if you don't, or just don't want to share your FB contacts with your other social/business groups(*). 86% of the world's population don't have a FB account after all.

(*It may well be that WP8 allows easy separation of different contact groups, but it's perception as "a FB phone" will make people think otherwise.)

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Re: Social phones...

There is no social bloatware on Windows Phone. Well there's some stuff hidden away making the OS bigger than it was. But unless you set up an account with log-in details, you don't see either FaceCrack or Twatter. If you do though, it will fill your contacts list with social-networky stuff. And the spammier your 'friends', the more you'll get. Which is great for those who want it, but horrible if not.

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Re: Social phones...

Interesting that nobody mentioned yet the worst disadvantage of the windows phone social integration - that it is done on the server, unlike android. That means that MS gets free reign on your Facebook and LinkedIn profiles. Do you trust them with this information? I don't.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Social phones...

@jbernardo - You trust Google with your data over MS' proxy servers?

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Re: Social phones...

jbernardo,

As Facebook slurp all your data when you connect to them, I think MS or Google having it should be the least of your worries...

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Re: Social phones...

At least with an android phone, the data I decided to give to Facebook won't be cross-checked with the data I decided to give to LinkedIn and with the data I decided to give to Google.

On a Windows Phone / windows 8 desktop all is made available to Microsoft, as the credentials are stored with your Hotmail account.

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Re: Social phones...

Interesting point. I'd not looked into that, as I don't use any of the social networking stuff myself.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Win 8 Phone will fail

"People do not want windows"

This. Ask your average consumer what they think of the idea of buying a phone that runs "Windows" or "Microsoft" and they're more likely to laugh at you (this has actually happened to me a few times!) than get excited about it.

Ask them what they think of buying a phone made by Google or Apple (depending on personal bias of course, I don't want to start a flame war) and the reaction is quite different.

You average person uses Windows on the desktop because they need to (mostly through never having had the choice as much as anything for whatever reason), but on the mobile they have options as they're not already locked into the Microsoft universe.

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