Mobile Unified Communications - Why I switched from an iPhone to Windows Phone

My comments on experiencing mobile unified communications capabilities on both the iPhone and new Windows Phone platform.

Over the past decade, I have been a dedicated Smartphone and PocketPC phone user until last year when I purchased an iPhone based on mainly my family wanting the device so badly. So, I went out to the Apple Store and purchased 4 iPhone 3G devices and 1 iTouch for my 8 year old. Since that time, I have loved the device, absolutely loved the device and even upgraded the family to the 3Gs version upon release. I could check my enterprise Exchange email account, personal email account, easily collaborate and update my status via Facebook, browse the web, play my favorite tower defense game, Field Runners, and experience even the holy grail applications such as ESPN Sportscenter, Shazam, and life changing applications such as LoseIt and Nike + which help me lose weight and get ripped all from the simplicity of a single device. To add, I went so far as to purchase an Apple TV for the family room and used the iPhone as the remote control for the TV. Incredible! Unfortunately, it was becoming apparent that the lifestyle applications above plus iTunes were dominating my real need for a connected and unified communications experience. I noticed that my responses to emails via Exchange Server were messing up any images or attachments; I could not schedule Exchange calendar meetings, and had no access to the application that I started my own services and product development company around, Microsoft Office Communicator. So on this note and to the dismay of my wife for having two phone devices, those of you who are gadget freaks though completely understand, I decided to give Microsoft another shot with their newly released Windows Phone platform on the new HTC Pure through AT&T. I had been a loyal AT&T customer so I had a nice price break on the services and device so financially it was an ok decision. Upon arrival, and again, likewise gadget freaks will agree, it was like Christmas morning. Nice shiny, new device, cool display, 5MP camera and it was lighter than the iPhone, already a cool plus. The next steps, as they were in the past, were to sync my Exchange account which, just like the iPhone, pulled down all of my contacts, schedule, email, etc within about 60 seconds, and then I began to familiarize myself again with the Windows Phone platform experience. Immediately upon inspection, I noticed that the platform was nowhere near as quick as the iPhone in regards to speed and response time and the keyboard experience was horrific compared to the iPhone, but noticed that a lot of the applications I liked on the iPhone such as Facebook and a tower defense game called "Tower Defense" - how original! I immediately switched to the default Windows Phone skin / Today Screen configuration as the HTC Pure'ized version was a bit annoying and really liked the new user interface. What I did come away with just doing this and making other system changes to the device was that there are way too many choices for a Windows Phone user and too many places to look to make changes, namely notifications and sounds which have the same UI as before in previous versions of Windows Mobile. Again and again, I was annoyed by the response time of the device, especially when trying to browse the web, make modifications, etc., but did find that the app store experience was very similar to the iPhone. Bottom line, the user experience from a media perspective or comparing the Windows Phone to the iPhone from a lifestyle application perspective basically proved how far ahead Apple is in their creativity and testing of the human experience down to every detail. One of the biggest factors for me outside of the speed of the device as well had to be the media experience and the annoyance of having to convert my iTunes library to play on the Windows Phone platform via Windows Media Player Mobile. I could write on and on about the media/personal experience differences which all play above and beyond into Apple's hands, but the one thing that Apple does not have and really the only reason I will continue to use a Windows Phone device as my primary is the Unified Communications experience. At the end of the day, this is a communications device that I need, not a toy. Making and receiving calls is not what I'm talking about. I'm talking about a CEO of a company needing to be in the know as much as possible and not missing a beat. Not being able to schedule conference calls through my calendar on the iPhone and not sharing my true presence/availability through applications like Microsoft Office Communicator Mobile (CoMo) and not being able to play my Unified Messaging voicemail messages directly in Outlook Mobile, outweighs anything I can do on the iPhone device from texting to tower defense. So my advice to Microsoft, if anyone in the Windows Phone division is reading this is to start paying attention to the user experience. Once you have the device speed, UI, and simplicity of the iPhone with hopefully an added bonus of managing media more effectively by partnering with Apple and realizing that the Zune story is just not there (this coming from a guy who has purchased over 12 Zune devices for himself and family and friends), will enable you to put forth a world class device. Until then, I will continue to use my sluggish Windows Phone over my iPhone as a primary device until Apple includes the UCC experience I need to stay connected to my business and partners. Companies like Modality Systems in the UK have developed Communicator integrated features for Instant Messaging and it will not be long before either Microsoft or a partner develops a full fledge Microsoft UC mobile platform for the iPhone, but I will continue to have faith that Microsoft will have something competitive to offer in both areas of the personal and business mobile experience. More to come on this and feel free to add your own opinions and data points to this thread. For more information on the features of the new Windows Phone, visit http://www.microsoft.com/windowsmobile and for a list of features provided by Microsoft Office Communicator Mobile, visit http://www.microsoft.com/communicationsserver/en/us/communicator-mobile.aspx. The following are images depicting the UC/UM experience on the iPhone and Windows Phone respectively. Also notice some of the detail here including the iPhone keyboard for the Windows Phone provided by Resco. This was a life saver!

UC Experience on iPhone:

1. Exchange 2010 Unified Messaging Voice Mail Message (No ability to play Voice Mail):

2. iPhone Calendar:

3. iPhone Calendar Event (No ability to schedule Communicator or Live Meeting Conference):

4. iDialog client for iPhone by Modality Systems (Contact list with Presence from Office Communications Server 2007 R2):

5. iDialog client for iPhone (Contact Card):

6. iDialog client for iPhone (IM Window):

UC Experience on Windows Phone:

1. Exchange 2010 Inbox (Notice difference in Messaging Icons for Voice Mail Messages):

2. Exchange 2010 Unified Messaging Voice Mail Message (With ability to Play Message):

3. Today Screen with Calendar Preview:

4. Today Screen with Communicator Preview:

5. Calendar Detail View:

6. Calendar Detail View with ability to Join Conference:

7. Joining Office Communications Server 2007 R2 Conference:

8. Communicator for Windows Phone (Contact List with Presence):

9. Communicator for Windows Phone (Contact Card):

10. Communicator for Windows Phone (IM Session):

11. Communicator for Windows Phone (Contact Options):

12. Communicator for Windows Phone (Calling Contact):

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