In San Francisco, opened Microsoft conference for developers that will go a few days, but during the opening of the company is focusing on what matters to her most – always has been, and for any company initially go loudest announcements. Often it shows the direction in which the company develops. First and foremost hour Build2014 gave the announcement of new features in Windows Phone 8.1 – will be updated to this version, all current phones on Windows Phone 8.
Sasha Ivy noted that in his Twi-tape nobody writes about Build2014, and it is quite remarkable fact – a similar event from Apple called WWDC attracts ordinary people, each of which sucked everything they say. It seems to be the same for developers, but a completely different response. Different companies, different citation, and Microsoft today before Apple can not be reached in terms of citation of their activities. That’s a given.
I confess that I did not have high expectations of Windows Phone 8.1, according to the promises of (another) hundreds of new features, I thought I would show only some cosmetic changes that do not affect the perception of the operating system and will not be able to change her destiny . In principle, and work – it is the next announcement, which can be labeled as an attempt to catch up with iOS / Android.Unsuccessful attempt, as the speed of development of Windows Phone strikingly low, are now being implemented features that other platforms have a few years. A feeling that it is a curse Microsoft: grasping the idea broken, the company is trying to push them on the market and spends billions of dollars annually. The idea is not fires, but with perseverance worthy of a better, Microsoft continues to bang his head against the concrete wall, not realizing that it has a huge number of doors, in the extreme case – windows. Many doors with open. I recall that at the moment Windows Phone platform can not be called young, she has been developing for 4 years, but no progress has not reached. Therefore, the argument that it should be given time and it can suddenly soar into the heavens, is not valid. Let’s see what appeared interesting for users and focused attention than in Microsoft’s Windows Phone 8.1.
Voice Assistant Cortana
Let’s start with the fact that Microsoft voice search, speech recognition has always been a low priority direction in contrast to the same Google, which has been for the past three years is very tight and runs a variety of services that accumulate information and allow you to accomplish a correct recognition of speech, even in noisy environments plus can be operated with voice dialing without a network connection in different languages, including Russian.
Apple has a lag in these technologies, but they were able to turn Siri into a toy that amuses many people. Obvious drawback is that developing Siri for all languages, which sells products Apple, the company could not – now it becomes clear disadvantage for many countries.
Given the experience of predecessors, Cortana made network service (technology in order to make it local to a number of options, Microsoft does not have at the moment, but in the future many of the functions associated with the device will be all local). Without an internet connection, you can not use the services of Cortana.
The second important step for understanding, which was made in Microsoft, – is tied Cortana c search Bing. In fact, the entire knowledge base is based on Bing, other search options no, and it is logical. Personally I do not see a problem if the service only worked for the U.S., where Bing search results in line with expectations at the very least. But in Russia, this search engine is clearly inferior to competitors, and it is not expected a miracle that it started in heaven. The most successful market for Bing – a native, there searcher share – about 18 percent worldwide – less than 6 percent (data from ComScore).
As you know, it says that Cortana will initially only work well with the English language. However, Joe Belfiore said this right – the system initially appears in English in the U.S., then in the UK, and a third country is … China! It is possible that Canada and Australia are not just remembered, there will clearly be Cortana, but in China it will be in Chinese. Nothing about other languages and countries, only that appear in the future. This is exactly the same approach that we see in Apple, – the company is focused on the most promising markets. Unlike Microsoft exactly that two different products and two different destinies they try to tie into one service. In fact, it turns out that the success or failure of Bing will directly affect the rate of adaptation of Cortana. I see it is extremely dangerous and reckless step.
From a user perspective you need to click on a tile Cortana (also activated in the search bar) and say that you are looking for. Immediately be replaced in the results of that search. In Microsoft used the same tricks that have Google, Siri, – for example, saying the team name, you can get immediately the results of the last game. During the demonstration, it has not been done right the first time, that there was also noted as a certain dampness system. A little later, unable to translate the temperature from degrees Celsius to Kelvin, the system also failed.
In addition to search, you can manage your mobile phone, for example, create alarm clocks, calendar entries, and the like. If calendar entries overlap with already established events, it will warn you about this.Nothing that we have not seen in similar systems from other companies, it will be long and familiar to users new to Windows Phone.
One of the unusual things worth noting that for some applications the functionality of expanded voice commands, for example, Skype, which is integrated into the system, you can now directly call – enough to say such and such a Skype, and he will try to dial the person. Among other examples shown Hulu Plus service information search in Facebook. Trick, in general, is very simple – the system recognizes the name of the program and submits it to the search string, which you said. Or understands that it is necessary to make some action. On other platforms, it appears as a tweet or something similar, but not particularly popular – reason to believe that it will take off just for Windows Phone, no.
Also, there are settings that allow you to specify what information is needed for you, for example, who is part of your inner circle. Or what time you relax, the system does not bother you. All this strongly resembles redesigned Google Now. We can say that it is very rethought, but the logic works exactly the same. I do not like the fact that here the emphasis is on the use of voice, while in Google Now, this does not necessarily.
Cortana female voice that conjures up thoughts of Siri – a bit sounds like synthesized speech. It is important to understand that this system appears in 2014, when the market already has competitors having the same or a better deal. That is, in this direction, Microsoft will have to catch up with others, and judging by how they are going to do it in conjunction with Bing and restrictions for many languages, it is still the same race on the wobbly stool. Say that Cortana is very impressive, it is impossible. Another system, and obviously not the best, but catching up.
Corporate functions – VPN and encryption in the mail
Microsoft has a strong position in the corporate segment, it can be argued that its products are used in 99% of organizations worldwide. But while Windows Phone traditionally could not offer corporate clients, nothing, not even a standard implementation of VPN, which was in the days of Windows Mobile.
Now appears VPN, also appears support for encrypted messages S-Mime in the mail, plus, in the settings have an account corporate account, which gives access to all these goodies, and applies the general security policy of the enterprise, for example, does not save the file from the corporate e-mail (do not know how will be then, but a prototype with WP8.1 can take screenshots!). And again, I must admit that nothing is absent from the other systems, is not represented, it is again an attempt to catch up with other systems.
Different chips in UI, new settings, keyboard
You will not believe, but the beginning of the presentation, when students need to hit, was devoted to design Windows Phone, and started with the usual tiles. The main problem faced by those who can make themselves constantly use Windows Phone, – is the need to scroll through screens because they do not fit all the desired tile. As if in response, made new dimensions tiles, now this mode can be called a densely packed tiles. Good or bad? Solves the problem temporarily and partially, which, however, to understand the company and from the tile will go in the future. This was at the conference did not speak wisely.
Developers deserved applause listing Action Center, this was the blind, which was originally on Android, and then copied the iOS and now appears in WP8.1. Unlike the original curtains on Android is very large – a little quick switches from notification programs are fairly typical, functionality at the Android 2.x. Decent breakthrough for the company, which negates the need for improvements in UI – everything is visible on the tiles!
Another thing that is not needed, according to Microsoft, users – this wallpaper. During four years at Microsoft consistently urged us that wallpaper – it obsolete function, and live tiles are much better characterize the man. Now the wallpaper in the main menu there is any picture, but it is broken by the most tiles.
In general, we can say that the way Microsoft – is a denial of the obvious and common things, and then through their implementation is not the most convenient place. But not exclusively so, as the other. For example, special attention is paid to the screen lock, for it is now possible to create programs and, as we have demonstrated, there may be information about events, drawn angles. It looks as though the basics of ergonomics interfaces were violated many times and with malice aforethought. But the point is that even Microsoft itself can not figure out how to do some kind of lock screen that it was functional and did not like the fact that there is in Android. Torment will be endless, as a result of third-party developers will simply copy what is done on Android, and everything will return to normal. Copying Android – this is the essence of Windows Phone today, with up mismanagement and delayed. Forgot to say – on the lock screen can be placed now the tiles!
Strongly altered to work with Wi-Fi, so you get the ability to automatically connect to free hotspots, registration page is skipped if you had already done it (as implemented in all iOS). Interesting, but not very clear in practice chip, when you can throw your friends access to your Wi-Fi-network, but does not show the actual password.
From than on focused attention and spent a lot of time, is the keyboard. It appeared analogue Swype, you can write without lifting a finger. Okay, that hundreds of millions of people around the world use this opportunity since the time of Samsung Galaxy S3, it was then that this option has become the standard for all, without exception, Samsung smartphones, and then a year later – for most major manufacturers. This is also characteristic of how Microsoft trying to catch up in the market. Years later, after people are already using every day one or another function.
Talk about IE11 not see the point, as does was limited in features, and stayed. His fate – parrots measure synthetic virtual tests.
Certainly overtake competitors need, and rightly so. But you need to show and something different, something unique that will allocate system against others. Judging from Build 2014, absolutely nothing to boast.
Growing ecosystem again or splurge
For Microsoft have sore point is the lack of independent producers, who would be happy to create smartphones to Windows Phone. Only Nokia is committed to this platform, all the other companies have been burned and do not see it any prospects. As a result, to create anything on the Windows Phone they do not want. In Microsoft are trying to make a difference and show that the platform is of interest – it is all of these phones development, production and everything else paid for smaller partners. Thus, in the Samsung release secondary to Android phones by Microsoft and for specific transactions with operators in the LG go exactly the same way as a new wave of partners have included small and medium-sized producers, who simply did not want to give up the money Microsoft ( is not just a payment total and zero royalties, and money is still on, so they started to do something). Calculation Microsoft is simple – in the company think that releasing budget sets, each of the companies will feel the taste of this business and has no money to continue doing the same thing. Of communication with the new wave of three producers and their top managers can say that for all of them much more practical – until Microsoft gives money, they should be taking. Still, not every day you get offered are guaranteed to earn.
A new wave of producers was presented by companies such as GiOnee, Karbonn, Xolo. Now they are joined by Prestigio (Russian brand, procuring Chinese phones) plus MicroMax (Indian brand with the same model). In the near future to join this cohort up to five producers, one of them Fly – everyone wants to get some money from Microsoft.
To new companies could produce cheap phones, Microsoft created the chassis specification based on Snapdragon 200/400. But this does not solve the problem of low memory, as well as the high cost of chipsets Qualcomm. What makes ceteris paribus budget devices on Windows Phone is much more expensive (+20-30 per cent in comparison with Android) than their counterparts. And the lack of royalties does not change in this story nothing.
New Lumia from Nokia / Microsoft – why and for whom they
In April, Nokia and Microsoft deal should be closed (previously thought that it was closed in March), so Nokia is already perceived as part of the company. While working on the bugs and quick replacement of some other models in the Nokia decided to release three new products to the market. The first and main – it Lumia 930, which has a 5-inch screen with HD-resolution.
The cost of this model in the U.S. – $ 599, that looks much more decent 749 dollars at the start of 1520 for the Lumia, which is, in fact, a complete analogue of this unit – the same 20-megapixel camera, but the novelty has 4 microphones for video recording and the screen does not 6 inches. All other features of the models are comparable.
But the model Lumia 630/635 – the proposal for the mass market – 4.5 inch screen, one or two SIM-cards, model 635 has support for 4G. The camera on these devices modest – only 5 megapixels without any special improvements. Price for Lumia 630 in odnosimochnom embodiment is $ 159, adding $ 10, you can take the phone for two SIM-cards.
Those bright colors, but overprice compared to competitors on Android, and even less functionality. Pleased that over time, nothing has changed and the new Lumia and remain far from optimal price / quality ratio.I’d love to be surprised, but the company has just forgotten how to hit the same imagination and churning machines, spending a little work on the mistakes of the past. At this time, due to the OS upgrade.Disappointed, but reviews of these devices will be writing the fullest, with a comparison with competitors.
PS It is sad to see how in Microsoft every year come on the same rake, and sure they are right. However, Windows Phone sales data quite clearly show that the share of this system in the world does not grow as well and hangs out in those “others.”