February 2nd 2012 3:37 pm

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What Windows Phone should have been from the beginning

78

With the exception of a few new features, Windows Phone hadn't changed much in the last two years. The new version of its OS, however, makes the platform feel more refined. We demanded support for hardware that's relevant to today's market, and Microsoft brought it; we wanted more app integration and customization, and it's now much improved over WP7. Indeed, Windows Phone 8 is precisely what we wanted to see come out of Microsoft in the first place. There's only one major question still looming: How will developers respond to it? In 2012, an OS is only as strong as its ecosystem, and regardless of Microsoft's best efforts to sell the platform to big-name developers (even amassing over 100,000 apps to date), it's been an ongoing struggle for Windows Phone to appear relevant enough to attract popular titles.

What the new firmware has, however, is much more potential than WP7 ever did; Microsoft has finally laid the proper framework to make the platform desirable to developers. We'll also likely see a large number of Windows 8 customers eventually drawn to Microsoft's phone OS as they begin investing time and money in the desktop or tablet versions. Let there be no doubt -- Windows Phone 8 is a definite improvement over its predecessor, and it's long overdue. In general, we like what we see, and users and developers have been eagerly awaiting this update ever since the Windows Phone platform first launched. It's still far from perfect, but Microsoft has finally caught up in many ways to its competitors.

Critic reviews

8.0
17 reviews
  • Ease of use
    7.8
  • Speed
    8.6
  • Configurability
    8.4
  • Ecosystem (apps, drivers, etc.)
    7.1
  • Openness
    6.5

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User reviews

8.1
38 reviews
9.0
Engadget Oct 29, 2012

Let there be no doubt -- Windows Phone 8 is a definite improvement over its predecessor, and it's long overdue. In general, we like what we see, and users and developers have been eagerly awaiting this update ever since the Windows Phone platform first launched.

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8.0
Wired Oct 29, 2012

It’s stacked with new features, as well as enhancements to all the things that made previous versions enjoyable to use. This is still Windows Phone, but more grown up, and now truly ready to challenge the big kids on the playground.

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8.0
New York Times Oct 30, 2012

Microsoft’s phone software is fast, simple and beautiful. But it still lacks universal dictation for quick text entry. Its new Maps app doesn’t offer spoken directions. And the audience won’t come until there are more great apps.

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8.0
AllThingsD Oct 30, 2012

Someone who glanced over my shoulder and looked at the user interface of Windows Phone 8 said, “That’s a really pretty phone.” He was right. Its combined good looks, functional features and sexy new hardware make it a winning smartphone [combination].

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7.0
Gizmodo Oct 29, 2012

If you love all the niceties of a fully mature ecosystem—the Instagrams and Reeders and all the other startups that will not be building a WP app first, or any time soon—and a platform that's hammered out most of its kinks, Windows Phone probably still isn't there. Someday, maybe.

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7.0
PC Mag Oct 29, 2012

Windows Phone 8 is a good-looking, well-designed, easy-to-use mobile operating system, but with a very different set of apps compared with other platforms, it's still for mavericks.

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7.0
Ars Technica Nov 16, 2012

If it works, and if Windows Phone 8 takes off, those application gaps are going to get filled, and Windows Phone will gain the kind of visibility that iOS and Android have achieved. But until then, for all its merits, Windows Phone 8 remains a gamble.

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9.0
SlashGear Oct 29, 2012

In the end Windows Phone 8 is a much improved beast from what we’re used to using from Microsoft. Everything is brighter, bigger, faster, and of course available in HD. The platform as a whole has been improved in ways that current Windows Phone fans, and new smartphone buyers can all enjoy.

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8.0
Pocket-Lint Oct 29, 2012

As a standalone mobile operating system, Windows Phone 8 offers some cracking features and some great usability, and is only hampered by the hardware that is available to run it on.

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9.0
TechRadar Nov 6, 2012

In short, anyone thinking of moving from iOS or Android to Windows Phone 8 will perhaps have to be prepared to make many adjustments - but there's no denying this is a real step up in quality from Microsoft and gives us hope for variety in the smartphone wars.

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8.0
GSM Arena Oct 29, 2012

Windows Phone 8 is faster, smoother and more powerful than its predecessor. ... Windows Phone 8 is only now able to start matching up against iOS, and it's still got a lot of ground to cover to reach Android levels of functionality and customization options.

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8.0
TrustedReviews Oct 29, 2012

Microsoft needed to deliver with Windows Phone 8 and largely we think it has succeeded. It looks and feels slick and largely matches the competition for core abilities. There are a few shortcomings but these are generally balanced by other unique features.

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8.0
Phone Scoop Oct 29, 2012

Combine the many new and improved features with the forthcoming wider array of appealing handsets, and Windows Phone 8 is primed to bring Microsoft back into the smartphone game from the fringes, as a real contender.

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8.0
T3 Dec 4, 2012

Windows Phone is still the most recent entirely new phone OS to launch (though BlackBerry has its software just around the corner). Two years on, it’s still fresh and different, but now has so many improvements and additions it feels even more innovative.

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8.0
The Inquirer Oct 29, 2012

It's a vast improvement over the previous version of Microsoft's mobile operating system, and its newly customisable user interface puts IOS and Android to shame. However, the software ecosystem is still suffering from a severe lack of big-name apps.

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9.0
PocketNow Oct 29, 2012

Windows Phone 8 is Microsoft’s third attempt at re-launching its smartphone operating system. Whether or not it will be successful remains to be seen, but it certainly is gaining some significant propulsion power.

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First Looks

product preview
Laptop Magazine Apr 2, 2014

While still not as customizable as Android, Windows Phone 8.1 gives Windows Phone users a level of control over the experience that they didn’t have before.

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product preview
WPCentral Apr 2, 2014

We’re really liking the changes Microsoft made with IE 11 in Windows Phone 8.1. Having tabs sync across Internet Explorer in all your devices sounds is a feature we’ve seen implemented before with wonky third-party apps, but having it built it will be very nice.

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8.0
xandros9 xandros9

Windows Phone is very underrated, especially where its fashionable to bash Microsoft. The association with Windows (8), Microsoft and its reputation for "NO APPS LOL" are likely its biggest problems, but once tried with an open mind, its a solid smartphone contender. It's not perfect by any...

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9.0
lonnyl lonnyl

Love my Samsung ATIV S Neo. Would have gone Nokia or Lenovo, but Lenovo is not yet available and Sprint is not carrying Nokia.

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9.0
martybwainui martybwainui

I have only a humble Nokia 520 (fantastic value for the $US120 I paid in New Zealand with SIM but unlocked) and was amazed at how it flew with WP 8.0; I understand now what many reviewers have said about how slick this OS is. I have always had problems with WIN on PCs, but this is the best...

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10
ViktorG ViktorG

I had 920 for a while, and now 1020 with a camera grip - honestly, best phones ever. Very durable! Very easy to use, flexible and awesome looking. I'm happy with it!

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How it stacks up

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