6 Fixes Windows Phone 7.5 Needs Now

  • MORE

How to Fix Windows Phone 7.5Judging by the 55-foot tall Windows Phone replica standing in midtown Manhattan this week, I think it's safe to say that Microsoft is pretty serious about making its platform a mainstream hit with consumers after a first-year flop. And based on our reviews of the first Windows Phone 7.5 devices, I'd say the company is off to a good start. Handsets like the $49 Samsung Focus Flash and $99 HTC Radar 4G are good enough to attract first-time smartphone owners and BlackBerry abandoners, as well as those who just find Android too geeky.

However, now that I'm spending a lot more time with Windows Phones, there are some definite drawbacks--some that could be fixed overnight and some that will take more time to address. Here's my wish list.

1. Don't Hide So Much Stuff

I understand the desire to make your interface clean and uncluttered, but sometimes Windows Phone goes too far. For example, you need to press the top of the display to see your signal strength and battery life, two pretty critical pieces of information. And why not always show the cc and bcc fields in outgoing emails? Instead, you must press three dots at the bottom of the screen and then tap "show cc & bcc." Yes, other platforms do this too but that doesn't make it right.

One more extreme example. To share a webpage via Facebook, users need to tap three dots, then tap share page, then tap social networks, and then select the service you would like to use. It's time to streamline, folks.

2. Add USB Drag and Drop

Anyone who uses a Windows Phone device for the first time will be shocked to learn that you need to download Zune desktop software to get photos and videos off their phones (although you can auto-upload pics to SkyDrive wirelessly). Syncing music also requires Zune software, as does updating your OS. With Android phones, you can just open Windows Explorer and drag and drop files to and from your phone as if it were a USB drive. Granted, not everyone is comfortable doing this, but it should at least be an option.

3. Give Us Real 4G, Real Fast

Microsoft is right when it says that the single-core processors inside its latest phones feel as fast as dual-core CPUs inside Android superphones. But speed is about more than just opening apps and multitasking. Windows Phones don't support 4G LTE yet, and so-called 4G handsets like the HTC Radar 4G on T-Mobile are limited to a theoretical max of 14.4 Mbps, as opposed to 42 Mbps for the Samsung Galaxy S II on the same carrier. The Radar loaded webpages fast enough, but this morning it took 24 seconds for the device to refresh the People hub after I opened it. That's too long.

4. Let Your Partners Innovate

Although HTC and Samsung can add their own hubs and apps, there's nothing that really tells you who made a given Windows Phone device other than the logo on the back. I say allow your partners to have a home screen all to themselves, say to the left of the Start screen. That way HTC can sprinkle more of its Sense experience on its devices, for example. Or maybe let your partners do stuff like what Lenovo did with Android Honeycomb, adding a little X next to apps in the multitasking menu so you can close them.

5. Offer Better Free Games

I handed my 4-year-old and 7-year-old a Windows Phone earlier this week to play Angry Birds and my daughter came back to me later and said, "we need to pay." I forgot that this title was just a free trial, offering the first stage but locking out the rest. Fruit Ninja is another game you can get for free on Android, but it's $2.99 here with a free trial. There's a decent selection of free titles on Windows Phones, but it’s clear that Microsoft is pushing the more premium Xbox Live titles.

6. Let Us Pick Up Where We Left Off

If you're going to make people pony up for games you can get for free elsewhere, you should be able to return to the action at any time. Angry Birds forced us to start over when we selected the app from the multitasking menu. Developers need to get their Mango acts in gear. Every app in the top ten of every category in the Marketplace should be optimized for Windows Phone 7.5 by now.

Author Bio
Mark Spoonauer
Mark Spoonauer, LAPTOP Editor in Chief
Responsible for the editorial vision for Laptop Mag and Tom's Guide, Mark Spoonauer has been Editor in Chief of LAPTOP since 2003 and has covered technology for nearly 15 years. Mark speaks at key tech industry events and makes regular media appearances on CNBC, Fox and CNN. Mark was previously reviews editor at Mobile Computing, and his work has appeared in Wired, Popular Science and Inc.
Mark Spoonauer, LAPTOP Editor in Chief on
Add a comment
  • blegs38552 Says:

    To these, add Screen Capture ability and live tile for battery level (both of these exist in WP8 either as built in features are add-on apps.

  • Jorge Says:

    Mango needs some fixes in Samsung focus. Te accelerometer cant be calibrated and is a Little bit off the center :-S

  • Robert Virkus Says:

    when you use Windows Phone a bit longer you will realize that it shows relevant information at the top bar:
    - time is always relevant
    - signal strength will be shown when you go to the call screen
    - battery indicator will be shown when its loading state falls below a certain limit
    - WiFi indicator is shown when it's connecting

    I prefer this handling of contextual display.

  • Tiago Says:

    Suggestions 1 and 4 are pretty stupid.

    If you love Android so much, why don't you keep using it, instead of trying to change WP7?

  • JHW Says:

    1. As you put it, extreme examples....cc bcc has been shown to have low importance to the target audience, hence the hide. And believe it or not, not everyone is on Facebook, in fact I have a windows phone colleague who refuses to get on it, so they love the OS without the social. Once you do figure out sharing, its not that hard.

    2. No. No. No. No. Does non jailbroken iPhone do this? No. Does hackabilly 'roid devices do this? Yes. People want a safe mobile experience, opening up the file system to whatever is bad news.

    3. It's coming with Tango early next year. But honestly mobile broadband is a fickle best effort service, I've seen my 3G go from stellar to stink in one hour because everyone comes to work with theis mobile devices. Good 3G speeds are attainable if carriers would simply provide better infrastructure.

    4. No. No. No. No. Look how well Android fragmentation is working out. The ICS upgrade debacle is hilarious. Microsoft is in the sweet spot between customization and uniform ecosystem.

    5. I will only agree with you on this to a point. More free games I could care less...I will pay for good games, but the mandatory $2.99 minimum XBL pricing is just wrong wrong wrong. I've railed against this from day 1 and microsoft porting over IOS games that go for $.99 then charging $2.99 is simply wrong.

    5.5 Unfair jab, I remember seeing tons of IOS apps take forever to get updated for 4.0, the expectation for Windows Phone apps should be the same.

  • Joe Bloggs Says:

    Isn't Angry Birds on Android free because it is ad supported?
    I'd rather pay $2.99 and have no ads than get it for $0 and have to put with them.

  • migo Says:

    1 I agree with as a long term goal, don't think that's necessarily something they should be worrying about now.
    2 I'd definitely like to see USB Mass Storage mode, but that can present some problems depending on how things are implemented. If that comes into play on Windows Phone 8 I'd be happy, if it takes longer than that and Zune is the only option, I'll end up quite miffed.
    3 Being on a carrier that maxes out at 7.2Mbps, I'd rather they worry about something else. Besides, 42Mbps HSPA+ is fake 4G, not real 4G.
    4 Oh hell no, dumbest idea ever.
    5 That's up to devs, not MS.

  • Will Says:

    1 - I don't want to see those rarely used things.
    2 - I really don't care, I have the internet!
    3 - It'll come soon enough.
    4 - If this happens I wouldn't buy another Windows Phone. There is plenty of room for differentiation in design of the hardware (everything but the Nokia Lumia is pretty ugly and the same as every other non-descript OEM device) and additional apps can be more useful than "photo app" or "unit converter". It's not my fault they lack imagination, but it sure as hell would be my problem if it got forced on me.
    5 - Free games are nice and all, but as a software developer I'm happy to pay professionals for doing good work, and I'd rather have quality games over free games with ads.
    5.5 - Yes this needs to happen soon.

  • kent Says:

    Those are your drawbacks. Really? Windows Phones are so superior to anything Android has to offer. So easy, no hassle. Only thing left is geek nitpicking. But yeah they forgot, It's a TELEPHONE!

  • Jerry Says:

    I would add to the wish list, hurry up with skype guys! You are supoused to own the company but there is no app yet!

  • MarcXW Says:

    I agree about the fact that developers need to update their apps to mango faster and about drag and drop, as well as real 4G, which should anyway be coming next year, however I do not agree that Microsoft should let their partners "innovate" as you so call it, or change anything in the UI/UX. I think the partners can easily differentiate themselves from competitors with their individual apps and services, like Nokia Drive, Nokia Music, or HTC Watch,... A major change by the OEM would make updating a hassle, like on Android, something Windows Phone does not have a problem with. I think Microsoft chose to base itself off of its windows business model for the consistency of the UI/UX because they knew it was much simpler and better, and it has worked well with windows up until now.

Back to top