Windows Phone 8.1 review round-up: “This really should be Windows Phone 9”

A number of Windows Phone 8.1 reviews have popped up with the release of the developer preview.

Above is Pocketnow’s version, which includes a 10 minute examination of the OS.

The Verge also had their paws on the OS and gave it an 8.0, writing:


Microsoft’s real challenge isn’t building a good mobile operating system, it’s getting people to use it now. That’s always been the real challenge. If you buy into all things Windows there’s a fully developed ecosystem waiting for you, but Microsoft was too late to the game. Now that it has something worth switching to, Microsoft has to actually get people to switch. Windows Phone 8.1 goes a long way toward making switching easier, and there are a number of genuinely great, unique things about it — I really love the Start screen — but most people are so entrenched in Android or iOS that Microsoft has to make a stronger case. Business-friendly features like VPN and enhanced security are clearly part of Microsoft’s plan, but Microsoft is still without a truly killer, can’t-live-without-it app. iOS and Android may not have one either, but they have market share on their side; Microsoft needs to swing bigger.

Windows Phone 8.1 is a good operating system. It can’t hide the still-lacking Windows Phone Store, which simply still doesn’t have the quantity or quality or timeliness of apps that Android and iOS do, but it goes a long way toward making Windows Phone feel competitive. It feels finished now, really for the first time. It gives Microsoft its best chance yet to attract the billions of people who haven’t yet bought a smartphone. But Microsoft hasn’t changed the game here, only proven it can play; Windows Phone 8.1 will make a lot of Windows Phone 8 users very happy but won’t make anyone at Google or Apple sweat.

A personal assistant from 500 years in the future is a good start, but it’s only a start.

 

Neowin also had a look at the OS.

They conclude, somewhat similar to the Verge:

As an OS, Windows Phone is growing up and is matching the established systems feature for feature.

Where Windows Phone struggles, still, is with the apps. I will argue that apps have come a very long way on Windows Phone and many of the larger developers are now on Windows Phone but it’s not about getting the app on your device, it’s about supporting the app for the long-term.

Take a look at Twitter, for example, it lags significantly behind the iOS app and even Google’s app and this same story can said for other apps like Spotify and Uber, well, good luck finding a decent Uber app for the OS.

But, the situation is improving and as Microsoft keeps putting out quality builds of Windows Phone and is able to obtain market share, the app support gap will close; we are confident of this.

For Microsoft, Windows Phone 8.1 is another example of how the company can deliver on the expectations of the community and do so in a way that delights the end user but the real challenge ahead is to bring these new features to existing users. Currently, the easiest way to get your hands on a non-devleoper build of Windows Phone 8.1 will be to buy a new Lumia in the coming weeks. But for those of you with existing devices, you will have to wait until this summer.

 

Lastly Microsoft watcher Mary Jo Foley also posted her own,more informal look at the OS, and concluded:

Bottom line: Windows Phone 8.1 is a hefty and welcome update. Cortana is more useful than I anticipated but not a killer feature/app for me.

Read her full review here.

Mobileburn says:

There’s always been an excuse to not use Windows Phone. While Windows Phone 8 was pleasantly unique and kicked off the trend of flat design in mobile interfaces, Microsoft’s OS has lagged behind the competition when it came to premiere apps and the finer details. We’ve already seen Windows Phone 8 make great strides in acquiring apps, but the details lacked the clarity necessity to stand up to Android and iOS. That’s no longer the case with Windows Phone 8.1, a dot-one release that feels like Microsoft grew tired of the "but" responses. Windows Phone 8 looks good but I can’t easily get to settings. Windows Phone 8 has great Live Tiles but I need a notification center. The cumulative buts made the platform unattractive to many, but version 8.1 seeks to render those complaints moot.

Engadget in their review said:

Finally. For the past three years, I’ve admired Windows Phone for many reasons, but the update to 8.1 marks the first time that the platform actually feels… complete. In other words, there are no more gaping holes in its features or functionality — essentially, I can now use Windows Phone without feeling like I’m giving up something that I’d otherwise enjoy on an Android device or an iPhone. With the update to version 8.1, you can now enjoy a functional personal assistant, a robust notification center, solid hardware support and a great keyboard, all of which were huge pain points that needed to be addressed a long time ago.

Of course, Microsoft still has plenty of challenges ahead. After all, it’s still quite uncertain what kind of changes will happen to Windows Phone after the Nokia acquisition is finalized, and we still haven’t seen a ton of manufacturers announce new hardware yet, despite Microsoft’s claim that there’s a ton of renewed interest in the platform. The OS has struggled to grow since its conception and is just now starting to hit double digits in market share (in certain regions, anyway). My hope is that this update signifies a change in momentum for the company. With new leadership, new significant functionality and the company’s "One Microsoft" vision, Windows Phone 8.1 could easily be the boost the company needs to foster continued growth.

Somewhat more enthusiastically,  Ars Technica writes:

This really should be Windows Phone 9

At the start of this, I said that Windows Phone needed to do a few things: enable OEMs to go after the growth markets and growth price points in emerging markets, do more to appeal to high-end buyers, give developers a better platform, and get people talking.

I think Windows Phone 8.1 delivers on all these fronts. With Cortana, it has a splashy, highly demonstrable feature—though one I hope will deliver genuine value too. With the new hardware support, we should see more phones at more price points in more markets than ever before. With Universal Apps, we have a platform that can (almost) seamlessly span the phone, the tablet, the PC, and before too long, the console/TV, too.

The result feels a whole lot more mature and a whole lot more capable than its predecessor. The 0.1 version bump, chosen to align the phone platform with its desktop sibling, belies the true nature of this upgrade. It is substantial, and makes Windows Phone tremendously better.

We might still wish that there were a few more apps, and that developers spoke of the platform in the same breath as iOS and Android, but even in spite of this, Windows Phone 8.1 is a polished, fun, clever, and personal smartphone platform that’s just about everyone can enjoy. It’s a magnificent smartphone platform.

What are our own reader’s opinion of the new OS? Let us know below.


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Site Admin and Windows Phone enthusiast, he has been using Windows Mobile devices since before they were called PocketPC™s. He is currently sporting a Nokia Lumia 930.

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