- 09-10-2013, 04:19 PM #1
Hello lovely Windows Phone fans!
Having lived in an all-Apple world since 2004 when I switched to Mac, I am bored of Apple. Or more accurately, I am more excited about what Microsoft are up to these days. I've also just about had enough of how evil Google are becoming.
Before joining the dark side, I was a staunch PC man - working my way up from DOS on an 8086, to Windows 3.1 on a 286 and 386SX, 95 and 98SE on a 486DX, ME and 2000 on Pentiums 1 through 3 and finally, Windows XP SP2 on a Pentium 4. I even had a Natural Keyboard, Intellimouse and Windows Mobile HTC Blue Angel - that's how 'Microsoft' I was!
These days, I couldn't be more 'Apple' if I tried; I own several Macintosh computers, I've had all iPhones since the 3G, the first three generations of iPad, an Apple TV, various iPods and all the Apple accessories (Magic Mouse, bluetooth keyboard, headphones, adaptors etc.)
However, earlier in the year I installed Windows 8 Pro and Office 2013 via Parallels Desktop virtualisation on my Macbook and I'm finding I use it more and more as time goes by, to the point where I now spend most of my time in Windows. Then my friend showed me his Lumia 820 Windows Phone - I was impressed. So impressed, in fact, I even went and had a play with a Suface RT at my local Currys electronics store. This also impressed me.
With all this in mind, I am considering moving lock, stock and barrel from an all-Apple to an all-Microsoft setup, swapping the following:
iPhone 5 with TomTom app and retro cable-based charging
'The New iPad' with 'Smart Cover'
Apple Magic Mouse
Apple Bluetooth Keyboard
iTunes for movie purchasing / rental
OS X as my primary operating system
Nokia Luma 920 Windows Phone with Nokia Drive SatNav and wireless charging pad (because despite the 925 supposedly having a better camera, I prefer the pictures the 920 produces with the latest software update, I'd choose the wireless charging, extra storage and cheaper price over the thinness/metalness/expensiveness of the 925 and I doubt the 1020 will be affordable in the near future)
Surface RT 32gb with Type keyboard cover and Wedge mouse
Xbox 360 (to act as a conduit for content streamed from Windows phone/tablet to the telly - oh and GTA V obviously!)
Xbox Video for movie purchasing / rental
Windows 8 as my primary operating system
Xbox Music subscription
Outlook.com for email
There are many reviews of each individual part of the Microsoft experience (Windows 8, Windows RT, Windows Phone, Office and Xbox) but I cannot find anyone who has assessed the full Microsoft monty as a lifestyle choice, particularly from the point of view of someone who is fully Apple'd up.
All I need is email/contacts/calendar, internets, photos, films and music accessible/synced across phone, tablet and computer, and streamable to the TV. iCloud/AirPlay does this well. I can't help but feel I would be able to do all this and more in a Microsoft-based setup.
This all came about because the Mrs Swapped her iPad for a Surface RT and loves it. It is much better than the reviews would have you believe. So I wanted one of those anyway, and I've mostly been underwhelmed by iOS7 so was going to chop it in for a Windows phone, just for a change of scene.
Then I was thinking about ditching Gmail because Google are getting a bit too evil. Next best thing so I've heard is outlook.com which would sync up nicely with Windows Phone and Windows RT obviously. Similarly, Windows phone is the next best thing after Android which I don't want for the same reason I'm looking to ditch Gmail.
Easiest way to get music and films would then be via Xbox music and video services, which would be accessible across all my Microsoft devices. (Replacing iTunes and Spotify - in the UK, Xbox Music is 1 cheaper a month than Spotify, and has twice as many tracks apparently)
I was going to buy a current gen console just for GTA V anyway as I sold my PS3 years ago. Logical choice is Xbox 360 in this situation because I can then use it to get content from my Windows phone and tablet onto the telly / speakers, replacing the Apple TV. I would rent films from Xbox Video - the selection seems as good as anywhere else (Netflix, Lovefilm Instant etc).
Before I knew it, I found myself wanting an all-Microsoft environment!
I was wondering if you might be able to provide some insight into what it's like living in an all-Microsoft world - there must be some of you on here who have multiple Windows-powered devices, Xboxes etc? Do they all play nice together with syncing / interconnectivity etc? Are the Microsoft content outlets (Xbox Music / Video) reliable and well-stocked?
The moral of the story is: I can't help but feel that, holistically, the Microsoft ecosystem has more to offer than the Apple environment I currently enjoy, but people just don't understand it properly (including myself). Depending on your feedback, if it turns out it could be a wise move, I will document the experience for the benefit others who might also be feeling the same way, from the point of view of an everyman who grew up with Windows, got a little bit lost for a decade, but may well have found their way back.
- 09-10-2013, 04:31 PM #2
I read the entire thing, I don't live in a complete MSFT device ecosystem but most the products I use are Microsoft and Nokia made.
I'd say check out the new Surface RT ( Now just called the Surface) and the Surface Pro coming out on September 23rd.
Check out any of the new Haswell based Laptops form IFA (I am torn between IdeaPad Yoga and Aspire S7) .
Also please see if you have all the essential apps you need on Windows Phone and Windows 8. Jumping in and knowing that the apps you need are missing might be an issue later.
Windows 8.1 is coming out soon and WIndows Phone GDR3 devices should be out soon too (I am talking about Lumia 1520).
So if you see the trend this month and next are going to be huge in the Microsoft world and a lot f new products have been released and with Windows 8.1 some more will come out of the labs.
- 09-10-2013, 04:38 PM #3
Hi Crash - thanks for the quick response!
I actually recently deleted all my iPhone apps, with the intention of only reinstalling the ones I actually use. Net result: it turns out I don't actually need any apps. I will be keeping my Macbook as a main computer - I love the form factor, battery life and it runs Windows 8 great even under virtualisation!
Requirements in order of importance:
Phone: Calls/texts, decent camera, light email/web browsing, music/radio, Sat Nav, need to be able to stream to TV/speakers
Tablet: Intermediate e-mail/web browsing, films, light work (code edits), music, need to be able to stream to TV
Console: GTA V
I'm not fussed about having the latest and greatest - and doing a complete switch could get costly if I want to go cutting edge. With that in mind, I'm quite happy with "last year's" technology (hence the current-gen RT and previous 9XX Lumia decision) as they have been around long enough to have the really nasty bugs ironed out (hopefully!) I am aware of the 8.1 update coming soon to further enhance the current-gen RT experience.
- 09-10-2013, 04:43 PM #4
Me personally, I have everything you mentioned but the xbox video and music. The collaboration between them is very nice. I can access just about everything from any device. Now is it perfect, no. But there have been improvements since last November when things started coming out. And I think with 8.1 and future improvements, it's even going to become more transparent.
Crash makes a very good point about new things right around the corner. So it would be wise to see what's coming since it won't be long. If nothing else, there MAY be a price drop on existing tablets when the new ones come out if the new ones don't knock your socks off and make you want one of them instead.
- 09-10-2013, 04:47 PM #5
Hi stmav - could you describe some of the annoyances you have experienced please? I'm not expecting it to be perfect - my Apple setup isn't perfect either; computers will always find new ways to not do what you asked them to do!
I appreciate the tip on the new stuff coming out potentially making my switch back even cheaper! I won't be able to afford to replace everything with the latest Microsoft kit; I'll start off with the previous models and upgrade as appropriate at a later date.
Also, what do you use to consume music and video on your Microsoft devices if not Xbox Music / Video?
- 09-10-2013, 04:51 PM #6
I have almost the whole set up too. Everything except the Mac computer and an RT tablet. I also use my PC (running windows 8) using Windows Media Center to play/record all my digital TV and push it to my 3 XBOX 360 extenders through the house. I would be happy to answer any specific questions anyone has.
- 09-10-2013, 04:58 PM #8
Hi dgr_874 - I'm particularly interested in Xbox Music and Video if you use these? I currently rent movies from iTunes and use Spotify for music. How do Xbox Music and Video compare? Particularly in terms of reliability and availability of content - any issues buffering / slow downloads / the store being down / not having much stuff or new releases coming ages after alternative services?
If you have a 920 - how's SkyDrive integration? If I start filling up the Lumia 920's 32Gb storage, is it easy to dump photos and stuff into the cloud to free up some space?
Can you get Spotify on WP8? I know there isn't a native RT client for Spotify, but the RT has probably the best web-browsing capabilities of any tablet so I imagine it can do web Spotify no probs if needed. I'm all up for trying Nokia Music and / or Xbox Music, but it would be reassuring if I could fall back on Spotify if it doesn't work out.
Last edited by Dave Blake; 09-15-2013 at 08:29 AM.
- 09-10-2013, 05:05 PM #9
On my phone I mostly use Nokia Music. For my taste the genre selections are great and I can even play it through Bluetooth on my sound system at home. On my tablet and laptop I have my music brought over from iTunes or cd's that I've copied. I've used my Surface with the hdmi cable to stream Netflix to one of my TV's before and it works great.
- 09-10-2013, 05:24 PM #11
Microsoft is pretty sweet and is an amazing system to use. I own a Nexus 7 and i went to test a Windows tablet, Nothing compares to Microsoft. The whole system is just so much smoother than Apple or Android.
- 09-10-2013, 05:31 PM #13
As far as I remember, XBOX video on the phone is a non-starter. No video store avalible from the store. Unbelieveable that almost a year later this isnt fixed. I have resorted to using Windows Media Player to sync my 920 and have it trascode the videos that i really want to have a copy of. I rarely watch videos on my phone so im lucky in this aspect. I do like XBOX video on my PC and my XBOX 360 though. Its fast and smooth, and all my purchases are there in the cloud waiting for me to stream just like itunes. No issues buffering or stuttering. It even gives me a percentage of how much i have watched each show. I do believe that the surface has a "play to" function that works like airplay and apple TV. Hopefully someone with a surface can chime in and verify this for me.
The media through XBOX music and video seems to be just a little less avalibility and a little more expensive then itunes in my opinion. Rentals that are 3.99 on itunes seem to be 4.99 on XBOX video. Thats just my experience though.
Overall, the media management in XBOX works, but is no way, shape, or form as polished as the way Apple manages its stuff. However, its getting there slowly and it has one major advantage over Apple, CHOICE. You have many different choices for hardware and software with microsoft to manage your stuff. This alone keeps me coming back to it.
Simply put, SkyDrive is fantastic. I really enjoy how it uploads pics and videos automatically. Sharing from SkyDrive is great too. I only wish that when you update a folder with new files or pics that it would notify everyone that you have shared it with like Photostream does on Apple. It was the one thing that kept me from completely abandoning the platform a year ago after launch. I rarely keep anything on my 920 anymore and just download from SkyDrive when i need something. I think i have like 5 GB used on it or something like that.
I hope that helps some. I know I kinda rambled on there for most of it...
- 09-10-2013, 05:33 PM #14
- 09-10-2013, 05:43 PM #15
dgr_874 - epic response, cheers!
I'm not heavily iTune'd up - I have fixed playlists for my ripped CDs, everything else I stream. I just realised I already have access to Xbox Music and Video via Win8 - so I'll go and have a play, see how I feel about it. </n00b>
Appreciate the positive account of SkyDrive; I was a bit wary of this but it sounds like it does what it's supposed to!
Does anyone have any feelings about my preference for the 920 over the 925 on the basis of preferring the photos it produces, the wireless charging and the lower price?
Is it likely to get WP8.1?
Also, I've read that you have one volume setting for everything (i.e. it's not separate for say, music and system alerts, ringtones etc) - is this a) true and b) how much of an annoyance is this?
Last edited by Dave Blake; 09-15-2013 at 08:30 AM.
- 09-10-2013, 05:48 PM #16
09-10-2013, 06:00 PM #19
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I just wanted to say that the Xbox ecosystem is fairly expensive for what you get.
You need an Xbox gold acct. To even have netflix or rent movies. And that doesn't include the music.
So so the Xbox + music + Netflix + SkyDrive can run you upwards of 40 bucks a month. Not to mention movies and music just costing more.
Don't get me wrong. I love my 920. But the ecosystems on any platform are a trap for consumers, so mixing and matching services is always a good idea.
- 09-10-2013, 06:12 PM #20
What I am (slightly) worried about now is the requirement for an Xbox Gold account to rent movies - this is not what it says on my Xbox live Free account page:
That said, it's 39.99 a year - I can live with that if necessary. I would probably get that anyway to play multiplayer GTA V.
- 09-10-2013, 06:21 PM #21
Just wondering if you considered a dedicated HTPC? I use one with WMC; I recognize that WMC isn't the most popular product and could potentially be discontinued in future versions of Windows, but it works well.
09-10-2013, 06:21 PM #22
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Hmm... Mabey that's not true. But the Netflix part is true. And also the fact that the Xbox seems to need to update almost every time I turn it on(seriously) makes it a mood killer when I'm just trying to watch a movie.
- 09-10-2013, 06:34 PM #23
Anyone tethered a Surface RT to a 920 via internet sharing (or have any comments on the 920's internet sharing capabilities), seeing as the RT has no 3G built in?
Last edited by Dave Blake; 09-15-2013 at 08:31 AM.
- 09-10-2013, 11:15 PM #24
Just wanted to say I'm in a very similar situation (in fact, when I read the OP, my wife wondered if I had posted it!). I have used Apple for 10 years (even have the symbol on my car), but I find myself bored with their stuff. It doesn't all "Just Work" now as it used to, and the iPhones announced today are nothing more than a refresh of the previous model. I find myself enjoying my Lumia 925 more than just about any phone I've used (and I've used a lot), and I really like what Microsoft has done with Windows 8. So, I am moving my Apple centric stuff over to WP and Windows. The only thing I would say is that I use Amazon for movies and TV I want to purchase, just so I don't run into a future problem of being able to see my media on a specific device (iTunes, for example). Otherwise, I say go for it! I'm very much looking forward to trying the new waters.
- 09-11-2013, 08:03 AM #25
Apparently, the 920 will get the 8.1 update and because my phone is off contract, I should get it a bit quicker than others as the software won't need approving by the carrier.
Yes, there is a global volume setting, which after a Blackberry is a little frustrating. But, apparently again, coming updates are likely to offer more control.
I am happy with my 920, it syncs well with my laptop but I have to use the Outlook Web App because I only have 2003 versions of Outlook, so Office 365 can't interface with it.
Hope this helps and hope you enjoy the switch.