Now there’s a provocative post title for you! Especially coming from me, one of Windows Phone 7’s biggest fans.
Why would I, of all people, recommend against Windows Phone 8? In almost every way it’s an upgrade from 7. By all accounts it’s faster, there are great new features in the app platform, and the hardware! I mean, those Lumia 920s are gorgeous. Hmm. I’m not doing a very good job of selling my anti-upgrade stance.
I have a 45 minute drive to (and from) work each day. To fill that time, I listen to podcasts. I use the Zune desktop software to subscribe to about a dozen different podcasts, and each night I switch on wi-fi on my phone and plug it in next to the bed. When I wake the next morning, my phone has wirelessly synced with my PC and new episodes of my subscribed podcasts are ready to play. The whole experience is seamless.
I can say goodbye to that if I were to “upgrade” (and I use the term loosely) to Windows Phone 8.
Firstly, there’s no support for the Zune desktop software anymore. You can use its inferior inbred cousin, Windows Media Player, but that’ll treat podcasts as music files so you won’t be able to use the built-in Podcasts section of the Music+Videos hub to play them, and they’ll be part of your random set-list when playing music. The only thing close to the Zune software is a beta version of a desktop sync tool which I’ll talk about later.
Next, there’s no support for wireless syncing with a PC, since that requires the Zune software. With Windows Phone 8, Microsoft is (admirably) trying to take the PC out of the equation and let you do everything with the phone. That, of course, just isn’t practical in a country where 1GB download limits are the norm. I’d hit that very quickly just on podcasts, disregarding all my regular usage.
Since there’s no Zune software, it’s impossible to subscribe to an RSS feed of a podcast. That means that if a podcast doesn’t appear in the Windows Phone Store, you flat out can’t subscribe to it. That wouldn’t be so big a deal except:
The Podcasts section of the Windows Phone Store is empty outside the US. So even if you want to subscribe to a “supported” podcast from the store, you’re shit outta luck.
The only “supported” method of getting podcasts onto your Windows Phone 8 device outside the US is to (brace yourself) install iTunes and use the beta desktop sync tool to push your iTunes-subscribed podcasts onto your phone. Let’s ignore the fact that I would rather rely on public phone booths than install iTunes on my PC. Even if you do this, the metadata (the image, description etc) for the episode doesn’t sync, and nor does your current position in the episode (if you want to pick up where you left off on another device).
This is outrageous. I cannot believe that Microsoft would advise me to install iTunes in order to get back a core piece of functionality that I had with Windows Phone 7.
The only other option are some podcast apps in the store, but they all have their problems. To my knowledge, none of them integrate with the Music+Videos hub, so you have to listen to your podcasts (and subscribe and download) from within the app. This is totally contrary to Microsoft’s Windows Phone philosophy of having everything available in the hubs and not relying on sandboxed apps.
So if you’re like me and a) live outside the US and b) listen to podcasts on your phone, don’t move to Windows Phone 8. The situation is a joke, and I hope Microsoft reads this and is ashamed. This is such a simple problem to fix. In fact, it wouldn’t need “fixing” it all if Microsoft hadn’t broken it in the first place. Go back to the Zune software, guys, or enable the podcast marketplace outside the US.
Until this is resolved, I’ll stick with Windows Phone 7.
Edit: I should include some link love for this post by Hal over at MSDonkey. Read it!