Soukie's Place

keeping track of random thoughts

PCWorld, ‘Really?'
How Bashing Might Not Win Readers

Windows Phone 7 start screen

Windows Phone 7

If you hold yourself to some standards, it is difficult to reach them when responding to something which does not have any. But I’ll try anyway. I know Vaclav Havel believes “the truth and love will prevail over lies and hatred,” but I figure that the truth might need a little help.

Microsoft has recently launched a new, great smartphone — there are many reviews online if you are interested in the particulars. But often when I did a Google News search to find out more, the top results were pointing to one or another PCWorld article — which one did not really make a difference, as a quick glance at the list of articles will attest.

PCWorld Articles

  • Windows Phone 7: Why It’s a Disaster for Microsoft
  • Windows Phone 7 Riddled with Rookie Mistakes
  • Windows Phone 7: Microsoft’s Disaster
  • Windows Phone 7 Launch, Dwarfed by Android and iPhone, Looks to be a Dud
  • Windows Phone 7 Era Begins, Really

Do I suspect an intervention on Google’s part to push these ‘balanced and flattering’ articles to the forefront? Possibly. Garry Kasparov once challenged IBM to produce logs that would prove how their Deep Blue came up with some unlikely moves without human intervention. How Google weighs which news results turn on top is interesting but beside the point of this article. If there were objective news sources, it wouldn’t matter if there was a biased aggregator.

From what I have seen on their website, it seems that PCWorld is to Apple what Fox News is to GOP. The situation with PCWorld is even a bigger joke because of the name. But if Fox News ever rebrand to Democratic News, the analogy would be perfected.

When sources like PCWorld cater to a particular camp and push their propaganda even when the facts point inconveniently in the other direction, they are forgetting that even though this tactic might win love from those who already subscribe to a particular opinion, it is in the way of gaining new, unbiased readers. And there is an even bigger rub:

Through an inevitable self-regulating side effect, the more demagogic and one-sided a source gets, the more readers will be repulsed. People with an opposing view will be the first to leave, which pushes the reader base to an unbalanced position. Then, if the propaganda is noticeable, moderate subscribers will be slowly replaced by those devoted to the official line who now find the platform appealing. This radicalized base then makes any return to objective journalism difficult without losing the following (the majority distrusts the source at this point anyway, and the new base would hate that move).

Windows Phone 7

The good

  • wireless sync that doesn’t lock the phone
  • great keyboard experience
  • notifications don’t stop you
  • integration with cloud services
  • Zune and Zune Pass (wake me up when iTunes compares)

The not-so-good

  • no weekly calendar, or accepting ‘new time propositions’
  • SharePoint hub not working in most setups
  • no Dvorak keyboard
  • no searching in the app list
  • missing pivots to filter calls

Really bad?

  • no copy paste (coming soon)
  • no third party app multitasking*

If I am correct, then this article was unnecessary and we can wait for PCWorld to self-destruct. In case anyone is still waiting for some facts about the phone, let me fulfill at least that obligation:

Windows Phone 7 is conceptually ahead of the competition despite some shortcomings. I have trouble understanding why it gets bashed. Are Apple and Google or their fans scared? Do people hate Microsoft so they tend to look negatively on whatever they make?

The image of Microsoft is likely the biggest culprit. But we are not in the ’90s anymore. Today it is hard to believe Google is the company preaching “Don’t be evil,” and that it was Apple who ran the 1984 TV commercial that showed liberating people from the chains of “Big Brother.”

Windows Phone 7 packs the best things Microsoft has to offer — Zune, Xbox Live and Microsoft Office — in hopes of winning a decent market share. The best product doesn’t always win (and that’s probably why there is such a humongous campaign promoting the Windows Phone) but if smartphones are judged based on how smart they are, then this phone could really save us from our phones. With me it started by saying goodbye to PCWorld.

* On multitasking: What WebOS does on Palm Pre is multitasking. What iOS 4 does for most apps is decisively not multitasking. Windows Phone 7 has multitasking similar to the first iPhones. On top of that, the apps can save their state and reload when you go back. Some marketing wizard could push the boundaries already smudged by Apple and call this ‘multitasking’ but I am glad that has not happened. Should multitasking bring performance issues, I prefer to stay without it on 7.

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