The Windows Phone 8X is what every new smartphone should aspire to be: a combination of the software and hardware vendor’s best work to date, topped off with some unique new additions of its own. Everything that HTC could transport from its Android One series has made the leap to the 8X — the unibody case, dual-core processor, HD screen, camera filters, and even Beats Audio — and all of Microsoft’s mobile development efforts over the past few months are represented in the brand new Windows Phone 8. Topping them off is a truly individual design that will resonate with buyers tired of the smartphone monotony that has befallen much of the market.
Though laudable in its intentions and much of its execution, the 8X falls a little short. The primary culprit is Microsoft’s chronic inability to spur a third-party app ecosystem for the Windows Phone platform. There have been significant improvements in Microsoft’s own software and services, but without the ubiquitous support that competitors iOS and Android enjoy, WP8 faces an uphill struggle in trying to uproot users from their established ecosystems. HTC has done its utmost to assist this venture on the hardware side, but it barely moves the needle when it comes to software enhancements. You get a lot for your $99 when signing up for the LTE-capable Windows Phone 8X from AT&T, but in the end, it’ll be up to Microsoft to determine whether buying into its ecosystem was an investment worth making.
Although Dieter Bohn and Chris Ziegler have a dedicated review of Windows Phone 8 on The Verge, I tend to think Mr. Savov's HTC 8X conclusion serves as a far better review of both Windows Phone and its latest flagship device.
Beyond the obvious aesthetic good that the likes of HTC and Nokia have done with their Windows Phone 8 devices, the operating system continues to fall short of expectations. The improvements announced today are all well and good, but, in the words of Savov, the OS continues to suffer from "Microsoft's chronic inability to spur a third-party app ecosystem." And that's quite a shame, indeed.
My primary quarrel with Windows Phone 7.X was that it felt like a skin placed on top of an aging foundation. With Windows Phone 8, Microsoft has addressed this problem and has ostensibly re-built the OS from the ground up. Not only does this show Microsoft is listening, but it offers a resounding endorsement of Microsoft's dedication to its mobile operating system.
And yet, despite the positives therein, we still know little of the Windows Phone 8 SDK (aside from the fact that it's coming tomorrow). Given the most obvious flaw of Windows Phone lies within its app ecosystem, you'd think a responsible and caring Microsoft would've done more to rectify such a situation.
For now, the summary of the situation is, well, Windows Phone 8 is a much better mobile operating system. But, it continues to suffer from an astounding lack of widespread support and interest. And without the latter, I can't imagine there will be much reason to enjoy the former.