Moving to Windows Phone Engineering

It has been 3 months since my last post. Mostly this is due to TB and I moving to less frequent Owen updates—which reminds me we still need to post a 2 1/4 year photo. We have also fallen victim to the Facebook craze which most our family and friends use to keep up with our latest goings-on.

However, it is also due to my recent move to the Windows Phone Division from the Developer Division. Good thing I began my switch to Windows Phone when it debuted last year, eh?

I spent my entire 13 years at Microsoft in DevDiv working on a litany of platforms and tools developers have used to build consumer and enterprise applications for mostly desktop computers and servers. Now, I am off doing pretty much the same thing, building application platforms, but this time targeting mobile devices. Phones are obviously an exciting place to be with all the buzz and tremendous growth surrounding iOS and Android. Having worked on several seminal products—including Visual J++, ASP.NET 1.0 and Silverlight 1.0—I am accustomed to being the underdog in the highly-charged race to woo developers to nascent technology. Perhaps I will start a series on what I think makes Windows Phone special having spent the last few years as an iPhone devotee. Stay tuned…

In other news, Owen started playing soccer in Arena Sports Lil’ Kickers. He’s in the Thumpers (2-3 year old) group where they mostly run around, kick stuff, and learn to follow the coach’s instructions. It is really funny watching him develop and a good way to get the family outdoors each Saturday morning.

Owen’s First Soccer Practice

Increasing storage capacity of Samsung Focus by adding a microSD memory card

If you are reading this post you know what you have (Samsung Focus Windows Phone 7 with the default, anemic 8 GB internal storage) and what you want (more storage capacity by adding a microSD card). This is not a detailed how-to. If you do not know how to upgrade your memory and the steps necessary to reset your device to recognize the additional capacity, I suggest finding someone who does rather than going it alone.

funny pictures of cats with captions

There is a lot of confusing information swirling around about Windows Phone 7 certified memory, which cards work and which do not, class 2 vs. class 6, etc. I am writing this because I stumbled across a comment in a forum I frequent that helped me upgrade my Samsung Focus from 8 GB to 24 GB by adding a $40 memory card.

** WARNING: THESE STEPS FACTORY RESET AND ERASE YOUR PHONE **

Step 1: Buy a KOMPUTERBAY 16GB microSD memory card from Amazon for $39. The 32GB card ($89) also works if you need more storage.
Step 2: Turn off the phone
Step 3: Insert the card into the empty slot inside the battery compartment
Step 4: Turn on and reset your phone (Settings->About)
Step 5: Confirm your Total Storage is now 22.12 GB (Settings->About)
Step 6: Redo your settings and configuration and reinstall your apps
Step 7: Fill your new 24 GB Samsung Focus with content

Enjoy!

Switching from iPhone 4 to Samsung Focus Windows Phone 7

Last week I purchased a brand new Samsung Focus (SGH-i917) off Craigslist. The guy selling it had purchased it for his wife who decided, after playing with the one he bought for himself, she preferred her iPhone.

I have owned an iPhone for a little over 2 years beginning with the iPhone 3G, then the iPhone 3GS and upgrading to the iPhone 4 this past September. I like my iPhone as a portable Internet access and media device but I have never liked it as a phone. Further, I am opposed to the stranglehold Apple puts on its customers, partners and employees in handling support, services and the addition of new features.

cracked-iphone-4For example, Apple markets the toughness of the iPhone 4 glass. However, should the purported ’gorilla glass’ crack after dropping one foot, you will be charged $199 to have your phone replaced. I consider that price obscene, considering the iPhone 4 complete bill of materials is estimated at $187.51 by industry expert, iSuppli. An example of Apple’s new feature despotism is the change in behavior of the dedicated iPad switch—from orientation lock to mute—with the latest iOS 4.2.1 update. Everyone is unhappy with the change except our friendly captors in Cupertino.

My last reason, and it is certainly lowest in the stack, is I am a Microsoft employee and stockholder. I am not biased by my employment or investor status. Our house is an equal opportunity consumer of gadgetry. In addition to our iPhones, we have owned every generation of iPod. TB’s primary machine is a 27” iMac (running Windows 7) and I have an iPad and Mac Mini. On the other hand, Fanboi I am not. My primary machine is a tricked-out PC assembled by me. Our workhorse computers are a Windows Home Server and a Windows 7 Media Center, both built by me. I love ThinkPads and have carried a T40p, T43p, T60p, T61p and T500 (current) starting just before IBM sold the brand to Lenovo.

soapbox-preacherMy decision to start migrating to Windows Phone 7 is not a soapbox play. I still own an iPhone and other iDevices. I will continue owning iDevices as long as they fill gaps other devices do not at prices I am comfortable paying.

Having used my Samsung Focus exclusively this week during a Thanksgiving trip to Los Angeles, I believe the Windows Phone line is positioned to close the gaps that originally drove me from previous generations of Windows Mobile to iPhone. Sure, it is missing key apps and there are several fit-and-finish issues with the current software. Once those are addressed I see no real advantage to keeping an iPhone.

For example, the Samsung Focus has a 4” Super AMOLED, 480 x 800 display. In tandem with the Windows Phone variant of ClearType, the display produces crisp and vibrant images, text and colors. It is easier to read and more enjoyable to look at than the highly-touted iPhone 4 640 x 960, 3.5” Retina Display. Below is a comparison matrix for those interested in how the Samsung Focus stacks up against the iPhone 4. (reference)

iphone-4-samsung-focus-windows-phone-7-feature-comparison

This is not about side-by-side hardware comparisons or head-to-head app quantity/quality evaluations. The iPhone is still superior in ways that matter to most consumers. That said, I prefer the future and potential of Windows Phone over the trend of iPhone. Thusly, I begin my Windows Phone journey.