View Full Version : App Store vs. Windows Mobile Marketplace

James Croft
6th October 2009, 10:18 PM
I was reading through a Windows Mobile 6.5 Review on Engadget, and I was really just blown away by some of the screenshots of the OS I was seeing. Can I indulge my raging critic side for a moment and just riff on what I'm seeing? This is a straight up comparison between the two.


OK, now you've had time to take the two in side-by-side, here's a few thoughts:

1. The name fucking sucks. "Windows Mobile Marketplace" -- what an awkward, clunky piece of shit name. Here's the test: say it out loud. Now go over to your friend and say it to him. Does it roll off the tongue? Does it come naturally? No, it sticks in your craw, and comes about as natural as eating a bag of sand.

Now you might say, "Oh, but why not just say marketplace? That seems OK." And I'd agree. But Microsoft's strategy is so convoluted that it's impossible to clarify what you're talking about. Zune Marketplace? Xbox Marketplace? Windows Mobile Marketplace? Farmers marketplace where you buy a bag of avacados? Who the fuck knows?

I've heard people talk in real life about the App Store, heard it's name in normal (read as non-nerd) people conversation. It's simple, easy and memorable.

2. Why does a user get taken to a screen like this in it's initial launch? What purpose does it serve exactly? It's almost like they've taken the layout of the App Store and flipped it. Broad, categorization areas take up a insane amount of space, feature apps get jammed into the top corner. How is that appealing to anyone? How does it make you want to click around?

On that topic too, look at the hot mess they've made of the apps. Names are getting truncated after 6 characters. 6 fucking characters. They can't even fit Facebook's name in there for christ's sake. I mean, if I didn't recognise the Netflix logo (right-most icon) I would have no clue what that was. It says "Mobile...". Awesome. I will definitely not click that. Also it's nice to see the inconsistency in the icons. Some small, some bigger, some with rounded corners, some without. They've also nicked Apple's habit of applying that shiny gloss to the top of icons I see. Lovely.

3. The styling looks like it came out of Windows 3.1. Weird, aggressive maroon gradients with a stroke applied to the edges for highlights? Flat colour on the search magnifying-glass icon when everything else uses 3D-ish icons? Huge font size that seems like it's taking up space for no real good reason other than being a finger-friendly target? Look at "My applicati..." -- more truncation in one of the main categories itself? Ugh.

4. A scrollbar on the side? What the hell is that there for? I'm not sure that Microsoft has read this memo, but in the mobile space, screen real estate is somewhat of a finite resource. Scrollbars should only be seen when scrolling is actually happening, otherwise they're just a huge waste of precious screen space. Otherwise you end up truncating your insanely huge menu items. Har de har har.

5. Why can you summon the keyboard with a button for no good reason? What happens if you summon it and just start bashing away; does nothing happen? Do you search? Speaking of which, does the keyboard come up when you press in the search input box? If they're making this a finger-friendly OS, that button is a teeny tiny target for a seemingly important function.

6. What time is it on the Windows side? Who the hell knows? - the clock is completely AWOL somewhere in the interface shuffle.

I've got lots of questions here; but that's kind of my point. Nothing about the interface is intuitive, nothing has it's function self-evident through it's form. I know I'm kind of preaching to the choir here, but oh man, this is just a horrible horrible waste of time. I also know Microsoft has said themselves that this is a dying OS, but that's not really any excuse for releasing this mobile bag of hurt in late-2009, no less. Windows Mobile 7 better be amazing, or they're going to find themselves out of this race completely.

7th October 2009, 07:07 PM
Well put! It looks totally awful and outdated. Nowhere as inviting as the App Store

Stupid MS. LG and other phones can design a better UI.

8th October 2009, 12:06 AM
Eyy… it's retro.

8th October 2009, 09:27 AM
Great post :)

I am still confused as to why someone would pick virtually any smartphone over an iPhone. Put them side by side and use it, and it's so painfully clear that the iPhone is the better device. I can slightly understand phones running Android, but Windows Mobile is so bad!

9th October 2009, 07:20 AM
It does look just awful.

Just a note about the icons (since you brought it up). The gloss on the icons thing is not an OS-applied effect. The developers themselves have put them on there, as you can see by how it's different on each one, so the WMM has stolen nothing. Still, it's damning that developers like the iPhone style so much that the WMM can't escape it.

9th October 2009, 03:21 PM
Well put jwcroft. Totally agree with you.

9th October 2009, 03:48 PM
Agreed. Pretty second rate effort. No way it'll put a dint in the iPhone App Store.

Here's some more reasons it'll struggle.

Developer fee
iTunes App Store: USD$99 per year with unlimited submissions
Windows Mobile Marketplace: USD$99 per year for 5 apps, then USD$99 per app

Device screen resolutions (more resolutions = more pain for developers and users)
iTunes App Store: 320x480 (iPhone and iPod touch)
Windows Mobile Marketplace: 17 resolutions from 176x220 to 800x480

iTunes App Store, Android Marketplace, Palm App Catalog comparison (http://bjango.com/articles/appstores/)

9th October 2009, 04:56 PM
That looks terrible, could not agree with all the points that have been made.

Not entirely related but had a play with the Diamond 2 (new version of windows) today at work, started off bad, the screen is terrible to use and a stylus, really, in 2009?