Windows Phone is the least usable mobile OS in the world

The release of iOS 7 seems like as good a time as any to reassess the mobile operating system market, and this is precisely the thinking of Pfeiffer Consulting. The firm pitted Android, Blackberry 10, iOS 7, iOS 6 and Windows Phone 8 head to head (to head to head to head), comparing the aspects of the OS that have direct impact on user experience. Rated in four key areas, Windows Phone 8 came bottom of the list in terms of overall usability.

The results are quite damning. Looking at what the report terms "cognitive load" (how easy it is to pick up the OS), Windows Phone 8 actually fared well, receiving the same rating as iOS 7 and being praised for its "streamlined user interface". However the OS is criticized for reducing the overall user experience and efficiency.

Then things start to really go downhill. Looking at "Efficiency and Integration" (how easy it is to access and use key features), Windows Phone 8 was rated just 4 out of 10, lower even than Blackberry 10 at 5 out of 10. Coming out on top, iOS 7 and Android both received ratings of 7 out of 10. Complaints about Windows Phone 8 echoed my own -- "notification management is limited, multitasking control is very basic and does not provide any way of selectively quitting running apps, and there is no quick access to key settings".

Unsurprisingly, rated in terms of customization, Android scored highest (7 out of 10) with iOS 7 not far behind (6 out of 10). Windows Phone 8 was singled out for offering the "poorest customization options", highlighting the lack of background images, minimal tiles options and a lack of folders -- earning it a score of 2 out of 10. The final area for scrutiny was User Experience Friction (the niggling frustrations that drive users crazy). In this test Windows Phone 8 received high scores… but that’s not a good thing here.

While iOS 6 and 7 received low scores (14 and 17 respectively), Windows Phone 8 scored a colossal 51 (Android was pretty much in the middle with 30 points). Microsoft's mobile OS is again criticized for its lack of customization options which make "the stylish interface oppressive".

So who came out on top in the end? Each OS was assigned a Mobile Operating System User Experience Index rating, with higher being better. iOS 7 received the highest score (73.35), and iOS 6 took second place (70). Android found itself in the middle (57.25) closely followed by Blackberry 10 (56.37). Bringing up the rear with just 47.25 was Windows Phone 8.

You can read through the findings in full in the online report.

How does the result fit in with your experience? Is iOS 7 as good as Pfeiffer Consulting claims? Is Windows Phone 8 really that bad?

Image Credit: Lindwa/Shutterstock

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