Viking King Harald and mobile phones

There is a historical person, Harald Bluetooth, King of Denmark and Norway in the late 10th century. He seems to have been a capable ruler, uniting many of the Vikings under his rule. He also converted to Christianity, but the effect of that and the exact happening are under some contest. Anyway, he was a man of action.

When Ericsson and other electronics manufacturers decided to create a new wireless method for small devices to communicate over short distances, Bluetooth was selected as the name of the standard. And like its namesake, Bluetooth works really well in connecting devices to each other: earplug to phone, phone to GPS, headset to computer… you name it.

Having recently converted to Windows Phone, I was expecting nothing less than full connectivity between the phone and every other device that sports the Bluetooth chip. I had a previous Nokia phone connecting to many devices and it worked without a hitch. I was able to install software for tracking GPS on my phone, even if it was not originally designed to do that.

But for some reason fully beyond my intellect, Microsoft has decided that Windows 7.5 does not have a full set of Bluetooth features; instead it has a crippled set of available connectivity. For example, I can take the phone and connect a wireless headset to it. But I cannot take the phone and use it as modem, even if I have unlimited data services on my phone account. I cannot listen to music on my headset like I could on my old phone.

And I cannot move files between the phone and the PC. This is really irritating. Instead of a single backup operation between my phone and my PC over Bluetooth, I have to either a) plug in the phone and use a piece of software, Zune, to do that (what an archaic way), or b) I can send the pictures to a thing called Skydrive, essentially a drive in the Internet cloud. But both ways are less intelligent than a snappy transfer over Bluetooth, since that is what it was designed for.

Of course, Microsoft wants traffic for Skydrive and control over the phone by making you use Zune. But, as they said when the Internet was only young, “Information wants to be free”. I am very annoyed by this lack of respect by Microsoft for a technology that works really well and could make little tasks a little easier.

I say this because competition is already out there with technology and usability far beyond Microsoft’s current version. Samsung’s NFC (near field communication) technology allows two users of the Galaxy III phones just place the phones close to each other, and images get transferred without any other steps needed by the users.

At the end of the day – it is always the user and his or her tasks that all technology should aim to assist in. If you first provide a tool for something, then take the edge off it – what do you have left? A drill without the bit? A saw without the blade?

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About heikkihietala

Heikki Hietala has worked at the crossroads of IT and language since 1986. He studied at the University of Jyväskylä, Finland. With an M.A. in English Philology and minor degrees in Communication and Information Technology, he has seen action at Microsoft, McKinsey & Company, Lionbridge, Bates Advertising and since September 2003, HAAGA-HELIA University of Applied Sciences. His interests of late have been user interface design and usability, 3D Design using Blender, and information technology for the small and medium enterprises. In his spare time he writes fiction in English. His novel, "Tulagi Hotel", was published in 2010 and a short story collection, "Filtered Light and Other Stories", in 2012. Tulagi Hotel is now available in Kindle and in paperback (also at Akateeminen Kirjakauppa), published by Fingerpress UK. "Hotelli Tulagi" on saatavana myös suomeksi kirjakaupoista kautta maan.
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