You can share URLs via email, messaging, and social media, and you can search within a Web page -- as iOS and Android also offer. Like the competition, Windows Phone 8 lets you control how cookies are handled, but there are no options to manage other personal information such as "do not track," browser history, cache, form data, passwords, image loading, autofill, fraud warnings, or debugging. iOS has all of these controls and Android has all but "do not track." Nor does Windows Phone let you choose among search engines -- there's just Microsoft's own Bing.
Finally, the Windows Phone 8 devices were unable to connect to InfoWorld's certificate-secured Wi-Fi network, even with certificate validation disabled in the Wi-Fi settings -- yet Windows Phone 7.5 had no trouble doing so. They all connected fine to regular Wi-Fi networks, such as those using WPA-2 passwords.
Apps: Limited choices, lightweight capabilitiesEveryone knows that iOS's App Store likely has an app for that, and the Google Play market for Android has a good general-interest selection for news, games, utilities, and more. There's much less in the Windows Phone Store -- no productivity apps, for example. For categories where apps do exist, such as cloud storage, banking, and RDP apps for Windows, there are few choices, if any.
Most apps are lightweight or basic, including some of the apps that come with Windows Phone 8, such as Alarms, Calculator, Maps, Phone, and Photos. That's perfectly fine for many apps, such as newsreaders and weather programs, but not for the likes of Office.
Of course, not all Windows Phone 8 apps are slackers. The Camera app has a strong set of capture settings, rivaling that of a digital SLR. As previously mentioned, the People app is one of Windows Phone's most capable apps. And the Wallet app looks intriguing, with more payment capabilities than Apple's Passbook and the same ability to store tickets and loyalty cards. But given that very few services support Wallet, it's too soon to call it an advantage. Finally, Gannett's USA Today app for Windows Phone is nicely designed for readability and navigation -- an area where its iOS and Android versions have grown increasingly worse with each subsequent update.
A few apps are problematic. For example, the Music + Video app distorted videos, compressing their width, even after I toggled between the fit-to-screen and fill-the-screen modes; iOS and Android devices played the same video undistorted. HTC's own Weather app is largely unusable because the weather conditions' tiny white text is superimposed over often light-hued moving images of skies, sunshine, snow, rain, and clouds -- rendering it unreadable. And the Nokia Transit app's routing for public transit seems determined to send you on the longest itinerary possible, at least in San Francisco.