WinPhan Phocus: Aaron Hall!

We are welcoming back the WinPhan Phocus, our focus on the wonderful people who make the #WinPhan Community, what it is! I’m really excited to get this going again, I love to share your stories as inspiration for us all. We’re honoring Windows 10 by asking 10 questions, so let’s get going! He’s a veritable wealth of knowledge, the eternal optimist, and just a downright Microsoft Advocate, it makes me proud to have Aaron Hall as our 1st guest!


1(a).Tell us a little about yourself and what makes you a #WinPhan?

My name is Aaron, aka GoodThings2Life, and I’ve been a #WinPhan since the before Windows Phone was a thing. I got my start with technology in middle school, and I have been actively involved as an avid Windows supporter since Windows 3.1 was new. My first mobile phone was a Windows Mobile 5 device (HTC Mogul), and I remember always saying, “I just wish Microsoft would take the Zune HD, make it bigger, and add mobile phone capabilities.” Next thing I knew, Windows Phone was coming out, and here we are virtually on the road to a Surface Phone! I call myself a WinPhan, because I’m very vocal and passionate about the joys of Microsoft technology. I’m not a “defector”… I’m not dumping Windows because of apps or some slick looking device. Although I have a Galaxy Note 4 and an iPhone 6 that I use for testing and work, it’s my trusty Lumias that I carry 100% of the time.

1(b). Which of the following best describes you:

  • Social Networker
  • Gamer
  • Handyman
  • Writer
  • Photographer
  • Enjoy Music
  • Prefer TV/Movie/Video
  • Outdoorsy Type
  • Into/Fitness
  • Developer/Programmer

Social Networker Photographer Music Listener IT Guy


2. Which Windows Phone devices have you owned?

I feel like I’ve owned almost all of them. Well, nearly so. My first Windows Phone was the HTC Touch Pro 7 on Sprint, but quickly dumped Sprint for AT&T when the HTC Titan was released. Also played around with the Titan 2 and the Samsung Focus. After frustration with firmware on the Titans, I went Lumia and never looked back. From 900 to 920 to 1020 to 1520.3 to 930 to 830 to 950XL, and I’ve carried the 520/635/640 phones as backups during each generation. I’ve also had an Icon to use with Verizon, although I just couldn’t bring myself to support Big Red.


3. Which version of Windows Phone has been your favorite?

This might come as a shock given how chaotic the development has been, but Windows 10 is DEFINITELY my favorite, and the reason is simple: Continuum. The ability to carry one device as mobile AND computer is awesome, but more important about it to me is the universal apps flowing between devices. There’s nothing quite like flow of Tweetium or similar apps between screen sizes and forms, and I think it has the most potential for platform growth. Beyond Continuum, I love actionable notifications. Responding to text from toast popup is a huge
timesaver for me, and I find it frustrating to go back to old versions that lack it. I’m really looking forward to 2016 and seeing the OS be improved and expanded in some new ways.


4. Which do you prefer, a flashy Starscreen or utilitarian Startscreen?



5. How often do you rearrange your Starscreen?



6. What keeps you in the Microsoft ecosystem?

This is a tough question for some… I can nitpick about features or apps not being fully developed and broken experiences, but at the end of the day, Microsoft technologies have kept technology moving forward for decades. Apple and Google are both newcomers to being “cool”, when you think about it, and they just aren’t as capable, IMO. Apple is brilliant at marketing and consumer lock-in, because they have to be… it’s all they’ve ever known. Google is all about tracking your moves, but they hide it behind this wall of “openness” that isn’t real, because if you aren’t using their stuff, they’re not “all in.” Microsoft, meanwhile, is the real deal. They’re putting their stuff out there EVERYWHERE, and they’re bringing everything INTO the company these days. There’s something to love about that.


7. What are your thoughts on Microsoft attempting to be “cool” again?

It’s fantastic! They still struggle with it, I think, because either they try too hard or they hit one nail on the head and the next they bash their thumb… but I like their effort. I love the Insider programs and allowing fans to help drive their direction. I love a company that is working hard to gain trust, and LISTEN to what we really want and not just shove out a minor iteration improvement and say, “Here’s what you want.” Microsoft really has done a ton of cool stuff in 2015… HoloLens, Surface Pro 4 and Surface Book, and Windows 10… and people are paying attention again. Even with the misses, they’re learning what WE want… and they’re building it. To borrow from a great movie… if you build it, they will come… and they are building, and people are coming!


8. How many apps do you have installed currently?

40, not including core OS apps


9. What is your favorite app currently, why?

Tough call on favorite app… my biggest apps are Nextgen Reader, Facebook Messenger, Tweetium, Series Tracker, and Pandora, but lately I’ve made good use of a few utility apps like WiFi Commander/Tools/Analyzer (all three are excellent), and I’m using Remote Desktop Preview and TeamViewer a lot lately with Continuum. I’ve also been trying out TweetIt and Aeries for Twitter as an alternative to Tweetium. They’re all fantastic! I guess if I have to pick one favorite, right now it’s Remote Desktop Preview, because with Continuum support, it lets me run RemoteApps, so I can technically run Win32 apps on my mobile phone. What can I say, I’m an IT guy at heart, lol.


10. What feature about Windows Phone do you find to be indispensible, why?

As big as I am on Continuum, it all comes back to Live Tiles as the key differentiator. When I pick up an iPhone or Android device and have to play whack-a-mole with my apps to see what’s “new”, it drives me nuts. So bland and sterile and just genuinely unfriendly.
Live Tiles give me something beautiful to enjoy and unlock, every time I pickup my device.

Wow, that was great stuff! I’ve got no doubt in my mind, Aaron is 100% #WinPhan! I’d like to give a big thank you to Aaron for sharing his story with us on the #WinPhan Phocus in addition to his continual support and positivity on Twitter. You can find Aaron, aka @GoodThings2Life, right HERE on Twitter.
As always, thanks for stopping by, we’d love to hear your thoughts in the Comments section below.

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Proud husband, father, and Windows Phone Evangelist! I dedicate most of my time to promoting the ever beautiful Windows Phone and managing the enthusiastic #WinPhan community I founded. Windows+Phone+Fan=WinPhan!

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