Pocketables Editor Spotlight: William Devereux

Pocketables Editor Spotlight is a weekly series that shines the spotlight on each of our editors. Last week, we got up close and personal with our managing editor, Calob Horton, and today let’s get to know the Microsoft editor for Pocketables, William Devereux.

William Editor Spotlight - for some reason we don't have an alt tag here

Unlike the rest of my fellow Pocketables editors, it’s my job to write about one company in particular: Microsoft. That being said, I actually enjoy gadgets from many tech companies. I was interested in technology, business, and programming from an early age, and I spent countless hours exploring every nook and cranny of Windows and a wide variety of programs and applications. I also love reading about tech, and I have since amassed hundreds of RSS feeds pulling in thousands of articles on a daily basis. When I’m not writing or studying for computer science classes, I enjoy reading, gaming, and participating in the Microsoft and Star Wars communities.

I’ve been writing regularly since 2008, and I started working on CrowdGather’s other websites, Anythingbutipod and Anythingbutiphone, in early 2011. It was around this time that Microsoft bestowed upon me the company’s Most Valuable Professional Award. Six months later, we launched the CrowdGadgets newsletter and podcast, and I became the editor-in-chief of ABIphone and the relatively new site Anythingbutipad. While I enjoy writing about tech news in general, I’m particularly interested in what Microsoft has to offer. As a result, when Pocketables was relaunched at the end of May, I became the site’s Microsoft editor.

My current smartphone of choice is the Nokia Lumia 900, but I plan on upgrading to Windows Phone 8 as soon as the first devices hit the market later this fall. I’m currently running the Windows 8 Release Preview on my desktop PC (you can read about my experiences in my weekly series), and I’m seriously considering a Surface tablet to replace my old laptop, which died on me while I was on vacation a few months back. Of course, I do own other devices as well, like the Amazon Kindle Fire which I’ve rooted in order to access Google Play.

Start Screen top - for some reason we don't have an alt tag here Start Screen middle - for some reason we don't have an alt tag here Start Screen bottom - for some reason we don't have an alt tag here

This is the Start screen on my Windows Phone. Unlike other mobile operating systems, Windows Phone allows you to pin your favorite apps in a vertical list of tiles. The three screenshots above display my “fingerprint,” as the live tile organization is often referred to in the Windows Phone community. As you can see, I like to group social/communications tiles together, followed by news, entertainment, productivity, lesser-used – but still important – apps, groups for family and friends, and finally Marketplace and settings. I always pin temporary items to the bottom of the Start screen. Windows 8 has a similar layout of tiles, and you can see my current organization here.

With my tech biography out of the way, let’s get to the questions that my fellow Pocketables editors asked me.

Jenn K. Lee: What is your second favorite company/brand?

William: My second favorite company is, without question, Lucasfilm. I’ve been very involved in the Star Wars community for many years. In fact, the photo of me next to the Yoda fountain (above) was taken during one of my trips to Lucasfilm’s main office in San Francisco. But I suspect that you’re actually wondering about my second favorite tech company, Amazon. I enjoy a lot of the tech and services that it has to offer, like the Kindle. There are rumors that Amazon might be getting into the smartphone business as well, putting it more and more in direct competition with Microsoft, which recently purchased a stake in Barnes & Noble’s NOOK business. That being said, I think I’ll be sticking with Kindle for now (See, I don’t always choose Microsoft).

John Freml: If you had to pick between Apple or RIM for your next smartphone or tablet, which would you pick, and why? (No Android – let’s make this more interesting!)

William: I’d have to say Apple. RIM, to me, feels somewhat archaic, not to mention the fact that it’s a rapidly sinking ship. While I’m not a big fan of Apple – I do write for Anythingbutiphone/ABIpod/ABIpad, after all – the company does put out quality hardware (iPhone antenna excluded, of course).

Calob Horton: When and how did you realize that you were a Microsoft fan? Was it a product, a service, or something else?

William: It was more of a slow change over the course of many years than a sudden realization. However, my passion for Microsoft began to solidify around the launch of the Xbox 360 and Zune. I happened to be in the market for my first MP3 player when the Zune was announced, and it piqued my interest. I knew I didn’t want an iPod, and as more details about the Zune were revealed, I became increasingly more certain that it would be the platform I would go with. I purchased my first Xbox 360 the same year, and from there things simply picked up speed. Before I knew it, I was heading over to Microsoft’s Silicon Valley campus for a Windows Vista install fair and beta testing everything I could get my hands on.

Bryan Faulkner: What was your first mobile device and which one is your current favorite?

William: My first mobile device was an old Nokia flip phone. Unfortunately, I no longer remember the exact model. A few years later, I upgraded to a Samsung Propel Pro running Windows Mobile 6.1. I picked the device over the others because I didn’t want a resistive touch screen (the most common type of device at the time), I liked the phone’s shiny silver look, and I was curious about Windows Mobile. It was a decent phone, but by the time I got it, Windows Mobile was getting a little long in the tooth. Needless to say, I was very glad to upgrade to Windows Phone. Fast forward to today and my current favorite device is the Nokia Lumia 900. The build quality is excellent and I still really enjoy the operating system.

Paul King: What lead you to being so involved in Microsoft-related stuff?

William: As my interest in Microsoft grew, I began reading more Microsoft corporate blogs and listening to official podcasts like Major Nelson Radio, the Gamerscore Blog Podcast, Zune Insider, Windows Phone Radio, and many more. And with the advent of Twitter, it became even easier to connect with people at Microsoft. As an attendee at CES, I’d spend the vast majority of my time at the Microsoft booth, chatting with the people from the marketing and product teams and showing fellow attendees my favorite features. Believe it or not, I actually started writing for CrowdGather after an awesome Microsoft employee introduced me to Grahm Skee. Eventually, Microsoft gave me the MVP Award for my contributions to the Zune community over the previous year. I’ve been heavily involved ever since, hosting events like Consumer Camp and Behind the Tiles with Windows Phone.

It’s important to note that while I am a Microsoft Xbox MVP – as of this week, the Zune MVPs were officially moved over to Xbox – I’m not a Microsoft spokesmen or promoter. It’s merely an award for the contributions I’ve made to the community; things that I would have done even without the award. If I like something Microsoft has to offer, it’s because I truly do like it. I am, however, also willing to point out the company’s flaws.

Andreas Ødegård: What do you think about Microsoft releasing software on other platforms first (Photosynth, iOS) or exclusively (on{X})?

William: Releasing apps on competing platforms first is, sometimes, a necessary evil. During the first two years Windows Phone was on the market, it had to catch up to what Apple and Google were doing. As a result, Microsoft sometimes had to wait for the technology to be put in place, as was the case with Photosynth and Windows Phone 7.5. And even then, it took a while to get the app out the door. Windows Phone 7.x is also based on Windows Compact Embedded, the same thing that Windows Mobile was based on. Now that Windows Phone 8 shares a core with Windows 8, I expect more apps to come out on multiple platforms around the same time. In fact, I’m not opposed to having many of Microsoft’s products and services go multiplatform as well, like Xbox LIVE (minus achievements, of course). While we know next to nothing about Xbox Music at this point, I kind of hope that it’s a multiplatform service too.

Aaron Orquia: What is your favorite non-Microsoft device on the market right now?

William: I like my Kindle Fire, but the recently announced Nexus 7 tablet looks awfully nice as well. On the smartphone side, I like the storage and battery life found on the Motorola DROID RAZR MAXX, and the HTC One X is an excellent device too.

All of William’s posts can be found on his author page, so be sure to check it out! Next week, Bryan Faulkner takes the spotlight.

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William Devereux

William Devereux is the former Microsoft editor at Pocketables, as well as a Microsoft MVP and SkyDrive/Outlook.com Insider. As his title implies, he wrote about all things from Redmond, including Windows 8 and Windows Phone. He is currently carrying a Windows Phone 8X by HTC and a Microsoft Surface with Windows RT tablet.

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