Microsoft opened doors to the next major update of its mobile operating system, Windows Phone, with the 8.1 version. I became a dev (temporarily) to see what it’s all about. Though my instinct would be to say “WOW!!”, I am not quite thrilled with it in all honesty. Why? Here are a few reasons…
The UGLY Tile+Wallpaper option
The first thing I scorned at was the option of adding wallpaper IN the tile. I really thought this was some kind of a fake video, posted by some wanna-be who hates Windows Phone. Turns out, I was wrong. This IS the final OS. IMHO, it looks so horrendous, it’s not funny.
It kills the OS aesthetically, showing a chink in Microsoft’s armour. The solid colour system tiles become colourful, maintaining the icons of Calls, Messages, Mails etc. Though this feature has received a great reception from the tech community, Windows fans and otherwise, I for one, truly hate it.
When Microsoft introduced the OS back in 2007, it was all about simplicity. But looks like Microsoft can’t hold their fort against the mounting pressure, both from inside and outside the company.
So what could they do, to stand out? They could have a wallpaper, BEHIND the Tiles and not IN it, much the same way it is on Windows 8.
R.I.P Me Tile
Over the years, I was so used to the Me Tile, I wouldn’t like anything else on any other platform, because I know nothing came close. Microsoft had nailed it with the Me Tile, giving me my privacy and yet keeping me updated. Come Windows Phone 8.1, and everything changes.
Now, all the notifications come via the Action Centre. WOW! Talk about innovation! I don’t want to talk a lot about the notification centre as that’s going to happen after I am done with the fact that Me Tile is dead.
So yes, Microsoft took away all its powers, letting it die a silent death. What’s worse, we now need a Facebook App to update anything on Facebook. WHY? Why can’t I just use the Me Tile liked I used to?
IMHO, all this really points to the fact that how desperate Microsoft is to get more users on-board. But why do antics you are not familiar with or which isn’t your forte?
Notifications Centre AKA Action Centre
Countless fence-sitters took a sigh of relief on seeing their dream come true. Windows Phone had a gaping hole when it came to notifications. Though they had planned the Live Tiles to do JUST that, people didn’t get the cue, and began shooting expletives at the drop of a hat.
But what’s wrong with the notification? Nothing. It’s not the idea I am against, it’s the design. WHY in the world would you copy iOS which in-turn actually copied Android? Why? Why? O Why?
There was so much they could have done, keeping it under the design language of Windows Phone. There was absolutely NO reason for them to do what others are doing. Because that isn’t Microsoft’s philosophy. How different are you from a Jolla or Ubuntu or Android or iOS? It’s the EXACT same thing, with no touches added by your design team whatsoever. A swipe down from top of the screen? Bitch please!
So, what’s good? Surprisingly nothing much. Just those animations are a little snappier, making you feel the OS is super-fast. There’s Cortana, your new personal digital assistant, which is good by the way. But again, Microsoft is trying to play catch-up with the rest of the world. A few apps here and there “baked” or thrown into the OS. For which apps already existed on the Market Place by the way.
Where could they have really improved? The ever-widening app-gap, legacy app support and countless other things that were GENUNIELY missing from the platform. Instead, they just took the OS to a cosmetic surgeon with bad eyesight and left it there…for him to do whatever he likes, no questions asked.
In the end, in my humblest opinion, it is more of a design debacle than a worthy update. While countless people running amok rejoicing the “wallpaper-tiles” and “Notifications Centre”, I quietly take a step back and think about whether I want to stay with the OS, or look for an alternative. In all probability, I will do the latter.