Should Microsoft start allowing for Windows Phone customization?Evan Selleck - Contributing Editor
Windows Phone is popular now. Sure, it isn’t where Microsoft and a few others probably thought it should be, or wanted it to be at least, but there’s no denying that the operating system is getting popular. And, that popularity is growing pretty quickly. If Nokia and Microsoft can make sure that brand awareness stays high here in the States, and around the world, then there’s no telling where Windows Phone will be in the coming months, and into the future. But, moving forward, I want Microsoft to go out on a limb and do something crazy. I want the company to allow for customization.
Back when Nokia and Microsoft were still making deals, it was suggested that Nokia would be able to make some changes on the user interface level. Not a lot, mind you, but just enough to stand out among the crowd, and show that Microsoft loves them more than anyone else. (That part isn’t necessarily true, but hey.) We’ve seen Nokia unveil their phones, and we’ve seen that they get some software that is all their own, like a certain ESPN app, and a few others. And while that’s great, I want more. And, I don’t want it just from Nokia, either.
First, let me just say that I think Windows Phone is a great platform for all of you out there who don’t know where I stand with Microsoft’s mobile OS. I’ve always thought it was great, but the more I look at it, the more I feel like it’s just getting long in the tooth, only in the aesthetics department. Features wise, Windows Phone has it, and it will only get better. But, other than color and a few Live Tile placements, your Windows Phone pretty much looks like my Windows Phone.
Not that there is anything wrong with that, per se. After all, there is something to be said about those Live Tiles and the color scheme. But, while Themes are obviously not going to be instigated anytime soon, why not have the ability to actually put some real customization into the mix? While I don’t necessarily believe that Sense UI is an improvement to the Android platform anymore, it started off that way, and I thnk the same thing could be said if it were to be implemented with Windows Phone.
Oddly enough, I don’t think Windows Phone necessarily needs customization like Android did when HTC unveiled Sense UI for Google’s mobile OS. When Sense UI came into the picture for Android, the general public was going on and on about how Android wasn’t user friendly (and there are still some people out there suggesting the same thing, which is an arguable point in and of itself), and so a customized UI was essential. For Windows Phone, I don’t think it’s the same situation at all. But, it wouldn’t hurt.
HTC has their Sense Hub, and Samsung has their own customized applications on their Windows Phones, but that’s pretty much the same thing that Nokia has. They are just apps, more or less. Sure, Live Tiles and Hubs are a bit different in their own way, but they work just the same as an app. HTC’s Sense HUB is like a weather app, Stock app, and news app in one. And Samsung’s effort really is just a news app, nothing more.
That’s not all that customization, if you ask me. That’s just apps. I think Windows Phone should just go out on a limb and try it. And the more that I think about it, the more I think it would make sense for Microsoft to let Nokia give it a shot, and only Nokia. They’ve got the inside track, so why not let them go for it?