Of all the mobile operating systems I have ever used, I openly admit that, in its current form, Windows Phone is among my least favorite. It's bland, dull, boring, inert, uninteresting and it lacks a great deal of the features I absolutely need that other platforms have offered for years.
Despite all of that, it is full of promise. It always has been. And, albeit slowly, it's getting better with time.
From the very first time I laid eyes on the tiled Metro UI of Windows Phone 7, I was intrigued. It reeked of a new Microsoft, one that could think outside the box and create space for itself in a volatile and crowded market. While it was no match for its competitors in version 1.0 (or, well, 7.0), no software ever is.
And in just two short years, Windows Phone has progressed from a questionable, yet-to-be-released product from Microsoft to a platform everyone is watching. Overseas, Windows Phone is spreading quite successfully, while here in the States, it has yet to take a significant piece of market or mind share. But with some serious new hardware from Nokia (we expect to see on Wednesday) and quickly approaching release for the next major Windows Phone installment in October, interest is finally beginning to swell here, too.
The Windows Phone 8 update itself is a noteworthy bit of news. Among other things, WP8 will bring an updated Start Screen, multi-core architecture support, support for NFC and micro SD cards, support for three display resolutions (including 720p) and Nokia Maps as a first-party mapping service. For the last few months, it has been poked, prodded and closely examined by techies all over the Web. And with only a portion of the update previewed by Microsoft, people are still discovering some unknowns about the update.
Last Thursday, Chris Rowlands of 1800PocketPC.com shared a discovery he made. While browsing the source files in the Windows Phone 8 SDK, he came across a folder titled AccentColors. (Anyone familiar with Windows Phone knows that changing the Accent Color will change the color of the tiles on your Start Screen and on various UI elements throughout the system.) Within that folder, he found XAML files that contained hexadecimal values that translate to colors.
Why is this so interesting? It isn't. Not even remotely. It's disappointing. Rowlands provided a color palette (pictured above) that shows the 20 different Accent Colors that will be available in Windows Phone 8, barring Microsoft doesn't pull a fast one on us.
When Microsoft revealed there would be an improved Start Screen in Windows Phone 8, the first thing that came to mind was a new and improved method of picking customizable Accent Colors, maybe even the ability to set a background image. Anything would be better than the handful of colors available in Windows Phone 7.5.
What I can't wrap my head around is why Microsoft has yet to enable a color wheel, or a fully customizable color palette to choose Accent Colors from. The only possible reason that makes sense is for the sake of simplicity. But having a preset selection plus a color wheel (or more robust color picker, like a Pantone-like color palette) for highly personalized colors shouldn't clout things too terribly much, even for smartphone newbies.
You can rearrange the tiles, resize them, remove them and add more. Yet you can only choose from 20 possible Accent Colors? What part of that makes sense?
This seems to be one of the features Windows Phone fans are more adamant about. I won't hold my breath, but here's to hoping Microsoft makes a last-minute change to the Accent Color selection. The 20 colors Rowlands showed us are paltry at best, especially for a major update that touts a new and improved interface.
What's the hold-up, Microsoft? Is a more robust Accent Color selected something we will ever see in Windows Phone?