What Microsoft should add to Windows Phone 8

Anna Scantlin
Contributing Editor from Kansas City, MO
Published: August 23, 2013

One of my favorite games to play on the weekend is a game we're all familiar with, even if you've never given a name to it. It's a game I like to call "Armchair CEO", which is where I sit down and make up a list of all of the things I would change about certain companies, the way they run things, and basically taking matters into my own hands. I'm willing to bet that every person reading this article right now has been playing Armchair CEO for years without realizing it. It's a splendid one-player game where anything goes and everybody loves your ideas because you're your only employee, informant and competition. You can't lose.

But today I'm going to take a different stance to the game by letting you guys in on a few of my ideas when it comes to Windows Phone 8. As many of you have heard, actual CEO of Microsoft Steve Ballmer will be leaving Microsoft within 12 months' time. Bloomberg reported the news earlier today and described Ballmer as the man who "... has struggled to adapt the world’s largest software maker to the shift away from personal computers and toward mobile devices." To be fair, it sounds like a pretty tough job. Microsoft has already gone through one major overhaul of its smartphone platform, which as we can see isn't as easy as it might seem. I mean, just look at BlackBerry. How do you take an OS that's been developed on for years and change it so drastically that people want to start using it again? It's easier said than done. With Android and iOS already saturating the smartphone market, I can't say that I could necessarily do any better in getting Windows Phone off the ground. But that won't stop me from playing Armchair CEO anyway, if it were up to me, here would be my suggestions:


Notification Center

You guys thought I was going to say apps, huh? Don't worry; I'll get to that later. As if you didn't already know...

A notification center is quiet, looming, and a very important part of any smartphone's ecosystem. Our smartphones are computers, but they're compact computers in order to provide convenience to us. It's not convenient when I have to mosey on over and open three or four different apps to see what notifications I missed - I like just being able to see them at an organized glance. For the most part, this helps me determine whether something is really important for me to answer right then and there or not. Having a pull-down notification center is definitely one of the most convenient aspects of having a smartphone. Without it, there's a lot of unnecessary poking around from app to app to manually check each notification, and that's no fun. Although rumor has it that Windows Phone 8 will receive a notification center possibly in 2014, this is something that users have expressed wanting to see for quite some time now. Hopefully the rumor ends up being true.



Folders are a tricky, because technically Samsung already implemented a folder system into their version of Windows Phone 8, but come on. Why can't everybody have that luxury? I have as much fun as the next guy does scrolling for hours on end through my applications, but sometimes you just want to group certain applications together because, once again, it goes back to the idea that smartphones are supposed to bring us convenience - convenience that comes in the form of speed and organized computing, which could be better accomplished by incorporating folders into the Windows Phone 8 ecosystem. So for this one, I'll give props to Samsung for getting the job done for themselves instead of waiting on Microsoft. Which brings me to my next point...


Applications and more effort from Microsoft

It's hard being Microsoft, I understand that. They have their hands full all over the place. First they start out as an extremely successful software company, and then sometime in the year 2000, about the time when Ballmer took over, Microsoft decides to come out with the Pocket PC. The Pocket PC is exactly as it sounds - it's a PC that fits in your pocket. It's pretty much a smartphone without the "phone" aspect of the device. It was sometime in 2005 where we saw the phone aspect implemented into the Pocket PC design, and it was a pretty big deal. However, it wasn't nearly as big of a deal as Apple's iPhone in 2007; kind of like how the Zune wasn't nearly as big of a deal as the iPod, and Surface Pro was never as big as the iPad. It's whatever, sometimes you win and sometimes you lose. That's a business for you.

I like that Microsoft decided to take the bull by the horns and realized: Hey, Windows Mobile isn't working compared to this iOS stuff. Let's do something else - let's make Windows Phone. Although Windows 7 might not have been as popular as iOS or Android during its lifetime, it was still loads better than Windows Mobile would ever be, and the addition of Windows Phone 8 only improved on it. But that's about where the ball stops rolling. Windows Phone, in my opinion, has a great minimalistic design that differs from the other platforms in a good and unique way. However, it's clear that design alone can't win potential customers over - even Nokia thinks so. Nokia has been carrying Microsoft on its shoulders and keeping it interesting by distracting us with nice cameras, but for most people who don't care so much about the camera on a device, Windows Phone is hardly considered a worthy opponent compared to more polished platforms. While HTC and Samsung, who have also invested some money in Windows Phone 8, have more important matters to attend to when it comes to Android, Nokia can only depend on Microsoft. And while each manufacturer would benefit from a harder push from Microsoft to get more mainstream applications, Nokia is really the only one that's going to be left in the dark if they don't pull through. Do it for them.

Overall, there's not a whole lot I think I would change about Windows Phone 8. As oppose to Windows 8 for PC, I feel that Windows Phone 8 is a good fit for a smartphone design. It really is just going to take Microsoft realizing that Windows Phone 8 has a lot more potential than they're willing to consider.

Now it's your turn to play Armchair CEO! What changes would you make to Windows Phone 8 in order to help make it more successful? Share your opinions with us in the comments below!

Images via Phone Arena, Windows Phone Central