Get inspired, Microsoft
Microsoft is still waiting for that moment. The moment when Microsoft's mobile operating system, Windows Phone, really takes off. There's no telling what will inspire that moment, set it off or even set things in motion to reach that point, but Microsoft doesn't mind waiting. They're in things for the long haul. They're in a different type of race than Apple and Google, and as long as people keep buying Windows Phone-based handsets they're happy campers.
There shouldn't be any doubt that they would like more people to buy Windows Phone devices, and they'd probably like more people to do it right now. Just as we've seen from their recent "Don't fight" commercials, where we see Android and iOS fans fighting over the best device or camera, Microsoft would like you to just switch to their platform instead.
That will take time. And Microsoft is willing to wait it out.
The platform is continuously evolving, which helps. With the recent GDR2 update, Microsoft made it clear that they can add some major improvements and feature changes to their mobile OS in a "minor" update. They plan on doing it again with Update 3 (GDR3), where we'll see updates to supported devices and hardware, as well as plenty of software tweaks and feature additions. (And if you own a Nokia-branded Lumia device, you're in for extra treats, too. Depending on the model.)
It shouldn't really be a surprise that Microsoft is busy adding things to Windows Phone. The folks behind the mobile operating system are working on the platform every single day, in big and small ways, focusing on the apps, the features, the aesthetics, and everything else in between all in hopes that it will draw in new customers -- and keep the current ones. It's a balancing act, but one they won't ever stop trying to perfect.
Which is why these latest rumors that have hit the internet wire, the ones talking about changes to the physical button parameters, or even the ommission of one entirely, are completely expected. Just like we hear that Apple is testing iPhones with varying display sizes, it shouldn't come as a surprise that Microsoft is playing around with different ideas to change up Windows Phone without breaking the whole idea. They can't, and probably flat-out refuse, to change the way that Windows Phone works at a fundamental level, so the changes they do make have to still make all that work.
So they need to get inspired. They need to play around with certain aspects of the operating system, change things around, see what works and doesn't work, and maybe just think outside the box. Or, maybe on the other hand, they can just see what seems to work on other mobile platforms and get inspired that way.
Android's done it. iOS has done it. Applications have done it. Companies and animals have done it. Inspiration can come from a lot of different places, but in the mobile industry, especially when we're dealing with phones, it seems to come most often from other companies. So, Android's software keys work for Android? Hey, why not? Maybe it'll work for Windows Phone, right? Right?
It could work. And hey, it's a change of pace, so that would have to count for something. I know I've been too hard on Windows Phone in the past, and I don't want it to sound like I'm being too sarcastic here with software buttons, because I genuinely hope that Microsoft is able to spice things up enough to win over some new customers. Maybe with the Surface Phone (fingers crossed!) we'll see plenty of changes that show a lot of inspiration.
What would you like to see changed in Windows Phone? What inspirations would you like to see Microsoft's mobile OS bring over from other platforms? Let me know!