Leaks are a good thing for Microsoft and Windows Phone 8.1Evan Selleck - Contributing Editor
Leaks are a slippery slope. As a consumer that's interested in the mobile industry, to a level where I go out of my way to find out everything I can about any device, rumored or not, I can't wait to see a device leaked online long before its official release. Sure, it's a tease, but I love the build up. But, more than that, it's an easy way for me to keep a device in my mind as the inevitable launch inches closer. Leaks make sure that a handset is still in the public's eye, even as the company itself goes into lockdown mode to try to keep the secrets and surprises in-house.
That's why it's a tricky thing. It's one reason why some companies partake in leaking their own stuff, just to gauge consumer interest. It isn't a secret that some companies will stage their own leaks, but it's also not something they all do, either. Sometimes things just happen, and a phone, or tablet, or whatever else can find its way online --be it in just images or through videos-- way before a company wants it to happen.
This is nothing new for our industry. Leaks and rumors are the oil that keep us going, and I'm not sure anyone would have it any other way. Most of us love seeing a phone before it's officially released, and companies should love it that we do. It's ultimately a double-edged sword, though, because for as many people who might get excited for a leaked device, there's probably the same amount of people who lose interest in said device.
Windows Phone 8.1 is coming, and Microsoft has taken a "shut up and ship" mentality with their mobile platform for quite some time. The development team(s) are hunkered down in front of their machines, and doing their best in bringing Windows Phone to its best possible state to date. The new platform is said to be bringing all sorts of cool new things and features, like a digital personal assistant called Cortana, an Action Center, and alterations to Internet Explorer 11. Basically, things that people requested, and Microsoft is doing what it can to implement it as soon as it can.
Anyone can tell you that Microsoft takes its time. As a whole, software updates are nurtured for a very, very long time. It's no different with Windows Phone 8.1. It's been talked about for a long time, which makes sense, because Windows Phone 8 launched a long time ago. There have been smaller updates to the platform since its 2012 debut, but nothing like we've seen from Google, or Apple.
That's why leaks should work so well in Microsoft's favor.
With such a spread between major software updates, Microsoft should be doing what it can to keep consumer attention on them, and what's coming down the pipe. I have no doubt that everyone in Microsoft is excited about what Windows Phone 8.1 will bring to the table for their platform, so they should be teasing it to the rest of the world, too. Be it in pictures that only show just enough to whet the appetite, or vague comments about upcoming features, the whole "shut up and ship" thing should only last for so long.
Windows Phone 8.1 is reportedly set to take the stage at this year's BUILD conference, which is due in April. Considering it's March, I think it's time to let Joe Belfiore loose on Twitter and start getting everyone excited. The SDK leaks were great, but I'd much prefer to hear from someone inside Microsoft talking up what's coming.
That excitement is infectious. Start spreading it!
The most recent leak (as of the time of this writing), the Start screen background images, is pretty great if you ask me, and from what I've seen in comments sections across the 'net, everyone seems to like it. This is the momentum and attention Microsoft wants. Do you think these type of leaks, or any leak for that matter, is good for Microsoft's mindshare? Do you like seeing leaked info/devices? Let me know!