I picked up a used Focus from my wife even though while she waits for an iPhone 5 (and I hope she opts out) and of course I Mangoized it. I picked it up and she has a damn voice notes app on her home screen. Really? I asked her why she didn’t use One Note and then she could sync it with her iPad and have it accessible anywhere she is over the cloud and she looked at me like I was an idiot. She’s probably right but I made the same mistake that Microsoft is making. As I’ve previously stated, I think Microsoft’s play to make a fully integrated operating system so that you need less apps since the OS covers so much is brilliant. But what’s the use if your typical user doesn’t know they exist? You see, One Note doesn’t mean anything to my wife. The word “Sky Drive” is a term she’s never heard out of anyone’s mouth except mine and I’m pretty sure she still thinks I made the whole thing up. Even Zune doesn’t mean much and why the ‘games’ are in a folder called “Xbox Live” is beyond her.
When I first got her the Focus I showed her the basics like how to pin tiles, remove apps, get new apps and use the keyboard. But after that she’s on her own. So her Pictures hub has been rotating pictures of the stock photos that MS puts on the phone. Yeah it annoyed her but what was she to do about it? Yeah I fixed it. See unless Microsoft sends me around door to door to every person they sell a Windows Phone to (come on Simmons, door is wide open for a cheap shot) then a lost of new features and even simple features will go unnoticed by the average user. Even the concept of hitting the three dots to get more settings is something you need to figure out.
Now I’m not saying they need to change the phone. I think the OS is brilliant. They need to educate their users in a way that works. If you provide a paper tutorial when someone buys a phone you’re doing it wrong. But if you put a tile on the home screen that has an overview of basic functions, tips and tricks and the like in a way that’s friendly then you’ve actually helped. And this has to cover things like using Live.com, downloading Zune software, the types of notifications and even how to see the battery and signal strength. If Microsoft presumes that all of the features of their phone and all of the integrated software that they’re bringing to the table are known commodities then they’re wrong. Bing Vision means nothing to 99.9% of the population. I mean, I know how to toggle between text and messenger and how to dictate a message and have it converted to text but what about my mom or the average person who doesn’t know what the term ‘operating system’ means. Yeah they don’t. People don’t get why an iPhone app can’t run on Android. Don’t blame me for this and don’t expect them to read blogs.
Ultimately Microsoft has to make a way to demonstrate to everyone looking at a Windows Phone and buying a Windows Phone exactly what they just got their hands on so they can fully understand and use all of the features or the whole integrated experience they are striving for is entirely lost and they may as well have gotten their $5 from an Android license.