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. 

rant over…


  1. agreed! to most they don’t tinker with what is there, they are too use to the whole app-centric model… there is an app for that! well news flash… that app is already in the phone…

    they do need to make it a bit more obvious. people think… office = business… so i’m not using that. they don’t realise that it’s much more than that.

    good article and something that MS should read… someone promote this to them! :P

  2. I bet most people don’t even know the media player has a volume control apart from the physical buttons. If you put two thumbs on the screen and drag the left one up and down you can control the volume while watching videos. Learned that from my baby girl playing with my phone and seeing these numbers going up and down.

  3. I totally agree to this article. I bet there are even Users out there which are better then others, using a Windows Phone, and even they don’t know all the features! Like me, i have not known the Feature with the volume control, neither. Thanks for that ^^. Hope there will be such an app. Or even an app where wp7 users can chat with other users or read their tutorials if they want to learn using their phone

  4. wow! great article, even I have been using this phone for about close to two months.. I am still missing out features that are already in the phone.

    There seriously needs to be a tips and tricks tile.

  5. It is a very common complaint about Microsoft. As one of the few Microsoft fans in my Android filled office, I get MS criticism constantly. But the other day, an anti-MS coworker was working with Excel 2010 and I showed him some nice conditional formatting tricks. After that he explored more and discovered in Outlook 2010 the ability to insert screenshots from any open window and screen clippings, the conversation view, etc. and he was impressed. Microsoft products are filled with hidden great features and even when they give them more visibility by taking them out of menus and putting them in contextual ribbons, people still need to be curious to try them. I personally hate tutorials, but I would make MS products to have a ‘discovery’ mode in which the product will hint you features that you have not tried until you try them once or acknowledge. You can disable this mode after you don’t need. Having the phone tied to a windows live account will help tracking which features you are aware and which you aren’t. I know, this will have to be done in the least annoying way possible and in a way defeats the concept of a natural user interface, but it could be done within the principles of a NUI. For instance, the lock screen will bounce if you touch it, hinting that there is something below and how it works. Maybe, the first time that you go into a screen it should show the description below the icons, or if the system sees that you are trying somthing over and over, then hint a better way.

  6. I guess if you want an OS that requires no discovery at all for most users then you’ll have to give them a smartphone OS that looks like Windows XP… wait… that’s Windows Mobile 5 :P

  7. Said it a while back, but I think the Help system in WinMo was excellent. Used it often to find out how something worked. Tap Help while in an app and jump to the Help/Tips a section. Works for me.

  8. I said the same thing months ago. As much as i hate iOS, their commercials were great, they gave examples of real-life scenarios and quick walk through of how it worked on the phone. I really think MS should look into scenario based commercials to tout the feature, especially with Mango coming, there are some many features that will be unknown to many unless there is a bunch of user manuals.

    That or have a “guide” section in settings that takes you to a bunch of videos that show you how to use the phone in various situations.

  9. Sometimes I have to question the intelligence of people, no offense to your wife David. Windows Phone is the easiest, most intuitive mobile OS on the market. All it takes is playing around with the thing for 20-30 minutes to discover what and can do and how you can do it.

    I got my mom a Windows Phone because she had an old flip phone, and 6 months later she’s just now discovering how to do some things. I thought to myself, mom, all you need to do is go through the phone for about a half hour. You can touch any icon or tile. It’s not going to break. Her phone doesn’t have Mango yet.

  10. @Joe: But what about things like syncing One Note? It’s more than fiddling with the phone. And you and I may fiddle around and look for hidden settings but other people think a phone is a commodity – you use it when needed and shouldn’t need to dig at all beyond that. MS needs to hit all of these markets if they want a succesful platform. They cna’t expect people to sit there and play with their phones to figure them out for 30 minutes in our current ADD driven society ;)

  11. Sorry, but getting a smart phone will not make you smarter.
    Take 10-15 mins to explore Windows Phone 7, and they will learn so much. I guess that is why I love Windows Phone 7 so much. I was bored with iPhone and android, because it is just apps launcher phone IMO.

  12. @Pacific: That’s what I always said! IPhone and Android (and WinMo) are just application launchers. They only give a nice UI to launch applications that you download. It might work for a desktop, but the modern approach is that a smartphone has to be smart. You don’t have the time and you can’t dedicate the attention to a smartphone to be downloading and then opening up different apps, getting the address of a place in one app, then copying address and pasting into another app to see points of interest nearby. Or reading an email from someone, the going into a social app to see their updates, then go into an IM app to see their conversation and into another SMS app to see messages. In Mango, tap on the name of the person you receive the email and pan to What’s New and History tab to see social updates and IM, FB and SMS messages, previous emails and calls; respond to the person in any way you choose. Integration is key, and quite honestly, WP is the only phone out there with focus on integration, and Microsoft is the only company out there with the cloud services and established partnerships with FB, twitter, linkedin, citysearch and others, which is required to come up with a fully, integrated and consistent experience. But it will take a bit for people to get used to a task centric OS, they need to use it and forget the urge to get such and such app for everything.

  13. @Charles Keledjian precisely, well said btw. Users must get away with the concept of “there’s an app for that”. Because Windows Phone is more modern and integrated and to make our lives simple and as MS put it. “A phone that will get you in and out and back in life”.

  14. Sorry about grammar. Lets try that again.
    @Charles Keledjian Precisely! Well said btw. Users must get away with the concept of “there’s an app for that”. Because Windows Phone is more modern, integrated and to make our lives simple. As MS put it. “A phone that will get you in and out and back in life”.


  15. @pacific: Precisely. This conversation made me come up with a new slogan for Mango: “You need an app… for THAT???”
    They could have a commercial saying: “if you want to go to the movies, tell your Windows Phone ‘Find Movies’, select the movie you want, check showtimes, select teather, see location of theater, use local scout to find restaurants nearby, see where the restaurant is located INSIDE the mall, call and make a reservation…. and in your SMART phone… you need an app… for THAT???”

  16. On the flip side though WP7 is pretty easy to figure out. My phone never came with a manual but I find it so easy. Sure there are options on the phone you may miss because it’s not obvious but swiping corners holding your finger on the screen will surprise you. Kind of like the paste button where you need to swipe it on screen from the edge of the phone.

  17. Don’t you guys dare start up with this shit! If you start this business we’re going to end up with some annoying fucking paperclip asking me if I need help formatting my text message.

  18. @Matt Anderson – Now that iPhone 5 includes awesome new features like tab, bold, and italic text in emails, maybe they’ll implement iClippy and revolutionize everyones opinion about helpful avatars. :-)

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