Feeds

Oh no, Joe: WinPhone users already griping over 8.1 mega-update

Hang on. Which bit of Developer Preview don't you understand?

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

Our night on the tiles

  • So go the Tiles?

Microsoft had planned to include new Notifications management in the last major update ("Apollo" or Windows Phone 8.1) in 2012, but it wasn't ready in time. It's here in 8.1 and has been positively received. This is a pragmatic acknowledgement that Live Tiles aren't ideal as a notification mechanism. But somewhat surprisingly the Tiles haven't been modernised either - they still display one calendar appointment or the most recent email, for example.

  • The new Calendar deprecates Agenda and Tasks

The redesigned Calendar in Windows Phone 8.1 is a big improvement for basic appointment handling, but it's lost the useful Agenda view completely, and relegated Tasks to a submenu.

That's because horizontal swipe gestures now scroll temporally through the calendar, rather than taking you different function-based panels. Users of Microsoft's own webmail and millions of Exchange business users make heavy use of Tasks. Microsoft hasn't communicated what the plan is supposed to be yet... Abandon Tasks for OneNote? Wait for a Tasks app?

  • Change for the sake of it?

Any change to established working practices is bound to bring grumbles, but some design decisions are puzzling users. Text editing has changed subtly, as the method by which you manoeuvre the "cursor" (what old Windows programmers know is really a "caret", not a "cursor") into place has changed. With this one, your thumb covers up where you want the cursor to go.

The People Hub takes a step back by losing the useful "Recent" pane - I found this a very useful memory jogger. Clicking an entry in the phone history list now calls them straight back - rather than bringing up their contact card. (You must click a fiddly icon to bring this up). There's now a rather me-too-ish "Speed Dial" - a job performed by Tiles or Groups now. Many users have seen their comma key replaced with a full stop.

Calling the update "Windroid" is pretty unfair, but the cumulative impression of these changes is that it's marginally less intuitive. And this kind of futzing contrasts with serious inactivity elsewhere. So it's disappointing to find that IMAP messages can't be flagged (it's probably the only email client in the world now that doesn't support this). By now you should be able to choose from which email account you send or respond to an email - as you can on the major platforms.

Hopefully Microsoft gets its "listening ears" on.

  • General Bugliness

From reading through the many quite justified complaints you'd get the impression that this was a consumer release of Windows Phone. It isn't, it's a "Preview", and for good reason.

Microsoft hasn't released this because it loves Apple fanbois the most and wants to make them happy. It's released it so application developers can learn and incorporate the new APIs, and tweak their applications as they see fit.

So it's buggy. As you'd expect.

Bugs I have encountered include the sad death of the Speakerphone (this now invokes Mute - but since Mute still invokes Mute, it means we've lost the Speakerphone), while others report an unresponsive power button.

I also found the on-device search pretty unusable. What happens now is that the Bing button performs its Internet searches (web, local, video and images) just as it does in 8.0. You must wait for that to complete, and only then can you perform the on-device search by swiping left. That can take some time. It's a pretty awful implementation.

And power management is very beta - with drops of between 20 and 50 per cent over 8.0 widely reported. All in all, it's not an end user release - but then it shouldn't be considered one really.

Microsoft has itself to blame here, because it wanted to lower the bar to encourage developers. Only it lowered the bar so low, an idiot can step over it. Cue outraged "consumers". It would have been more sensible to release it via MSDN or require some kind of accreditation. ®

* Anyone who has signed up for a Microsoft Live account, including all manner of fanbois...

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

More from The Register

next story
Download alert: Nearly ALL top 100 Android, iOS paid apps hacked
Attack of the Clones? Yeah, but much, much scarier – report
NSA SOURCE CODE LEAK: Information slurp tools to appear online
Now you can run your own intelligence agency
Microsoft: Your Linux Docker containers are now OURS to command
New tool lets admins wrangle Linux apps from Windows
Microsoft adds video offering to Office 365. Oh NOES, you'll need Adobe Flash
Lovely presentations... but not on your Flash-hating mobe
You stupid BRICK! PCs running Avast AV can't handle Windows fixes
Fix issued, fingers pointed, forums in flames
HTML5 vs native: Harry Coder and the mudblood mobile app princes
Developers just want their ideas to generate money
prev story

Whitepapers

Go beyond APM with real-time IT operations analytics
How IT operations teams can harness the wealth of wire data already flowing through their environment for real-time operational intelligence.
10 threats to successful enterprise endpoint backup
10 threats to a successful backup including issues with BYOD, slow backups and ineffective security.
Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Website security in corporate America
Find out how you rank among other IT managers testing your website's vulnerabilities.