Technology: 5 factors that we hope to see in the new Windows phones

May 04, 2016, 08:20 IST | Hassan M Kamal

With Google and Microsoft having kissed and made up, we believe, the future for the new Windows phones may not be as bleak as it appears. Here's our wishlist...

The news of Intel quashing the Atom line of processors has recently raised questions about the future of the rumoured Microsoft Surface phone.

But the recent announcement of Microsoft and Google having come to an agreement to compete on quality of products, has added new life not just to the rumoured Surface phone but also to the Windows mobile ecosystem on the whole.

The Windows Lumia 950XL comes close to an ideal Windows phone, but misses out on important features, something we hope to be rectified in the future
The Windows Lumia 950XL comes close to an ideal Windows phone, but misses out on important features, something we hope to be rectified in the future

However, having spent a few days with the Lumia 950XL, we hope that the new Windows phones — whether Surface or Lumia — won’t repeat the same mistakes that Microsoft made with the Windows 950 series. Here’s a checklist of five factors that we hope to see in the new Windows phones:

1 A File Explorer that actually works: Who doesn’t dig the Windows File Explorer? It’s easy to navigate through folders, offers access to network computers and attached devices, and is great to join a home network. Unfortunately, Microsoft has repeatedly failed to capitalise that on the Windows phone platform. We felt that with Windows 10 OS for smartphones, things would change, but they haven’t. As we see in the Windows Lumia 950XL, the explorer has been stripped down of its most amazing features into a naked empty shell of folders. Microsoft, for some reason, thinks Windows Mobile users don’t want to connect with their home networks or devices connected to it. Wrong. Microsoft could take cues from the ES File Explorer available for Android on just what we are talking about.

2 We’d prefer a  better browser: Yes, Microsoft has worked really hard to improve the Edge Explorer, but let’s be honest; it can’t beat its competitors in terms of rendering Web pages. We hope that with Google and Microsoft coming to an agreement on competing with each other only via products and not lawsuits, Microsoft will be able to reach out to Google to show its benevolent side and release a Windows Mobile version of the Chrome browser. At the moment, the only alternative to Edge on Windows 10 mobile is UC Browser, which is as bad as the Edge in rendering websites.

3 Do not add to the baggage: The Continuum seemed like a great idea; we mean, imagine being able to use your phone as desktop PC. But at a time when we are looking at reducing the size and number of devices we carry with us, Microsoft added the Microsoft Display Dock to the Lumia 950XL along with a whole bunch of cables — a USB Type C cable, a charging port, an HDMI cable and more depending on the second display — that you may end up sorting out each time you open your bag. We would rather have Microsoft work on improving the Type-C display port, or come with some sort of app or wireless display option that enables the phone to be used as a PC on a larger display, hopefully with a wireless keyboard and mouse, but without any cables.

4 Support for non-Microsoft services: Somehow Microsoft seem to be unable to shake off the idea that its mobile consumers (mostly from the corporate world, it says) will want to enjoy services outside Microsoft. It has been working hard to make the Universal apps programme a success, and we will give it some time for that as well. But it will still be incomplete without popular Windows applications like Adobe and Corel to name a few. We expect a major push to come from the recent agreement between Microsoft and Google in this regard. We hear that several of the apps that are part of the Google ecosystem, including Google Play Music, Hangouts, YouTube and Google Voice are coming to the Windows Store.

5 Can we have some fun, please? Lastly, the Office 360 and One Drive are amazing (and enjoyable, if your company pays for it) and deserve the attention they have been receiving from Microsoft. But it will be equally useful for Microsoft to focus on some fun and entertainment features of its phones as well. For example, it could tell users about Wireless Display on Windows 10 OS phone, XBox connectivity across devices, the camera (and the Lumia camera app) that we loved on the Lumia 950 XL, and the built-in Here Maps that also allows offline navigation. It could also introduce new features like an infrared blaster to help you control your TV and other appliances. What say?

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