Linked by Thom Holwerda on Tue 11th Feb 2014 14:16 UTC
Windows

A lot of new features in Windows Phone 8.1 - to be released around April - are starting to appear. First and foremost, it seems Windows Phone is finally getting a notification centre, which was long overdue. Microsoft originally intended live tiles to replace notifications, but as someone who has used Windows Phone extensively, live tiles are annoying in that they don't always show the notification count, and on top of that, are generally too small to contain enough information, forcing you to go into the application anyway, defeating their purpose. It seems Microsoft has finally figured out that a notification centre is pretty much mandatory these days.

Furthermore, the private SDK releases reveal some more information, including some low-level changes.

The first significant change appears to be the initial signs of a Windows Phone and Windows RT merger. Microsoft has been hinting at this plan, and the SDK includes "Universal App" support with templates to build Windows Store and Windows Phone Store apps from the same shared HTML and JavaScript code.

There's more interesting stuff in there, like the ability to change the default messaging application, the back button will no longer terminate applications but suspend them, an improved camera application, and more.

All in all, it does look like a worthy update for Windows Phone users, but there's nothing in there that other platforms haven't been enjoying for years now. In other words, it doesn't really contain anything that gives the platform an edge over the competition or that makes it stand out. None of these features is going to convince an iOS or Android user from leaving their platform behind. Still, these are just the new features and changes extracted from the private SDK, so there's bound to be more stuff hiding in the shadows that we don't yet know about.

It's curious though that the preview SDK releases are private, something that was met with lots of complaints back during the run-up Windows Phone 8, since it means developers can't get their stuff ready before the release hits. Luckily, though, the new developer program does mean anyone can get the 8.1 update as soon as it's released.

I'm hoping my relatively old HTC 8X won't be left out of the loop, because this looks like a worthy update for Windows Phone users.

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Yawn
by reduz on Tue 11th Feb 2014 15:16 UTC
reduz
Member since:
2006-02-25

Still no OpenGL or ability to compile shaders on the fly.

Reply Score: 3

RE: Yawn
by Nelson on Tue 11th Feb 2014 18:49 UTC in reply to "Yawn"
Nelson Member since:
2005-11-29

Assuming that 8.1 Shader work carries over to the Phone, so this will change.

Also webGL support in IE11 and consequently HTML5 apps (also supported with WinJS)

Reply Score: 3

RE: Yawn
by moondevil on Tue 11th Feb 2014 19:24 UTC in reply to "Yawn"
moondevil Member since:
2005-07-08

Who cares?! Game engines abstract OS specific APIs anyway.

Reply Score: 3

RE[2]: Yawn
by JAlexoid on Tue 11th Feb 2014 21:51 UTC in reply to "RE: Yawn"
JAlexoid Member since:
2009-05-19

Since when is OpenGL OS specific?!?!?!

Reply Score: 2

RE[3]: Yawn
by moondevil on Tue 11th Feb 2014 22:36 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Yawn"
moondevil Member since:
2005-07-08

Since it requires operating system/language specific APIs for

- creating device contexts

- loading/drawing fonts

- loading textures

- loading shaders.

Reply Score: 3

RE[4]: Yawn
by JAlexoid on Fri 14th Feb 2014 01:15 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: Yawn"
JAlexoid Member since:
2009-05-19

How you're getting the data to OpenGL is beyond OpenGL's scope. Calling OpenGL OS specific because it is not concerned what other APIs you have to use is a misunderstanding, at the very least.

Reply Score: 2

What about...
by hdjhfds on Tue 11th Feb 2014 15:30 UTC
hdjhfds
Member since:
2013-08-19

The ability to disable the [place your preferred expletive here] search button?

I love nokia 820, but it makes me swear loudly every time I touch that button.

Reply Score: 3

RE: What about...
by avgalen on Tue 11th Feb 2014 16:07 UTC in reply to "What about..."
avgalen Member since:
2010-09-23

That, and the fact that swiping down only shows me some non-actionable actions are the only things I dislike about my 1020. The search button should just be a search on the current app/screen/window.

The 3 hardware buttons go from great to horrible:
1) Back, is awesome
2) Home/Talk is okay, but there is so much more that could be done with this
3) Search.........just nope

Reply Score: 4

RE[2]: What about...
by reduz on Tue 11th Feb 2014 17:02 UTC in reply to "RE: What about..."
reduz Member since:
2006-02-25

Search button is design by agenda.

Reply Score: 4

RE[3]: What about...
by Nelson on Tue 11th Feb 2014 18:45 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: What about..."
Nelson Member since:
2005-11-29

Bing Smart search in WP 8.1 will include information from within the current app as well, it will work a lot like the search in Windows 8.1

Reply Score: 3

Nothing to give it an edge
by missingxtension on Tue 11th Feb 2014 17:31 UTC
missingxtension
Member since:
2011-01-14

I understand why you would say that its nothing to give it an edge.
But it already has en edge in not being ios and android.

Ios is just not right and Android is turning into worse than ios. Some examples, why get rid of usb mounting!!! Why delete internal storage with factory reset!!..
I have used windows phone7-8, android 2-4, and blackberry 10, and ios when i am forced to.
By far windows is the faster operating system, it will not ever slow down, and i haven't wanted to root because i wasn't happy with it. Sure it has lots of flaws!!, and i mean a lot. No multi tasking, no auto rotate disable, and no side loading. Basically the worst of the bunch. But i find that it has a good enough browser that even works with apples find my phone and most any website. So i dont need no stinking apps.
Android is ok, but its just going the wrong way and its just too slow once i get all my baggage on it. I especially hate the buttonless design, as in software buttons on the screen. either give me a full set of capacitive or a full set of hardware. But dont mix them, or get rid of em and use gestures.

Blackberry 10 is actually a good compromise, it does slow down once the android portion gets cluttered. But other than i have been using gestures for a while in android and find it is the real multi tasking and easiest to use of all 4. It also has full flash support!, that means even if your screen is locked!. Flash will keep on running!!!

Edited 2014-02-11 17:40 UTC

Reply Score: 2

Bill Shooter of Bul Member since:
2006-07-14

why get rid of usb mounting


Because MTP works better, at least with Linux. No danger of unmounting the filesystem I'd imagine windows would work even better as they designed the spec, but also wouldn't be surprised if they didn't.

Why delete internal storage with factory reset!!.

Because factory reset means "reset to the state it was when it left the factory". The internal storage was empty when it came from the factory, hence it returns to emptiness. I agree there should be a "reset OS, leave my data alone" option, but it shouldn't be called "Factory Reset".

Reply Score: 4

RE[2]: Nothing to give it an edge
by moondevil on Tue 11th Feb 2014 19:27 UTC in reply to "RE: Nothing to give it an edge"
moondevil Member since:
2005-07-08

Because MTP works better, at least with Linux.


Really?! Last time I checked, I had to search the Internet for a way to get my S3 talking to Ubuntu.

Quite funny, how those vendors profit from Linux community, but could not provide support for the same community that make their profit even higher, by having less development costs.

Reply Score: 3

Bill Shooter of Bul Member since:
2006-07-14

It just works with my fedora 19 KDE setup. I did initially have struggles when I first got my Galaxy SIII. I had to install bleeding edge versions of packages. But now, support is pretty good, IMHO.

Reply Score: 3

RE[2]: Nothing to give it an edge
by Moochman on Tue 11th Feb 2014 20:42 UTC in reply to "RE: Nothing to give it an edge"
Moochman Member since:
2005-07-06

Too bad MTP sucks for Mac. They should at least have left in the option to use MSC, there is really no reason - from a user perspective - that they should have taken it out.

Reply Score: 4

Bill Shooter of Bul Member since:
2006-07-14

Yeah, never thought about that, but I imagine MTP probably does suck for mac users.

Reply Score: 2

missingxtension Member since:
2011-01-14

"Because MTP works better, at least with Linux. No danger of unmounting the filesystem I'd imagine windows would work even better as they designed the spec, but also wouldn't be surprised if they didn't."
No it doesnt, it requires drivers for windows xp and you can no longer use a phone as a usb drive. as in i could boot windows installations from usb storage. also you could gain access to formatting options within the operating system, like say you want extfat. And who unmmounts file systems anymore? I just make sure i never scandisk

"Because factory reset means "reset to the state it was when it left the factory". The internal storage was empty when it came from the factory"
I understand that, but it is still considered sd or internal storage. Thats why the system has its own partitions, just like in my computer i have a system partition and a user partition. It should not effect one or the other. Unless you hose your drive, thats exactly why i dont like windows 8, it doesn't ask you want to take ownership of your files, it automatically locks other users out. Its not like its a fool proof security mechanism, its like wep. Then the recovery is like something out of a phone, nothing like a good ol fashion (sarcasm) windows 7 boot disk.

Reply Score: 2

Bill Shooter of Bul Member since:
2006-07-14

Thanks for the additional information, but at this point I'm ignoring any complaints about windows xp support. Its too old, it shouldn't be supported anymore.

Reply Score: 3

RE: Nothing to give it an edge
by WorknMan on Tue 11th Feb 2014 21:17 UTC in reply to "Nothing to give it an edge"
WorknMan Member since:
2005-11-13

I understand why you would say that its nothing to give it an edge.
But it already has en edge in not being ios and android.


I don't know about that, but one other advantage it has is if they merge RT and Windows Phone, you could write one single application that works NATIVELY on phone, tablet and desktop. No need for any janky browser extensions. This is something that no other platform has, and something MS should've done years ago. They just need to find a better way to integrate Metro apps into the 'classic' desktop experience.

Reply Score: 4

RE[2]: Nothing to give it an edge
by JAlexoid on Tue 11th Feb 2014 21:56 UTC in reply to "RE: Nothing to give it an edge"
JAlexoid Member since:
2009-05-19

How many services would bother creating apps for the desktop?
I see that sentiment from a lot of people, but reality is that popular services can get away with a website.

Reply Score: 2

WorknMan Member since:
2005-11-13

How many services would bother creating apps for the desktop?
I see that sentiment from a lot of people, but reality is that popular services can get away with a website.


Yeah, which is kind of the problem, as I REALLY don't want to run all of my apps in a goddamn web browser... for several reasons, not the least of which is when one of those crash, I end up having to restart about 10 different apps. It's almost as bad as the OS crashing. With RT (assuming it merges), they can write one app that runs on all 3 platforms by default.

That's not saying I would switch for this reason, as Windows Phone is deficient in several other areas vs Android (esp when you have a tricked out custom rom with customizations out the ass, and much better selection of apps). But at least it's a step in the right direction, and is an advantage that no other platform has.

Edited 2014-02-11 22:48 UTC

Reply Score: 4

JAlexoid Member since:
2009-05-19

Let's be realistic - building a web-app is way more cost effective than building a native app. The main reason why the likes of Facebook had to implement native apps on iOS and Android is that the mobile browsers lacked the efficiency. Desktop has no such issues and by now one crashing web-app does not kill the whole browser(all browsers today manage to have separate processes for tabs/windows)

Reply Score: 2

WorknMan Member since:
2005-11-13

Let's be realistic - building a web-app is way more cost effective than building a native app.


Writing a shitty app is probably more cost-effective than writing a good one too, but that doesn't necessarily mean you should do it. Hopefully if you can write one version and have it run on 3 different form factors, that will entice more developers to do the right thing.

Desktop has no such issues and by now one crashing web-app does not kill the whole browser(all browsers today manage to have separate processes for tabs/windows)


So maybe whatever causes a browser to crash, or go into a coma (which mine do about once a day) isn't the cause of one specific app, but the end result is the same. And the only advice these browser vendors have is to re-install Flash, start up in safe mode, disable each extension one by one until/unless you find one that is causing the problem etc... a headache that wouldn't exist if more of these apps were native. It's like running Windows 3.1 all over again.

Reply Score: 2

Bill Shooter of Bul Member since:
2006-07-14

Hmmm. Sounds great in theory. Google and Apple could both do this. I wonder who will do it first/best.

I've always kind of thought that Apple could resurrect the forgotten dashboard widgets idea, but allow iphone apps there as well.

Reply Score: 2

RE: Nothing to give it an edge
by glarepate on Wed 12th Feb 2014 06:48 UTC in reply to "Nothing to give it an edge"
glarepate Member since:
2006-01-04

It has the kind of 'edge' that is on the back of a single sided axe blade.

"Windows Phone 8.1 features leak", huh? The unique aspect that this OS has is that features are starting to leak into it. About time too. If it weren't for Nokia forcing MSFT to buy the phone division it might not survive.

Just the same what is needed is for some of the other OSes to get established so that there will be some actual competition. Not just a failing OS that is struggling to reach a 3 year old feature set.

Reply Score: 2

RE: Nothing to give it an edge
by bert64 on Wed 12th Feb 2014 09:39 UTC in reply to "Nothing to give it an edge"
bert64 Member since:
2007-04-23

There are a number of reasons to remove USB mounting...

1, USB mounting practically requires FAT (not because its any good, but because thats all MS will bother supporting), which doesnt have support for file permissions among other things.
2, FAT isn't cluster aware, so the phone has to unmount the filesystem before passing it to the USB host - which means upsetting any applications which had files open.
3, MS hold patents on FAT32, and have threatened android vendors with this.

Reply Score: 1

RE[2]: Nothing to give it an edge
by zima on Thu 13th Feb 2014 17:55 UTC in reply to "RE: Nothing to give it an edge"
zima Member since:
2005-07-06

1, USB mounting practically requires FAT (not because its any good, but because thats all MS will bother supporting)

Windows supports NTFS-formatted pendrives just fine... ;)

Reply Score: 2

RE[3]: Nothing to give it an edge
by phoenix on Thu 13th Feb 2014 20:31 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Nothing to give it an edge"
phoenix Member since:
2005-07-11

And ISO9660, and UDF, and exFAT.

FAT32 is not the only filesystem that Windows supports.

Reply Score: 2

What about....
by jnemesh on Tue 11th Feb 2014 18:26 UTC
jnemesh
Member since:
2008-04-08

VPN support? Task manager? File manager? Still sounds like they have some catching up to do!

Reply Score: 6

RE: What about....
by hdjhfds on Tue 11th Feb 2014 18:31 UTC in reply to "What about...."
hdjhfds Member since:
2013-08-19

VPN support? Task manager? File manager? Still sounds like they have some catching up to do!


Since the last update, there's a rudimentary task manager. At least you can end tasks.

And there are file manager apps on the app store. But to be honest, they don't have access to the full file system. So they are of limited use.

I agree, there's still substantial catching up to do.

And the brain-dead search button does not help a bit.

Reply Score: 4

RE: What about....
by Nelson on Tue 11th Feb 2014 18:44 UTC in reply to "What about...."
Nelson Member since:
2005-11-29

VPN support and a File Picker are in 8.1. also WiFi Direct and Geofencing.

The most significant change is that they have finally unified the XAML stacks across Windows Phone and Windows. Its all WinRT XAML now.

This makes it even easier to share code across the phone and windows itself.

Reply Score: 3

Too little too late
by Wondercool on Tue 11th Feb 2014 23:52 UTC
Wondercool
Member since:
2005-07-08

As some people already commented, there is a lot wrong with WP 8, and it does not look like MS has the right urgency and pace to right all the wrongs.

I changed from Android and bought a Samsung Ativ for 180 euro 4 months ago. Fantastic hardware, but what mixed feelings about WP8.

Just some points, already mentioned by most posters. But it illustrates quite well how far away MS is from providing a decent alternative.

- Bad physical design, the Search button should be the Back button as that is where your thumb is.
- No indicator light
- Tiles don't update properly.
- I can't change my Search provider
- Search is not all encompassing
- No control about anything, almost nothing can be set to your preference. There are no 'advanced' settings.
- I use no Windows OS, and have a lot of trouble moving media to the phone. Why no standard USB mounting? Strange security settings, DRM, no proper codec support. No alternative media players.
- Why does scrolling to the left not do something? For instance some nice 'favourites' could be moved there? Underuse of interface in general.
- Ridiculous slow pace of meaningful updates, in a year almost no real progress has been made, compared to Android and even IOS.
- Bad copy and paste.

The leaks of the 'innovations' do not bode well. It seems MS is too slow with updates that are really making the OS better, and even worse, they don't really seem to understand what people want.

Reply Score: 3

RE: Too little too late
by bert64 on Wed 12th Feb 2014 09:43 UTC in reply to "Too little too late"
bert64 Member since:
2007-04-23

MS have never cared what the users want, because those users will buy their products anyway. They have carried over this arrogance to phones, and although it hasn't worked out well for them so far, rather than admit their products are crap and try to improve them they will just try to use brute force to push inferior products onto everyone.

And make no mistake, development may be slow now but just imagine how slow it would be if MS had a dominant position in the phone market?

Reply Score: 2

RE: Too little too late
by phoenix on Thu 13th Feb 2014 20:35 UTC in reply to "Too little too late"
phoenix Member since:
2005-07-11

- Bad physical design, the Search button should be the Back button as that is where your thumb is.


Only if you hold the phone in your right hand and use your right thumb for pressing buttons. I'm right-handed, and I hold my phones in my left hand so that my right hand can poke at the screen.

Plus, the consensus in just about every OS, every app, every web browser is that the back button points to the left, is located on the left, and sends you "back to the left".

IOW, the left side of the phone is the correct location for a "back" button. Hopefully, someday, Samsung will figure this out.

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: Too little too late
by Wondercool on Thu 13th Feb 2014 22:43 UTC in reply to "RE: Too little too late"
Wondercool Member since:
2005-07-08

Most people in the world are right handed and will hold the phone in the right hand.

Best would be to make it a setting. I don't mind if MS would hide it 5 menus deep. But guess what? MS does not care.

Reply Score: 1