Perşembe, Ocak 01, 2009

What Microsoft needs to do immediately

There are some things that Microsoft needs to do about Windows Mobile. Its the interface. If there will be a WM version 6.5, some UI problems needs to be fixed.

For example:

What is this, for God's sake? It looks like the result of a high school students programming project. I never saw a calculator application as bad as this one in any mobile operating system. You can even look at the calculators of Palm OS 3.5 or Psion 5mx, they are better. It can be said that, it doesn't matter how a calculator application looks. But, i think this is the sign of how inelaborate and how desolated WM is.

Also, it must be said that some mobile platforms ship with scientific calculators. Even ten year old ones like EPOC32.

This is the File Explorer application of Windows Mobile. It seems that the engineers that developed this part never thought about how poeople are going to use it. What is the most important part of a File Explorer? Files! What is the fate of files in this interface? As you see, not good. I don't care about the date or size of a file. File name is important for me. But this UI show only the first 12 characters of the file names.

What needs to be done here? It must be optional to display file dates and file sizes. Simple.

This is the default Alarms view. I didn't make any changes. After purchasing a brand new Windows Mobile device, if you want to set an alarm, you encounter this interface.

Let me tell you what happened the first time I set an alarm: It didn't sound. Why? Because, those letters are first letters of days and in the default setting of WM, alarms only sound in Mondays! (P S Ç P C C P - of course they are different in English)

Two problems here. First one: Naturally, users assume that if they set an alarm using the default settings, it must sound. If there is a choice of days, all must be selected by default. The second problem is, there is no interface element like this day selector in any part of the Windows Mobile. This is the only one. This is an unfamiliar interface element to the user.

I think this interface element is inspired by the Palm OS UI.

Lets continue from the same screen. There is an edit button. But when you click it, you see that all the items are inactive. So why this menu is there?

If alarms will not sound, will you please provide me a button to go to the appropriate settings window?

You click Tools and there is only one item: Options. So why this is a sub menu? Is it fun to make user click more and more?

There is an About item in the main menu of Word Mobile. Did I miss something? I thought Word Mobile was created by Microsoft, not some microISV that needs to spread its name. This should have been hidden under some other menu. I will not click About everyday to see who made this program. Mobile UIs must be designed very carefully. Unimportant things should not get in users way.

Some parts of Windows Mobile gives me a feeling that some things are missing. Take Menus setting for example. It is about Start Menu. That means "one" menu. There are no settings about multiple "menus" in here.

Lets look at the Settings part of Windows Mobile a little more. As you see, there are three tabs, Personal, System and Connections. But I think this categorization is wrong. How many times you need to change Owner Settings? or Button mappings? or Input settings? But you need to access Brightness, Memory and Power settings every day, right?

Lets look at Contacts. I want to add someone new to my adress book. The first screen has these fields: Name, picture, company, department, job title, file as, work tel, work fax, work addr, IM, email, mobile tel, web page, office loc, home tel, home addr, categories, other addr, pager, car tel, home fax, company tel, work2 tel, work3 tel, radio tel, IM2, IM3, email2, email3, asistant, asistant tel, manager, Govt. ID, account, customer ID, birthday, anniversary, spouse, children. There are 39 fields. These include pager, car tel, home fax and assistant tel! What if I just want to add info about my friend? I must scroll through lots of unnecessary fields to reach to the birthday field.

It is good to have lots of fields. But I can't understand the idea of listing all of them in one screen. Unnecessary ones must be hidden by default. Even Psion 5mx had "Add new field" button.

Contacts app in TrueVGA/RealVGA mode.

I think Microsoft get a lot of inspiration from the Newton OS notes application. Even when you are copying the features of your competitors, you must first stop and think about it. How this feature will be used? Which one is better? An integrated or a seperate "voice notes" application?

IE Mobile's Favorites screen. Why Add and Delete are grouped together? What is this wasted space? Do we really need an horizontal scrollbar?

And this is my version of the same screen.

I think this one is better!

There are more that needs to be said. But Windows Mobile can be made a lot more usable with small changes. Developers need to think more on how mobile devices are used. These are mobile devices, they are used on the go. UI needs to be well thought out. Developers needs to focus on solutions, not features.

Click to view other English posts in my blog!

What is the difference between VGA and QVGA Pocket PC screens? Click to find out!

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