HTC One W8

HTC press event August 19th for One W8 Windows Phone?

Rumors

Verizon to get HTC One (W8) for Windows Phone on August 21

Windows Phone News

Microsoft exec hints at new HTC Windows Phone at Computex

Windows Phone News

HTC W8 to reportedly include BoomSound and duo cameras

Windows Phone News

HTC W8 reported to be a 'flagship' Windows Phone 8.1 release for Verizon

Apps

Pin a big old clock on your Windows Phone 8.1 Start screen with Clock Hub

Software

Sprint confirms Windows Phone 8.1 update for HTC 8XT and Samsung ATIV S Neo this summer

Rumors

HTC rumored to be building a Windows Phone version of the new Android flagship

Windows Phone News

Windows Phone market share surpasses BlackBerry in the U.S.

Editorials

Windows Phone is losing some hardware differentiation as Microsoft woos Android manufacturers

Windows Phone News

HTC confirms 8X to get Windows Phone 8.1

General News

Nokia and HTC settle all litigation, sign massive patent and technology deal

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German court shuts down one of Nokia's patent suits against HTC

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Nokia prevails in German Patent Lawsuit against HTC, device injunction could follow

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UK courts grant Nokia injunction against HTC Android hardware

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Deal Alert: Unlocked HTC 8X available for $249 at Microsoft's online Store

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Grab the Verizon HTC 8X for $199 with Deal Steals

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Nokia wins patent battle against HTC in the UK; now seeking sales ban

Windows Phone News

HTC 8X receiving Update 3 around the world

Windows Phone News

Windows Phone Update 3 now available for the Sprint HTC 8XT

30

The Windows Mobile Interface

So this entry started as a simple post about how Laptop Mag [via Ciccone] has scored an interview with HTC CEO Peter Chou about HTC's plans for 2008. It's turned into an analysis of why I think the Windows Mobile interface works (and doesn't work) the way that it does and ends with 5 suggestions for Microsoft to improve it. Sometimes these things just sneak up on you.

First, let's get that interview out the way. Quite a bit of it is Android-centric (since that's due later this year), but there's plenty of crunchy Windows Mobile goodness to, er, crunch:

The Windows Mobile platform has a lot of good stuff inside, but the user interface has not been easy. It is very techy and not intuitive. HTC decided to innovate on the user experience, so we launched the HTC Touch and it was a great success. [emphasis mine]

Here's one other tidbit that Chou drops:

This year, we are coming out with even more exciting new product innovations, and we are more focused on the mobile Internet experience. Mobile Internet is going to be key in terms of making the experience more successful.

Will HTC fix our browser problem before Microsoft does? Ponder that for a second, then read on for my thoughts (and rants) about the Windows Mobile interface!

Lizard Brain Intuition

Ok, with regard to that first part of Chou's quote, that the interface is “very techy and not intuitive.” Seems like the time to mount a full throated defense of the WM interface. But no: Chou is right. Although there are some intuitive elements to Windows Mobile (i.e. “Just start typing” to find stuff in contacts, email), they're the kind of “intuitive” that aren't immediately discoverable. Which is the opposite of what “intuitive” is supposed to mean. A contradiction, right? Right.

“Intuitive” is different for different contexts. Here's what intuitive usually means: The ideal interface would somehow get into our lizard brains and we would “get” it like we “get” how to pick up a rock. That's an intuitive interface: a freaking rock. Pick it up, throw it, break stuff. Advanced users: skip it across the water. The iPhone and TouchFLO are much closer to that “lizard brain” intuition than Windows Mobile by dint of their “just touch/move parts around” interface. Microsoft needs to catch up in this field in the worst way. Chou is exactly right, WM is not intuitive in that sense.

“System Intuition”

But there are other kinds of “intuitive interfaces” that we learn very early and though they might not be based on our instinctual lizard brain, they are learned deeply enough that they may as well be “intuitive.” The mouse on your computer is a good example. Sure, there's a “move stuff” metaphor there, but clicking for selecting is the sort of thing you have to learn, but once you do you can apply it in all sorts of scenarios. Same thing for the “right click” on the desktop. A little weird, but once you get that you can generally click the right mouse button for “other options” it can become second nature.

I'll call it “system intuition” even though there's almost surely an actual term for this kind of learned, quasi-intuitive interface knowledge. I just don't know it. If you do - please educate me via the comments!

Driving a manual transmission car, operating various faucets via knobs and levers, dialing a telephone. All learned interfaces that aren't immediately intuitive but become learned so deeply that they may as well be.

Windows Mobile can have this kind of System Intuition for “Pro” users. It often can't for most others. This is a problem.

Windows Mobile is not Windows

The fundamental problem with the interface on Windows Mobile is that Microsoft attempted to leverage our desktop “system intuition” for the smartphone. In theory, this isn't all that bad of an idea. There's a comfort level to mapping an already-known interface to another context. It also can bring along certain associations that can be helpful to the new context. So, for example, a smartphone that you interact with “like Windows” might feel inherently more “like a computer” and “more powerful.”

Here's the thing, though, the desktop is a crappy interface for a mobile device. Here's another thing: people don't feel all that fuzzy about Windows anymore. Here's the last and most important thing: the Windows Mobile interface is hardly like Windows desktop at all and suffers where it actually is like the Windows Desktop.

This is why I cringe every time somebody tries to sell Windows Mobile by saying “It's just like Windows. It's very familiar.” It's not just like Windows, it has an entirely different interface that only partially maps to Windows. Again, where it does map, it stinks. Examples of how Windows Mobile is worse because it shares interface elements with Windows Desktop:

  1. The drop-down “Start Menu” on Windows Mobile Pro. Yes, many people like this, but the target area for the elements in this menu are too small. This is bad
  2. Right clicking by holding down the stylus or the 5-way pad. Seriously, this is a bad idea.
  3. The stylus, period. Again, some folks like it. I find the stylus a horrible stand-in for the mouse and will go to extreme lengths to avoid having to use it. Bad.
  4. The “x” to “close” but not “quit” (though sometimes it will) programs. First off, I shouldn't have to think about memory that often on my mobile device. Bad. Secondly, there's another area (the task manager) that's tangentially related (on many versions of Windows Mobile) Bad. Oh, and it's a really tiny area in the upper-right-hand corner that's difficult to tap with my finger. Really Bad.

...I could probably go on, but I want to point something out here: many of my gripes are based on Windows Mobile Pro, the touchscreen version. I've said here and in our forums that I prefer Smartphone edition lately but can't rightly explain why beyond a feeling that it handles memory better. Now I can explain it: Smartphone Edition has less of the Windows Desktop System Intuition built into its interface and feels better for it.

An Interface To Do List for Microsoft

Let's just end with a few ways Microsoft can fix this:

  1. Forget about the desktop. It doesn't exist. It never existed. Instead, think about how you interact with that rock I mentioned earlier. It's not a mistake that Jeff Hawkins invented the Palm Pilot by carrying around a block of wood. Whatever the present-day equivalent of carrying around a block of wood is, do that.
  2. Unify the platform (you said you would): It's bad enough that there's Desktop Windows interface elements in Windows Mobile. It's well-nigh unforgivable that Windows Mobile Pro and Windows Mobile standard don't share the same interface “System Intuition.”
  3. Keep your strengths (yes, you do have them). One example: that “just start typing” feature, it's really cool. It's a core strength. Let me “Just start typing” for everything. Contacts. Email. Apps. Appointments. Internet, even, if the bandwidth is there. (Update: see also "glanceable information" in the comments!)
  4. Maintain some backwards compatibility, but don't kill yourself to do it. You guys handled the PocketPC 2003 -> Windows Mobile transition really well, you can do it again with the next version.
  5. Work with your manufacturers to let them customize, but don't let them go crazy with it. Right now it's just a little too “Wild Wild West,” out there. We want innovations like TouchFLO, but we also want consistency.

A tall order, perhaps, but check out that there iPhone, it's pretty serious stuff, interface-wise.

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Comments

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says:

Besides leveraging the desktop, there's a paradigm in WM which most critics just dont get. MS has a view that when mobile its all about "glanceable information" ie its not about the apps, but the information synchronized from the desktop or exchange server. WM is not app centric. Its not even task centric. It tries to be information centric. Its not brilliant at it, but the today screen is the center of activity on a WM device, and for some-one thats very busy having info thats glanceable is very valuable.
PalmOs and the iPhone are of course app centric, which in a way seems rather dated, but also is much more intuitive to the lay person.
If MS were to copy the iPhone and its playskool interface, one can only hope they dont lose one of the most powerful aspect of their OS, the ease with which apps can expose and surface their information to the user on the home screen.
Surur

Dieter Bohn says:

Excellent point, Surur - I agree. That's another one for point 3 - add to your strengths.
I should also note that there's a rumor Microsoft intends to use Gesture-based interface stuff, which almost takes my "rock" metaphor literally. ;)
http://www.wmexperts.com/articles/rumors/windows_mobile_7_to_sport_gest....

says:

Awesome article. When I used WinMob, I *loved* me some Today screen, and always wanted exactly that on my Palm treo. (And still wouldn't mind something like that on the iPhone, obscene as that may seem).
But the problem with WinMob is far greater than that. It's a rushed, incomplete, unfocused, me-too, me-to-late, cludgy pile of steaming Microsoft 2000. It suffers from the lack of coherent development and incomprehensible lack of integration, and worse--the announce over release strategy that has plagued Microsoft for the last decade.
When Gates showed that keynote demo where he picked up his handset, travelled around, and every desktop picked up his info and tasks effortlessly, I wanted that. I still want that. Microsoft should never have demo'd that. They should have delivered that. No one else can leverage integration across server, desktop, handheld, and living room the way Microsoft theoretically could, but instead of one killer extension after another, we get overhyped, underperforming blech (not even having to look at Zune here...)
And now they're focused on Yahoo and advertising.
I'm not sure when the schizoid break happened, but they desperately need to get themselves some gameplan back and start delivering again.

says:

It suffers from the lack of coherent development and incomprehensible lack of integration, and worse--the announce over release strategy that has plagued Microsoft for the last decade.
I'm not sure when the schizoid break happened, but they desperately need to get themselves some gameplan back and start delivering again.
I suspect its around when they were convicted of leveraging their desktop monopoly to crush competitors in other arenas. I suspect, like IBM, they have a lawyer sitting in on each meeting saying a quiet tut each time some-one suggest integrating the desktop or office too tightly with anything else, and especially not freely licensing their technologies (like exchange activesync) to competitors.
Its unlikely MS will feel free to use their integration advantage any time soon. MS was due to come out of anti-trust supervision this year, but its been extended for another 2 years, and possibly even six. Just look at the massive fines the EU loves to hand out. Not to mention the democrats are coming into power again...
Surur

says:

I think MS could (and should) be aggressive without stepping over the line into illegal. The lawsuit is often said to be about bundling, but they took it a step further to create hostile conditions (via leveraging dependent companies to exclude competing products).
I think Windows Live could be a great example of that, where they can ship Vista and give people the choice of using Live, or getting something else like Google, Yahoo, etc.
Xbox media extension is another good example. If they hooked Media Center into Xbox and Zune (and combined Zune and WinMob into a single coherent mobile strategy), I think they'd be much better positioned.

says:

Besides leveraging the desktop, there's a paradigm in WM which most critics just dont get. MS has a view that when mobile its all about "glanceable information" ie its not about the apps, but the information synchronized from the desktop or exchange server. WM is not app centric. Its not even task centric. It tries to be information centric. Its not brilliant at it, but the today screen is the center of activity on a WM device, and for some-one thats very busy having info thats glanceable is very valuable.
That's true of the Today screen but too often it's not true elsewhere. Too often (IMO) stuff is tucked away in hidden menus. Here's a pic:
[INDENT][/INDENT]
Is there any sensible reason why some of the stuff in that menu couldn't be on the main screen?

says:

... like this:
[INDENT][/INDENT]
:)

says:

Like this?
Are you so devoid of imagination that you could not think of a better example than the overrated iPhone? Did you really think the iPhone invented call status buttons?
Surur

says:

I made no claims of invention. The iPhone pic was just an example.
For the record I think both this:
[INDENT][/INDENT]
and this:
[INDENT][/INDENT]
are better than this:
[INDENT][/INDENT]
Largely because the first two are 'glanceable' and the third is a bit of a UI disaster.

Dieter Bohn says:

Like this?
Are you so devoid of imagination that you could not think of a better example than the overrated iPhone? Did you really think the iPhone invented call status buttons?
Surur
The problem is that your example isn't the default on WinMo.

says:

The problem is that your example isn't the default on WinMo.
Neither is this.
The default dialer in WM are these.
and can be easily skinned to look like this for example.
or this.
as can be seen in this 2005 article.http://forums.thoughtsmedia.com/showthread.php?t=75354
Palm's abomination is its own business.
Surur

says:

Palm's abomination is its own business
Fair point. When I introduced it though I really wasn't aiming at concentrating specifically on the dialler screen and to be honest I can't really remember what that screen was like on the last WM device I owned (a Vario II - I didn't have it too long). It was meant to exemplify a general point that 'Too often (IMO) stuff is tucked away in hidden menus.' Ok it may have been a bad example, but isn't that right-hand 'Menu' button (and the associated menu with its contents hidden away in a decidedly non-glanceable fashion) pretty prevalent in WM5/6? That's bad IMO. Perhaps Palm were just aiming at UI consistency?

says:

Fair point. When I introduced it though I really wasn't aiming at concentrating specifically on the dialler screen and to be honest I can't really remember what that screen was like on the last WM device I owned (a Vario II - I didn't have it too long). It was meant to exemplify a general point that 'Too often (IMO) stuff is tucked away in hidden menus.' Ok it may have been a bad example, but isn't that right-hand 'Menu' button (and the associated menu with its contents hidden away in a decidedly non-glanceable fashion) pretty prevalent in WM5/6? That's bad IMO. Perhaps Palm were just aiming at UI consistency?
Palm copied the PalmOS dialer onto WM5, and hid the native dialer.
If you knew your WM history you would know that in WM2003SE the UI was stylus-focused, and had many more functions exposed in an icon bar through-out the whole UI.
In WM5 the focus was moved to one-handed usage and being able to use the device without touching the screen. In WM5 this meant soft-keys and menus, which are the prevalent way of presenting options in most normal phones. Why this fact is ignored is beyond me. Why is leveraging dumb-phone user's familiarity such a sin?
Now the tide is turning again, and we all want to touch the screen again. I still however enjoy being able to control my phone from my d-pad for 90% of the time, and even if an option is on a menu, a device with an exposed keypad and menu system can be a lot faster than one with a touch screen only. Ask any Treo user.
Example - in the WM pocket outlook, I can switch between e-mail accounts just by pushing the d-pad to the left. I can cycle through my 4 accounts in less than 4 seconds.
Sure, menu's impede discoverability, but not necessarily efficiency.
Surur

says:

While I am also aware of the interface limitations of Windows Mobile, in part I feel that this is due to Microsoft trying to preserve compatibility of software between different iterations. That said, there have been significant interface improvements over the years.
Anyone remember the useability horrors of Palm Size PC and the start button in the lower left with cascading menus? The jump to Pocket PC 2002 was a huge improvement. The use of soft keys in the transition from PPC 2003 to WM5 PPC was a response to the criticism at the time that the PPC was too stylus-centric for a smartphone. The UI guidelines were that the left soft key was to be for the most commonly used task, while the right soft key would display the context menu.
In fact, much of the improvements in WM5 PPC were actually borrowed from the entirely 'new' OS (at the time) of Smartphone 2002 which had no touch screen. I use a touchscreen device for my phone, because I need certain software, but have always preferred the relative simplicity of the non-touchscreen variant, and Windows Mobile 6.1 Standard is streets ahead in useability.

says:

Palm copied the PalmOS dialer onto WM5
I used nothing but Treos (a 600 and and then a 650) for about three years and I'd beg to differ with that. The on-call screens are really very different:
[INDENT][/INDENT]
Anyway, where Palm got there WM screen isn't really the point.If you knew your WM history you would know that in WM2003SE the UI was stylus-focused, and had many more functions exposed in an icon bar through-out the whole UI.
In WM5 the focus was moved to one-handed usage and being able to use the device without touching the screen.
Oh I know! I had an iMate Jam (PPC2003SE) and I think my first post to a forum like this (actually PPC Thoughts, IIRC) was a moan about how you had to use a stylus to do almost everything. I'm certainly not saying WM5/6 aren't way better in that respect, they very clearly are.In WM5 this meant soft-keys and menus, which are the prevalent way of presenting options in most normal phones. Why this fact is ignored is beyond me. Why is leveraging dumb-phone user's familiarity such a sin?
Now the tide is turning again, and we all want to touch the screen again. I still however enjoy being able to control my phone from my d-pad for 90% of the time, and even if an option is on a menu, a device with an exposed keypad and menu system can be a lot faster than one with a touch screen only. Ask any Treo user.
Example - in the WM pocket outlook, I can switch between e-mail accounts just by pushing the d-pad to the left. I can cycle through my 4 accounts in less than 4 seconds.
Sure, menu's impede discoverability, but not necessarily efficiency.
The cheap shot here of course is to note that my original point was that the WM UI in general (not always) has poor glanceability, a point I guess (from the above) you're accepting now.
That aside, the 'touch-screen only' vs 'buttons and hidden menus' debate is pretty interesting. In case it's not clear I mean menus the contents of which are hidden until they're activated. This:
[INDENT][/INDENT]
it seems to me, is every bit as much a menu as this:
[INDENT][/INDENT]
It's just that on the iPhone it isn't hidden. I'd argue that in those two instances the iPhone solution is both more 'discoverable' and more efficient going on. To mute for instance: iPhone - look at screen, tap the Mute button; Treo - look at screen/device, push the Menu button, scroll to 'Mute', and push the selection button. That's just one example of course and I take your point about moving between email accounts. I'm sure we could come up with a whole bunch more examples on both sides of the fence. I suspect that the conclusion I at least would come to after thinking about lots of examples would be this: yes sometimes buttons are better and yes sometimes a touch screen is better, but the determining factor as to which is the best method overall on a particular device is screen real estate. On big screen devices touch wins, but on smaller screen handsets a button centric UI is best. Seems to me many of the problems in WM UI result from it having to work on a wide range of devices: big screens and small screens, keyboard and keyboardless devices, devices with and without physical buttons mapped to on-screen buttons, devices with different processor speeds, devices with good graphics processing and devices without, etc, etc. Essentially impossible to optimise in that situation.

says:

You make perfect sense, but of course there is a utility in having one OS on many physical form factors. The people asking for an improved UI should ask themselves whether it will improve things in all cases, and if it will result in much increased complexity or not.
Surur

says:

You make perfect sense,
Thanks for that.but of course there is a utility in having one OS on many physical form factors.
Agreed. The people asking for an improved UI should ask themselves whether it will improve things in all cases, and if it will result in much increased complexity or not.
Despite my gloom-and-doom, can't be optimised prognosticating above I do think there are some very simple things Microsoft could do to make things better. Case in point (pet peeve), how about making the size of menu bars configurable by the hardware manufacturers? On the small, square-screen Treos they're just way too big and take up too much of the screen. With hardware buttons for the two lower screen buttons and one for the Start Menu too there'd be little if any loss of functionality for how most people use the device if they were slimmed down a bit.

says:

Case in point (pet peeve), how about making the size of menu bars configurable by the hardware manufacturers? On the small, square-screen Treos they're just way too big and take up too much of the screen. With hardware buttons for the two lower screen buttons and one for the Start Menu too there'd be little if any loss of functionality for how most people use the device if they were slimmed down a bit.
At this stage that may break a lot of software. Anyway, we have seen screenshots of wm7, so we have an idea where things are going.
Surur

says:

First, let me say that I don't think leveraging users' Windows experience is bad. I think it helps people coming to Windows Mobile in many ways, so let me try to rebut Dieter's list of "bad" WM items:
[quote="Dieter">The drop-down ?Start Menu? on Windows Mobile Pro. Yes, many people like this, but the target area for the elements in this menu are too small. This is bad
I don't think the Start Menu itself is bad. You can argue that the menu isn't finger-friendly, but that's another issue.
[quote="Dieter">Right clicking by holding down the stylus or the 5-way pad. Seriously, this is a bad idea.
Seriously, it's not. It's direct manipulation done pretty well. You select an item with the stylus, and hold it to get a menu. It's as easy to learn as right-clicking was in Windows (or Option clicking on the Mac).
[quote="Dieter">The stylus, period. Again, some folks like it. I find the stylus a horrible stand-in for the mouse and will go to extreme lengths to avoid having to use it. Bad.
I think the stylus is perfectly fine for a mouse replacement in many areas. With a touchscreen, it allows more directly manipulating items than a mouse does. A mouse wouldn't be practical with a PDA and other systems that used on-screen pointers (the iPAQ hx4700 and maybe another device or two) haven't taken the world by storm, either.
In particular, the stylus is good for precise pointing and things like inking. Saying you wish the system were more finger-friendly is another issue. However, a stylus is every bit as good as a finger with the exception that you don't have to find your finger.
[quote="Dieter">The ?x? to ?close? but not ?quit? (though sometimes it will) programs. First off, I shouldn't have to think about memory that often on my mobile device. Bad. Secondly, there's another area (the task manager) that's tangentially related (on many versions of Windows Mobile) Bad. Oh, and it's a really tiny area in the upper-right-hand corner that's difficult to tap with my finger. Really Bad.
Dieter contradicts himself here. He says he shouldn't have to think about memory that often, and that's exactly why the Microsoft team made the button not really close -- to keep the application in memory (and therefore more responsive when "starting" it again) and Microsoft was going to worry about memory. (Read The Emperor Has No Close on MSDN for more information.)
I'm not sure exactly what the point is about the Task manager, but I assume it's that Windows Mobile should have one. I agree (and so do thousands of other WM users). It sounds like WM 6.1 will finally get one.
Finally, the "close" button in the upper right makes perfect sense to leverage users' Windows experience. You can argue that it's not finger-friendly, of course.
One thing I've suggested in other forums is adding a "finger-friendly" setting to Windows Mobile (maybe a Settings applet). With it off, the UI would be the same as today (for anybody who likes using a stylus); with it on, menu items would be spaced apart more, you might get a different SIP, etc.
I think that finger-friendly mode would solve all of your problems.
[list]
[*]The Start menu items would be spaced farther apart (although you might not see as many, then).
Alternatively, you could make the Start menu behave like the WM Standard one (which is really just the Programs item in the Start menu of WM Classic/Professional). You should have a way to organize the icons to your liking, though (without hacking the registry, like you can on the Smartphone).
[*]Tap-and-hold would be doable with a finger (it is currently, except for some smaller elements).
[*]You wouldn't need a stylus except in certain applications where its precision was useful.
[*]The title bar would likely be taller to make the Start and Close icons easier to press.
[/list]
Some people may not like the last item, but if you want a more finger-friendly device, you have to make items on the screen larger.
Now let's focus on the recommendations.
[quote="Dieter">1. Forget about the desktop. It doesn't exist. It never existed. Instead, think about how you interact with that rock I mentioned earlier. It's not a mistake that Jeff Hawkins invented the Palm Pilot by carrying around a block of wood. Whatever the present-day equivalent of carrying around a block of wood is, do that.
I'm not sure what that "block of wood" is about. Was that to gauge what the appropriate size should be? If so, that time is long gone; we already have a good idea about device sizes.
If it was something else, it may be too late. Designing a new device (like the Palm Pilot) is one thing; refining devices that have been around for years is another.
[quote="Dieter">2. Unify the platform (you said you would): It's bad enough that there's Desktop Windows interface elements in Windows Mobile. It's well-nigh unforgivable that Windows Mobile Pro and Windows Mobile standard don't share the same interface ?System Intuition.?
Agreed, mostly. The applications should be the same. (For example, why is Tasks on the Smartphone a shadow of the one on the Pocket PC? Why are Calendar and Contacts missing some fields on the Smartphone that are in the Pocket PC versions?) Why isn't there a general Copy/Paste function on the Smartphone (at least not until 6.1).
However, I don't know that complete unification is possible. Touch vs. non-touch is a major paradigm change. You should have the same functions available on both, but the way you do them may well be quite different. That can hurt "system intuition".
[quote="Dieter">3. Keep your strengths (yes, you do have them). One example: that ?just start typing? feature, it's really cool. It's a core strength. Let me ?Just start typing? for everything. Contacts. Email. Apps. Appointments. Internet, even, if the bandwidth is there. (Update: see also "glanceable information" in the comments!)
Search-by-typing is good. And who can argue with "keep your strengths"? I think that's a big DUH. :D
[quote="Dieter">4. Maintain some backwards compatibility, but don't kill yourself to do it. You guys handled the PocketPC 2003 -> Windows Mobile transition really well, you can do it again with the next version.
Again, this is a big DUH. Can you imagine what would have happened to Windows if they lost most backward compatibility? That would give the Mac or Linux a huge boost. But how does this suggestion improve the user experience? At best, it keeps it the same.
Also, either there's a typo there or Dieter needs to get his facts straight. There was no "Pocket PC 2003" (although a lot of people used that term for "Windows Mobile 2003"), so there was no transition from PPC 2003 to WM. I'm not sure if he means the transition from Pocket PC 2002 to Windows Mobile 2003 here (WM 2003 had a lot of infrastructure changes) or WM 2003 (SE) to WM 5.
[quote="Dieter">5. Work with your manufacturers to let them customize, but don't let them go crazy with it. Right now it's just a little too ?Wild Wild West,? out there. We want innovations like TouchFLO, but we also want consistency.
Yes, but that's a big balancing act. Maybe if Microsoft certified devices with non-standard interfaces in a usability test, that would weed out the bad ideas, but I'm not sure OEMs would like that. They want to differentiate their products and add value (or what they think is value).
As I said to a fellow pocketnow writer, consistency is good, but you can't use that to stifle innovation.
Steve

says:

Some people may not like the last item, but if you want a more finger-friendly device, you have to make items on the screen larger.
Agreed, but I have to say I really hate these suggestions:I think that finger-friendly mode would solve all of your problems.
[list]
[*]The Start menu items would be spaced farther apart (although you might not see as many, then).
[*]The title bar would likely be taller to make the Start and Close icons easier to press.
[/list]
Would you really want to make the menu bars any bigger than this:
[INDENT][/INDENT]
or to have fewer Start menu items than this:
[INDENT][/INDENT]
I think the main problem is that the current menus are single columns of icons/text. That's a very inefficient use of precious screen real estate, but I think it could be quite easily improved upon. How about some sort of head-up displays that are activated by the menu buttons?
So when you push a menu button you don't see something like this:
[INDENT][/INDENT]
you see something more like this:
[INDENT]
[/INDENT]
Now I'm not saying this should work for the on-call menu (obviously that should pop up automatically), the pic above is just to illustrate the idea. A HUD like that though could work for the right button menu, the Start menu etc. Obviously a 3x2 grid isn't very desirable but I think at least 3x3, possibly 3x4 or even 4x4, would be easily tappable even on a little square screen. You could argue that pushing the menu button might as well just pop up a whole new menu screen, but I think that the transparency is nice because it makes for a less jarring transition and keeps the background as a context reference.
Button-activated HUDs wouldn't solve the problem have having things hidden until the button is pushed course, but could be a way of getting a decent number of options on the screen in a tappable way. Just a thought.

says:

I really dont know why you keep using the dialer as an example, since thats clearly Palm's sin, not WM. A better example would be the e-mail client or pocket internet explorer, where the trade-off between content on screen and the controls associated with it are much more significant. For example, when scrolling down your list of e-mails, would you really want buttons saying delete, reply, forward, mark as read and move floating all over the place?
Re the start men - again you focus on the 240x240 square screen, which are used exclusively with devices with front-facing exposed keyboards, which usually means many apps can be launched by hard buttons, and the focus is much more on buttons than the touch screen.
On 240x320 screens the start menu is a lot longer, and features your most recently used apps also, so in fact the 16 functions accessible this way compared favorably with the iPhone. That again excludes the hard keys which are part of the WM tradition.
Surur

says:

I really dont know why you keep using the dialer as an example, since thats clearly Palm's sin, not WM.
I just used it as an example because there's an equivalent HUD from iPhone. I thought I was pretty clear in saying I didn't think that menu should actually be linked to a button.A better example would be the e-mail client or pocket internet explorer, where the trade-off between content on screen and the controls associated with it are much more significant. For example, when scrolling down your list of e-mails, would you really want buttons saying delete, reply, forward, mark as read and move floating all over the place?
As opposed to stuck in one corner? I don't see why not (I'd imagine the position of any particular button would be fixed not 'all over the place'). One way is finger tappable the other isn't. The none finger-unfriendly nature of the current implementation is the problem we're discussing.Re the start men - again you focus on the 240x240 square screen, which are used exclusively with devices with front-facing exposed keyboards, which usually means many apps can be launched by hard buttons, and the focus is much more on buttons than the touch screen.
[snip pic]
On 240x320 screens the start menu is a lot longer, and features your most recently used apps also, so in fact the 16 functions accessible this way compared favorably with the iPhone. That again excludes the hard keys which are part of the WM tradition.
So you're proposing the status quo? Again, my post was in response to Pony99CA's comments on how to introduce a 'finger-friendly mode' into the UI, something that's lacking at the moment.

says:

As opposed to stuck in one corner? I don't see why not (I'd imagine the position of any particular button would be fixed not 'all over the place'). One way is finger tappable the other isn't. The none finger-unfriendly nature of the current implementation is the problem we're discussing.
One should not be obsessed with finger-friendly, at the detriment of everything else. Making the controls large results in less space for the content. That should be obvious.So you're proposing the status quo? Again, my post was in response to Pony99CA's comments on how to introduce a 'finger-friendly mode' into the UI, something that's lacking at the moment.
This is HTC's solution.
As you would suspect I am happy with the status quo, and the improvements I would suggest would be functional rather than pretty.
Surur

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We are not cave men who buy iPhones or pick up rocks and throw them at things. Yes, picking up a rock and throwing it is more intuitive than dropping an atomic bomb from an airplane, but one breaks stuff a lot better.
The pen is not as intuitive as painting on rocks with your fingers, but it is better at creating communicative words.
The typewriter is not as intuitive as the pen, but it does a better job of what the pen is supposed to do.
The keyboard and computer is not as intuitive as the typewriter, but it does a far better job of the same thing.
If you use a keyboard like a modern human, you do not need large finger-friendly buttons. In fact, you want the menu items to be smaller, so that you can see more of them at once. This increases efficiency when combined with keyboard-accessible commands like those found in Windows Mobile 6 Pro and Standard.
This is one reason why the entire mobile phone industry has been working towards creating hardware key navigable interfaces; its proven efficiency. (Until the iPhone announcement that is)
The iPhone has made finger painting on rocks cool again even though it's really not a better way of getting work done.

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adamz, best stock atomic bombs while you can, looks like it will rocks from here on out:http://microsoft.blognewschannel.com/archives/2008/01/06/exclusive-windows-mobile-7-to-focus-on-touch-and-motion-gestures/A stylus will be required on devices meeting certain screen size, orientation, DPI and resolution marks.
Anyway, if I wanted to improve the WM UI it would add the things which I want, which would be a taskbar of some kind, so one could see what apps are currently running, and switch to them with only one click. The start menu does that to a degree, but its too large and not one click away.
Surur

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Windows Mobile 7 is designed to use the finger, not the stylus, though many devices will be required to include a stylus. It is designed to be easy to use with the hand, including one-handed, and to be fun to use and easy to understand. It is designed to be used on devices with no buttons, few buttons, lots of buttons, full keyboards, and devices without touch screens.
Like everyone else I'll reserve final judgement until I see it but having a great experience on all of those types of devices will be difficult unless the UI is very flexible and can be adapted significantly to better match different screen sizes and input methods. The UI shown InsideMicrosoft article looks like it would be way better than WM5/6 for a large-screen device reliant on finger input, but would be way worse on a button-oriented device with a small screen. Could be though that it's configurable such that it would look very different on a Treo? If you use a keyboard like a modern human, you do not need large finger-friendly buttons. In fact, you want the menu items to be smaller, so that you can see more of them at once. This increases efficiency when combined with keyboard-accessible commands like those found in Windows Mobile 6 Pro and Standard.
Agreed. Perhaps it will be more like that on a Treo-like device and more like the pics at IM for iPhone-like devices. Atom bombs and stones?

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I think learned intuition is often referred to as 'affordance'.
Think of the colours green and red. Go and stop. Safety and danger. Yes and no.Right, wrong. Good, bad. All of these are generally true in the 'western' world, but the same is not necessarily so in other cultures. But to us westerners, the meaning of green and red is a 'learned intuition' - used correctly they create an 'affordance' that makes it easy for us to recognise the Emergency Stop button on a machine, or the Emergency Exit in a strange building.
Or think of a door in a strange office.
As you approach it, often you 'instinctively' know whether to push or pull that door as you approach it.
Actually you don't.
You see physical and visual cues. A flat metal plate, however featureless, indicates an area to push on, so you know to Push it. Whereas a large, static, staple-shaped handle indicates you should Pull.
Yet sometimes we get it wrong. Consistently wrong with certain doors. That's becuase thise physical and visual cues have somehow been mixed up. Maybe there's a handle and a push plate. Now what do you do?
So often the answer is to write Push and Pull in the appropriate sides of the door. Yes we still get it wrong. Our minds override what we see in words and act on the bigger visual cues.
....
Or something like that ;-)
Anyway, there is little doubt that most people feel Apple has visual cues mastered rather better than Microsoft. Hence anything Mac feels more intuitive, regardless of whether it relies on the 'learned intuition' of affordance or the natural intuition of a rock :-)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Affordance

says:

Agreed, but I have to say I really hate these suggestions:
Would you really want to make the menu bars any bigger than this:
[INDENT][/INDENT]
or to have fewer Start menu items than this:
[INDENT][/INDENT]
No, I probably wouldn't want them changed, but I'm not sure I'd use the finger-friendly mode, either. It's also why I suggested the Start menu could work like the Smartphone's Start menu.I think the main problem is that the current menus are single columns of icons/text. That's a very inefficient use of precious screen real estate, but I think it could be quite easily improved upon.
That's not quite true, but it's a fair point. (Some menus have cascading sub-menus, so they aren't really single columns.)How about some sort of head-up displays that are activated by the menu buttons?
So when you push a menu button you don't see something like this:
[INDENT][/INDENT]
you see something more like this:
[INDENT]
[/INDENT]
That would certainly be fine for menus without many options. You might want an option to turn off captions (if it would allow more icons to fit, at least).
However, it wouldn't be so good for menus with cascading sub-menus. I suppose you could have one icon open another finger-friendly menu (either over the first one or replacing it), but I'm not sure how intuitive that would be.
When I worked on a GPS Pocket PC, we had a very finger-friendly menu system (to allow of easy operation while driving, I suppose). The menus were 2x2 grids of large icons. Some items went to sub-menus, and each sub-menu had a Back button.
In the above, the Programs item takes you to a sub-menu.
It was pretty easy to use, but with only 3 or 4 items per screen, you had to design the UI carefully. (You don't want more than maybe two levels of sub-menus.)A HUD like that though could work for the right button menu, the Start menu etc. Obviously a 3x2 grid isn't very desirable but I think at least 3x3, possibly 3x4 or even 4x4, would be easily tappable even on a little square screen.
My Motorola Q9m only displays a 4x2 grid in the Start menu, and I'm not sure icons smaller than that would be finger-friendly. The problem seems to be more a factor of screen size, though (the Q9m has a small -- less than 3" -- screen). On my iPAQ hx2795, with a 3.5" screen, the Programs folder displays a 3x4 grid (in portrait mode).You could argue that pushing the menu button might as well just pop up a whole new menu screen, but I think that the transparency is nice because it makes for a less jarring transition and keeps the background as a context reference.
The Smartphone Start menu does just display a full screen. I agree that the transparent menu looks cooler and may provide useful context, though.
Anyway, an option could still control which style of menus you used. The one thing I think would be bad is if some menus were finger-friendly and others were old-school menus.
Steve

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Anyone remember the useability horrors of Palm Size PC and the start button in the lower left with cascading menus?
I never used one, but I remember them. I don't think cascading sub-menus were the problem, though; trying to have the Start menu and Task bar on the bottom of the screen were bigger issues.
For the record, though, that user interface was just Windows CE. It worked very nicely on the original Handheld PCs where it first came out. I had both a Windows CE 1.0 device (with 480 x 240 screen) and a Windows CE 2.0 device (with a 640 x 240 screen) and Windows CE worked well there. You even had a standard Windows desktop. (See my Devices section for more information.)
Steve