Windows Phone 7 isn’t very customisable compared to other platforms. The fact that users only really have the choice to muck about with colour schemes is one that divides opinion, but it’s also something that must frustrate manufacturers. It seems Microsoft’s wary of that – if rumour is to be believed, OEMs and networks will soon be heading to Microsoft’s UK HQ to talk about the next iteration of the mobile OS, and how it’ll offer more in the way of customisation. But exactly what’s coming?
Now, don’t go getting carried away. Some sites are reporting that the upcoming meet up is going to result in a Windows phone 8 (Apollo) that will allow manufacturers and networks to tweak the OS to their hearts’ content, and that it’ll end up like Android with custom manufacturer skins over the stock OS.
This isn’t so – Microsoft won’t allow anyone to mess about with its carefully designed UI. But there are going to be talks. If you piece together the clues from around the web, the crux of the discussions will be to see if there are any bespoke elements that manufacturers and networks can bake into Windows Phone 8 without breaking the experience.
And that means adding services to the People hub. Currently, that hub allows access to your phone contacts, Twitter and Facebook feeds, but Microsoft looks set to throw it open to bespoke services like VoIP. That would allow free VoIP calls to run through the network and appear to the user like normal calls.
OEM’s and networks could also be allowed to rebrand Microsoft’s NFC-powered payment system, and maybe infiltrate free IM services into the messaging tile. Microsoft will no doubt want to keep as tight a leash on Windows Phone 8 as possible, but if it can come to an agreement to tastefully include new services, it’ll only broaden the appeal of the still fledgling OS.