Everything you need to know from Joe Belfiore's AMA in 30 seconds...

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Hosted over at reddit, Joe Belfiore did an AMA (Ask Me Anything) last week and we've seen various summaries of the relevant juicy bits from Joe's Windows Phone-related answers. Happily, Nokia's (or should that now be Microsoft's?) Conversations blog has a very decent breakdown of what you really need to know. Continuing the process of reduction, I present the juicy bits from the Conversations article!

Quotes from the summary, along with some thoughts of my own:

Last Friday, this fantastic sub reddit, which recently celebrated its 30 000th subscriber (Big congrats, guys and girls!) hosted Joe Belfiore, Microsoft VP, Lead Windows Phone Team. Joe had agreed to take part in an AMA (Ask me Anything) interview where Redditors fired questions at him on whatever topic tickled their fancy. With his iconic hair (yes, I’m jealous), charming manner and reputation for speaking from the heart as well as the head, Joe is something of a hero to Windows Phone users. When you read the full AMA, you’ll understand why.

In the meantime, here’s some quoted highlights, which we think give you a greater insight into the whys and wherefores of Windows Phone as well as the man himself.

1. File Manager is coming soon

Korangadevs “Hi Mr joe…are there any plans for file managers on Windows Phone?”

Joe “WOO HOO! SOMEONE ASKED THIS QUESTION!! I’ve been waiting! in fact, I’ve avoided tweeting on this very topic just for all you redditors. Seriously. YES! We are doing a File Manager for WP8.1! I know a LOT of you are looking for this (thanks for the tweets, I’ve read them all). In fact, I’ve been running a build of it on two of my phones for the last week or so and it’s getting to pretty good shape. We are expecting to get it into the store HOPEFULLY by the end of May.” Here’s what it looks like.”


File managers are curious entities. Day to day, they should never be needed, since all applications will find their data where they expect. Yet, every once in a while, you need document A in location B - or you need to find something that you know is on your phone somewhere. And that's when a file manager proves its worth. 

Now, obviously, we're only talking about the user-accessible part of the phone's file system here, for many phones. Add microSD cards into the equation though, and you have much freer rein. And, if you look at the typically chaotic structure of a microSD card (which of us hasn't used them in previous devices and other OS?), you realise quite early on that being able to browse around can only be a good thing.

The Microsoft file manager does look very competent, though I expect several third party equivalents to arise with more bells and whistles (watch AAWP for coverage).

2. Cortana only travels when she’s ready

WizrdCM – Lumia 1320 “HUGE fan, glad to have an AMA from you… Does your team realise the downside of limiting Cortana to the US for the beta? Primarily, right now everyone around the world who wants Cortana has tweaked their region settings and enabled Cortana….Wouldn’t it be better to release to all English countries NOW, to start building up those collections? Even now, Cortana understands my Australian accent just fine.”

Joe “We’re definitely working to bring Cortana to other countries. She tells us she’d like to travel. We’ve already announced that when we launch V1 after Beta, we’ll be in China and the UK as well as the US. We’re also hoping to get other English-speaking countries (eg. Canada, Australia) out relatively quickly as well. The challenge in doing this is we want the Cortana experience to be EXCELLENT for everyone -– and this involves not ONLY delivering great voice recognition for all the different languages, but also making sure that we have a great regional experience with local content so she doesn’t feel like an American!”

The delay in rolling out Cortana is frustrating, but I think we have to trust Microsoft on this one. It wants us to use Cortana and its Bing Search back end as much as we want to try it. All things come to they that wait, etc.

6. Microsoft works and plays in harmony

NotCassim “Hello Joe, I would like to know. How are you working with other division (office, onedrive, xbox team and so on) on their hub/application on Windows Phone?”

Joe “We spend a TON of time with people from other divisions. I have regular 1-1 meetings with my counterparts in Office, Skype, Xbox. Our teams have a standing process at every milestone for jointly reviewing our work, and we use each others’ products deeply. The environment at Microsoft has been great for us to get better and better at this.. and although we sure have room to improve, it’s a place that I think has become a strength.”

Good to hear. One of the strengths of Windows Phone going forwards has to be the potentially great integration with Windows and Xbox, etc. If Microsoft can line it all up then it's potentially more compelling than Apple and Google's solutions across multiple devices and locations.

7.The Windows Phone team takes your happiness personally

ibadlyneedanusernameLumia 520 “Of all the things, what do you think is the feature that can make someone choose Windows Phone over other platforms?”

Joe  “Right now, it’s not ONE FEATURE. It’s the way the whole system is designed and what it’s about. We think WP is the MOST PERSONAL SMARTPHONE– and that’s a combo of features, starting with live tiles and now Cortana makes it even more personal. This is kind of a mantra for the team– we’re serious about this. We’re balancing a unique, attractive visual appearance with letting the user customize it a ton. We really want your phone to feel like your “fingerprint” … better than any other phone.”

There's an argument that, in this way, Windows Phone is more customisable - though Android power users can pull often even greater feats of customisation. But, for average users, Windows Phone is certainly easier to get to grips with, in this regard - it's hard to make Windows Phone's Start screen look ugly!

8. Age brings greater wisdom and greater chilldom

Skisagooner “Joe, you’re a very admirable presenter with a very laid back style. How do you prepare for these presentations?

Joe “Luckily, I’ve grown more laid back as I’ve matured…”


Odd - most people get shorter hair as they get older! 8-)

9. Skype is getting a makeover for WP8.1

Sunny001 “Apps that are owned by MS are lacking in features when compared to their other platform counterparts (Skype, Facebook). Every time I open the Skype app, I get a resuming/loading screen for 4-6seconds. What is MS doing to improve the quality of the existing apps?”

Joe  “… there’s a Skype update for WP8.1 under development right now, and one of the things they’ve focused on is exactly this kind of perf. I think it’s the case that this include fast-resume, but I’m not certain of this. In general– this is the kind of thing that the ISVs are adding and you’re going to see this improve as developers update their apps. Keep in mind that the ISVs typically target their work towards the installed base– so often the NEWEST platforms get taken-advantage-of a little bit slowly as there aren’t as many users just yet.”

A slightly woolly answer from Joe here. And I really can't see why it's taking Microsoft so long with Skype. After all, applications like the first party Twitter application are amazingly responsive in terms of resuming. If Twitter can do it then why is Skype so interminably slow to get back into??

Great to have answers directly from the horse's mouth though. And no, that's not a reference to Joe's hair or facial features!

Source / Credit: Nokia Conversations