Things I Wish For in 2013 From Microsoft and Partners

2012 shaped up to be full of new beginnings, tidings and events for Microsoft and its respective partners. Redmond finally unveiled Windows 8, Windows Phone 8 and some cool Xbox additions. A new dawn of powerful Windows Phone hardware from its two most dedicated partners, HTC and Nokia; and a new Surface RT tablet from Microsoft that pushes forward a form factor other tablet OEMs should strive for.

Yes, 2012 was a good year to be a Microsoft aficionado as you had plenty of new gadgets, toys and software to sink your teeth to. Redmond blew the lid on a huge gamut of interesting products that will be an important aspect of their portfolio going forward for the next two to three years. It’s still too early to tell how much traction these new properties will entrench themselves into the marketshare dance. Early indications don’t bode well for Windows 8 and Surface sales, but adoption isn’t an overnight success so time is still on Microsoft’s side.

That being said, 2013 should bring its fair share of unveils and product launches. If 2012 was an important milestone for Microsoft, Windows and Windows Phone, then 2013 must have a bigger impact in order to establish these properties as market leaders in their respective zones of influence. To do that they have to address the niggles, bugs and inconsistencies that most fans have been clamoring for that affect the ecosystem.

Here then are a few things Microsoft should consider implementing, changing or adding for 2013:

1. Deliver Windows Phone 7.8 Promptly

Everyone was stoked when Microsoft let loose and revealed all the goodies to be found in Apollo. In cadence with the HTC 8X and Nokia Lumia 920, Microsoft finally had some devastatingly beautiful devices paired with a world class OS that could compete with the heavyweights of the smartphone world. Many couldn’t wait for the release of those flagship phones, and once out, they snapped them up vigorously.

Unfortunately, not everyone was able to jump in on the fun, as many of today’s owners of Windows Phone handsets are still waiting for their contracts to expire before moving onto the new OS. For those same people, mostly Lumia 900 owners, Microsoft revealed the last (?) upgrade for Windows Phone 7.5 devices, the aptly named Windows Phone 7.8.

In infuriating fashion, Microsoft once again tip-toed around a concrete date we’d likely to see the 7.8 update, instead deciding that we’d have to wait for an “early 2013” release date. What that means is anyone’s guess. Needless to say, many faithful “early adopters” felt cheated and disappointed at the lack of communication from Microsoft and the Windows Phone team.

What would resonate well with those left behind, then, would be to release Windows Phone 7.8 as soon as possible. And by soon, I mean in January. It would be criminal to keep those early adopters in limbo while dangling a carrot in front of them and out of reach. With Microsoft leaving CES this year, and opting to promote whatever they have up their sleeve at Mobile World Congress in February, there could be a danger that WP7.8 could end up being released there. Hopefully, they do the right thing and announce the update in the first few weeks of January and consequently release it to the crowd within the month.

2. HTC Should Release a Titan III (or similar)

The Titan name carries a certain set of parameters that you’d expect with any phone HTC designates the name to. Big 4.7-inch screen or larger, big MP rear camera, big battery, and other big things nestled within a metallic chassis. In essence, any new Titan phone should be big in every way. Now couple that with the 8X and 8S stylistic refinement and design and there would be plenty of people willing to plunk down some hefty change for that piece of hardware.

And it’s sorely needed. Today’s Windows Phone devices aren’t really pushing “BIG” in any significant way. Sure, Nokia’s Lumia 920 comes close in size, but it’s screen is 4.5 inches. The ATIV S has the biggest screen right now at 4.8, but it’s placed in a plastic shell that totally undermines any premium designation thrown its way. An HTC Titan III could rectify all that if they stick to the formula that thousands of people (including myself) enjoy about previous Titan devices.

3. Nokia Should Get its Manufacturing Act Together

There is no argument that the Lumia 920 has seen some exceedingly high demand that Nokia either A) Failed to have the foresight to see, or B) Can’t keep up with demand due to poor manufacturing management. I’d argue is a little of both. Which, if you haven’t been keeping up, is pissing a lot of people off because they can’t get their hands on the coveted 920.

This is a troubling trend. Last year, Nokia had some similar shortages in the early stages of the Lumia 900 when it first came out. It bodes ill if Nokia didn’t learn from that experience nearly eight months ago. Since its release in November, Nokia still hasn’t quite gotten the shipment part of the equation right yet. There is still plenty of demand for the Lumia 920 around the world, and the many colors that they offer are often times back ordered in all channels of distribution, be it in store or online. If Nokia has one New Year’s resolution they should try to accomplish is getting their manufacturing ramped up to meet demand. Customers will only wait so long before they move on to something else.

4. Microsoft Should Bring Back Zune’s Desktop Client Under the Xbox Music Brand

If there is one thing that plenty of people agree on is that Zune’s desktop client is infinitely better than the current Xbox Music. If there is one thing that Zune got right was the desktop client. It was flush with personality, color and ease of use, basically everything that Xbox Music’s UI is not. The simplest thing to do is bring back much of the functionality and style that Zune had and just rework it into the Xbox Music client. I know Zune is dead, at least as a brand, but its failures as an alternative to iTunes weren’t due to a poor experience, but mostly poor marketing. Other than that, Zune was (is) the best music client in the business.

5. Microsoft Should Kill The MS Points System

This is something that just feels like it’s on the chopping block each year, yet Microsoft Points still persist. In an effort to unify everything under the roof into the Windows ecosystem, one inconsistent, superfluous feature is those darn Microsoft Points. They don’t play nice when you want to purchase certain things on Windows Phone (like Xbox Live arcade games) and when not in enough abundance you’re stuck with miniscule amount of points that can’t be used for anything, except if you wish to buy more points in order to have it be useful in a future transaction, which inevitably will end up with, still, left over points.

We’ve moved past this, it’s the age of online transactions involving credit cards tied to your Live ID. Why we need a secondary paying system for micro-transactions of the .99 cent variety is beyond me. Can’t .99 cents be .99 cents and not 79MP?

What say you? What would be you like Microsoft change to make their experience better on Xbox, Windows Phone and Windows 8? Let us know in the comments below.