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Manufacturers requesting more options from Microsoft for OS customisation

WP Central

Microsoft has supposedly been urged by supporting Taiwanese manufacturers to allow them to modify apps and the Windows Phone UI to better differentiate their handsets from OEM competition on the platform, according to a report by DigiTimes. We recommend taking this 'news' with a whole bowl of salt as they have a mixed track record e.g. their Huawei story was way off, but should the report be based on solid grounds HTC, Nokia and Samsung have seen flat sales in both China and the U.S.

We're aware that Nokia hasn't launched the AT&T Lumia 900 yet and Windows Phone is still extremely young in China so we're pretty skeptical about this report. It doesn't make sense that OEMs would start to suggest to Microsoft that more customisation should be allowed to improve sales as Nokia appears to be doing just fine with marketing campaigns running globally.

Manufacturers can't remain under the "Android Personalisation" craze as Windows Phone is an entirely different flavour of ice-cream. Canadian carriers Rogers and TELUS have also both stated they're pleased with how well the Lumia 710 and 800 are selling, and that the Nokia Windows Phones have hit expectations.

What do you guys think OEMs should do with Windows Phone? More marketing / promotion like Nokia, or should we be allowing them to personalise what they wish?

Source: DigiTimes, via: WMPU

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Reader comments

Manufacturers requesting more options from Microsoft for OS customisation

159 Comments

You said it perfectly! The iPhone isn't bloat ware impregnated. So, WP should not follow in the foot steps of Android. The Android way is going to live fast, and die young.. No quality!.. My budy got a Razr, and he complains about not being able to erase all the Verizon mumbo jumbo on it. He's says it just pops right back up. Can you guys imagine having to deal with that?

Agreed it will be easier when they can do different cores and different screens bloat is crap differentiate with hardware and custom software like Nokia drive

WP needs more customization as I am sure many will agree with me on. But in no way by the OEMs!!!!! The additional customization should be for the individual user themselves only! I.e. Maybe a wallpaper on start screen, full custom ringtones for more than just when people call etc. Microsoft needs to say screw you to the OEMs and live by their slogan. Put people first.

I completely agree. One of the main reasons that I switched to Windows Phone was because of these OEM "improvements" and the fragmentation it creates. If I have to buy a special "nexus" device to get the "pure" WP7 experience then I'm going to say f*ck it and just buy an iPhone. How do these OEMs still miss the boat so badly.

Preach it.. The UI is great the way it is.. I don't need oem custom roms to lag out my phone like an android.. Android will piss off enough people over the next few years

""Tell the OEMs to **** off"
 
That seems to be what Microsoft is doing......success hasn't exactly been overwhelming using that approach.

nooo.. don't do it MSFT! honestly, though I want more OEM support, my response to whoever (if anyone) is pushing for this would be to f-off and just stick with android.. one of the greatest things WP has going for it is design.

Problem is that it doesn't help. Sales are still poor for Nokia in Europe (and here are TV ads every 5 secs) compared to their S^3 sales.

where's your proof that the sales are poor? windows phone sales surpassed symbian sales in the UK recently. sure that doesn't mean that much in the grand scheme of things, but at least there's an upward trend, rather than downward

UK sales have been traditionally poor for Nokia. If a device sold over 100k it was very good there. The Symbian^3 devices sold about 5 million times during a period of 5 weeks. WP sold only more than a million in 6 weeks. And yes the S^3 phones also were only available in a limited number of countries. Nokia lost 1.5 billion € last year and their forecast for this year isn't very bright top.

Also keep in mind that while Nokia markets their Lumia line very aggressively they try very hard to not mention that it runs WP, especially in Europe where many people a very critical about MS. And Nokia has success with that campaign: already 18% of all developers mentioned they want to develop for the Nokia Lumia, obviously not knowing that it runs WP. I think it makes it easier to switch the platform again when the exclusive deal ends with MS as the people are then already familiar with the Lumia brand. And most people do not care what OS a phone runs.

Zacman, now you're just hatin'. People would know that Lumia devices run Windows Phones. The developers know well that it is WP. Like wtf.

I wouldn't even be surprised if Microsoft buys Nokia and starts making their own devices.

Ehm, the survey was even posted here on that website a couple of days ago: developers interested in developing for WP: 38%, interested in developing for Nokia Lumia: 18%.

you're wrong when you say "ppl in Europe are against MS", that's totally bs, they're just ridiculously vocal, there's a minority extremely vocal against everything US. But that's not the majority, not even close.

Even survey or no survey (which I would like a link to your proof as well), unless you want to call developers stupid, I'm sure they know for a fact that it is Windows Phone. Now to clarify that, its possible that Nokia is looking into developers to develop Nokia-specific apps maybe? Who knows. But I know for sure that 18% knows that it's Windows Phone. They see the phone, and Windows Phone on quote a few views. Splash screen when starting up, about screen, etc.

How can DEVELOPERS not know what OS a phone runs?? That doesn't even make sense. So you're telling me, that I as a tech news reader would stay on top of news, but someone who's more in depth in the technological world, who develops apps for platforms wouldn't know which OS is on a phone???? -_- right...

"already 18% of all developers mentioned they want to develop for the Nokia Lumia, obviously not knowing that it runs WP"
 
Oh my god. I can't believe I'm reading stupidity of this caliber. Unsubstantiated correlation, please don't work for any research firm of any kind. There are already posts here that explain  the 38% vs 18% disparity, but talk about jumping the gun to take that to mean that developers want to develop for lumia phones, and don't know what OS they run.
 
If that were the case, I'd earnestly hope those 'developers' don't develop for WP7. Can you imagine how stupid you would have to be as a devleloper to not know what platform you're developing for? Of course that's not what's happening. Can you fathom how stupid you are for thinking that?

I've been hearing quite differently though. In fact, I'm hearing more that Lumia is starting to make waves in Europe.

Exactly! Instead they just want to use the same phones they use for Android and profit as much as possible. If they want our money, make unique and desirable phones!!!

The only customization needed by OEMs are exclusive apps ex. Nokia Drive etc. Didn't HTC acquire Beats Audio? What, its only for android? What sticks out to me is the hardware. I have a keyboard, I bet there are people who would like that as an option. Different materials, with physical customizable parts ex. back covers, accessories.

Realistically, they are probably looking for the customization that we are looking for (e.g. Background picture/color, more custom theme colors, etc)

I highly doubt that. That would do nothing to differentiate the phones. I think it's pretty clear they want to do what they've done to their Android phones (make them worse).

more accent colours id like, but I doubt that's it because they can already add some themselves. and I'm definitely NOT looking for backgrounds at all..

Exactly! That's how it's done with PCs also. I never want to be face with HTC TouchFlo ever again...

Also, if you created boss hardware which is what we really want, not your software changes. You would sell a little better. Its why, pending reviews, I will be buying the Nokia 900. It looks awesome and Im just waiting to see if the rest of the pieces fit.

Depends on what type of customizations they are asking for. WP is waaaaayyyy too locked down in terms of customization but if they are trying to turn this into Android then forget about it.

I used to think it was too locked down, coming from WinMo. I was customizing my HD2 constantly. But now I actually prefer how locked down the customization is. Keeps me from constantly messing with it & enjoying the phone & apps more instead.

That's exactly why I'm looking forward to jump to the 900 from my Galaxy S2. Just hoping the international launch happens next month.

If they think messing with the color scheme or changing up the lock screen are what WP needs to succeed, they need new advisers. Right now, the only good thing about Windows Phone's situation is the OS itself. 

The only additional "customization" I would allow if I were MS would be additional colors, the ability to add a background image to the Home Screen, and that's it.  Otherwise, they should work on actual design of the hardware.  They should also help poney up money to create missing apps.  We all should have seen the recent report that MS fully expects other OEMs to create unique apps for their users (just like what Nokia has been doing) to help differentiate  themselves from other ODMs.

I've expressed my opinions on this in the past and had been flogged to death by the WP community. I agree with a poster below that maybe a picture (i.e Pikachu or Kim Kardashian) might be useless because of the tiles. But I wouldn't mind patterned themes. I definitely would love more accent colors.

Thing is, I am not at all familiar with Android phones, so I don't know what or how customization hurts that platform. So when folks use Android as an example, I honestly have no basis for comparison. I just remember when I had an iPhone, I loved changing my ringtone every so often and always wished I could change the background of the home screen (this was before the iPhone 4, which you can now).

However, if the feature never comes to WP, it will be no skin off my back. I will still enjoy the OS

The customization people are talking about are the skins/custom interfaces Android manufacturers develop for their phones like HTC Sense or TouchWiz for Samsung devices. Now the few reasons that I can think of as to why people don't want manufacturers to have the ability to create custom interfaces on Windows phone are:

  1. It goes against the Microsoft's philosophy of delivering the same user experience no matter what Windows Phone device you pick up.
  2. People allege that one of the reasons that Android updates take so long to roll out is because those custom skins/interfaces need to be rewritten/recoded/tweaked or whatever so that it'll work with the latest version of Android.
  3. Some people see these custom skins/interfaces as bloatware, and in some cases, they actually do cause the phone to perform poorly or lag.

On a PC you have much more screen estate so the live tiles don't get in the way. On a WP there is no point in having a custom background because it would be covered up by the live tiles.

Backgrounds would be nice as well something similar to the Xbox dashboard. Where its there but it's not the focus just brings more color, and the feel that it's yours nice and personalized.

If Samsung tries to put TouchWiz on my Focus S somebody will pay. Dearly.
Side note: WPCentral, any plans for a contest to win a fancy new Lumia 900? I would jump on that in a heartbeat.

I absolutely hate the idea.  Every Windows Phone should look and work exactly the same.  I don't even like the idea of device specific apps.
 
You can take a look at Android and see what the OEM's mean when they say "Differentiation". 
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HTC_Sense
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Motoblur
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/TouchWiz
It's all garbage, bloat, and resource consuming.  There is a reason that the Nexus phones (with vanilla Android) are considered the best user experience. 
 
 
 

Yeah, I hate all the exclusive apps too. I understand that OEMs make them to draw people to their devices, but the WP community should be enriched as well, even if it's free for those with the device and paid otherwise. Obviously some can be device-specific due to particular hardware. But we shouldn't be missing out on the swathe of nokia apps :/

They should we allowed to differentiate only by hardware. Different screen resolutions, processors and cameras

I agree with the idea of encouraging manufacturers to implement their own unique apps. I will admit to having hacked my Samsung Focus just for the Nokia apps and HTC Youtube. Since I've done that, once I am ready to purchase something new (next generation, dual core), it is likely that the custom suite of apps that come with each phone will steer me in one direction. At this point the majority of smartphone users who are in the market to buy something will pick up a phone and want to test out the OS and mess around with a few apps. Most people Ive had mess around with my phone love the look of the OS as is and are looking to see what the apps are like right away.

Until they show that they're willing to put forth a decent effort promoting Windows phones, OEMs should not be given more customization. The only exception should be when a company does like Nokia has, and set up a contract beforehand where they will promote the hell out of it.

Other manufacturers better don't touch the OS. I don't want to see all the different fruits are floating on various wp7 devices...

I think the other way. I believe that having the exclusive apps are ok because they are a selling point for that device brand. It does depend on how much customization the OEMs want. I think they could get creative with the home screen but the core experience needs to be there. I would hate Touchwiz, or Sense UI on these devices considering they are resource intensive and adds more bloat. For example, why not have the tiles translucent to reflect the Aero UI influence. That is just a thought or example of what they can do. Why not be able to have certain tiles bw different colors rather than everything just one color? That all being said, I do believe there is some room for differentiation but not detracting from the core experience. What else can OEMs do? Btw, I am a fan of the metro UI and would never put something else in its place like touchwiz or sense UI.

Apps are ok like Sprints double tile app or HTC's double tile weather app. But no actual UI changes except for maybe OEM specific colors). The user can at least choose to display or not display the app, or even delete it if they wish.

This is what helped seal Windows Mobile's fate.  Too many variations on the original.  It was hard to tell what was a Windows Mobile Phone and what wasn't.  Sure the manufacturers could distinguish themselves but the OS seemed to get lost in the mix. I want to say Ballmer even noted it was hard to pick a Windows Mobile phone out of the crowd.

I was skeptical of the lack of customization Windows Phone has compared to Windows Mobile but OEM's can add their flavor through apps exclusive to their devices to give their Windows Phones a unique flavor.

I realize I'm partial but Windows Phones are competitive devices if you market them strong enough.  I think we'll see how successful a strong marketing campaign can be with the Lumia 900.  HTC needs to put forth the same effort.  Instead of a Beats Android Phone, how about a Beats Windows Phone?

There are better ways for manufacturers to customize a Windows Phone than butchering a very nice operating system.

OEM's definitely don't need the ability to customize the OS. The minute that's allowed than carriers start asking for the same and so on... WinPhone becomes the fragmented OS that Android is and Win Mobile used to be and loses it's appeal as an OS somewhere between what ios and Android are now.

One thing to consider is that the majority of people, on any platform, rarely customize their product beyond wallpapers and themes. Those things are easily added by MSFT themselves and they could work with OEMs and carriers to add some custom tweaks like that for each. However, when they're allowed to have to much access to customize themselves, things like OS overlays and spam, uninstallable apps tend to be the result.

For those really into tweaking, we don't need OEM/carriers to decide how we want to customize. We'll use the the homebrew route to make it what we want it to be, but your average consumer will never need/want that level of customization or risk.

I think you're right. The average Joe will figure out how to put a picture of his wife or car on there and that's the end of it. I gave a Tilt 2 to my tech employee and he complained over and over about it. I took a look and found he hadn't installed the latest ROM or changed any settings at all - and this was a tech.

Stay the hell away from the OS!!! I never understand why they feel they must load their bloated, ill conceived interfaces on top of an interface that has had so much thought and consistency put into it. Leave the Os to ms... Make your own crappy apps to differentiate, which i will then immediately uninstall thanks to glorius Windows Phone.

The answer has to be no, and not for the reasons most are citing. MS can live with bloatware, look at the PC, but what they can't have is HTC putting the same exact Sense GUI and Samsung TouchWiz on both Android and Windows. Customers wouldn't even know if they were buying Android or WP, they would just be buying SenseUI or TouchWiz.
 
 
Even Google realizes this is a problem and is trying to stop skinning on Android tablets.

I want a little more customization.... Without having to interop unlock... Wigets in lockscreen, AM/PM in clock, alarm rings+vibrates, disable jumplist, theme color selector, disable lockscreen, other browsers, backup ,stream files from wmp, mount as storage device, disable safe filter in bing, disable search button in certian apps, close apps from multi task selector......
:D
 
 

As many have already said, Microsoft needs to push them towards differentiating themselves with exclusive apps and innovative hardware.
What are these OEMs on, anyway? Do they honestly think that people buy their different Android phones because of Sense/TouchWiz/etc?

Minor improvements like some have said- more colour options, picture background, notification light, etc- would be great. I think more major skins could work to as long as the user can easily disable them. They need to learn from Windows Mobile and Android, take what works and forget the rest. With enough colaboration between MS and the OEMs this might not be as terrible as we fear.

Im all for a load of new color options and other extras like that, but the reason the WP OS is so fluid and functional on only a single core is because there is not customization from everybody who handles the phone. Its carefully thought out to function the way it is. Anything else extra will kill the experience all together.

A couple of things about this story
like the author mentioned, it doesn't make a lot of sense. Nokia sales in the US? the 710 is selling better than expected and the 900 didn't launch yet
The other companies mentioned aren't doing well with windows phone. If Nokia sold more in 4 months than all of them did in a year and a half, that says a lot. It also says the problem isn't the OS, it's the devices.
Of course, these companies (except Nokia) asked for more customization before and they can keep asking. Microsoft stated that won't happen and it doesn't make any sense.
In face, with Android ICS, it makes less sense to have customized UI on android as well. I'm pretty sure that would go away as well and differentiation will be more about which apps are exclusive (which is what Nokia is doing with WP)
I'm not sure why the WP OS updates are coupled with firmware updates right now (at least according to at&t) customized OS would mean a lot more of that and less possibility of updates.

That's rich; build mediocre handsets then blame the OS for poor sales. Tell then to watch Nokia to see how its done. Nokia is differentiating themselves with awesome dedicated hardware and custom apps.

Nokia took #1 spot in WP market without making a single customization. Their key to success? Marketing and actually taking time to design their phones. Other WP manufacturers stamp out same exact looking devices, this is why they are failing. Take time to actually design your product to stand out, and you will sell. Take a look at HTC and Samsung offerings, they look exactly like Android devices and exactly like devices previously made.

I use both android and WP. I'm new to WP but I would absolutely dislike seeing manufacturers put their skins over WP devices. Leave that for android since it has already been established. I am hoping for windows to succeed. Without overlays.

OEM customization would encourage me to "not" buy a particular phone. In this case, less is more. Go aheard and create apps, but keep your fingers out of the OS.

I don't know whether it's possible, but perhaps MSFT can allow them to put their UI as the third screen (other than the metro home and the list), without sacrifising the performance when people operate on the original screens?  Then everyone can be happy.

I agree with schlub, HTC managed to have their sense work rather nicely as a hub for their WPs and rather pleasant at that. Things are the way they are for a reason, everyone thinks their idea is always better...no matter how bogus! =P

Hell no! Keep it the way it is. They just want to make money. OEMs can make their own specific apps and compete in that. HTC Hub, i.e.

What would be make the platform more attractive is to be able to choose the colour of each ms tile. This would take away the bland look when no 3rd party apps are installed. That said the is still the best by far!

Manufacturers seem to want to get in on software too, so like HTC and Nokia they should be offering exclusive apps

And people don't buy a WP because they hate the UI then? There must be many WP UI hating people out there then...

What makes windows phone different is that it isn't rough around the edges like android because it is modified by the phone producer. It is unified and finished and that is what a lot of people like about windows phone.

Microsoft should handle Windows Phone devices like Google does with their Nexus devices. I truely believe more Windows Phone supporters would revel in the ability to receive things like updates on a timely schedule.

I mean, I know that the carriers have a lot to do with that, but it is just a pain when you read about how a unnamed carrier, AT&T, states that we are not going to update your devices until two updates from now or later, just because we don't want to test the update for compatability.

Another thing that matters about sales is if the sales reps at the carrier stores would stop telling people that they don't want Windows Phones due to their single core processors and lack of iOS or Android.

I had an AT&T sales rep ask me why I wanted a Focus S, when I could have a iPhone 4s or a HTC Inspire. He kept trying to sell me on the hardware specs.

So, give Windows Phones dual cores even if it only uses one, as it would help the specification minded to be interested in the phones. That is where sales come from, not overlays or other bloatware.

I had the same experience in an AT&T store recently. I walked in (Just to look, I'm still a bit off from an upgrade) and the sales person immediately started bashing the windows phone I was looking at because of its app store and hardware specs.
I told him that WP had all the apps I used, a fantastic user interface, and that I reserved multi-core processing power for my PC and tablet experiences. He blinked at me, dumbly, and then slithered back into his hole to leave me to play with my future phone in peace.

OEMs need 2 promote more. WP7 doesn't need fragmentation like Android!!..IF WP7 does allow some OEM customization, it should be something superficial which doesn't degrade the OS.

OEMs doing their own thing is the reason Android is so fragmented, and just doesn't work so well. Windows Phone simply just works! Tell the OEMs to go pound sand.

I think we need Apollo very soon.. We need NFC, we need popular apps, we need better graphics, we need double or more core professors. We need to not play catch up and just be there by now.. HTC and others need to stop sitting in their hands and start advertising the phone, that also include the carriers..

This is just the most saddest thing I have ever read. OEM is a loser that can't hang so they point fingers. I'm pointing one back at them, because as everyone has already expressed THE OS IS NOT THE PROBLEM! OEM just doesn't know what they're doing, ever. I'll take a stab at a successful one - LG. I'm looking at you, with your VERY sparse offering. You make one phone at best, because I think Jill made her own phone (even if it isn't true, whatever). Then you complain that no one buys it because it's Windows Phone? You have SO many other phones with some other garbage on them, I only WISH those other phones LG made had Windows Phone on them. Seriously, how hard is it to add a few changes to some other handset design and upgrade the hardware to support a superior OS?! If you really can't manage that, cell phone maker then you have NO business trying to sell phones...right, DELL??? :S

Why don't they do what Nokia and others are doing and make OEM exclusive apps (with whatever layout design they want)

Definitely agree with everyone on exclusive apps and a big no to customized UI! Don't think Microsoft will ever agree to this since they have stuck to their guns so far.

The OEMs and most carriers want to load crap that you can uninstall. I love the fact that my phone runs fine without useless stuff running in the background.

I don't like having exclusive apps either, but I would rather have that then change the look and feel of Windows phone.

I can see why manufactorers would be annoyed.. there isn't really a differenciating factor where they can stand out. But wouldn't Windows Phone 8 allow more flexibility on the hardware side? As in, It supports "multiple cores". Some dual core phones and some quad core ones perhaps?

The ironic thing about OEM customization is that it's NOT the reason their phones sell. Informed people might look at HTC and see "Sense" and Samsung and see "Touchwiz" but the majority of people just see "Android" and they're even getting a misrepresented version of the OS in the first place!
 

They're referencing to software though. I am fine with hardware makers given more hardware options, but stay the **** away from software. That is Microsoft's area. They will just cause more fragmentation. 

Interface is just dandy. Vendors need to make truly great hardware (eg Lumia 800 post 12070 - sorry Andy G sure your carrier will oblige soon)...

Dear OEM,
If your Windows Phone device sales are poor it is not because of the quality or styling of the fantastic UI/OS. It is most likely because your quality, cosmetics, ergonomics, and/or esthetics flat out suck. Things like offering me 8GB of storage as my maximum option may be why you only sold two of your triangle shaped, pink devices. If my car starts burning oil, Ford doesn't blame the issue on my radio station presets.

Please get your heads out of your asses,
The WPCentral Community

My ire is that they look at us and think Andriod, when in fact they should look at us and think iOS, in terms of a closed UI. Does anyone know if they ask Apple the same question?

Sorry, I was being sarcastic in my "inquiry". My point is that Microsoft is building an ecosystem with uniformity. The Metro UI is more closer to iOS, than Android. For OEM to ask Microsoft to grant customization, thereby throw a clink into that ecosystem, would ruin the the experience MS is building. So while Microsoft don't make their own phones they do make their own OS, not the OEMs.

It is OK to ask for customizations just like it is OK to ask that features in the API be included, such as we see in several online forums that Microsoft pays attention to. Microsoft has to listen and bend some or it will have the same fate as Apple. Wait and see.

Just look at all the problems OEM customizations are making on Android, no way.. id rather keep the o/s stock.

I wouldn't buy a customised UI WP, and I wouldn't buy a customised UI Android.
 
I'll be buying another Nokia WP again however, because of the excellent value add applications Nokia include.

I'm right there with you! I want windows Phone because of the unification, and the extremely smooth running OS. I felt it was basically iOS with hardware choices. A true competitor for Android. The fragmentation has completely obliterated Android's platform.

I am convinced that HTC killed Windows Mobile. They took a robust OS with real multi-tasking, VPN support, etc., and by adding their buggy Sense interface and not giving the phone enough memory, they gave it a bad name. Regrettably, WM phones had become virtually synonymous with HTC. They kept churning out phones with high-end specs, and I bought several of them, only to be disappointed with their constant crashing. I contrast that with the wonderful HP iPaq Pocket PC I used without any problems until it no longer supported newer software and many websites would no longer display correctly on that old version of IE. The device was sleek, solid, reliable and implemented the OS according to spec with only the addition of a dedicated task switcher button, which was truly handy.

In other words, please leave the software to Microsoft!

I don't want too many changes, but I do believe we need more phone designs, colors, and the ability to change tile text color to whatever you want to accent the tile color you using

...and of course, a custom accent color would be good...I don't want to have to choose only from 10 colors...

I would prefer more and better marketing. Windows Phone has a certain style and OEMs are trying to ruin it with their BS.

Translation: Nokia are getting all the WP sales, so we Taiwanese manufacturers need MS to do something, since we do no advertising...

LOL thats funny and true thus making it even more funny. These stupid manufacturers and carriers are jackasses want money so bad that they stop updating consumer devices after 4 months and want customization on a platform they dont even fully support... FUCK YOU OEMS do work assholes...

Exactly! Nokia is putting it all out there in marketing and a different design than just a retread of Android phones we have seen a thousand times before. As far as I am concerned unless they start helping to improve the ecosystem with creating worthwhile apps or different designs Nokia will be the only WP devices I will use or recommend. Well done Nokia.

OEM customizaton is the worst thing about Android. One of the first things I did when I got an android phone was install a launcher so I could get as close to a "stock" experience as I could. I kinda feel bad for Google, because they did a lot of work to make ICS gorgeous, and OEMs are still trashing it out with their own "design" principles.
WP is perfect the way it is. I just wish they'd produce their own hardware so they wouldn't have to deal with OEM whining like this.

yeah wasnt googles whole deal on ics was making a more unified android experience while cutting down fragmentation? because if i recall correctly it was and besides that my moms nexus s 4g is still running GB so whats good google? on another note OEM trashware would only bog down the windows phone os making it run not so smooth to be able to smoke people with it..... seriously i honestly dont see the need for all that extra stuff maybe im particular because i use my wp for work but still is a picture of your dog on the background really all that important? and if so why would you leave android to come here and try to have the same things your android has wouldnt that defeat the purpose?

The thing is the pure android experience is still a headache. I checked out the nexus the other day at the Verizon store and it took 5 min to figure out the camera and media galley. I hate blanket systems anything we can do to be less like android is probably a good thing.

Darn! At initial GLANCE I thought they may have been referring to hardware options, like devices with dedicated physical phone call start/end buttons which I SEVERELY miss. WindowsPhone would be so much better if Microsoft gave hardware manufactuers more flexibilty and not LIMIT them to only the Back, Home and Search buttons. Seriously, that pisses me off.
I do agree with most everyone though. I would say "f off" to SOFTWARE customizations. If anything give the users the power through the OS itself.

Noø HTC we don't want your skins leave the is alone want to stand out make awesome devices and exclusive apps leave the is alone

Note to MS: don't give in, keep control of WP and don't let the OEMs f it up!
If RIM wants to join forces with WP and be a partner like Nokia - then that's cool, but I don't want to see WP turn into a cluster fu like Android!

I'm sooo glad everyone agrees! I wasn't sure what to expect in the comments. I left Android because of all the fragmentation and custom roms. Just stop! The hardware makers need to compete based on design, hardware, and price. Just like they do with Windows. Do hardware makers need to vamp up Windows 7 to sell? NO! It makes it hard for apps to run properly on all those redesigned OS's. This is the major problem with Android. All the phones are horrible! They crash all the time, and they are soo slow! I've owned somewhere around 6 Android phones. No matter how fast the processor gets, it can't compensate. It fails in all aspects. 

No no no! I will avoid any phone with massive "customization" (i.e., bloatware). Just give us beautiful, sleek phones with the hardware goods like Nokia and you will sell phones.

But its all about how this platform will be heading towards. I feel things should be taken seriously. I know MS is thinking about that for sure. This is same as Windows PC market. The only thing is that PCs are more costly. So why not to shape this like PC market. More price range - different offers (accessories, or even discount on multiple purchaces), more support like dell gives, or some other creative stuff.
 
Yes I feel creativity will be key to differentiation. Creativity in offers, support plans, free accessories, warranties and others. But customization will put the core advantage of platform to waste. Not at all a good idea. Consistency is a key point in WP OS.

I think, the only customization that should be doe should be through the App Hubs fo the various manufacturers.  Just like it's done now.  HTC has their thin, Nokia has there's.  If hardware manufacturers want to customize and add features and options that will make their phones stand out, they can do it that way.
 
Other than that, like was said in teh first reply.  MS just needs to tell them to F^&K Off!