Stopping the rumor mill: Windows Phone and the future of its unique UI

This morning, the Windows Phone Central inbox was flooded with tips about one Eldar Murtazin, who has taken to Twitter to make some comments about the future of Windows Phone and its UI design. Specifically, he claims that Microsoft will have “another UI” with the Live Tile system going away, replaced instead with a UI inspired by Android.

The future design of Windows Phone is certainly of concern, especially to our readers. Microsoft has bet a lot of the design language of Modern UI, making it the corner piece in Windows 8 and the Xbox One. Could they really be re-thinking everything?

Furthermore, who is Murtazin and why should you care? We take a look at the latest rumors and show why they are baseless.

Murtazin and his wrong assertions

Eldar Murtazin previously had ties to Nokia, though those were severed years ago. Many in the tech media bubble took him seriously. Or at least what he said with a grain of salt. These days, however, many sites still run with his claims despite is terrible track record. 

Many news outlets point to his “correct” prediction that Microsoft would acquire Nokia. What they forget to mention is that he made that claim back in January 2012, well before any take-over talks happened. In fact, this is exactly what he said on January 5th, 2012, a full twenty-months before a deal was actually announced:

“Steve Balmer, Andy Lees and Stephen Elop, Kai Ostamo will meet in Las Vegas to finalize agreement about Nokia smartphone unit. Bye Nokia” - Eldar Murtazin, 1/2012

In Murtazin's world, Microsoft agreed to buy Nokia in January 2012, not September 2013. The deal was all but inked! Talks did begin earlier though, it’s just Murtazin was one-year off. At least according to All Things D who learned the discussion began in earnest in January 2013.

Anyone pointing to his correctness in the Microsoft-Nokia deal are, to put it mildly, grossly mislead. In fact, many in the media were making that prediction and saw it as an inevitable move by Redmond. But claiming that the deal is about to be signed twenty months before it happens is not accuracy in reporting, my fellow tech writers.

In addition, Murtazin also incorrectly claimed that Windows Phone 7 apps would not run on Windows Phone 8, and that developers would “need to rewrite all apps”. That wasn’t even close to being right.

Finally, here are some other of his public flubs:

We’re sure there’s more, but with that track record we’re not sure why news sites take anything he says seriously.

Windows Phone 9 and the future of Metro UI

Although we have shown that Murtazin is often severely wrong with his “inside” info, many are taking his latest claim today to heart. Here is what he said on Twitter:

“Windows phone 9 (2014 3-4q) have another UI. That's not tales. I repeat - Microsoft change UI from Metro style...”

First of all, no one is predicting Windows Phone 9 will be released in 2014. The latest internal information we have on Windows Phone 8.1 is it will be out before the summer. The idea that Microsoft will push out a whole OS refresh to the level of requiring a new UI and number change just a few months later is ridiculous.

Mary Jo Foley, a far more reputable source on Microsoft intel, says that ‘Threshold’, which is not Windows Phone 9, isn’t expected until spring 2015. In fact, as far as we know, there is not much work yet done on Windows Phone 9, with plans of unifying it with RT not happening until 2016. Here’s what we’re expecting for a Windows Phone OS timetable:

  • Windows Phone 8.1 “Blue” – Before summer 2014
  • Windows Phone 8.1 GDR Updates – Frequency/dates unknown
  • Windows Phone “8.2” aka “Threshold” – spring 2015
  • Windows Phone 9 – Not even being talked about at the development level

Going further, we spoke to some people familiar with the situation about this claim of a UI shift away from Live Tiles.  What we heard was quite definitive: “sounds ridiculous” with no one on any of the teams or management talking about movement away from the current design strategy.

In fact, Murtazin made this claim earlier and it was so crazy that the Windows Phone Design team publicly ridiculed him on Twitter.

Now let’s be cautious here: Microsoft will not keep the UI stagnant. Every operating system goes through evolution. Case in point, Windows Phone 7 to 7.5 had an overhaul to Live Tiles. Windows Phone 7.x to Windows Phone 8 lost the gutter to maximize space, new Tile sizes and new colors. Windows Phone 8 Update 3 received 1080P support and three columns of Tiles.

Because of that, we’re certainly not prepared to say nothing will change between Windows Phone 8 Update 3 and say Windows Phone 8.1. And we’re definitely wouldn’t say that about “Windows Phone 9”, which is so far off on radar that it’s silly to pontificate on. Microsoft will adapt the OS as the hardware progresses, user feedback is evaluated and the design team proposes.

But as of today, in December 2013, there are no plans to our knowledge (or our sources) of a “new UI” inbound for Windows Phone.

And to our friends at fellow tech sites, please, exercise better judgment next time.

Daniel Rubino

Daniel Rubino is the Editor-in-chief of Windows Central. He is also the head reviewer, podcast co-host, and analyst. He has been covering Microsoft since 2007, when this site was called WMExperts (and later Windows Phone Central). His interests include Windows, laptops, next-gen computing, and watches. He has been reviewing laptops since 2015 and is particularly fond of 2-in-1 convertibles, ARM processors, new form factors, and thin-and-light PCs. Before all this tech stuff, he worked on a Ph.D. in linguistics, watched people sleep (for medical purposes!), and ran the projectors at movie theaters because it was fun.