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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
Executive Editor

Daniel Rubino is the Executive Editor of Windows Central, head reviewer, podcast co-host, and analyst. He has been covering Microsoft here since 2007, back when this site was called WMExperts (and later Windows Phone Central). His interests include Windows, Microsoft Surface, laptops, next-gen computing, and arguing with people on the internet.

259 Comments
  • This myth buster is very reassuring
  • People always trying to start shit.
  • Yeah fuck Murtazin. Microsoft's vision for the future of Metro is here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a6cNdhOKwi0
  • I want this so bad. But did anyone else notice the only thing that wasn't smart was the cabinet?
  • Microsoft has to do something to remain competitive. The Start Screen is a (The) central piece of the Windows Phone operating system from a user's perspective and it is getting old. I stated this before, they need to bring improvements here or people will go/remain with android where they can customize whatever they want. I am not saying that MS has to give free access for everyone to do whatever he wants, but if MS doesnt do that they better keep this central piece in constant top shape. For instance they can inovate by allowing multiple pages of tiles, or they can segment the scrolling in such a way that you have more control when swiping. I dont think the tile concept will go away anytime soon, at least not without the entire OS going away, so that is a sure No, but I am definetley sure MS is aware of the need to constantly improve the visuals of WP and they will act on it sooner rather than later.
  • I have to agree with you a bit on this one, man.   Being an avid iPad user, and recently switching from a prepaid Android phone to a Lumia 521 (which I am loving, by the way!), I can definitely see some room for MS to differentiate itself. I love iOS because it just works and Apple doesn't let third party developers/wireless carriers muck with the core operating system (all mostly true of WP8 too). Android is a blooming mess to me, but I can see the appeal to cuastomize it to fit your every whim (WP8 does allow for SD cards, but that's about all it does over iOS in this arena). If WP 8.1+ would allow you to customize the keyboard, use external mice/keyboards, integrate Skype into all messaging (like iOS does with iMessage), and have a fully-functional file manager... I really think it could hit the sweet-spot.Two of those, Apple will never do, and the other two are cornerstones of the Android experience.
  • Why do you think Andrioid is a mess in the first place| Microsft did differernciate it self with both windows phone and windows 8 you may not know it because u just hope on windows phone but because andriod 4+ and iOS 6+ windows was the only one with the whole skinney image until andriod stold it and then apple. with ios 7 now eveyone want to go skinney yes but windows phone is unique in everyway i have a lumia 920 that gdr brick had to sswitch to samsung note 3 and i hate it to the bone i wish i could get my lumia fix so bad because andriod sucks badly not even copying wp ui cant fix andriod mess
  • paged tile screens on the start screen might be a viable option for speedier navigation. One thing is certain though, they need to be very cautious with how they go about implementing changes, like apple was with things like copy paste, etc. 
  • "People always trying to start shit." It takes an arsehole to start shit.
  • I still want to see the charm bar implemented. Then I can share from anywhere, even the Bing News app.
  • ⬆⬆⬆⬆ This ⬆⬆⬆⬆ ... That's exactly what I suggested, and it would make perfect sense.. Maybe the notification center could be on the charms bar.. Great idea❕
  • Yup I would love the charms on my 1020. I can incision it there right now. Iwas thinking that earlier today charms would be nice.
  • Ha!
  • I mean why do I have to open Shazam to tag and post to Facebook or Twitter what song in listening to. Bing audio already listens and tags what your listening to yet there is no way to share that on any social media site. Just another example of why adding the charm bar to WP to share is awesome. Especially since you can only swipe from the top and bottom on WP as opposed to being able to swipe in from all four sides on Windows8.
  • You can swipe from right/left off screen. As far as I know Unify is the only app that lets you. It's the best remote app for x86 Windows.
  • We don't need the whole charms bar. Search and Start are already buttons, just need to allow WP apps to subscribe as search providers. Settings and Share would be nice as universally accessible actions I have to assume this is coming eventually. Its too obvious not to be
  • Charms bar would take up so much space...its good on the surface but dont put it on my 1020. Unless its an optional
  • It would help unify the WP and Win8 UX.
  • Yea but there has to be a little difference between a phone and a tablet os imo. Gestures and stuff work on this like the surface due to its size..
  • I'm pretty sure they could scale it.
  • Maybe make it part of a swipable notification center?
  • Iphone OS7 and their notification center and control center are very nice and decent, I woun't mind something like this implemented to our phones. It is really very helpfull also hope there will be eventually some sort of jailbreak which will allow us to tweak the interface the way we like.
  • It doesnt have to be identical to Windows and it wont stay on the screen all the time. Its a global set of controls available to all apps with a swipe. I would love to see more unification with Windows/RT. Make copy-patse work the same, multitasking/closing apps, etc all the same.
  • It should be identical to windows 8.1/rt. Unified design and layout. We don't need the back button or the search button. Disable them in wp8.1. Instead swipe in from the right for the charm bar with search, share, devices, settings. Swipe up from the bottom to bring up all programs. Swipe from the left to bring up running apps to switch between them and/or close them. Swipe down from the top to get a notification center. Keep the three dots inside apps to access their settings as it is. I really enjoy windows 8 and Windows Phone, but some of the inconsistencies with how they function between each other should be ironed out.
  • +925
  • There's already a toolbar where devs could implement sharing-feature if they support it.
  • Hou have the charms bar in the bottom dotted menue.
  • I'd like to see semantic zoom and appgroups from windows 8 on the WP8.1 startscreen
  • It certainly would be... [puts on sunglasses] ...charming. YEAAHHHHHH!   Oh gawd, that was extra-stupid and horrible.  I apologize.
  • Well said
  • Lol
  • Who knows. It's not like anyone from MS would publicly say they were changing the design, even it they panned on it.  But yeah, I doubt they do this soon. But indeed, MS will have to do something eventually, or fall in the same trap that iOS has fell in. No matter what they do, it's just going to be icons. With WPX, it's just going to be tiles. No way to relly customize it. 
  • "Who knows. It's not like anyone from MS would publicly say they were changing the design, even it they panned on it. "
    That's why we talked to people who do know.
  • And they wouldn' tell a fan blog they were going to make major changes to the OS, even if they were. You really think your clout is that good. LMAO.
  • And you think that WP Central is just a "fan blog"?? Wake up guy... There is more in there that you can imagine...
  • 1jaxstate1 - You clearly don't the meaning of "sources". We have a very good track record on future Windows Phone plan for devices and changes coming.  Then again, what am I doing defending myself to a "guy" named "1jaxstate1"...fml.
  • 1DanielRubino1
  • Apparently the username 1jaxstate1 is going to be available for anyone interested... BANNED!
  • The guy reporting this has been right and wrong, just like other people who report on future WP news. So maybe he has "sources" also.  I wasn't attacking you, but you felt the need to defend yourself, so be it. And as far as you not liking my screenname, my cry, two tears in a bucket, F*X# it, take it to the stage. 
  • Yes, you were attacking. And btw Sherlock, everyone on Earth is sometimes right and sometimes wrong...it's the ratio that counts, his record speaks for itself, and they just clarified that.
  • Are you bored?
  • You rather believe this one little guy than the #1 site for windows phone. This site has been more wrong than right in its history.
  • It's complete conjecture.
    Just read the points in this article alone, it goes against things that are known and common sense.
    There are a few VERY trusted Microsoft bloggers who dispute everything he said as well.
  • Man, if you have known Russian (eldar murtazin's language) and have read fully what he posts you would've never compared wpcentral to this clown. He really obviously has no sources in Microsoft. He is a Microsoft antifan, and looking back at his very subjective reviews at tech.mail.ru one may say if he has a personal attitude to something he can't be objective with that. He may have a good track leaking info about android or something but never about msft and Nokia. We stopped taking him serious here more than a year ago, glad wpcentral joins.
  • WPCentral has no sources in Microsoft either. Every tidbit you'll see posted here is first either reported by Tom Warren on The Verge, Paul Thurott or Mary Jo Foley. These are the three big guns you should follow for Microsoft news.
  • Wpcentral never said they have. They just analyze those you named for us so we may not do it ourselves. But eldar claimed he has while that's obviously not true speaking of Win and WP (or his sources are compromising). Wpcentral not only excluded him from the list of reliable sources but also explained why for us. If one still trusts eldar, he may subscribe for him manually, why not.
  • YES BECAUSE YOU ARE GOD AND YOU KNOW EVERYTHING... NEWS ALWAYS REPEATS IT SELF DOESNT IT...
  • O SHUT THE F4CK UP AND GO SOMEWHERE WHAT SOURCES YOU HAVE
  • Come on Daniel, you of all people know better than to feed the trolls lol
  • if only i could like comments
  • Exactly. This isnt a fan blog. This site is a very good source for windows/windows phone news. Microsoft and nokia share information with this site and others. Verge, engadget etc.... It would be stupid to change the design now when its doing well. Cmon man use some logic
  • We figured it out in one topic here on wpcentral that this site has grown way more to than just a wp oriented news/fansite. It became more of a hub where you can get the news about whatever is going around Microsoft operatin system including Windows RT, 8.1 Xbox and lot more of other stuff. I'm for once happy when every morning I wake up and can see lots of news and new apps. (living on eastern hemisphere). Before this website I barely knew what was XBOX at all, hear of it, never knew it's from Microsoft. Never would discover a lot of information about new useful apps, great promotions and new tablets, this really everything I need. I completely forgot about Engadget, Verge, CNet. Macrumors is no longer even a site for me. I found what I want on wpcentral and even bout an app in the Store. (first and so far the last app I've ever bought.). And I guess with all these rumors about changing of the interface, those who actually been around for more than 3-4 months here, wouldn't seriously believe that UI change towards Android like thing would be coming. And a lot more... But that's some other time. Thank WPCentral. You guys rock.
  • Thank you for using the word Columns instead of Rows like so many people do when discussing the big screen tile layout... :D
  • That thing holding up my roof in the porch...column or row?
  • android
  • get a life @borasar! XD
  • Wife.
  • That too :)
  • I believe its a nermble numbumergle.
  • I would imagine it would be a lot closer to Windows 8. MS is only on record stating that there will be new start screen innovations coming. That's about it. It's hard to fathom a new UI that moves away from live tiles.
  • There's so much potential with "Metro" beyond the same lame grid style of Android and iOS. Destroying it would be a mistake.
  • I suppose eventually they will need to overhaul (ios 6 was looking fairly long in the tooth) but we're 3-4 years away I'd say
  • Read this on wmpoweruser. Show bit about drive towards more Android like UI. Stopped reading and branded tipster an idiot. WP doesn't follow trends, it sets them and others try to copy.
  • All successful OSes follow trends.  No company can predict everything that will work well with consumers.
  • You are correct, no company can predict what consumers will like but may i ask what os did what wp does, what trend did it follow with its UI and UX? There is only one i can think of, webOS and that's with the multitasking which everyone has stolen because it was the best and possibly still is. I know, i was a pre owner and a huge fan of the innovations of webOS. To me, wp was the only logical choice after webOS, ios and android did nothing for me.
  • I don't think it the UI needs major changes. Subtle, functional changes are welcome, but as it stands today, it's timeless in the sense that it could've been utilized 2 or 3 decades ago (even from now) and it would still look modern. The bad thing about reduction is that it has a limit (and windows phone was there with only type and 2 or 3 colors) and the only way to go is addition. I'm not a fan of the added column, the bigger the tiles the better they look.
    The new start screen is starting to look like one of those static poles at a landmark that has about 20 signs pointing in the direction of a metropolitan city with its distance, but instead it rotates around its axis and the signs flip randomly.
    I love windows phone for its simplicity, it's absurd even, so much so that it's been out-designing apple for years. The only way for Apple to strike back without flat out imitation was to use either triangles or circles, both of which are absurd to the point that they can't be reduced any further, they've gone the circular way. And in the color department they took the opposite approach of windows phone (monochromatic) and used harmonious neon and pastel color palettes (those folks know how to spin a color wheel). We took opacity and they went with translucency... both different aesthetic approaches that attract the viewer. Android on the other hand is all over the place, looking like a mini desktop OS with an identity crisis. I find it deeply disturbing that anyone could find the aesthetics of android aspirational, there isn't anything inspirational about android, that would be like a French or Italian couturier being inspired by the sale rack at Sears.
  • That was some great reading, almost poetic, especially the relating to Androids OS.
  • @DreadVenom, I am so tired of reading it.. just tell me is he trolling?
  • I actually loved reading it.
  • Honestly I liked Android as an idea, but the way it was working even on the latest hardware, those tiny lags which poping once here and there were driving me mad on the phones I was checking in the shops. Unlike windows phone 7 when everything seemed so smooth even on the shitiest hardware. That's why I got Lumia 800, than 920 for my GF, Than 900 for my mom than 920 for myself. Running a bit low on cash these days, but hope I can Get ACER Iconia w4 this new year. But I was terrified of w3 and it's slow unresponsive experience. But these new tiny cheap full 8.1 tabs are seem so nice these days that I won't hesitate to pick it over overpriced iPads and Droid tablets.
  • If relating to 'saltellezjr', no trolling, just some valid points and then obliteration of droid os :). If relating to the guy in the main article, yes he is major troll and don't waste your time.
  • Analytical writing used to be my favorite subject until I learned trig and calculus.
  • Wow, what a wonderful comment!
  • Ya. Absolutely. That's exactly why a Nokia UI engineer has to say this: http://www.reddit.com/r/Android/comments/1mc4vq/nokia_was_testing_android_on_lumias_before/cc7xhs0      
  • Well, tbh, he did say "All successful OSes"... :P
  • Great job
  • I want DJBS to say something which starts a mini fight...
  • In a matter of a week you went from not knowing why people dislike him, to jumping on the badwagon. If he hasn't posted here, it's probably good not mention him at all don't you think?
  • I didnt bash him atleast...rather its funny how his remarks start a huge discussion here. :)
  • Well, in his defence, he just holds a few contrarian views. That should not be reason enough for hating him. Just a different point of view. Yes, sometimes his tone might be too provocative, but when he calms down, he does say things that actually made sense if you saw it from a different perspective. The blind hate here is baffling.
  • Blind hate for anything that contradicts your beliefs is common in both religion and fanboyism. ;) P.S. I do think WP UI will change over the next couple of years, it pretty much has to imo. I doubt they'd move away from Metro-design for a while though.
  • Well written! :)
  • Bravo.
  • Why no zero on the Rum'o'meter?
  • Truth be told, we don't have a '0', lol. But I did forget so I have added on now, thanks.
  • Anytime.
  • This. Eldar deserves a big fat zero.
  • Deserves a big fat zero, he is a big fat zero ;-)
  • What the hell is an "interface inspired by Android", exactly? You mean like some sort of desktop-like metaphor with icons and stuff? Revolutionary!
  • Wondering the same thing
  • Lol
  • It means they're going to be going scrap Windows Phone and go back to what they had with Windows Mobile "Photon". Lol Seriously, anybody that listens to Murtazin anymore deserves to lose all credibility. *cough* wmpoweruser *cough*
  • Neowin also believed him as well.
  • An interface inspired by android which was inspired by iOS. Is this clown from 2007...
  • It would mean that they're going to take the clean Modern UI, and turn it into a chaotic pile