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Highlights from the Windows 8.1 engineering team AMA on Reddit

A handful of engineers on the Windows 8.1 team just wrapped up an AMA on Reddit. As you may or may not know, AMA stands for “ask me anything” and serves as a question and answer session. The team spent time answering questions from the community on everything from their favorite Windows apps to whether or not we’d see a book store in the Windows ecosystem. We’ve grabbed the highlights from the AMA for you to peruse down below.

The last time there was a big AMA from a team in Microsoft was with Panos Panay and the Surface team. That AMA was full of new information around the Surface 2, Surface Pro 2, and the future for the team. How did the Windows AMA go? Decent, nothing new was really in there and a handful of the answers didn’t directly answer the questions. Either way, here are the highlights. Alternatively, you can click the source link below to read the full AMA yourself.

  • How did the team feel about the return of the Start button? Mixed. It ultimately came back based on listening to customer feedback. (Source)
  • Why can’t you pin a “Me” tile on Windows 8.1? That’s something the team never thought about, but will consider this feature. (Source)
  • The Windows team, Windows Phone team, and Xbox team all worked together to define Microsoft’s motion language. Those are the various animations you’ll see throughout all platforms. By working together they’ll create a coherent experience for customers. (Source)
  • Creating a local account is hidden in the settings because Microsoft wants to encourage users to connect to Windows 8 and 8.1 using their Microsoft Account. They cite higher customer satisfaction when using connected accounts vs. local. (Source)
  • A notification center is something the team has thought about, but have no plans to share at the moment. (Source)
  • Katy Perry was used in all the design mock ups of SmartSearch on Windows 8.1. (Source)
  • Why was Facebook and Flickr integration removed from the Photos application on Windows 8.1? When Windows 8 launched, the team knew only a handful of apps would be in the Store. Integration was seen as stop gap until apps launched on Windows. They now encourage users to interact directly with those apps for services they use. (Source)
  • The Xbox app will soon allow you to pin albums and playlists. That’s coming in a future update to the app. (Source)
  • When asked about a “unified app store for both Windows Phone and Windows” the team had no dates to share, but did say that they’re always working towards bringing the platforms closer. (Source)
  • Microsoft is working with hardware vendors and TV manufactures to create a great experience for Miracast. This was a non-answer to whether or not Compatibility Center would be updated to find wireless display devices that work with their setup. (Source)
  • The Windows Phone team and Windows team are working together closely. More to come in time. (Source)
  • Windows 8 apps are called Store apps, not metro apps, not modern apps, but Store apps. (Source)
  • Microsoft waits for trademark owners to reach out and address any Windows Store apps that violate their trademark. So no, you won’t be seeing the Windows Store cleaned up anytime soon. (Source)

And that’s it. Like I said, the Windows team didn’t really reveal anything mind blowing in this AMA. But it’s still nice to see them engaging the community in forums like Reddit. Hit up the source below to see it for yourself.

Have your own, unanswered questions about Windows 8.1? You can ask us below like a noob or head to the Windows Phone Central Forums like a pro. Don’t forget to take our poll to tell us what you think of Windows 8.1.

Source: Reddit AMA

  • If there was one thing I didn't like about 8.1, it would be the removal of Flickr and Facebook integration from the Photos app.
  • Yeah... I don't know why they felt the need to do that. Facebook is still an album in the WP photo app. I hope they don't take it away. My guess is Facebook asked them to remove it, but Microsoft doesn't want to say that. Is there even a Flickr app for W8?
  • I agree that FB might have pressured them to remove it. I don't think there's a W8 store app for Flickr. I really hope they release one, and update the WP version while they're at it.
  • agreed,that and the contextual search. But great release otherwise
  • I agree that it was a lame choice. Annoyingly lame. Hey! Let's make the experience LESS integrated!
  • Well, there's the share charm for sharing purposes.
  • Yeah, the removal of that integration seems like a step backwards. And the discussion during the AMA did not suggest it is coming back. This step, and the lack of improvements to WP8 hubs make me wonder if integrated experiences are going away.
  • Nothing mind-blowing, but to be fair, it seemed like a lot of questions were either technical support requests or insults framed as questions.
  • Welcome to reddit, haha.
  • Touché!
  • I miss the Messaging app for facebook chat and messenger chat
  • I'm sure they'll integrate that into Skype (maybe), like the desktop application does it. Although, in the AMA they would like tk encourage people to use the respective Store app.
  • I really hope so, messaging was really good
  • I'm hoping that someday we'll be able to reply and receive text messages through our Windows 8 devices that were supposed to go to our Windows Phones. How iPad can receive messages from your iPhone..
  • They got rid of it? :'(
  • Skype/messenger is so broken. I can't invite or receive contact invites at all I contacted m$ about this and they say its a Skype issue, then when I try to contact Skype I never get anywhere either.
  • Yeah, it's sad that Skype doesn't update there app on Windows 8.1, really missing the Messenger App.
  • Messaging app had been broken for a long time, MSN messenger was dead and the facebook integration was broken with double post issues and delayed messages.
    The facebook app already does a better job than the messaging app ever did.
  • Why dont you use the Facebook app for messaging?
  • well, my Messaging App was always working and last 5 months it was not broken. It worked perfect. Also i still have friends on MSN messenger that i chat with on there.
  • "Store Apps". Really? Just...REALLY?
  • +1000.  Simply a boring and monumentally stupid name for these apps.  Microsoft marketimg is a bunch of drooling baboons. Clever, memorable names are a huge key to marketing to consumers.  "Store app" isn't clever or memorable.
  • It's not meant to stand out or be memorable. It's just meant to be "normal". Calling old apps "desktop apps" is meant to make them the unusual.
  • Yeah, that is the one thing that sticks out as truly moronic.
    "Modern" would be far better, and an easy association for people to make with "Metro".  Or come up with a new name... but "Store" is pretty much the worst you could come up with.  Well, I suppose MS could probably do worse... I shouldn't tempt them.
  • "Store apps" is a fail on another count: the Store includes desktop applications. "Modern" has its own issues (desktop applications can be very touch-friendly and modern-ish)
  • Biggest waste of an AMA I have seen.
  • It's not My Computer anymore, it's THIS PC!!! That irked me. And of course, me bickering all day about the inclusion of folder shortcuts within Computer/This PC's main view. I use folder shortcuts in Favorites, NOT Computer, NOT Desktop (at least I can still rename 'This PC').
  • Well it certainly isn't THAT pc . . .
  •   While I understand where you're coming from, I see it the opposite way. I think that "This PC" makes a lot more sense than "My Computer", as oftentimes the machine we're using isn't "ours" (e.g., your work PC or a shared home tablet).   The use of folder links also makes sense, because the "drive:\folder\subfolder" structure is an abstraction anyway. Modern filesystems are not actually "made" of nested folders, but rather are databases where the "location" of a file is just another entry in its record. As such, a folder link is just as much a valid "location" as a "real" folder.   It took me a while to let go of the old paradigms, but once you do it's worth it!
  • yeah, I hate 'this PC' designation as well
  • I love it
  • I'm ambivalent about it :P
  • It's funny you say that - I hated the "My" prefix when it first came out (Win 95). I thought it sounded so babyish at the time. "MY documents", "MY computer", "MY pictures" etc.
  • Glad Microsoft is reaching out to the consumers. One thing MSFT has always been poor at is marketing.
  • Yeah, I think the Facebook Flickr move was lame.
  • Agreed. What about all that contract nonsense? All the hub potentials wasted
  • +1
  • +360
  • Oh, so there is a flickr app now? Will have to check it out when I get home!
  • Cant believe integration was a "Stop gap"!! We've been singing praises of integration. There goes all my hopes for an integrated user experience. :'(
  • I know! I really liked that all my accounts could be accessed with one app! On the flip side, maybe this will get me using the "share" charm more often...
  • Agreed... If that is the case, then by that same principle they should remove facebook/twitter integration from the people hub. Woops I shouldn't say that out loud :-|
  • There goes the whole "task oriented instead of app oriented" spiel.
  • Thank god they disconnected Facebook and Flickr from photo app. I have embarrassing photos that are private on fb for a reason
  • Agree, I thought the private line was bit blurred with that "integration".
  • Why post embarrassing photos on Facebook at all?
  • Why would you put photos on Facebook only to make them private?
  • Some people share by habit and some people record/take pictures by habit without thinking of the consequences, the latter i find so bloody annoying.. For example the other day I was at a cafe and eating my lunch and this couple come in and start recording their food etc and soon they start recorded and taking pictures of me eating and other people eating. Reminded me of why I stopped eating in at cafes and restaurants. Needless to say the proprietor also shared everyone's view and ordered them stop recording and delete all pictures/recording of other people Which we all damn made sure they did before leaving lol.
  • Holy shit, I've never heard of people doing that. Makes me glad I live in a smallish city. I would be outraged if that happened to me.
  • This
  • +1, for people that dont use facebook and flicker it was an annoyance
  • Wish Microsoft provided an app lock, so some apps couldn't be opened.
  • UAC?
  • They already do, using Parental Controls on Standard user accounts.
  • So like the android app locker, where you can make it so any app you want has to be opened by a pin? And this works for both desktop apps and store apps? And it doesn't involve parental controls? Yeah, sadly we would have to wait for the program or if it is out, to research it.
  • You should clean up the windows store... There is a windows phone central app with an RSS feed..... Lol
  • I see where they're coming from on the connected user thing, but I always set my PCs up so that the local user is admin, and the connected users get limited permissions. Seems safer that way.
  • True and that's what I personally say is the best way given that an account is now connected 24/7 to the internet. Mostly if you have a tendency of clicking every single pop up lol, have come across soo many users that do.. Then again their old people who trust everything what a computer prompts them to do. I haven't repaired any win8 pcs yet so cant say for certain what affect a connected account would have with a moderately experienced user at the helm. Others who have may be able to share some light on it.
  • I feel like this update is nothing now (I like it though) I'm just so curious about WP and WRT merging.
  • Smart Files truly is a nice touch, but as a scientist that deals with large files, it would be great to control specific files and directories that I may not want to sync with SkyDrive. For example, being able to right click on any file or directory and select, "Sync With SkyDrive," a-la Smart File hydration, would be a great way to leverage SkyDrive as not just a backup but a powerful sync tool between multiple devices. I can't understand why they want to encourage everyone to save everything to SkyDrive, when the capacity is so limited (yeah, I know, buying more space makes them money). It just seems like such a bass-ackwards approach to syncing.
  • Why did they chage the store around
  • I still think the store layout is horrible.
  • Has anyone been able to launch 3 store apps side by side? Can't seem to get it going on the helix..
  • Most apps have to be updated to support that.
  • I launched them on my dell laptop that is a non touch screen upgraded from W7!
  • Got home .. Your direct link worked!
  • I honestly am glad they got rid of that FB integration. It annoyed the crap out of me to be on FB chat and have the conversations open on the App as well.
    I also note some bitterness from the team for having to attend customers demands about the Start Button. And I'm glad. I'm always happy when the will of the user is stronger than the whims of the developer (apparently Microsoft has been learning this the hard way over and over again in the past year...)