Selling Windows Phone has always been a tricky affair, but Microsoft has certainly stepped up its efforts. Windows Phone 8 has received the most advertising yet in the mobile operating system’s two year existence, and one man at the heart of it all is Ben “The PC Guy” Rudolph. Yet as VentureBeat points out early in their interview with the father of Meet Your Match, Rudolph might just have the toughest job in the industry.
Being at the forefront of Microsoft’s aggressive campaign means Rudolph talks to a lot of people. In response to one question, Rudolph reveals the one thing that people most take a shine to with Windows Phone the first time they see it — the Start screen:
The single biggest surprise is how different it looks and feels. I mean, it’s not a hidden feature, but it’s really that Start screen with the tiles. If you’re used to an iPhone or an Android phone, or even a BlackBerry, you’re used to the same sort of UI, where you have all these little apps, and you go into an app and you do something, and you close the app, and you go into another little app, and you do something else.
So having a screen of tiles, when people see, they’re like, wow, there’s a lot of stuff going on. And then you put it in their hand, and you show them how their stuff comes alive on it, how their favorite people can be pinned to the Start screen, how their restaurants or movies can be on the Start screen, how everything’s flipping over with real information … all of a sudden when it’s in their hands it makes sense to them.
Rudolph goes on to discuss the nature of Windows Phone, saying that it was a big departure from other operating system in that it does not emphasize an “app-centric model”. He also says that the power of the Microsoft ecosystem will tie back into Windows Phone, since the interfaces of Windows 8 and the Xbox 360 share common DNA now.
The most interesting part of the interview came when VentureBeat asked if it seems hard for people to switch to Windows Phone. Here was his response:
I don’t think it’s hard to switch. Like anything else, when you try something new, you got to learn it, explore it, find all the settings. But what’s interesting, I find, is that people who are switching, or even getting a smartphone for the first time … because it’s built around the stuff that you want to do and the stuff you care about, it’s very intuitive.
I mean, I don’t need all of Facebook all the time, I just want to be able to see what my wife and my best friends are up to. So I pin my wife to my Start screen, I pin a group of my best friends, and I just get those chunks of Facebook.
So once you break out of that paradigm model of using apps for absolutely everything … once you understand that that’s not the only way you have to do something, the tile starts to make a lot of sense, and you start pinning and unpinning, and you’re off and running.
The interview is definitely worth a read, and Rudolph seems to be more than aware of the challenges he and Windows Phone face.