Microsoft released build 15014 earlier this week and although it comes with a number of new enhancements that make Windows that much better again, I couldn’t help but be disappointed as I was reading the announcement. Especially the delay for MyPeople. Although I understand that Microsoft holds off on that feature to bring is a great implementation in Redstone 3. (Call it the People Update, get it done Micrsooft!) Either way. There are actually 2 (perhaps minor) things that really boggled my mind.
Imagen this, somewhere in Microsofts buildings, there was someone who thought “Hey, wouldn’t it be a great idea to make the Cortana search bar light grey so that it constantly is yelling at your eyes for attention?”. That’s the though process that went behind this:
I’m not sure what Microsoft was thinking there. The taskbar is supposed to “fade to the background” (not literally, unless you’ve set it to do that) when you’re working. But now, it’s a black bar, that suddenly has a light grey area, which is distracting to say the least. This grey bar doesn’t make sense here, unless the taskbar itself was white (or light grey). Please Microsoft, reverse this.
Sadly, the Cortana change wasn’t the most stupid thing in this build either. But first, let us dive into some history with Windows Phone 7.
In Windows Phone 7, Microsoft had the genuinely great idea to allow users to easily change the look of the UI across the whole OS. This was a great idea, unlike other systems like Android and iOS, you where not constrained to the color that either Google or Apple (or any Android OEM) thought was the best. And so, we ended up with these colors:
Meanwhile, Windows 8 was also introducing the Metro UI and included its own implementation of accent colors. I’m not sure if it is fair to call them accent colors here, since this only applied to the background of the start screen and the Settings app, while all other apps just went with their own brand color.
Either way, Windows 8 had what I would call a “dual color” system where you could select a color and its variation, but not independent from each other. Despite that, it gave much more freedom than what Windows Phone 7 provided. With 25 colors, it was far ahead of Windows Phone 7.
Meanwhile, Windows Phone 8 came around (and so did Windows Phone 7.8) and Microsoft added a number of new accent colors to both systems:
Hoeza! Going up from 10 to 20. Although still limited, this certainly gave people more choice. This is still less than Windows. But an improvement either way. This stayed the same throughout Windows Phone 8 and its 3 updates and Windows Phone 8.1 and its 2 updates.
Meanwhile, Windows 8.1 came around with a revamped start screen and the first “free” selection.
Windows 8.1 provided us with 324 background colors and 216 accent colors, leaving us with 69 984 different combinations to choose from. That’s 69 959 more than Windows 8 and 69 964 more than Windows Phone 8.1, if you’ve lost count. However, this was already down from the freedom some leaked Windows 8.1 builds provided.
Then the Windows 10 Insider Previews came around and Microsoft started to introduce the real accent color system to the desktop as well. The dual color system disappeared, but it made place for this beauty (image from Windows Central):
Lady and gentlemen: unlimited choice. The Windows 10 Insider Previews revamped Windows’ “Color and Appearance” window and made it affect the accent color. Sadly, with the dismanteling of the Control Panel, this panel disappeared as well. The other interface for the same setting is what has been left in Windows 10 (and Windows 10 Mobile) ever since:
48 accent colors. That’s all what was left. For Windows Phone 8.1, this was more than double but this new pallet also removed some of the previously existing colors. Basically all the happy and bright colors where gone. For Windows on the other hand, this was a massive step down from the 69 000+ colors.
The Creators Update seeks to bring back that choice. So why am I telling you this whole story? Because this really should never have happened, what’s now in the Creators Update should have been there from the very start in Windows Phone 7 (and Windows 8). Or no, a much better implementation should be in there. Let’s take a look.
The new accent color picker is a joke. I can’t describe it any other way. Just take a look at the accent I’ve selected here (with the option to pick an accent based on the background). The selector is outside the color field because this color is in fact not supported. You can’t reach my accent color. To make this even more ironical: you can’t reach some of the pre-defined accent colors with this new color picker either. There are however colors within its array that are “not supported” as well. If you put the slider to the left, not a single place you’ll put the selector in will result in you finding a color that is supported.
And please, Microsoft, don’t narrow this color selector down even further to keep that from happening. Instead, just support every color. In fact, make this selection options wider. Just show that “This color looks like it might be hard to read” message whenever you think there is a problem but let people just pick their accent color. Give us the background color picker for accent colors:
The background color picker does in fact give you all freedom you could get. The full RGB spectrum is available on this scale. Also, for some weird reason, this window is smaller than the one for accent colors. Please Microsoft, give us that freedom. For once.
Ho, and if you’re using Windows 10 Mobile – you know, the platform this all started on – like me, for some reason, you won’t get this feature either. What’s with that?