More highlights from Joe Belfiore's Windows Phone Reddit AMA

Joe Belfiore has historically been one of the most open people on Microsoft's executive team and that didn't change today as the leader of the Windows Phone team answered a bunch of questions from Reddit users during his AMA session.

During the chat, Belfiore confirmed plans for an upcoming File Manager for Windows Phone 8.1, promised new and big updates for the Facebook and Skype apps, made some hints about a PC version of Cortana, and mentioned they were in talks about getting an official Windows Phone Snapchat app.

However, that's not all he wrote about for the Reddit audience. Here are just some of the highlights from today's AMA:

On the delay in offering Windows Phone updates to developers

Belfiore denied that Microsoft had broken promises in terms of rolling out updates for Windows Phone app developers ahead of wireless carriers. He said:

Last summer we said we'd enable developers to get updates separately from the carrier-approval process. It took us longer than we would have liked to roll -- this out... but the reason for that was a combination of work we had to do to implement the program AND the fact that the updates we were shipping early in the year wouldn't have had as much value for existing phones.

Windows Phone 8.1 Developer Preview isn't the final version

In case it wasn't clear before, Belfiore said that the current Windows Phone 8.1 Developer Preview should not be considered to be the "final" version of the OS. He stated:

 ... there's client-side software fixes we're still making, when UPDATES go out to existing phones they will come with "BSP" (low-level phone firmware) updates from the OEMs... and the Services (cortana) are continually getting improved. SO.. when you get an official update or buy a new phone, it'll be more polished than what you folks have now.

On music support for Windows Phone 8.1

Belfiore said that they want to make sure that device owners have a way to subscribe to Microsoft's Xbox Music service but at the same time also allow them the option to manually sync their content. He said:

The new experience in WP8.1 Dev Preview will get us to one system that works GREAT for "ordinary sideloaders" (it works with the Windows Shell) AND for people who use multiple devices and are more "cloud-oriented". it's re-architected to handle both of these well-- and in particular we're shipping it as an app on the phone and have committed to regular updates which will make a BIG difference over the next few months. You've seen one already and more are on the way.

On removing integrated Facebook and Twitter features

Lots of people have wondered why Windows Phone 8.1 now has apps for Facebook and Twitter rather than integrating those features in the OS itself, as previous version of the OS accomplished. Belfiore said that one reason was that integrated support meant that Twitter and Facebook on Windows Phone were missing many popular features that were available on other mobile apps. He also indicated that integration "limited our ability to do great international support for the key social networks around the world." He added:

So after a few releases of getting feedback that people LOVE the UX being integrated but are frustrated by the limitations… we decided to go with the app-powered model for social integration in 8.1. This approach empowers the individual services as well as individual devs. Now new social networks can be added at ANY TIME via an app update, and thus a lot of people around the world will get a feature they've missed entirely. Furthermore, by linking to the app, we have a mechanism for "deep users" to get access to "deeper features" in a nice, natural way

On carrier exclusive phones

Many wireless carriers in the U.S and Canada insist that some phone models be exclusive to their network, and that's certainly been true of many Windows Phone products. Belfiore said the reason was that those companies are looking to sign people up to long term contracts and that having an exclusive phone helps with marketing.

In the higher-volume ecosystems, you have seen this dynamic change... iPhones and Samsung phones are typically the same device across carriers. I expect as WP usage grows and along with that as broader end-user demand begins to ALREADY EXIST in the market, the need for carriers to spend money educating people will diminish and the phones are likely to be more broadly available.

Belfiore's answers during the AMA were highly detailed and rather candid; he indicated that this won't be his last time chatting with Reddit folks.

Source: Reddit | Image via Joe Belfiore

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I "love" WP 8.1. And I put that in quotes because I am still furious that they castrated the messenger app for no good reason. Now I have to have to use 3 apps just to chat where before only 1 very simple and bloat-free app sufficed. I don't care how they justify it; if you want more features that the basic messenger app didn't have there is still the option to install the official standalone apps. They could have made everybody happy, but instead took out one of the biggest reasons to get a Windows Phone IMO. I'm not thrilled about the notification center, either; it's handy, but it could look a lot nicer and right now looks like a poor imitation of Android's notification center.

I love Windows Phone. I just spent a week on Android because my Lumia 928 broke so I had to get a "decent" "burner" phone, so I picked up the Avail 2 for $50. In theory it wasn't a bad buy for the price, but in reality it sucked so badly I absolutely had to spend $60 for a Lumia 520 before I went insane, which is a much better phone all around (although the camera still doesn't have a flash). So basically I'm saying they're not going to be losing my business over this move, but it is still very irritating. I almost wish I could downgrade my phone back to the lastest 8.0.

Edited by Darrian, May 3 2014, 6:48am :

Carrier exclusivity needs to be scraped. I'm liking the Nokia Lumia 1020, but since I'll never deal with Rogers Cable, I'll either have to settle on one of the lower-end devices or get the 1020 second hand and unlock it to use on Telus

I'd love for them to scrap the carrier exclusive mentality. If Nokia had done that I'd have a Lumia 1520 with T-Mobile right now.

Buy a Lumia 1520.3 (RM-938) that supports all of T-Mo's wireless bands. It's an unbranded phone that works on AT&T and T-mo LTE/4G bands and comes with QI wireless charging built in.

Did he mention anything about USB OTG, and more specifically, the ability to pass audio through USB? I want to use a USB DAC on my phone.

ZipZapRap said,
Did he mention anything about USB OTG, and more specifically, the ability to pass audio through USB? I want to use a USB DAC on my phone.

I don't think anyone asked that question.

Really like the update.
Just hope they fix the bug that show FB contact in the phonebook when you choose not to include FB people in your contacts.

I really have no use for all those FB contacts in my phonebook

Stoffel said,
Really like the update.
Just hope they fix the bug that show FB contact in the phonebook when you choose not to include FB people in your contacts.

I really have no use for all those FB contacts in my phonebook

I haven't heard about this bug. It's not affecting me... Is it widespread?

Can you check this for me on your device?
I have FB and Skype linked to my MS account
In the settings for the People app I choose not to show people from FB
When I check the People app, there are no FB contacts in there, other then the ones that are also linked to an Outlook contact, which is expected.
When I check the phonebook, all of a sudden all my FB contacts with a phonenr in FB are also added.

Enron said,
I just hope they get some new phones out soon. The carrier exclusive stuff is so yesterday.

Yeah, my mom wants one, but I'm waiting for the 8.1 devices first...

Chikairo said,
I love 8.1, even if its a preview :)

I do too. It just needs updated Twitter and Linked In apps that take advantage of the new features, and maybe a Google+ app.

Maybe with this new model, it will be possible to have different social apps for personal and business finally too!

I highly doubt anything for Google+ is on the way. Google just does not support Microsoft mobile products. I suppose if WP captures a lot more market share it might happen.