Nokia’s Redesign of the Windows Phone UI

We all know that back when the Nokia and Microsoft partnership was announced, Nokia was given special rights to alter the user interface as they saw fit. At least with the current Lumia devices, we didn’t see much of a redesign at all, however we have recently come across some work by one of Nokia R&D’s senior graphic designers (who has also worked on the Nokia 808 PureView) that clearly shows at least some one at Nokia was considering a complete redesign of Windows Phone.





This particular designer was transferred from Nokia to Accenture in September of 2011, so it’s very likely that she is no longer working on Windows Phone UI designs since Accenture is the company that Nokia is now outsourcing all of their Symbian related work to.

Remember that on Feb. 16, 2011, at the “Windows Phone Day” seminar, when asked if they would change the Windows Phone UI, Nokia’s Chief Technology Officer, Rich Greene, said:

‘We certainly do, in the context of this agreement, have the right to manipulate the UX, the UI, etc. but…I’m not speaking for the plan, I’m speaking as the Chief Technology Officer: Why would you? Let me clarify. There are so many places to innovate, it is critically important to provide the greatest opportunity for you the developer, you build once and everybody gets it, when you create more and more variance it becomes a hindrance. We also want customers to move between devices, preferably towards Nokia devices, but move between devices and not to hinder that in any fashion. The hardware and additional services we can offer will bring people to us, but if there are unfamiliar with a different environment, there may be a barrier to that, so why do it? The other issue is would I rather invest our resources in building really cool augmented reality applications or move tiles around? It just doesn’t make sense. We’re going to invest much more of our time, as we should have over the years, building on the platform as opposed to building in the platform. There’s unlimited amounts of opportunity to differentiate and innovate in these things.”

So it would seem that Nokia’s Chief Technology Officer is not interested in altering Windows Phone’s user interface experience at all. Though these concept images certainly indicate that Nokia may have actually been thinking about redesigning Windows Phone at one point.

We thought we’d reach out to both Microsoft and Nokia to see if they had anything to say about this. Microsoft officially told us that they had not previously seen these designs and they are not currently working with this designer. Our Nokia contacts looked into the matter for us and their response was that these concept mockups “are purely her own personal design explorations and were never part of any project being done at or for Nokia.”

I’m not sure a graphic designer working for Nokia would spend time designing UI’s for Nokia Windows Phones if she was not being paid for it, though being in the R&D department could certainly allow for that kind of freedom. Still, we think it would be in Microsoft and Nokia’s best interests to push for consistent UI experiences within the Metro style conventions across all Windows Phones, Windows 8 PCs/Tablets, and of course the Xbox.

Do you think Nokia is or has been secretly working on a redesign of the Windows Phone OS? Or are they going to stick to Microsoft’s design for a better overall cohesive “Metro” experience?

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About The Author
Adam Z. Lein
Adam has had interests in combining technology with art since his first use of a Koala pad on an Apple computer. He currently has a day job as a graphic designer, photographer, systems administrator and web developer at a small design firm in Westchester, NY. His love of technology extends to software development companies who have often implemented his ideas for usability and feature enhancements. Mobile computing has become a necessity for Adam since his first Uniden UniPro PC100 in 1998. He has been reviewing and writing about smartphones for since they first appeared on the market in 2002. Read more about Adam Lein!