Your 100 Feature Dollars

A few weeks ago I asked how you'd spend 100 feature dollars on Windows Mobile. 


When we do this exercise, we typically brainstorm a list of features that we'd like to do or that have been requested in the past. We cost the features ourselves, and then ask customers to spend feature dollars on them. Obviously, if a feature is cheap to implement and customers really want it, then that's an easy win for us. If a feature is expensive and customers don't want it, we can shelve the feature with a clear conscience. If a feature is expensive and customers really want it, then we have to try to make space for it.


Since I didn't provide you with a list of features to decide between, the suggestions varied widely. So what I did was sum the requests roughly by which team internally would be doing the work. Here are the results:


IE Mobile: 125 (2%)

Messaging: 156 (2%)

Office Mobile: 300 (5%)

Connection Manager: 350 (5%)

Device Management & Security (my team): 360 (6%)

Phone: 377 (6%)

PIM (calendar, contacts, etc.): 405 (6%)

Windows CE: 420 (6%)

Sync (primarily wireless sync): 640 (10%)

Shell: 1425 (22%)

Other (OEM requests, or things too generic to categorize): 1473 (23%)


I put most of the one-handed navigation requests into Shell, although it's really something that has to be implemented across all applications running on the device. Connection Manager doesn't have its own team, but I made it a first class entity because it got so much attention.


I also noticed at least 480 feature dollars that requested things I know we have already implemented for future releases. There's probably more - that's just what I identified off the top of my head.


Thanks for all the detailed suggestions! I'll get it to product planning and the appropriate feature teams.



Comments (50)
  1. surur says:

    Thanks for the feedback. Its a pity the small usability improvements we want wont make great bullet points to sell a future update, but it will certainly make future users very much happier, and make the devices a much better sell to consumers (but like Symbian?)


  2. One of the activities our Product Planning team often use in brainstorming is to consider what features…

  3. I missed the original thread, but here’s my $100 idea.  First some background. I moved from a Samsung i600 smart phone to a Samsung i730 PPC Phone Edition.  I still miss the old keypad.  The small keys of the i730 are horrible.  I know that some phones improve on this by having a landscape slider, but these are problematic on sever accounts.  Landscape wastes too much screen real estate, the keys aren’t easily reachable for one handed operation, and I prefer a phone that elongates itself (portrait slider, or better yet clamshell) to avoid the ear to mouth shuffle.

    I always found T9 to be really efficient for text entry on the i600.  The only problem with it was the need for long-presses to change modes or access the symbol menu.  What I’d rather see is a 16-key keyboard.  There would be the standard 12 phone keys and an extra column of four buttons:  T9 mode, 3 tap mode, digit mode, and special symbols.  Taping the mode you’re already in would capitalize.  Entering digits was always a pain cause you had to do mutiple long-presses to change modes.

    The improved accuracy of being able to hit the keys made T9 much more plesant than trying to type on the tiny i730 keyboard.  When I want to enter a lot of text, I use the stylus and Calligrapher anyway.

    Oh, and one other thing I’d pay $100 for:  full screen mode in all programs.  The title bar and menu bars, especially in landscape mode, waste way too much space.  This is especially bad in terminal services client.  When you through in the scroll bars on that program, it’s really bad.  You really need to rework that program to be full screen and have a drag-and-scroll mode instead of the scroll bars.  Otherwise, it’s just barely usable on q QVGA screen.  It’s better on a VGA screen, but still not pleasant in landscape since you the title bar and menu bar take up so much more space than in portrait mode.

  4. macbirdie says:

    And something tells me you can’t tell what those $480-or-so-features you already implemented are.

  5. Ayzad says:

    $0.10 feature, but priceless for me:

    On WM5 Phone Ed, let users add a larger number of multiple SMS recipients to an outbound message. I don’t know what the actual current limit is, but it sure is below 96… which is the size of my current SMS mailing list!

  6. Henry Boehlert says:

    I only have my HTC TyTN since yesterday (love it) and just came across the threads about vNext.

    My apologies for being this late but there’s something IMHO was not mentioned yet:

    – Make the MS websites targeted at mobile users more form-factor-friendly (even if it takes endless discussions about corporate identity on web sites) (say, 20$)

    And, for completeness, to support what already has been said:

    – A application close button that closes an application, 30$

    – WPA2 support and consolidated configuration for all network types, 50$

    – for Window Mobile, Priceless

  7. Windows mobile scrollbars are right sided, wich makes them almost impossible to scroll for left handed people…

    Can the windows mobile team add left scrollbars as an option.


  8. Craig Horlacher says:

    My money would go for a standard bluetooth stack so *all* windows mobile devices would support HID (humand interface device) devices like keyboards!!!

  9. eva says:

    Windows mobile scrollbars are right sided, wich makes them almost impossible to scroll for left handed people…

    Can the windows mobile team add left scrollbars as an option.


    This is absolutely TRUE. I am left handed, and if I had known that it was so damn difficult for me to use the scroll bars, I would have never bought a Windows Mobile device (QTEK G100). It drives me nuts, navigation is almost impossible with those tiny scrollbars on the right.

  10. Nathan Lock says:

    * Fix Windows media player on VGA video devices so that non vga scale videos run fullscreen when the check box is ticked. TCPMP does this so why not Windows media player.

    * Windows media player built in full playlist support.

    *Internet explorer /tabs/save page the list goes on there…. for a full list just look at netfront 3.3 browser

    * Wifi activesync, Wifi activesync, Err did I mention Wifi activesync?

    * msn messenger is  way out of date. we want video conferencing support! after all our devices have had cameras for ages nowon all the 3g phones!

    * Fix the problems with running programs from Storage cards when you switch back on it takes so long to initialize the card that some programs exit or hang.

    * SMS Vcard support – why when loads of other phones supports vcards via sms does windows mobile only offer infrared & bluetooth vcards?

    * improve pocket outlook/contacts and calendar so that they have all the features of "pocket informant" different colours, advanced templates etc.

    * improve file explorer so that it has all the features of its desktop big brother, (take a look at resco file explorer or total commander).

    * Powerpoint file creation & editing – not just viewing!

    Please, Please could you comment on which of these are likely to happen?

  11. Nathan Lock says:

    aftre posting my comments above, I decided to read the other thread and repeat some of the best ideas in there plus a few more of my own, this thread has really got me going!! I do hope that all the time I have spent compiling these 2 postings is not a waste of time and that you seriously implement as many of the suggestions as possible.

    * make adding phone numbers to existing contacts easy.

    * add automatic redial for busy numbers, just like our $10 Nokia dumb phones.

    * massivly simplify network connection control panel.

    * Make ActiveSync able to do a device backup that can cope with new roms as well!

    * fix bluetooth. Support ALL the profiles your $10 Nokia dumbphones support

    * A close button that CLOSES (or at least make it configurable) & a minimise button

    * TRUE VGA support on VGA devices – if I want to squint, let me squint. 🙂  

    Stop resizing graphics in IE, too.

    * more time options for snooze on remidners, shall we?  Even better: specify the exact time it should remind again.

    * built in cascading start menu

    * Add USER-INSTALLABLE software updates! Not all bug fixes in the Windows Mobile OS are hardware-exclusive. It is dumb that we have to wait for the manufacturer and cellular carriers to "approve" an update such as the change back from a two-line to a one-line Today date display!

    * Fix PPC phone UI for one handed operation. I’m going to kill myself or someone else trying to dial in the car.  The buttons are not big enough and don’t respond very well. – why does the keypad auto hide during a call? 5 out of 10 calls involve "press 1 for xyz etc" and I have to go back and press the keypad button again to be able to do this!

    * Option to auto install certificates

    * implement the features of Hudson Mobile’s Phone Dashboard and integrate it into the Today screen & add text counting as well.

    * implement the features of GPRS Monitor

    * Ability to synchronize multiple contacts/calendars including those from

    Exchange Public Folders.

    * Fix Pocket Media Player to save settings.  Allow the user to configure where

    the default library is, or better yet, add all mp3’s to a single library rather than having two.  If you keep mp3’s on a storage card, you currently have to select "Storage Card" each time you open Media Player.

  12. What Nathan Lock said +

    * support the <button> tag in PIE

  13. Nathan Lock says:

    Brand New Idea just nicked from the Treo 750 – a hot button or 2 in the phone app, to send a sms text reply when you refuse a call with customisable messages like "Sorry I just refused your call, I am in a meeting and will call you back as soon as i get back." or " Can’t take your call right now I am at the cinema".

  14. Robert says:

    Windows mobile scrollbars are right sided, wich makes them almost impossible to scroll for left handed people…

    Can the windows mobile team add left scrollbars as an option.

  15. Tony Davis says:

    I would focus first on really basic usability issues such as:

    – click on a contact in speed dial and it opens a properties dialog as opposed to diallig

    – click on call history and be able to select an alternate number (e.g. mobile as opposed to work) for any previously dialled contact

    – search of messages is very slow and needs to be available from within outlook mobile

  16. Chris says:

    I am also left-handed and I am despreately trying  to change the scrollbar to the left side!!!


  17. Chris says:

    Adding to what I just said about left handed scroll bar:

    Thanks for implemention quickly!!!

  18. Jeff Hakes says:

    I am not new to Windows Mobile. Windows Mobile 5.0 has too few appointment reminder snooze choices. You have up to one hour to snooze, then it skips to 24 hours snooze….Windows Mobile needs to have snooze interval choices similar to Outlook

  19. Jeff Hakes says:

    forgot to mention…voice activated dialing for the phone portion of Windows Mobile 5.0 does not seem to come standard. My Pocket PC is a UTStarcom XV6700. It seem the software for  dialing the phone through contacts is all part of Windows 5.0

    I feel voice activated dialing should be a standard feature.

  20. I should have the option of having e-mails,word doc, etc. "read" to me. Inotherwords give me the option to convert visual into audio.

  21. James Radvan says:

    I find it almost incomprehensible that no lefties in the Microsoft dev team shouted out for left-hand scrollbars.  It is a major usability fault.  Please, please fix it – it is not a feature, it is a major bug.

  22. Marvin says:

    I’m late to the game, but $100 rebuilding ActiveSync or at least thoroughly documenting it and usability scenarios.  There are a lot of areas that are nothing more than annoyances or luxuries.  ActiveSync development is practically impossible for most shops and many developers are resigned to building their own solutions.

  23. WM5 is severly lacking in a full featured PIM.  I am tied to the Palm TREO because even the third party solutions are weak.  If you will use ACT for Palm as a target you will make major improvements and gain many of us in sales who must carry large databases and related tasks, calendars, notes etc. And be able to sync them when at our desk.

  24. João Gonçalves says:

    Please add  option the left scroll bar!! I am lefty.. and the scroll bar in the right is for me just horrible.. 🙁

  25. Andrew Pritchard says:

    I just got the new HP ipaq with windows mobile… it’s absolutely ridiculous that there’s no option to switch the scroll bar to the left side of the screen.  

    Being left-handed, the absence of this option makes scrolling impossible.  One would expect MS to take this sort of thing into account before releasing a product. There’s an option to turn the screen upside down, for crying out loud.  1 in 10 people are left handed.  What percentage of the population is upside down???

  26. Andrew Pritchard says:

    Wow!  I posted the above message before realizing that there were so many other lefty having the same trouble.  Solidarity!  

    if a major corporation released a product which alienated any other 10% of the population, there’d be a class-action lawsuit!  Microsoft, you’ve been warned!!!!

  27. Dennis Meier says:

    1. i`m lefty (see above) …

    2. why not also synchronize dictations. i sometimes get awesome ideas while driving and just dictate them in my hx4700. but since they are not synchronized, i never get back to them. add a feature of having your dictations automatically put in your inbox, so that you are reminded.

  28. Markus says:

    Yes! i´m so glad i found this forum. I have been looking into bying a THC Tyt but had my doughts since i am left handed. Will there be an option for scroll bar to the left? Otherwise MS will every 10th customer because of handedness.

  29. MikeCal says:

    One thing we’ve been trying very hard to do with PocketPC is to make the hardware navigation good enough that you don’t need to use the stylus at all.  The DPAD works equally well left and right handed (I frequently switch hands when using my devices).  You’ll find a number of advantages to not using the stylus beyond being able to scroll while holding the device in your right hand.  


  30. Gabe says:

    We aren’t kidding around Microsoft. All of us lefties are much, MUCH less productive when we can’t see what the *bleep* is on the screen when we’re scrolling.

    This "feature" is not one to be left up to 3rd-party apps that we have to pay for…this is a must in ANY portable device. My lowered productivity from switching from Palm (with a free 3rd-party app that fixed the problem) to Windows Mobile 5 is getting to the point of being just enough to make the switch again.

    Microsoft, this is absurd and obnoxious. Stop alienating your customers and put the damn scoll bar on the left or risk losing at least this customer.

  31. MikeCal says:

    We’re certainly not trying to be obnoxious.  Making the scroll bar switchable is a significant challenge.  We could do a half job and make it switch for our applications, but most third party applications would break.  I don’t know if an inconsistent experience would be better or worse than what you currently have.

    I WILL say, however, that we have a whole class of devices that work equally well in the left hand as in the right.  I suggest you try one of the smartphone based devices like the Moto Q, the Samsung Blackjack, or the HTC Star Trek (ie the Cingular 3125).  On these devices you will find that you can scroll without your hand getting in the way.  

    Even though I’m right handed, I prefer these Smartphone devices to PocketPC ones, largely because I like being able to use the phone in either hand.  I switch back and forth often.  


  32. Gabe says:

    It’s understandable that things are much more complicated in real life for developers than in the eyes of us consumers…but when did anyone even start thinking of this? Does it really take half a decade?

    Trust me when I say that if I had the budget to purchase a top-of-the-line smartphone along with a data plan, I would. I would not consider ambidextrous control a top-of-the-line feature, where the only way to attain it is to purchase a $500 device. ScrollBar5 (freeware) has been out for PalmOS for years, which you can use to customize which apps open how. It’s true that PalmOS has much more 3rd-party apps support, but the point is that a small dev team released that product as freeware, along with multiple updates, so I guess it couldn’t have been too hard for them…

    In any case…the only thing I would consider spending any of my 100 feature dollars on would be moving that damn scroll bar.

  33. Yes i agree! I went back to he store and returned my HTC TyTN. Its incedibly annoying that there no scroll bar to the left – not worth it.

  34. Gregor - Lefty says:

    Here’s yet anotehr request for changing scroll bar to the left side. However, I don’t think anyone should claim money for that or I’d feel discriminated. Imagine the whole thing being developed by left handed people and now (what is the ratio?) 90% of people would be suffering the way we (10%?) lefties do.

    TomTom Navigator 6 provides the option to select the user’s handedness an the scroll arrows go from the right hand side to the left hand side as well as do more frequently used buttons. This is making life much easier.

    To MikeCal: Should left handed people be limited to certain devices or should they have the same choice as right handed people. Handedness is not a free choice, you’re born with it, similar to color of skin, size, etc. While you’re writing that adding a "lefty" feature could brak many vendor’s application, I do believe that such a switch could be added smartly and allow developers to select which elements of the screen could be swapped from roght to left. Leave the default as is and add an option for the user to select forcing certain identifiable elements for certain application – at least scrollbar. Should the application fail, it could be switched back and accept the inconvenience or return the product for non-compliance to a "lefty" standard. Additionally, that could be made a certification for applications 😉 "lefty conscious"

  35. DC Leach says:

    My old Palm based smartphone had Hacks available to move the scrolling to the left side. It didn’t work on all the software but most of it. That was 6 or 7 years ago. I just switched (was made to switch by my company) to an MDA from a perfectly good Blackberry. The click wheel eliminated the need for a sliding scroll.

    I’d throw in with a Lefty lawsuit, if for no other reason than to make up for all those years in grade school using right handed scissors. You think a PDA is tough? Slip you left hand in to those puppies and try to cut. Ouch!

  36. TP says:

    I was forced by my company to switch from a BB to my Ipaq windows based PDA. I too am a lefty, and this device is worthless to me.  In addition, I have become less productive.  The BB operating environment is much easier to use.  Windows on a PDA, with start, etc, etc, is a joke.

  37. adamo says:

    Allow us to put the scroll bar on the left hand side of the screen.  PLEASE!!!

  38. Kostas Zouridis says:

    -Please change the Snooze intervals back to how it was. Who thought to snooze 1 hour, then 24 hours !!!

  39. Steffen says:

    I am a lefty as well and bought a HTC TyTN just recently. I was switsching from a TREO 650 to the the TyTN mainly because i was impressed about the connectivity and progress Windows Mobile has made in the last 5 years. I feel discriminated also by a non switchaeable scrollbar. Please do something about that.

  40. C++ Developer says:

    Hi everyone,

    Here are three reasons why the left handed feature should be integrated:

    1. Market (10% is plenty of money)

    2. For the sake of equability (transaltes into Marketing, which translates to more money)

    3. Sheer neediness of it (which translates to money).

    There is only one reason why this feature has not been developed until now:

    1. Poor prioritization management

    2. Not understanding the market need

    3. Fear of trying

    I strongly disagree with MikeCal who referred us ,left-handed people, to other devices. It’s like he said: "Guys, you can still pick up any other device, just leave out the touch screen!"

    "Half Job" according to mike means that only MS’s application would support left hand while third party applications would "break". If this is the case, third party vendors must implement THEIR support in order to support the new OS!

    VISTA CAME OUT! even though many famous applications have been broken in the process!

    ** IMHO, This feature is so demanding that you can compare it to the percentage of people who desired tab browsing. This is BASIC STUFF for PDA’s !! and it’s about time MS comprehend that.

  41. C++ Developer says:

    Whoops – I guess three reasons why it hasn’t been developed 😉

  42. Chay says:

    I agree with all the other lefties, the Treo 750

    is pretty unuseable with the scrollbar on the right. I really can’t imagine how this got overlooked, surely the dev team did some UI research before designing CE/WM all those years ago.

  43. Chay says:

    Sorry, forgot one other thing; Customizable hotkeys – maybe I’m missing something, but the hotkeys seem to be hardwired to "E-mail" and "Menu" and can’t be customized (although the option+<something> can be used, it would be nice to be able to have alternate functionality for these keys). Nokia seems to have something like this on their Series 60 platform.

  44. toni says:

    are there any other browser that allow left side scroll bar ? thi is so simple for them ! put the damn left bar !!! you dumb right handed !

  45. Bernhard says:

    I am left handed and i’m totally missing a left-sided scrollbar.

    I’m very disappointed from microsoft. It’s sooo annoying – nothing to see while scrolling and i have to move my hand back and forth all the time. 🙁

    Unfortunately i wasn’t aware of this big disadvantage when i bought my device. If i had known it earlier i would have spared my money for the neo1973.

  46. Christer E says:

    Well, the most ironic thing is that Mr Bill Gates himself is left handed. =D

    But, maybe he doesn’t use a Windows Mobile cell phone..

    /Left is right

  47. What Gerard, Eva, Robert, and especially James said!  James is right: it’s a BUG, not a missing feature.  I find it hypocritical that a company that expends manpower developing "accessibility" features for its operating system products, features which make them more accessible to a VERY TINY percentage of the population, would at the same time ignore FOR A DECADE adding an accessibility feature that is critical to a FAR LARGER PERCENTAGE of the population than all the other accessibility-challenged ones combined.  It amounts to left-handed discrimination, not a missing feature.

    I smell ugly politics at work here: just because those "disabled" people are organized and litigious is no excuse to placate them and ignore a far larger but less litigious group.  Maybe it’s time we left-handers get organized and litigious?  I think by ignoring left-handed people for so long, Microsoft has clearly established a pattern of negligent discrimination that can be challenged in court.

    I smell a class action lawsuit in the making.  Left-handers unite!

  48. max n says:

    WM6 is now out, and still no left handed option…how can this be continuously ignored?  I would definitely join a class action lawsuit.

  49. Lars says:

    Mike, you are a lousy manager with lousy arguments. Loser.

    And now im ordering a Palm Treo to get away from your "work".

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