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May 5, 2014

10 fascinating things we learned from Joe Belfiore’s Reddit AMA

We love nothing more than showcasing the fantastic Windows Phone communities that exist online. One of the biggest and the best is r/WindowsPhone on Reddit. There are already tons of reasons to love it. Now there’s one more.

Last Friday, this fantastic sub reddit, which recently celebrated its 30 000th subscriber (Big congrats, guys and girls!) hosted Joe Belfiore, Microsoft VP, Lead Windows Phone Team. Joe had agreed to take part in an AMA (Ask me Anything) interview where Redditors fired questions at him on whatever topic tickled their fancy. With his iconic hair (yes, I’m jealous), charming manner and reputation for speaking from the heart as well as the head, Joe is something of a hero to Windows Phone users. When you read the full AMA, you’ll understand why.

In the meantime, here’s some quoted highlights, which we think give you a greater insight into the whys and wherefores of Windows Phone as well as the man himself.

1. File Manager is coming soon

Korangadevs “Hi Mr joe…are there any plans for file managers on Windows Phone?”

Joe “WOO HOO! SOMEONE ASKED THIS QUESTION!! I’ve been waiting! in fact, I’ve avoided tweeting on this very topic just for all you redditors. Seriously. YES! We are doing a File Manager for WP8.1! I know a LOT of you are looking for this (thanks for the tweets, I’ve read them all). In fact, I’ve been running a build of it on two of my phones for the last week or so and it’s getting to pretty good shape. We are expecting to get it into the store HOPEFULLY by the end of May.” Here’s what it looks like.”


2. Cortana only travels when she’s ready

WizrdCM – Lumia 1320 “HUGE fan, glad to have an AMA from you… Does your team realise the downside of limiting Cortana to the US for the beta? Primarily, right now everyone around the world who wants Cortana has tweaked their region settings and enabled Cortana….Wouldn’t it be better to release to all English countries NOW, to start building up those collections? Even now, Cortana understands my Australian accent just fine.”

Joe “We’re definitely working to bring Cortana to other countries. She tells us she’d like to travel. We’ve already announced that when we launch V1 after Beta, we’ll be in China and the UK as well as the US. We’re also hoping to get other English-speaking countries (eg. Canada, Australia) out relatively quickly as well. The challenge in doing this is we want the Cortana experience to be EXCELLENT for everyone -– and this involves not ONLY delivering great voice recognition for all the different languages, but also making sure that we have a great regional experience with local content so she doesn’t feel like an American!”

3. Joe dreams of a sci-fi tech future

Nadudgeon “What is the most outlandish/futuristic idea you guys have ever wanted to implement, but technology is a limiting factor?”

Joe “Well, speaking for what I PERSONALLY would most like us to implement… a small phone that will fit in my small pockets.. but that has HUGE screen size. Maybe like this…

4. We can all help developers rock

Kokola95 “Hi! Are there any plans that the Windows team will bring ALL the basic apps to Windows Phone such as Alarm and Sound Recorder anytime soon?”

Joe “We’ll do more ourselves– but while WE are always working on various apps, I would also encourage you to work with the /r/windowsphone subreddit because I know there are devs on here who are looking for ideas of what apps to build. We love seeing the community add-value here too!”

5. Having iconic hair is easier than you think

Aprofondir “Hey Joe, how do you manage to have such awesome hair? Thanks!”

Joe “Fortunately, it’s not more than shampoo, conditioner, towel dry. Low maintenance. Well… except for this…


6. Microsoft works and plays in harmony

NotCassim “Hello Joe, I would like to know. How are you working with other division (office, onedrive, xbox team and so on) on their hub/application on Windows Phone?”

Joe “We spend a TON of time with people from other divisions. I have regular 1-1 meetings with my counterparts in Office, Skype, Xbox. Our teams have a standing process at every milestone for jointly reviewing our work, and we use each others’ products deeply. The environment at Microsoft has been great for us to get better and better at this.. and although we sure have room to improve, it’s a place that I think has become a strength.”

7.The Windows Phone team takes your happiness personally

ibadlyneedanusernameLumia 520 “Of all the things, what do you think is the feature that can make someone choose Windows Phone over other platforms?”

Joe  “Right now, it’s not ONE FEATURE. It’s the way the whole system is designed and what it’s about. We think WP is the MOST PERSONAL SMARTPHONE– and that’s a combo of features, starting with live tiles and now Cortana makes it even more personal. This is kind of a mantra for the team– we’re serious about this. We’re balancing a unique, attractive visual appearance with letting the user customize it a ton. We really want your phone to feel like your “fingerprint” … better than any other phone.”

8. Age brings greater wisdom and greater chilldom

Skisagooner “Joe, you’re a very admirable presenter with a very laid back style. How do you prepare for these presentations?

Joe “Luckily, I’ve grown more laid back as I’ve matured…”


9. Skype is getting a makeover for WP8.1

Sunny001 “Apps that are owned by MS are lacking in features when compared to their other platform counterparts (Skype, Facebook). Every time I open the Skype app, I get a resuming/loading screen for 4-6seconds. What is MS doing to improve the quality of the existing apps?”

Joe  “… there’s a Skype update for WP8.1 under development right now, and one of the things they’ve focused on is exactly this kind of perf. I think it’s the case that this include fast-resume, but I’m not certain of this. In general– this is the kind of thing that the ISVs are adding and you’re going to see this improve as developers update their apps. Keep in mind that the ISVs typically target their work towards the installed base– so often the NEWEST platforms get taken-advantage-of a little bit slowly as there aren’t as many users just yet.”

10. Cortana really is full of surprises

Korveti “Hi Joe! Are there any “easter eggs” on Win 8.1 that most people don’t know?”

Joe  “Hmm.. easter eggs.. related to an AMA… maybe you should ask Cortana if SHE’D ever do an AMA. Here’s what she told me…


We hope you found these highlights as interesting and entertaining as we did. If so, you’ll be happy to hear it’s rumoured Joe might be back for more AMA action sometime in the future. We’ll certainly be front row, popcorn and note pad at the ready. While you wait, why not let us know which of Joe’s insights into life within the Windows Phone world most intrigued you.