back to article Ex-Windows designer: Ballmer was dogmatic, Sinofsky's bonkers, and WinPho needs to change

A former Windows Phone and Office lead designer has shed some valuable insight into Microsoft’s internal processes, design and strategy. Designer Jon Bell* left Microsoft a year ago but his Reddit AMA is still vastly more informative than anything that emerges from the Redmond politburo. Steve Ballmer killed an early version …

  1. h3

    Windows Phone seems to be changing in all the ways I don't want.

    Most important feature for me is basic browsing and the fact that I don't have to bother about battery life for most common situations. (Seeing people at the weekend mainly) and that it is not becoming slower and slower all the time. WP7 works well as it is. (WP8.1 seems to copy the annoying bits of Android).

    Don't want the situation I have with my Android tablet where Google wastes all my battery and there is nothing than can be done about other than losing the ability to use Google's apps. (And making it dog slow in the process).

    At least my Kindle Fire HDX / Ipad Air are not significantly worse than when I got them.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Ironic

      That one of the annoyances introduced in Android by Google is the (now) ubiquitous Android hamburger menu.

      1. Dan 55 Silver badge

        Re: Ironic

        However in Android's case you can swipe from the left edge, I don't know about WP but it doesn't sound like it.

  2. Nanners

    Win pho

    Is too resource intensive and everyone knows it at first glance. Simple.

    1. Sandtitz Silver badge
      Megaphone

      Re: Win pho

      Is it September already?

      1. dogged

        Re: Win pho

        Today is 8267th September, 1993.

    2. Mark 85 Silver badge
      Devil

      Re: Win pho

      Typo? Is that supposed to be Win Phone or Win Poo? Enquiring minds and all that...

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Win pho

      >>>> Is too resource intensive and everyone knows it at first glance. Simple.

      Wow, you can tell that at a glance??? You're either the cleverest person on the planet... or a chump.

      WinPho is actually light on resources. The M8 running Windows on identical hardware to the android malware has much better battery life (although in the android versions defence, it's probably part of a botnet).

      1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

        Re: Win pho

        >>>> Is too resource intensive and everyone knows it at first glance. Simple.

        Wow, you can tell that at a glance??? You're either the cleverest person on the planet... or a chump.

        I don't see why. I can tell Windows Phone is too resource-intensive for me without even glancing at it. I know from reviews it does things I don't want it to do, and those things have non-zero cost.

        The same is true of Android and iOS, of course. The closest thing to a smartphone OS that wasn't too resource-intensive was Symbian S60.

        "Too resource-intensive" is a subjective evaluation; and for the right subject, yes, only minimal knowledge is required to make it. You're arguing the wrong point. It's the "everyone" part of the original post that's stupid.

  3. Craigness

    Windroid

    They made a "Windroid" (Android preloaded with Microsoft stuff) for Nokia and now they've teamed up with Cyanogen to make another. But for Windows and RT they went with a new mobile platform (actually, 2 platforms). Meanwhile, Chrome OS is now able to run Android apps on its desktop, which seems like a pretty good idea. Why didn't MS go with a Windroid solution after their first failures? Keep hold of Nokia, re-relase the original Surface as an Android tablet, and run Android apps in the Windows 8/10 desktop. The UI would have been solved already, and there would be loads of compatible apps and developers potentially willing to port them.

    Windows Phone has the "junk" in the Hamburger menu? In Android everything's in there but the junk is in a smaller font. The drawer can be opened with a swipe from the left so you don't need an extra long thumb to reach the icon in the top corner.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I'm sure Bell has a lot of interesting things to say, but his text is so full of "jargon speak" that it's almost as though he is speaking another language at times.

    It's kinda like trying to talk to marketing people. They just seem to live in a different language realm.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "Jargon speak", "Kinda", "Realm" ?

      Hmm.

    2. Dave 126 Silver badge

      >his text is so full of "jargon speak" that it's almost as though he is speaking another language

      C'mon, give him another try! He uses metaphors and similes to explain his terms. "Hamburger menu" is fairly self-evident, "Radial menu" is linked to a picture (AKA "pie menu"). Generally he does a good job of explaining the thinking behind UI elements. Unlike a buzzword-using marketing twit, he's using words to make the picture clearer, not murkier!

    3. Andrew Orlowski (Written by Reg staff)

      When Bell uses jargon in the AMA (which isn't very often) he explains what it means.

      https://medium.com/i-have-no-idea-what-im-talking-about/i-have-no-idea-what-im-talking-about-microsofts-rumored-spartan-browser-5a046e3079b5

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Fix the stuff that is CLEARLY broken

    - Long file names don't work. In 2015. FFS.

    - Windows Search sucks.

    - C# makes it harder to make UIs quickly than VB decades ago !

    Fix the important broken stuff, then £$%@ up the UI.

    1. dogged

      Re: Fix the stuff that is CLEARLY broken

      > C# makes it harder to make UIs quickly than VB decades ago !

      trans: I want to make GUIs by dragging and dropping and also code-behind is genius pls make it so I don't have to understand decent software lol

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Fix the stuff that is CLEARLY broken

        Well Mr Low Level genius, I am a currently a C++ and Java developer and previously I have writtten Linux device drivers and @$%@ed about with interrupt handling more than is healthy.

        But that does not mean I want to endure the nightmare of designing even moderately-complex GUIs in C#.

        Now, got any non ad-hominem point to make ?

        1. dogged

          Re: Fix the stuff that is CLEARLY broken

          > But that does not mean I want to endure the nightmare of designing even moderately-complex GUIs in C#.

          Your problem isn't C#, it's XAML. If you can't be bothered to learn that, there are still Windows Forms (which now support proper databinding). Really it's just an XML description of the interface. Not difficult.

          However, if you're looking for a VB6-style drag & drop interface designer, that goes hand in hand with tightly-coupled code-behind. The problem with that, Mr C++ and Java Developer, is that it makes proper unit testing impossible. And if you are ignoring your unit testing, you are (in my opinion) a dangerous liability who should not be allowed to code anything.

          ESPECIALLY not C++ or Java.

    2. geekguy

      Re: Fix the stuff that is CLEARLY broken

      "C# makes it harder to make UIs quickly than VB decades ago !"

      Abject rubbish I'm afraid.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Sounds like a Mental Health Institution

    I can't imagine the mindfuck of pouring my best work into something that is awesome and makes sense for the company, like say Office for iPad, and having some sociopath tell me that yes, I did good work, but that work doesn't fit in HIS twisted idea of reality and therefore it gets shitcanned and I have to go work on Metro.

    Seriously - anyone with any level of professional integrity simply cannot exist in that kind of environment without becoming some sort of sociopath. In that backwards world, it's not technical merit that gets you ahead, it's who can you screw over with either raw power or stabbing in the back.

    No person who loves software can possibly still exist inside Microsoft.

    This is why the open-source movement will eventually render this kind of company completely obsolete. Only projects that are internally consistent, open, and extensible can even survive, much less prosper in the OSS world. Ego, politics, and lies simply cannot exist for long there.

    1. Reg Torso

      Re: Sounds like a Mental Health Institution

      As someone who was surprised to wake up one morning and find that I'd become an old git (at least in tech terms) I have to break it to you that that's the way the world works. I've put heart and brains into products for half a dozen companies over the last 20 years, and the lesson I've drawn is that it will all get wasted.

      That's the nature of commercial software. Software companies aren't in business to make software, they are in business to make *money*.

      That's one reason why open-source projects attract devs who value their work for its own sake rather than for how it can be 'monetized', because it won't fall victim to this kind of perverse decision.

      1. Schlimnitz
        Trollface

        Re: Sounds like a Mental Health Institution

        "That's one reason why open-source projects attract devs who value their work for its own sake rather than for how it can be 'monetized', because it won't fall victim to this kind of perverse decision."

        Or because nobody wants to buy it :)

    2. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: Sounds like a Mental Health Institution

      It is interesting to read the AMA thread whilst thinking about OSS.

      - Power Users. He makes the point that "it sucks to be a power user because you will always be in the minority, and people design for the majority because that's where the marketshare is".

      Because the ethos of OSS is that users are knowledgeable enough to contribute, they are almost by definition 'power users'. They can find it hard at times to design for the 'majority', because they have long ago forgotten what it is to be a novice user. Someone knowledgeable enough to contribute code probably won't be intimidated by a command line; indeed they will often find it the most efficient way to get a computer to do what they want it to. That's fine.

      A lot of work goes into UIs. A lot of research, studies, cognitive science, testing... it takes a lot of man hours, which small OSS teams don't always have access to. It's expensive. The results can polarise people. It's not just a pretty wrapper on the serious stuff.

      I like OSS, but I don't believe that it is immune from "Ego, politics, and lies".

      1. Major N

        Re: Sounds like a Mental Health Institution

        "I like OSS, but I don't believe that it is immune from "Ego, politics, and lies"."

        See: Linus Torvalds

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Sounds like a Mental Health Institution

        Plenty of OSS projects ( Gnome ! ) aim their UIs at the majority of dumb users, rendering them all but unusable for 'power users'.

    3. Ross 12

      Re: Sounds like a Mental Health Institution

      There's a fantastic book called Breaking Windows http://www.breakingwindows.net/ which details Microsoft's internal culture in the first browser wars period 97-2000. And it's fascinating that even now (ish) protecting Windows at all costs is still destroying Microsoft's potential.

    4. Tim Jenkins

      Re: Sounds like a Mental Health Institution

      "...some sociopath..."

      800 SAT

      magna cum laude from Harvard College

      dropped out of Stanford Graduate School of Business to join Microsoft as 30th employee

      Personal net worth of $20 billion or so (plus the LA Clippers)

      I mean, yes, the guy may well be a sociopath, and may well have made many, many poor decisions (like MS missing mp3 players, smartphones AND tablets on his watch), but that's still smarter than your average bear...

    5. Reg Torso

      Re: Sounds like a Mental Health Institution

      There's as much crap in OSS as in commercial software, but for different reasons. Most software isn't good, merely good enough. Commercial software must be good enough for someone to buy. OSS projects must be good enough to do whatever their author needed them to do.

      The one difference (the original point here) was that the commercial world may kill off perfectly 'good' (and in some cases really excellent) software for non-technical reasons without giving users the opportunity to decide what was crap and what was good.

    6. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Sounds like a Mental Health Institution

      Open-source has sacred cows, power plays and vested interests too. See systemd. Or GNOME. Or OpenStack. People are people. Being an OSS developer doesn't make you a saint, and working at Microsoft doesn't make you a sinner.

  7. Solmyr ibn Wali Barad
    IT Angle

    Bugger.

    So Ballmer & Sinofsky behaved pretty much like they appeared to.

    That's sad. Because cynical viewpoint can't be always right, could it? There should be a bit of hope, if only a fool's hope, that behind the curtains there's more valour than meets the eye. That the emperors are more decently clad than they appear to be. That affairs of their courts are less petty than they seem to be.

    But in the end it's just another night in the circus. Lots of smoke and mirrors, loud noise, pretty costumes, carefully staged performances - and after the show, somebody has to clear up all that elephant dung.

  8. elDog Silver badge

    It's pretty obvious that posting anything about a Windows Phone

    You'll get a down vote. I'm sure it's not because of the purported platform.

  9. John Sanders
    FAIL

    Yes, yes...

    """But do you know what was a thousand times worse? Going on site, handing someone a Windows Phone,and watching them universally struggle with it…"""

    In my village we call that FAIL.

    Anyone can come with a GUI that doesn't look like anything else, but what's the F***** point if it will just confuse people. Change for the sake of being different is only good if it is way better than what we had before.

  10. LDS Silver badge

    So blameMicrsoft because it doesn't innovate...

    ... and blame it when it innovates as well? The only mistake was to force Metro on the desktop. On a mobile UI it's the best UI designed till now. Coherent, and lets you choose what level (and how much space) you like to give to a given type of information.

    The other are still stuck in a Windows 3.1 Program Manager interface - and later PalmOS start screen - mostly useless but to collect colorful icons. Also, I can't really understand those who can't live without a photo background - no, thank you, I don't want to be exposed to your ugly children, spouse/fiancé or any kind of pets.

    1. Tom Maddox Silver badge
      FAIL

      Re: So blameMicrsoft because it doesn't innovate...

      I've never used WinPho, so I can't say whether it works well or not, but you are willingly ignoring the following quote from the article:

      "But do you know what was a thousand times worse? Going on site, handing someone a Windows Phone,and watching them universally struggle with it…"

      You, personally, may love the interface, but you're apparently in a tiny minority. This may come as a shock to you, but your opinion actually does not matter; if Microsoft can't capture a significant percentage of the addressable market due to an interface that the vast majority of people find confusing and incomprehensible, they can't sustain the phone business.

      1. LDS Silver badge

        Re: So blameMicrsoft because it doesn't innovate...

        Most people will struggle at first with any different device. Give Linux to a Windows user (and even OSX), and he or she will struggle with it in the beginning. Why smartphones took so many years to become mainstream? Because I see most people used to plain dumb phone struggle in the beginning with little computers where the "phone" feature was just one among others.

        Even multitouch, so natural now, wasn't at all in the beginning. Did you ever see people trying to use a mouse the first time thirty years ago when they were becoming widespread? Did you see people using the first TV remote controls? Sure, we should still use punched cards and rotary dial televions because people were struggling in the beginning...

        You're saying basically there should be no innovation because people should never change habits. Apple should have never introduced a GUI, people worked so well on character based terminals... using a GUI was difficult, in the beginning.

        The real problem with Metro is it is a very good Microsoft innovation. So most people felt the urgent need to spit all over it because "hey, it's MS, we can't really praise it! Let's stick with Program Manager icon collections, they look like candies, mmmmmmh, candies!".

        1. Zane

          Re: So blameMicrsoft because it doesn't innovate...

          It is possible to design user interfaces that are intuitively usable.

          The point is you need to put a lot of testing in it. Microsoft doesn't, that's why their user interfaces suck. They suck even if you have used them for ten years - just watch Windows fan bois using Word - takes them hours to get things done.

          Steve Jobs did an amazing job designing a smartphone where you do not need to think while you use it. That's the reason why so many people are willing to spend money on it - using an iPhone is fun. I'm a developer, so I prefer to play around with Android as it gives so many possibilities. But when I'm on business trip, I use my iPhone - it just works.

          /Zane

          1. Andrew Orlowski (Written by Reg staff)

            Re: Re: So blameMicrsoft because it doesn't innovate...

            Under Steve Jobs, Apple didn't do any UI testing. So doesn't your third paragraph contradict your second?

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: So blameMicrsoft because it doesn't innovate...

            @Zane: "you need to put a lot of testing in it. Microsoft doesn't, that's why their user interfaces suck"

            MS do a lot of testing, their problem is ignoring any results that contradict the business plan du jour and a rock solid belief they can wait out dissent. The current plan is Windows everywhere and compromising the UI everywhere is a price they're willing to make everyone pay to get there.

        2. Paul Shirley

          Re: So blameMicrsoft because it doesn't innovate...

          @LDS "You're saying basically there should be no innovation because people should never change habits"

          I'm saying: innovation != improvement and the public get to choose which innovations they want to use, not inventors.

          Innovation is great but when it fails to deliver better or more desirable products you need to accept that and try something different, not endlessly bang on about everyone else being wrong. Windows is currently demonstrating how to innovate a product into a worse one, WP innovated itself into irrelevance right from the start.

        3. Tom Maddox Silver badge
          FAIL

          Re: So blameMicrsoft because it doesn't innovate...

          "Most people will struggle at first with any different device. Give Linux to a Windows user (and even OSX), and he or she will struggle with it in the beginning. Why smartphones took so many years to become mainstream?"

          Smartphones took so many years to become mainstream because they were expensive and unintuitive, and data plans were usuriously priced, thus they remained in the purview of ubergeeks. Whatever its technical failings, the iPhone introduced an intuitive interface in a slick package, and Apple was able to lean on AT&T to sell it with more attractive data plans. I am far from an Apple fanboi and have never found the Mac UI to be particularly intuitive, but the basic UI manipulation of iOS was dead simple to understand (and I've watched plenty of non-technical people pick it up quite rapidly). Accessing advanced features may be more cumbersome, but by the time users get to that point, they've already made a decision about the device and its UI.

          The problem that Microsoft faces is that it's competing against an entrenched base of users who are familiar with the UI paradigms of iProducts and Androids. Whether the WP UI is "better" becomes irrelevant to the vast majority of people when the existing paradigms are both good enough and familiar. As someone who installed CyanogenMod for what I consider a superior user experience to the vendor Android build which shipped on my phone and then went through a certain amount of pain to update CM to the latest snapshot build, I'm curious about WinPho but not enough to spend money on what may turn out to be a white elephant.

        4. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge
          FAIL

          Re: So blameMicrsoft because it doesn't innovate...

          Quote "The real problem with Metro is it is a very good Microsoft innovation. "

          It is, if metro was the default style of windows interface from windows 1.0 onwards, then everyone would sing its praises.

          But.......... and theres always a but, all the desktop users (including me) were used to something that had evolved(note use of the word evolved) from windows 3.11 onwards

          In my workplace , we have 2 laptops, one is win7 , the other is win8.

          On monday, someone installed a program on the win8 machine, it did'nt leave an icon on the desktop so I get called over.

          I naively clicked on the bottom left corner, that brought up the metro tiles. so I thought, well right click on the button... brings up a menu at the top of which it says "programs and features" great... here we go... just drag a shortcut to the deskto.. oh it launched the add/remove programs thing that windows has.

          By which time said employee has installed program on the win7 laptop, clicked on the icon and got talking to the robot thats being naughty.

          The reason everyone (including the m$ fan at work) hates windows 8 is because they changed the interface so radically that no one could use the machines without having to be re-trained.

          And all so m$ had a desktop that looked like the winphone layout... which was never going to get above niche product unless m$ had a apple/google beater of a software product to go on it.

          which they did'nt.

          Because senior management squashed it

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      @LDS - Re: So blameMicrsoft because it doesn't innovate...

      Erm, did you really expect me to put the photos of my family on YOUR phone ?

      Onto the other hand, on my personal device I still want to have the choice to have a pleasant soothing background instead of nonsensical "Little Tykes" tiles, thank you very much.

      1. LDS Silver badge

        Re: @LDS - So blameMicrsoft because it doesn't innovate...

        No, I really hate anybody people who need to use their phone as a digital photo holder. And little tiles are far from "nonsensical" as soon as you learn how to use it instead staring at your cat.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: @LDS - So blameMicrsoft because it doesn't innovate...

          "No, I really hate anybody people who need to..."

          Really? You actually hate those individual people just because they have a picture background, not just that you dislike having a background.

          If it cause you personally so much dislike then I would suggest that it is you that has an issue and maybe you should look closer at your own personal attributes. Maybe it is why you fit into the small niche areas in life?

    3. boba1l0s2k9
      Angel

      Re: So blameMicrsoft because it doesn't innovate...

      Take it back! My dog is adorable! Just kidding. I go with a near black background, it's great for turning down the backlight and night usability.

    4. Richard Jones 1

      Re: So blameMicrsoft because it doesn't innovate...

      Most mass market producers like to try run something like the old 80:20 rule. Get 80% of the market with 20% of the effort. Since the new phone was so clearly a niche product, witness the mass market rejection of the phone when tried in public situations it was clearly more of a 5:95 device, 5% of the market for 95% effort. OK @LDS they innovated and went for the 5%, fine if you are after a tiny niche and you were clearly in that niche. I have no problems with niches as it happens I like my phone as I sit in the non touch phone niche user group.

      Finding what users want as opposed to what designers want used to be called market research.

      Getting it right for the intended market used to be called judgement

  11. cambsukguy

    Some people may have trouble with the UI

    But, if a UI is superior whilst requiring a steeper learning curve, it is still superior and worth the effort.

    I bought one of the first PalmPilots and spent an age playing Giraffe to learn Graffiti. After the initial couple of hours I was a whizz at inputting using the stylus - fast and useful.

    Likewise, WinPho, lovely interface, easy to use, smooth and elegant.

    I do not see this slow down or battery drain some have mentioned here (60% remaining without a boost today on a two year old 1020).

    I am concerned that Win10 may not be as nice to look at but there may also be some gains with the sacrifices (although I don't really need a word-style editor for my emails, perhaps having all the attachment capability would be useful).

    And the possibility that more apps will appear, matching the Surface/PC apps adds to the allure.

    1. Tom Maddox Silver badge
      Meh

      Re: Some people may have trouble with the UI

      "But, if a UI is superior whilst requiring a steeper learning curve, it is still superior and worth the effort."

      Superior for what, and for whom? For most people, ease of use and aesthetics are what matter out of the box; if the UI is confusing, then no one will want to use it. Let's face it, a smartphone is basically an object of convenience; for >99% of users, it exists to facilitate a greater ease in accessing something else, whether that's the Web, games, car services, food orders, or anything else. In order to be successful, the UI should maximize convenience, not conform to some geek's notion of what "superior design" constitutes.

      "Likewise, WinPho, lovely interface, easy to use, smooth and elegant."

      If it has a steeper learning curve, then this statement is clearly false.

  12. veti Silver badge

    I don't get the hate

    Windows 8.1 on a mobile is a perfectly lovely OS. As good as iOS, better than Android (battery life, basically, although I personally also prefer the interface). The only drawback, and it's a big one, is the shortage of decent apps for it.

    I think its failure in the US market has been mostly about marketing. From what I hear, you just can't buy a Windows phone in huge swathes of America. Over here they're easy to come by, and they've got a respectable (double-digit) market share.

    1. Paul Shirley

      Re: I don't get the hate

      Some of the hate is a byproduct of the astonishingly aggressive astroturfing Microsoft indulged in right up to ballet quitting. BS of such orchestrated consistency might have influenced the ordinary public to buy, addressed at geeks who'd seen the same gameplan before it was a disaster.

      Astroturfing justifiably breeds hate and that spills over onto the product.

      The only successful marketing Microsoft managed was getting so many European carriers to hard sell windows phones with contract renewals. That's how my only wp owning friend got lumbered with a phone he's increasingly regretting being talked into taking.

      1. Andrew Orlowski (Written by Reg staff)

        Re: Re: I don't get the hate

        Speculative. The opposite was actually true, as we've reported.

        http://www.theregister.co.uk/2013/11/29/revealed_the_secret_apple_deals_that_squeeze_rivals_and_tax_you/

        Nokia/Microsoft couldn't compete with the strongarm tactics of Apple, which had trouble shifting the 5c, and the spiffs that Samsung threw at the channel. Smaller vendors couldn't get release slots - literally.

    2. fruitoftheloon
      Thumb Down

      @Veti: Re: I don't get the hate

      Veti,

      It is REALLY SIMPLE, most people DO NOT LIKE it, which is not to say they are wrong, and you are right (or versa-vice), as different people like different things.

      Apparently Sir Clive thought the C5 was a great idea, the segway was going to revolutionise urban travel (despite being a little pricey....)

      Homo sapiens likes innovation and experimenting, which is good.

      BUT before launching something new, do some research, if it is a radical change then there are several potential outcomes:

      - it could be so radical (but still valid in principal), that most folk won't be arsed to put the effort in to figure it out

      - everyone would love it

      - it could be fundamentally flawed for the target market

      - in betweens.

      But the dilemma is that you can fundamentally improve something that people are familiar with; or you can take a punt and introduce a whole new product.

      Remem that apparently Henry Ford said that if he had asked the common man how he could improve their transportation, they would have asked for a faster horse....

      My ha'pennies.

      J.

  13. Yag
    Trollface

    "While Steve Jobs may have called it “beautiful”"

    Beautiful for saving iOS market share?

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Being a special unique snowflake works for art but not design. Design should be invisible

    I like that so much I'm going to quote it again:

    Being a special unique snowflake works for art but not design. Design should be invisible

    Now, I'm going to carve it on a stick and use it to beat some people.

  15. JimmyPage Silver badge
    Stop

    Surely one of the problems ...

    is Microsofts total and utter lack of any track record in backing their OWN products. Their attempts at the mobile market is littered with the corpses of abandoned operating systems.

    And all the apps that ran on them.

    Much as I like Windows Phone (I do) I can't blame anybody for not wanting to waste their efforts on providing an app which might not last till the end of the year.

    The most annoying thing, is Google are pretty much the same. I hope anybody pre-KitKat isn't too dependent on SMS blocking, since it's just disappeared with KitKat. Leading to loads of "SMS blocking apps" in the Play Store which don't - not that you'd know from the description.

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