Sunday, 28 February 2016

Windows 10 System Apps Review: Messaging

Note: This page is a review which forms part of the post Windows 10 System Apps Review

What’s this app for?

It’s messaging Jim, but not as we know it. Introduced with Version 1511 of Windows 10 and the promise of a revolution in messaging, this is the app that Microsoft provides to do skype and SMS messaging, as well as skype video calls.

Does it do the job it was primarily designed for?

No. My disdain for this app started from about a nanosecond after I first loaded it up in an Insider Build months before it got released to the general public. It not only looked a mess then, but has changed so very little since, that I’ve tried hard to forget it exists. Rivalling 3D Builder as one of the most pointless and unappealing apps in Windows 10, at least the former app works and is sophisticated enough to perform a job. The messaging app looks like it was created by a five year old. This is an app that only its mother could love.

When you’re actually using the app to communicate with contacts, it actually looks like a semi-appealing layout.

You’ve quick access to your contacts down the left panel, and a nice big panel to see all the messages and write within.

But, as you can see to the left,  it looks like some builders have come in and left before they’ve finished.

Highlighting that all is not right, you’ll often find that some emoticons you’ve sent via “proper” skype using the actually bonafide skype software doesn’t show up in the messaging app.

Outside of the view above, all gets even messier.

On the plus side, the search function (see right) for this app does actually work and takes you right to the heart of the conversation you was looking for.

Even making video calls will work, but this is just covering over the gloss, of which there’s literally no gloss to this app. whereas the actual skype software is rich in features and looks appealing, the messaging app is the complete opposite. Microsoft wants this app to replace skype in Windows 10, which is a bold and visionary statement, but seems somewhat daft to make when you put out an app that’s like asking Microsoft Word users to make do with Notepad from henceforth. It’s laughable.

The main problem is that this app looks basic, is basic and behaves like something basic. Only those who’ve never used skype before might be somewhat content with the app, because the amount of things missing in this app is a list longer than even Santa Claus has even seen.

What’s worse about Microsoft’s vision of an integrated all in one solution for SMS and skype in Windows 10, is that Messaging isn’t even one app, but three! The settings for the app are actually found in the video app, messages are in the messaging app and contact information relies on the People app. It’s all just plain weird.

The settings available to the user are themselves as bare as the app.

There’s a link to your profile (i.e. your Microsoft account via your browser), the ability to add friends to your skype contact list (which isn’t actually in skype, but the people app), turn on notifications in the action centre for messages or video calls, and finally the option to open up yourself to the gateway of hell itself by making the messaging app your default skype experience on Windows 10.

Here’s a tip; don’t do it.

What’s the alternative?

Using a pigeon seems like a better alternative than this app for conveying messages across the world. Of course, the real and best alternative is to install the actual skype software and quietly forget all about the messaging app on your PC. Alternatively, there’s always skype for web if you’re against having two skype services on the one computer.

Hit, Miss, or Maybe?

Miss. Maybe on Windows 10 Mobile this app might be seen as a reasonable alternative to a separate SMS/skype app but for the majority of us trying to live an honest and productive life on our PCs, it’s best that we all just move along right now and wait for this app to undergo serious re-constructive surgery over the coming years.

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