The Microsoft Launcher Challenge: Promises, Reality, Future (Premium)

I'm going to keep using Microsoft Launcher: I like how easily and thoroughly you can customize the user interface, especially. But the integrated experiences with Windows 10 aren't yet available, so I'll have to revisit those capabilities whenever they do arrive.

Before getting to that latter bit, let me discuss the customization stuff a bit more.

As I noted up-front in this series, the ability to thoroughly customize the Android user experience is one of the key draws of Microsoft Launcher. And yes, it really can be overwhelming, as you can almost literally customize every aspect of this launcher.

Some of it hasn't been completely obvious, at least not to me. Despite going over every single option in Microsoft Launcher settings, there were two items that eluded me. As is so often the case, simply reaching out to people provided some answers.

The first is the old-fashioned "button" that appears in the middle of the Microsoft Launcher dock by default. Selecting this button brings up the app drawer, showing you all the apps on your phone. But this button also takes up valuable on-screen real estate, and in stock Android, you just swipe up for the app drawer, leaving that space available for another app shortcut.

I mentioned this issue while discussing Microsoft Launcher on Windows Weekly this week, and a viewer provided the answer: You can tap and hold on this button to access a context menu which provides a Remove (or whatever) item. Nice.

The other was access to the Google app's feed, which is found by swiping to the left from the first home screen in stock Android. I actually semi-rely on this feed to find reading material (which I share to Pocket) and it's been fine-tuned over months (if not years) by usage. But Microsoft Launcher, like most third-party launchers, replaces Google's feed with its own. Which I find less useful.

I asked about this one on Twitter. And was told that while you can't actually replace the Microsoft feed with Google's, there's a workaround: You can add the Google app's Feed widget to the Microsoft feed. And tapping that brings up the normal Google feed. It's one extra tap, but it works. I'll take it.

The lesson from these two episodes, I guess, is that the Microsoft Launcher has its own way to doing things sometimes. And while it's not always obvious at first, there is usually a way to get where you want to go. Ongoing experience using this thing, and really playing around with its options, will help. Also, asking for help never hurts, either.

With regards to the wider strategy aspects of Microsoft Launcher, you may recall a rather disjointed series of cross-device announcements that were all loosely tied to Microsoft 365 during the Build 2018 Day 2 keynote.

Microsoft general manager Shilpa Ranaganathan, who heads the firm's cross-device experiences team, came out to discuss what she called "seamless customer experiences across phone and PC." Among them, of course, was Mi...

Gain unlimited access to Premium articles.

With technology shaping our everyday lives, how could we not dig deeper?

Thurrott Premium delivers an honest and thorough perspective about the technologies we use and rely on everyday. Discover deeper content as a Premium member.

Tagged with

Share post

Please check our Community Guidelines before commenting

Windows Intelligence In Your Inbox

Sign up for our new free newsletter to get three time-saving tips each Friday

"*" indicates required fields

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Thurrott © 2024 Thurrott LLC