Windows Phone Apollo to open up customization to OEMs?

Consumers seem to be responding well to the launch of the Nokia Lumia 900 on AT&T in the United States, but otherwise Windows Phone has been met with a cool reception from both customers and OEMs. One of the complaints levelled at the OS is the lack of customization that can be applied to the UI. That may be set to change in the future, as Netbook News has scored some info relating to the upcoming Apollo summit in the UK.

Microsoft has a full agenda for the meeting, which will detail the next Windows Phone update, Apollo, as well as release plans for the software. One of the items on the list makes mention of "Customization & Differentiation opportunities", which is intriguing to say the least. Microsoft has famously locked down UI customizations on the platform, only allowing OEMs to add their own flare within individual apps instead of across the whole OS.

We can see why it would be a contentious point for OEMs. How can you hope to shift Windows Phone units when you can't differentiate in software? We would argue that the answer is simply to make killer hardware (see the Lumia 800 and 900), but OEMs prefer to be able to tinker everything at their disposal.

The main question is how much customization would Microsoft allow? They could end up on a slippery slope if they open up too much to OEMs, with the Windows Phone UI lost underneath a sea of graphical tweaks, much like most Android phones. At the same time, there needs to be enough incentive to coax companies to the platform. Hopefully Microsoft's plans will lead to renewed interest in the OS from the likes of Samsung and HTC.