Experimentation is the key to innovation. Everyone believes in this and so does Microsoft. Recently, news was doing rounds that Microsoft may remove the hardware back button from the Windows 8.1 phone.
With the drop in the requirement of hardware back button in phones, Microsoft is planning to replace it with an onscreen software version of the same as told by the sources. It is good to see that Microsoft is experimenting by removing the hardware buttons of Start, Back and Search to lower the manufacturing cost of the devices. Such experiments are necessary especially when you have competitors in the likes of Apple and Google.
Ambiguity still prevails regarding the impact of software back button on the Windows Phone user interface but Microsoft is planning to place those virtual buttons in the form of a black bar at the bottom of the screen. Different sources mention that Microsoft is experimenting on the onscreen software buttons so that all the apps built in the past keeping the hardware buttons in mind will not face any problem due to the change in the interface of Windows. At the initial stage, Windows Phone developers refused the change of hardware buttons into software ones. But it seems that at last Microsoft is trying to keep both hardware and software buttons in sync. It is in its testing stage and most likely the outcome will be very similar to the onscreen buttons of Google’s Nexus (Android) devices.
It hasn’t been much time since Microsoft last changed its Windows phone hardware specifications. They allowed their manufacturers to make devices without hardware button for camera or without compass and gyro. Alcatel released the first Windows phone without a hardware camera button. These reduced hardware specifications is an indication to the handset makers who license reference designs from Qualcomm and make low-cost devices. Microsoft is encouraging additional OEM’s who will opt for the making of low-end Windows phones along with their Android devices.
It has been brought into notice that Microsoft is encouraging HTC to club them with Microsoft and make Windows devices. For that reason, the software giant is trying to make necessary hardware changes that could bring them in the frontline. Now with the omission of the hardware buttons, it will be easy for the manufacturers to fiddle with the patent design of Windows phones. There is a probability that Microsoft will deliver its Windows 8.1 software on the new devices form early 2014.