Back in October, a report from The Verge claimed Microsoft would implement software buttons in Windows Phone 8.1, which is currently being tested internally. Today, a screenshot shared by @evleaks potentially shows what that implementation will look like. The sneak peek is in no way surprising—think of Google’s onscreen buttons in Android. Microsoft has essentially taken the familiar back, home and search capacitive buttons and placed them into Windows Phone 8.1 itself.
Microsoft is apparently moving to onscreen buttons in an effort to make developing Windows Phone devices cheaper for manufacturers. As The Verge notes, the move could convince OEMs to create WP handsets with almost identical hardware to that of Android devices, making the process as no fuss as possible. Microsoft might even consider making licensing Windows Phone free as an extra incentive.
While the screenshot itself isn’t much, it suggests Microsoft is well on its way to changing up the current experience. In addition to the onscreen buttons, Microsoft is expected to introduced a notification center, UI changes, a personal assistant with Cortana’s voice and many other enhancements and improvements. The Redmond company is expected to show off new Windows Phone 8.1 features at its BUILD 2014 conference next year.