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More Windows Phone 8.1 Details Emerge, Hardware Back Button Might Be Removed

by Brandon Russell | October 9, 2013October 9, 2013 12:30 pm PDT

AT&T Nokia Lumia 925-Home Screen

With the impending arrival of Windows 8 GDR3 on the horizon, WinSuperSite is already shedding light on Windows 8.1. And one of the biggest changes reportedly hitting Microsoft’s mobile OS is the exile of a hardware back button; the requirement will allegedly be dropped when the update hits early next year. The change, according to sources, is because it no longer makes sense; users typically exit an app by pressing the Start button and navigate to another app, “just like they do on an iPhone.”

But with the absence of a back button, Microsoft will need to address how users access multitasking. The company has allegedly flagged multitasking as Windows Phone’s biggest technical issue, though for reasons unrelated to the back button no longer being there; notifications and background processes are supposedly a mess, and very inefficient; Microsoft plans to have these issues ironed out by the time WP 8.1 hits.

One of the benefits of Windows Phone 8.1, though, will be added support for larger screens. While GDR3 will allow more flexibility up to 6 inches, the 8.1 update will allow manufacturers to go all the way up to 10-inch displays as well. “This obviously infringes on Windows RT/8.x tablets, so it’s not clear what the thinking is here,” WinSuperSite wrote. It’ll be, it seems, a matter of OEMs choosing which operating system they want their device to run.

In addition to other features that have been detailed on WP 8.1, Microsoft is also allegedly looking to introduce universal binaries, which would allow developers to create a single app that can run on both Windows RT and Windows Phone. It’s unclear if Microsoft will make universal binaries a requirement, though the support would certainly encourage more unity across its platforms, which Microsoft has said it wants to push going forward.

WinSuperSite says to take many of these supposed additions with a grain of salt, as we should with all rumors. “But this information appears credible.” Windows Phone 8.1 isn’t slated to hit until early next year, so there’s still plenty Microsoft could change before it eventually launches. Would you prefer Microsoft got rid of a hardware back button? Or do you want it to stay?


Brandon Russell

Brandon Russell enjoys writing about technology and entertainment. When he's not watching Back to the Future, you can find him on a hike or watching...