Microsoft to no longer require hardware keys on Windows Phone, introducing on-screen buttons a la Nexus?

Microsoft to no longer require hardware keys on Windows Phone, introducing on-screen buttons a la Nexus?
Microsoft might get rid of the hardware requirement for three hardware keys on Windows Phone devices and allow more flexibility for phone makers with the introduction of on-screen buttons. We have first heard the rumor from Microsoft insider Paul Thurott, and now The Verge’s sources confirm that hardware keys might no longer be required on Windows Phone.

Microsoft however has not settled on a final decision just yet. If it does, the plan could be to drop the requirement for the back, search and Windows Start keys altogether. The replacement virtual buttons are said to be located on the bottom of the display in a black strip, something definitely reminiscent of Android’s virtual keys. Currently, Microsoft is allegedly testing out compatibility of this new button layout with existing apps.

This of course brings more clarity. Microsoft is not simply “killing” the hardware back button (and all other hardware buttons for that matter). Instead, it might replace them with virtual ones. The move is allegedly dictated by cost as those hardware buttons add up to the bill of materials. Could this also be a move to bring Windows Phone further down in price to match Android? It sounds like one possible reason.

Another interesting suggestion is that Microsoft is doing all those adjustments to lure in HTC as another key partner in addition to Nokia. Sales of HTC Android smartphones have stumbled as it has to fight the behemoth Android phone maker Samsung. We’ve recently heard that HTC is also courted by Amazon, and might have actually agreed to make smartphones for the world’s largest etailer.

Microsoft has been slowly but surely loosing the grip on its tight Windows Phone requirements for phone makers. It first dropped the requirement for a dedicated physical camera key (but most Windows Phones still choose to use it).

source: The Verge

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34 Comments

1. XperiaFanZone

Posts: 2278; Member since: Sep 21, 2012

Ohh, lawwwwd! Fine for lower-end phones.

5. pokharkarsaga

Posts: 553; Member since: Feb 23, 2012

Why MS copying Nexus onscreen buttons? it will be much better if we have a WP OS with full gesture controls like BB10 & Ubuntu Touch.

7. XperiaFanZone

Posts: 2278; Member since: Sep 21, 2012

Maybe because it's cheaper to produce.

9. pokharkarsaga

Posts: 553; Member since: Feb 23, 2012

Ur saying that there's a price diff between onscreen buttons & gesture control.I don't think so.But Gesture control looks more modern then capacitive & onscreen software buttons.

17. StreetNerd

Posts: 870; Member since: Dec 08, 2010

he is referring to onscreen vs hardware button but yea... BB10 gesture control is beast

11. NAWF_SIDE

Posts: 40; Member since: Oct 10, 2013

Not like nexsus...like windows 8 pc........so yeaaaaa

21. protozeloz

Posts: 5396; Member since: Sep 16, 2010

Actually like the nexus

23. brrunopt

Posts: 742; Member since: Aug 15, 2013

they haven't confirmed the use of on-screen buttons , it's just speculation...

24. protozeloz

Posts: 5396; Member since: Sep 16, 2010

I know its not confirmed, but this speculation has the on screen button placement like the ones on the nexus

25. shikroi

Posts: 187; Member since: Sep 24, 2012

On screen buttons were on the n9 first buddy.

29. user996

Posts: 221; Member since: Feb 25, 2013

first was MeeGo

32. microsoftnokiawin

Posts: 1268; Member since: Mar 30, 2012

facepalm*

2. LetsBeHonest

Posts: 1548; Member since: Jun 04, 2013

Good. Love on screen button and what's with lure HTC??? I don't want Microsoft lure HTC like they did to nokia. true HTC is having hard time, hope google help them. But not MS.

6. XperiaFanZone

Posts: 2278; Member since: Sep 21, 2012

On-screen buttons take up screen space and resolution, which is bad, indeed.

12. AliNSiddiqui

Posts: 382; Member since: Sep 19, 2012

There is another way of looking at it. I think that on screen buttons make one hand navigation easier and make watching videos better. For instance, using a nexus 4 feels like using a 4.4 inch device, but when watching videos, they go away and you get much more space. It can be a win win situation. And for example, the Lumia 1020 can have a 4.8 inch display with little to no change to one hand usage.

14. vincelongman

Posts: 5720; Member since: Feb 10, 2013

But hardware buttons waste space, increase bezels and phone size. OEMs should have stereo front speakers instead of the hardware buttons (e.g. Nokia, Samsung...) or empty space (Nexus, Sony, LG...)

31. mafflambo

Posts: 18; Member since: Aug 18, 2013

You think on-screen buttons will change that? huge bezels are Nokia's trademark

20. papss unregistered

The same way they helped moto?

28. tadaa

Posts: 267; Member since: Apr 18, 2013

they didn't install a trojan to run the company to the ground before they bought them

30. user996

Posts: 221; Member since: Feb 25, 2013

actually lenovo is aiming to buy HTC for it's own smartphone line so good luck HTC :D

3. Reality_Check

Posts: 277; Member since: Aug 15, 2013

HTC just needs to get its pricing right. Other than that, they were weak in the battery and update department and that's slowly changing. I wouldn't want HTC to be MS' puppet :/

4. brrunopt

Posts: 742; Member since: Aug 15, 2013

I doubt that , most likely they will implement gesture based actions, like on Windows 8, in a move to bring the OS's closer together (in advance of the final OS merger)

8. itsdeepak4u2000

Posts: 3718; Member since: Nov 03, 2012

No, I hate on screen buttons, they eat up the valuable screens size area making it smaller than actual. Instead they should come up with a solution with on screen buttons having dedicated area like capacitive buttons while actual screen size remains same when using those on screen buttons. With this type people like would be pleased.

10. papss unregistered

I said this already and no one agreed.. i hope they don't go this route..

13. wicpromd

Posts: 266; Member since: Aug 20, 2013

copying Google :D

19. papss unregistered

Don't be butt hurt that your Sony phone didn't lead to amazing photos like you were running your mouth before it came out.

15. Beijendorf unregistered

To everyone complaining; dropping a requirement is not the same as forbidding something. Windows Phones will likely still come with them, with the exception of a few low-end or space saving devices. Microsoft is simply opening the door for innovation by loosening its overly firm grip around its mobile OS. Something people have been asking for since day 1.

16. mottykels

Posts: 387; Member since: May 15, 2013

much better if they make a assistant menu just like apple and android :)

18. xtroid2k

Posts: 601; Member since: Jan 11, 2010

Maybe they want to be able to dual boot with android devices. Or have more manufacturers attracted to making WP devices in general. It would be easier for a manufacturer just to load an OS and sell it as a certain device. Smart move. a sony experia windows phone nice

22. protozeloz

Posts: 5396; Member since: Sep 16, 2010

That sounds like a god reason

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