Microsoft said to be considering axing hardware button requirement in Windows Phone 8.1

Alex Wagner
Editorial Director of News and Content from  Omaha, NE
| Published: October 15, 2013

Nokia Lumia 1020 buttons

Last week, a rumor claimed that Microsoft may end up giving Windows Phone's Back button the axe, possibly in an effort to reduce confusion among some consumers that are unsure of where exactly they'll end up if they tap it. Now a new report has surfaced that says that while Microsoft won't be killing the Back button dead, they will be dropping the requirement that it be present on every Windows Phone device.

Sources speaking to The Verge claim that Microsoft is considering ending the requirement that all Windows Phone products include hardware Back, Start and Search buttons. The move would be part of an effort to lower the cost of devices for hardware manufacturers and convince them to make more entry-level Windows Phone devices alongside their Android hardware. It's also said that the end of required hardware buttons could be part of Microsoft's attempts to convince HTC to use Windows Phone on its Android products.

So how would users get around Windows Phone if Microsoft does end up dropping its button requirement? Today's report says that the Redmond firm would add in a trio of software buttons in a black bar at the bottom of the display, not unlike the onscreen buttons found on many Android devices.

Obviously the information contained in this new report is still a rumor for now, and by the sound of things Microsoft is currently just kicking around the idea of dropping its hardware button requirement. If the company were to make that change, though, it could be a big deal for the Windows Phone ecosystem. For example, without being required to save space on the front of a phone for Back, Start and Search buttons, device makers could make the displays on their phones bigger or shrink the overall size of the handset.

With rumors of multitasking improvements, screens up to 10 inches in size and now virtual navigation buttons, Windows Phone 8.1 is shaping up to be a pretty important update. Here's to hoping that we don't have to wait long after the calendar flips over to 2014 before it actually begins rolling out to the public.

Via The Verge