Microsoft is contemplating ending the need for a hardware-based back button on Windows Phone 8.1 devices, according to a recent internet report.
Up to now it's been compulsory for Windows Phone handset manufacturers such as Nokia and HTC to incorporated fixed back buttons on smartphones such as the Nokia Lumia 925 and HTC Windows Phone 8X. That could be set to change with the next iteration of Microsoft's mobile OS, however.
According to a report issued by The Verge, Microsoft is considering ending the need for a physical Windows Phone back button.
While recent rumours have suggested that Microsoft is killing the back button outright, though, this latest report suggests that things might not actually be so severe. Rather, it's suggested that Microsoft will end the need for a hardware button, instead incorporating a software solution.
Indeed, Microsoft may be contemplating replacing all three of the fixed Windows Phone buttons with software alternatives. This would mean no iconic start key and no search command.
The report claims that the new software solution, in its current form, is a simple black bar along the bottom of the screen. This sounds rather sounds like the stock Android approach to integrated software buttons to us, and sure enough, that's the parallel that's made by the report's sources.
Apparently, Microsoft is current experimenting to see whether existing apps built around the current hardware keys will still function adequately with these new virtual controls.
The reason behind this potential easing of hardware requirements is said to be to encourage new manufacturers to make low-cost Windows Phone handsets. With fewer exacting requirements, Microsoft may be reasoning that more handsets will be released into the market.
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