Lots of Windows Phone fans want a Back button for Windows Phone 8.1

A few days ago, a report from Paul Thurrott's Winsupersite page claimed that Microsoft was planning to remove the physical Back button for the upcoming release of Windows Phone 8.1. The report, which said Microsoft is doing away with the button because users "don't realize what they're doing" when it is pressed multiple times, has yet to be confirmed or denied by the company.

However, that hasn't stopped lots of Windows Phone fans from joining an online protest, hoping to keep the Back button alive. A post on Microsoft's official Windows Phone forums that allows people to vote on feature suggestions has generated over 330 votes, as of this writing, for Microsoft to not remove the Back button for Windows Phone 8.1. Some of the comments in that forum thread include one from "Dev Jaykrishnan", who stated:

I get that some people don't get how to use the Back Button. Don't disable it though. It'll look awkward for those of us who have older models to have a non functioning button. Make it an option to disable it in the settings ! Please don't make it a mandatory feature!

The forum thread isn't unanimous, however. One anonymous posted suggested replacing the Back button functions with the "charms" menu from Windows 8. Another posted, "Joseph" states, "Don't let polls of the internet people restrict inovation (sic) (see xbox one drama)... ditch all the hardware buttons for better swipe gestures."

Source: Microsoft Forums via WMPoweruser

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The Windows fone aren't too bad but I changed to IOS because Mircosft won't update my two year fone the Nokia Lumia 1020 looks great, but I've heard there are issues with Windows fones

Forget updating our OSes MircoSoft, just charge us for updates and keep Windows 1.0 isn't that what some people want...

I like android's implementation (stock android) of 3 keys. one switch apps, one home button and one back. Multitasking in a pain in WP and its slow too.

They can leave the back and search buttons. Just allow me to disable it in system settings. change the way search is activated by pressing and holding the windows button. So I can type or speak-in my search request. As for the active apps view, just enable the swipe from the left of the screen. this will bring it as close as its WinX counterparts, therefore integrating it better in the OS stack. Or get rid of all the hardware buttons, and let me swipe from the bottom to get these 3 or maybe a 4th new button also. So there are many options to choose from if they plan to remove the back button. One thing is clear, by the time WP9 ships, that button will be gone, since it needs to be the unified OS for mobile platforms they have been talking about. But for now, software disable is a cleaner option.

It was never the start button that was the problem. I use it all the time and so does my 60yr old dad. It is the search button. It is a button that is not the main start menu button but it still takes you out of the app. Every time I hit it accidentally, I use the back button to get back into the app I was using.

Rumor aside, it would be ridiculously stupid to remove the back button when the OS was designed around it... I use it all the time and can't imagine not being able to...

hagjohn said,
Coming from an iPhone, it's a little strange to be hitting a back button.

Well, in Windows Phone, we neither need to return to the start screen every time we do something, nor have chrome serving "back" functionality... It's nice to have.

So without a confirmation, or info about how this would work, the pitchforks are out and the community offers its wisdom on how this decision is bad and they should reverse it, reverse an unconfirmed rumour......

Seriously, what is wrong with people?

If Windows and WP are to become so similar that developers can easily create one app and make some UI changes to make it fit on both platforms then this needs to be done. Especially if its true that Microsoft is working on one API that can adapt to screensizes from 3'' to infinity.

On Windows 8 the swipe from the left gesture allows users to quickly switch between apps as well as open an all-app menu. At the same time a digital back button does in-app return to previous pages. It's a better system then WP's. So I understand that if you want to merge Windows with WP then in this instance the Windows implementation is best.

However WP can't simply implement it as WP apps don't have a digital back button. And you can't get all developers to add it to all of their 170,000+ apps. So the back button has to stay. Unless MS actually adds a digital back button to their app-bar. Which makes sense as the back button on Windows 8 is too high to be comfortably used on WP. Especially if you consider that WP was designed to keep all commands on the app-bar in the bottom for usability.

Ronnet said,
If Windows and WP are to become so similar that developers can easily create one app and make some UI changes to make it fit on both platforms then this needs to be done. Especially if its true that Microsoft is working on one API that can adapt to screensizes from 3'' to infinity.

On Windows 8 the swipe from the left gesture allows users to quickly switch between apps as well as open an all-app menu. At the same time a digital back button does in-app return to previous pages. It's a better system then WP's. So I understand that if you want to merge Windows with WP then in this instance the Windows implementation is best.

However WP can't simply implement it as WP apps don't have a digital back button. And you can't get all developers to add it to all of their 170,000+ apps. So the back button has to stay. Unless MS actually adds a digital back button to their app-bar. Which makes sense as the back button on Windows 8 is too high to be comfortably used on WP. Especially if you consider that WP was designed to keep all commands on the app-bar in the bottom for usability.

Absolutely. Agreed. I'd be surprised if this is more than a rumor though. Not that I haven't been surprised before... LOL

You mean remove the non-existent software power button or the physical power button that continues to exists on just about every piece of computing technology?

A physical button (or combination of buttons) to power off the device is necessary in case the software interface stops responding.

Enough already. We already suffered through the endless Start button debate, now a new one's going to start up with this Back button? Can't companies stop taking things away from us and call it a feature no one uses or whatever?

I bet this rumor is misread and portends something better for fans and all. A single back button, while in my researched opinion the best of navigation options on all 3 major mobile platforms, is not the be-all-end-all. Perhaps there is another hardware requirement in support of navigation to go with removal of such a button. We are probably not recognizing it yet.

(Remember, Microsoft has invested in several other navigation interfaces, such as backtouch and high performance capacitive touch, that have not yet appeared in any device. One of these is due to debut.)

Please, get rid of the Search Button first. You accidentally hit it and then you end up needing to hit the Back Button.

Or refine it rather than remove it. The search button is great, and could be so much more, if they allowed it to be context sensitive again, and sort of like Bing super search in Windows 8.1.

JesseJ said,
Please, get rid of the Search Button first. You accidentally hit it and then you end up needing to hit the Back Button.

Or make it so you can disable it.

Ideas Man said,
Or refine it rather than remove it. The search button is great, and could be so much more, if they allowed it to be context sensitive again, and sort of like Bing super search in Windows 8.1.

Agreed. The biggest complain is when people are playing games... So, make it better. Removing it just because it has an issue isn't a solution...

i don't use Windows Phone and won't be bother by any of their decision. However, if the head of windows ask me whether or not removing the back button will be okay then you probably shouldn't even in charge of windows division

I thought the beta test was over? It seems all the Win Phone users have been beta testing the back button and they have decided to ditch the back button after the test results.

dbam987 said,
These people who want the back button, are these the same people who wanted the useless start button?

You forgot to add " In my opinion"....

dbam987 said,
These people who want the back button, are these the same people who wanted the useless start button?

First, the back button serves an important purpose and gets a TON of use by the average user... Making it a silly thing to remove entirely...

Second, as for the Start Button. Try using Windows 8 over a Remote Desktop Connection... You'll want to scream.

Anyone ever use IE10 or IE11 on Windows 8? Instead of a back button you just swipe. Maybe, we should see what they have in mind?

WinMunkee said,
Anyone ever use IE10 or IE11 on Windows 8? Instead of a back button you just swipe. Maybe, we should see what they have in mind?

It needs to work in apps already written, especially those using the panoramic and pivot controls...

rfirth said,

It needs to work in apps already written, especially those using the panoramic and pivot controls...

I agree, but we should see what they have in mind...

rfirth said,

It needs to work in apps already written, especially those using the panoramic and pivot controls...

Exactly. I'm all for seeing what they are proposing here, but the OS is already using many of these gestures... Swiping to the right when an App could be using a Panorama Control that requires swiping to the right (And left) will do nothing but frustrate people...

I use the back button ALL THE TIME... So, if it were removed, it would have to be replaced with something functional for me...

Wish they'd have stuck with the Zune HD's interface, one central "home" button, then have the large title text at the top of the app be used as a back button when tapped

Matthew_Thepc said,
Wish they'd have stuck with the Zune HD's interface, one central "home" button, then have the large title text at the top of the app be used as a back button when tapped

This. So many times. Microsoft already had a great touch mobile UI. In typical Microsoft fashion, they made something else out of it.

I use back button out of habit to close out of stuff but have noticed others that have no clue do just use the home button, anytime I look at my mom or brothers windows phone they have tons of stuff "open" because they just hit the home button every time.

Tegument said,
I use back button out of habit to close out of stuff but have noticed others that have no clue do just use the home button, anytime I look at my mom or brothers windows phone they have tons of stuff "open" because they just hit the home button every time.

This is common, and the weird thing is they are the ones using the phone correctly. WP8 was designed to manage Apps for the user, so leaving things open has no impact on memory.

The idea of an 'opened' and 'closed' state for applications is outdated. Instead we should just 'access' Apps with their running state set as the developers and OS allows which is not something the user has to worry about.

The same is true of data and 'saving', content should be always saved, if we need to go back prior to a change, this is where 'versions' and undo replace the notion of saving data. OneNote was one of the first bigger name products that did away with the concept of 'save', and it was a precursor to how all data states should be handled, by the App/OS not the user.

Mobius Enigma said,

This is common, and the weird thing is they are the ones using the phone correctly. WP8 was designed to manage Apps for the user, so leaving things open has no impact on memory.

Exactly! It's the completely outdated nonsense that you must close apps that are among the biggest gripes with Windows [Phone] 8.x.

I love my back button and find it very easy and intuitive to use. I can't believe we're going to continually go backwards to please people who are unwilling to learn and adjust.

The biggest problem though is that every app on Windows Phone is designed for the behaviour expected by a back button. Click through an option, but want to go back a level and go into another? Windows Phone apps don't have a back function built into the UI and will all need to be re-written.

Exactly, MS cannot afford to **** developers off again. I cannot believe they'll remove the back button as it will break functionality in too many apps. And I really like the back button for navigation and find it cumbersome when using an iPhone that I have to hunt around for back within the app, makes much more sense (and gives more screen real estate) to have a universal back button on the actual device.

Mobius Enigma said,
This is common, and the weird thing is they are the ones using the phone correctly. WP8 was designed to manage Apps for the user, so leaving things open has no impact on memory.
Unless it's an app that does something in the background. While it's tombstoned, it's more than a true background task as you opened it.

I actually think this is one of the biggest reasons that it's unfortunate that Here Maps are different from Here Drive. I think it's sucking down twice the GPS reads because Here Maps will cause Here Drive to open, but it won't close itself.

What about double-tap the Windows Flag to open Search, and then swipe from the left in that same capacitive area to go back? *shrugs*

MorganX said,
Kill the unused search button first if anything.

Why not simply use it properly instead of killing it. just like the search button on windows 8

MorganX said,
I don't know how you use something properly, if you simply never use it.

well - search in apps, in stores, on the phone, online.

If they're going to get rid of a button. Get rid of the search button. Or change what it does. Having a dedicated bing button is stupid. Make it open a search page of your entire phone or something.

I kind of thought this at first, but then I started to use it all the time for searching, identifying music, and reading codes.

I like the functionality of the back button just fine, but I love the search button.

ZipZapRap said,
You must be new on the internet.
Unsubstantiated rumours are the new facts, yo.

For me actually, unsubstantiated rumors are B.S.
And yet, I read this.

ZipZapRap said,
You must be new on the internet.
Unsubstantiated rumours are the new facts, yo.

I would not surprise at all if the rumor had been leaked by MS itself to "taste the water".....

But Microsoft also thought it was a good idea to replace a contextual search button with a bing all the time "pull you out of your app" god awful button due to user feedback.

Better to give them the feedback early rather than late.

Dot Matrix said,
But... It's just a rumor...

Cringy...

There is no such a thing such as 'unsubstantial rumours' on market research. People's response are pivotal in marketing, and can indeed affect R&D. Classic example: The AMEX Centurion Card.

Sicarius123 said,
But Microsoft also thought it was a good idea to replace a contextual search button with a bing all the time "pull you out of your app" god awful button due to user feedback.

Better to give them the feedback early rather than late.

I dont know where you have been in the last 10 years, but obviously didnt follow MS product release practices. These blatant a$$holes (MS) never pay attention to what the experienced geeks / IT techies say, they always go with their own (stupid) ideas, and then ..surprise.. in the end they always (ok, maybe not always but most of the time) realise they made another big fail. I would force the people sitting in the redmond castle to leave their office 1-2 times each month, and visit (small) customers, ask their opinion, and ... the most important.. take their advise! Otherwise nothing will change.

MS has been more consumer than professional driven lately. Changing their products to work the way they think the masses will want things. That would be fine if they left the option there for power users, but when they just strip everything down and make it simple then it becomes a problem. They are not Apple, people expect options with Windows not to be force fed.

soder said,

I dont know where you have been in the last 10 years, but obviously didnt follow MS product release practices. These blatant a**holes (MS) never pay attention to what the experienced geeks / IT techies say, they always go with their own (stupid) ideas, and then ..surprise.. in the end they always (ok, maybe not always but most of the time) realise they made another big fail. I would force the people sitting in the redmond castle to leave their office 1-2 times each month, and visit (small) customers, ask their opinion, and ... the most important.. take their advise! Otherwise nothing will change.

I stopped reading at "a**holes". You know it's frowned upon to circumvent the swear filters with those currency signs, right? Also, you know most MS developers are geeks themselves? If MS can survive off of using Windows 8, then so can you.

spikey_richie said,

I think you mean "test the water".


Yes I did but even using the desktop version I do not have the edit button when I comment using my 920... Not sure why. :-)