Microsoft talks more about the Windows Phone 8 Start screen

Windows Phone 8 officially launched earlier this week when Rogers started selling the Nokia Lumia 920 in Canada. While other parts of the world will have to wait until later this month to check out Windows Phone 8 devices, the company is already talking about some of the things that it has done to improve its moble OS.

In a post on the official Windows Phone blog, Microsoft's Josh Phillips, who worked as the program manager for the new Start screen, talks about its redesign compared to Windows Phone 7. You can see the differences in the photo above, with the old Start screen to the left and the new version on the right.

Phillips says that a Windows Phone device uses more "negative" space compared to an Android or iOS smartphone. He says that's because Microsoft wanted to put more of a spotlight on a user's content. He adds:

In Windows Phone 8, we wanted to shave away even more user interface “chrome” to make room for your content on Start. So you’ll notice the arrow that formerly pointed to the App list has been relocated, while the column of space (or “gutter” in design speak) down the right side of the screen is also now gone. These changes created room for both more and bigger tiles, so you can see even more of what a loved one has to show or say. I also can’t wait to see what app developers do with this expanded canvas.

The blog post also talks about adding color to the Start screen and allowing for users to resize the Live Tiles in Windows Phone 8 to make them either bigger or smaller. Phillips also talks about how Microsoft came up with the four column layout. He states:

Over the months we tested hundreds of design iterations (a process that was both exhilarating and exhausting). Three-column layouts didn’t feel like enough flexibility, whereas five-column layouts left tiles too small to read and tap. In the end, four felt just right. Every app supports small- and medium-sized Live Tiles. But since Start screen real estate is valuable, only apps with something useful to show (like Calendar, Mail, or People, to name just a few) offer a large option.

Source: Windows Phone blog | Image via Microsoft

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