Start screen backup + restore coming in Windows Phone 8.1

With Windows Phone 8.1 now formally announced, we’re learning more about the update and the improvements that Microsoft has packed into it. One little nugget of information that has emerged today will no doubt please many Windows Phone owners across the globe.

In a session at its BUILD conference today, Microsoft confirmed that one new feature in Windows Phone 8.1 will be the ability to backup and restore your Start screen. This feature is of course available in Windows 8.1, but has remained frustratingly absent from Windows Phone, until now.

If you’ve ever had to restore your Windows Phone, or simply set up a new one when upgrading, for example, you’ll know the pain of having to manually reinstate, resize and reposition all of your tiles on the Start screen, even when restoring from a saved backup. That will soon be a thing of the past.

In the slide shown, Microsoft makes it clear that “every tile is restored”, and that even the images on those tiles are preserved. Tiles will appear greyed out on a restored Start screen until they are reinstalled and ready to launch.

Microsoft is continuing to make last-minute refinements and fixes to Windows Phone 8.1, although its full feature list has now been finalised. The final build is expected to be made available to manufacturers and other Windows Phone partners on April 14; users on the Developer Preview program should also be able to download the update on, or shortly after, that date. 

Image via @JustinAngel

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22 Comments

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ACTIONpack said,
Would been a cool feature 5 years ago before cell phones have unlimited calls
So just because we have unlimited calls we shouldn't have start screen backup? What sort of nonsense is this?

I wish Android did a better job of making backups than it does. This seems like a really great addition to Windows Phone.

Also another great addition in WP 8.1 is that the local app data also syncs a backup to OneDrive (app backup data does not count against your OneDrive storage).
Huge addition and a great solution to backup and transfer remotely App Data, content, settings, game saves etc,.
Source: https://twitter.com/JustinAngel/status/452125595481030656

You can update the article to reflect that as well.

Microsoft sure got a lot of criticism with Windows 8, if its one thing they are doing right though now, its the synergy between Windows 8's start screen features + WP. Its all starting to blend real well especially if and when RT + WP merge. As they have said in their marketing, one windows experience for all devices

I hope Cortana remembers who I am and what I like. I am going to tell Cortana all about things and I don't want to have to repeat myself.

I'm sure she will given that she's cloud-based and even your settings will sync with Bing personalization on Bing.com.

Enron said,
I hope Cortana remembers who I am and what I like. I am going to tell Cortana all about things and I don't want to have to repeat myself.

it seems a given to be honest, and then when,cortana appears on windows and xbox she'll learn even more, and thus be more helpful

Not mentioned in this article but covered elsewhere - app data is also synced to onedrive daily, so your app settings etc will also be restored.

This doesn't affect your onedrive storage space.

It means Windows Phone will now have a better restore experience than Android, which is fairly annoying without using 3rd party apps.

DomZ said,
Not mentioned in this article but covered elsewhere - app data is also synced to onedrive daily, so your app settings etc will also be restored.

This doesn't affect your onedrive storage space.

It means Windows Phone will now have a better restore experience than Android, which is fairly annoying without using 3rd party apps.

I also think apps can opt out of it and that only newer 8.1 supported apps will do this, old/current 8.0 apps won't. Probably some single line of code that has to be added to them to add it in. I think I saw a slide saying as much.

Does that include app data for games? I'm getting ready to upgrade to the 1520 from the 920 and don't like the thought of having to start games from the beginning again.

Also, can someone confirm that it's only for 8.1 apps. It would be nice if it did it for 8.0 apps for people upgrading to a new phone.

Android has backup and restore capabilities built in if you turn on Android Backup...

A lot of power users, like myself, use third party tools because we have no desire to backup our data to someone's servers...

I hope this is being added to Windows Phone 8.1 in addition to local backup capabilities or allowing third party backup apps to exist. That was my biggest pain point on Windows Phone 7. There was no way to cleanly do a regular backup of your device to your local hard drive or SD card.

I've switched phones a few times and mine already remembers start screen :s... but I guess I'm just thinking of the app list.

j2006 said,
I've switched phones a few times and mine already remembers start screen :s... but I guess I'm just thinking of the app list.

App list and the arrangement of tiles are different!

Also, just in case anyone doesn't know... Windows Phone already currently syncs your App list and settings. When setting up a new phone, it'll prompt you which backup you want. So the addition of start screen layout is great :)