The Future of Windows, Windows Phone and Truly Live Tiles

Love it or hate it, live tiles are here to stay. Yes, Microsoft’s bringing back the Start menu, but the fact is, for a unified system interface, live tiles are still going to be very much present. Still, some lament that the live tiles serve no functional purpose other than looking pretty, and providing a tad more information than your regular icons. So what can Microsoft do about live tiles to make them better?

A month back we reported that Windows Phone 8.5 would bring a live tile overhaul, and now it seems that this feature will be coming to Windows as well.

A video from Microsoft Research shows off expandable tiles, where users will be able to scroll through emails, the weather forecast, and many other apps straight from their live tiles.

Think of them as Android’s widgets, just that there’s a whole screen filled with them, and they’re slightly more functional. In that sense, Microsoft has effectively transformed the Start Screen into a dashboard, a command centre, if you will, where you’ll be able to carry out simple everyday tasks without ever the need to launch apps.

So we’ve seen this in action on Windows, thanks to Microsoft Research (who took down the video and page shortly after), but what about Windows Phone? Will we see such similar functionality coming to Windows Phone 8.5/9? Yes. Yes we will.

As we’ve mentioned above, WP8.5 was leaked to have brand new live tiles, which most likely points to tiles similar to the one in the video above.

There’s yet another piece of evidence to back up this claim. A week ago, during a Reddit AMA (ask me anything) session, a Microsoft employee revealed that the next version of Windows Phone is going to be huge. He’s seen the beta testing that’s been going on with Windows Phone 8.5/9, and he emphasized twice during that AMA that there will be an overhaul.

BAADFOOD 57 minutes ago

I’m brutally honest. One of the core competancies of a Microsoft employees, sans our VP’s etc…This thing isn’t going to kick the iPhone’s ass.. but it’s damn close and well… WinPhone 8.2/9/whatever marketing decides to call it is like 8-10 months away so..

And I’ve seen what they are doing and OMFG you are going to pop a boner.

New live tiles? Definitely.

So when will it arrive?

While this is exciting news, many of you will be wondering when WP8.5/9 will arrive. Well according to the Microsoft employee, the release of WP8.1 was delayed due to certain restructuring problems within Microsoft, and that the update cycle from now on will typically be every 6-8 months. That means you can probably expect WP8.5/9 early next year, or even as close as December this year.

We still have to wait and see how MS implements this live tile overhaul on WP though, as Windows and Windows Phone have slightly different UIs. Just like how MS had to implement a different way of placing backgrounds on the WP8.1 start screen compared to Windows 8.1, the live tiles will also have to be implemented differently. Let’s hope they’ll make it work.

On a side note, WP8.1 developer preview should be arriving in a couple of days. It may not bring a live tile overhaul, but it does give you backgrounds for your live tiles.

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