If Thurrot’s rumors are right then the back button is going away on Windows Phones. He notes:

No more Back button. Aping the iPhone navigation model, Microsoft will apparently remove the Back button from the Windows Phone hardware specification with 8.1. The Back button just doesn’t make sense, I was told: Users navigate away from an app by pressing the Start button and then open a new app, just like they do on iPhone. And the "back stack" is ill-understood by users: Most don’t realize what they’re doing when they repeatedly hit the Back button.

OK, so you have some upset users out there, I get it. All I can tell you is this: I love the back button. I love how it works. It is fundamental to the user experience. Without it you’ll be forced to add more chrome (you know, buttons and navigation bars). Like in a music app if you want to go back to the main menu you just hit the back button. In Internet Explorer you want to go back to the last web page so you hit the back button. Multi-tasking – hold the button. It all works (thankfully a lot better than when it first came out for WP7). In fact, I wish Windows 8 had it. The button works. The button makes sense.

What failed? I’m not blaming the user actually. It’s Microsoft’s job to teach the user how to navigate and Microsoft has repeatedly failed in that category (see Windows 8 for example and the lack of any real tutorial).

Button line – don’t mess with my back button. Do your job and tell people what the button does and how to use it. End of story. Don’t dumb down my phone. If you go there then you may as well just follow the BB10 model, move entirely to gestures and see if you can follow in their footsteps to the very end…

7 COMMENTS

  1. I’m with you. The back button is pretty important. It literally does way too mcuh to eliminate.

    But as usual, even though this is (or seems to be) an MS idea people need to stop trying to burden WP down with being what the other OS’s are, and accept it as it’s own entity.
    It doesn’t need to be ios to be functional, or appealing.

  2. Microsoft seems to dig their grave everytime. Back button is some good feature and it has become part of ur life. I sometimes feel it should be part of all windows device.

    Microsoft if you are cin this.. please do not remove the back button.. We love it.

  3. I couldn’t agree more! In fact, I’ll start tweeting MS about it right now, just to let them know, that some people like it!

  4. They can’t get rif of the back button it’s fundamental to how wonderful easy to use the OS is. I was using some iDevices the other day at work and really missed the back button. By having a hardware button and removing it form the GUI they alleviate the need to add buttons to all the interfaces or allow people to try more experimental app designs but retain a consistent navigational concept.

  5. I use the back button ALL THE TIME. Way more than I use the home button. What effing moron told them that?

  6. I would be lost without the Back button. If Microsoft wants to get rid of a button, they can start with Search.

  7. I don’t think Microsoft would kill back button. I lost trust and stopped reading Thurrott after he said Microsoft should stop copying Apple and start copying Google. I believe when I see it and I take his words with grain of salt. Keeping it aside, even if Microsoft wants to kill, they won’t because of the outrage already happening on blogosphere and twitter noise.

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