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Microsoft, don’t touch my back button

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…