Windows Phone 8.1

Let us know if you love or hate the new Start screen in Windows Phone 8.1

We are now less than a week from officially seeing Windows Phone 8.1 for the first time. The unveiling is happening next week at Microsoft’s Build conference in San Francisco. Not only do we get to see the new mobile operating system from Microsoft, but Nokia is expected to announce two new Windows Phone 8.1 devices – the Lumia 630 (Moneypenny) and the Lumia 930 (Martini).

We’ve seen quite a bit of Windows Phone 8.1 over the past few weeks. Generally we’ve seen the Windows Phone community pleased and excited about all the upcoming changes. But there’s one feature that has a lot of you divided. That’s the new Start screen on Windows Phone 8.1. We’ve all wanted a little more customization options for the part of Windows Phone we spend a lot of time looking at. Microsoft is adding background image support, but in a way not a lot of people expected. Do you like it?

Start screen Windows Phone 8.1

Check out the image above. That’s how the Start screen will look when you select an image to it. A lot of people were hoping to be able to set backgrounds on the Start screen as you would in Windows 8.1. Right now in Windows Phone 8, you’re able to select either a light theme or dark theme for your phone. The light theme gives a white background upon which your Live tiles sit atop, while the dark theme makes that space black. A lot of folks had hoped to replace that black (or white) space with the image of their choice.

That’s not exactly how the new Start screen works in Windows Phone 8.1. Instead, you’ll be able to have your image on the Start screen, but it’ll show through the various Live tiles that can be set to transparent. It also animates really nicely thanks to a parallax effect. You can see it in action below.

Your turn

We’ve seen the community passionately divided on the upcoming change. Some users love it, while others are opposed to it. Thankfully this is just an option and not something you’ll have to endure if you don’t’ like it. Personally, most of us here love it. It looks beautiful. Your turn. Share your thoughts in the poll below and in the comments.

Reading this in one of our apps? You’ll want to head to Internet Explorer to take the poll


Reader comments

Let us know if you love or hate the new Start screen in Windows Phone 8.1



Sam.. Have you ever thought about animations on the start screen❔.... Do you think it would be cool if we could add short animations, like how Bing for desktop does, to the start screen in the way WP8.1 does background images❔

battery killer. and... really? i like my phone to be personal, but its doesnt have to be moving. bit gimmicky imho

Did you say that about the glance screen?.. Probably.. But, you know what? There's people who still think the glance screen uses to much battery, and that it's dumb to have that on your device while it's off.... You know what they do? They don't use those features because in settings you can turn them off.. I think the green theme color is nasty looking, so I use red... You catch what I'm saying here❔

Animations is a good idea but it will make devices like 520 laggy.maybe for phones with higher power and ram.

Possibly... I suspect/speculate that it's not to big a deal though, and all devices would work fine with a simple graphic.. Maybe graphics could accelerate as time goes on, but I would think that 1gb ram devices would have no problem.. This is WP we're talking about... Android has this❕... But, if MS could achieve this with the 520/525/530 then those devices would definitely stand out on store shelves next to other low end Android devices....
Let's not forget that we already have this on the start screen with the music, and games hub, tiles, so it's not out of the question...

I'm thinking if someone screenshots a black page and use as start screen how it would be like? Or even worse white image as start screen and light background

That would be interesting... If you used a white background, with the light screen, it might completely white out your screen leaving it mostly blank... Think about it.. With background images there are no boarders, and text is white... The same with the dark theme and a black background... Weird, and I can't wait to fool around with it....
What would really be cool is if we could put some short animations as background images.. Maybe some high quality gif files or if our camera app would let us catch up to ten second clips... What if apps like Vine could plug into the start screen... I could see a setting in Vine asking "set clip as start screen background"... That would be a cool option..

Or a list of favorite vimeo or YouTube vids... That would be cool. Rotating 3D model of your current WP? I'd love that

There's really endless possibilities when you think of it... This is something that I've been thinking of for years..

If there was a possibility of playing an endless gif in the background would that not be a big drain on the battery?

I'm not worried about that.. Just like tap to wake there's always the possibility of it using more battery, and the more options used within determined how much more battery is used.. It all depends on how it is managed.... Everything supposedly uses more battery.. Quad Core chips, 1080p screens... It's never really a issue, and I don't see why we can't start looking past that....

Really?... That's such a old, and played out thought... I thought this Quad Core processor, 1080p screen, and tab to wake was supposed to kill my battery... No.. It all depends on how these things are managed, and the frequency options that are put in place.... We should be past the point of thinking so static about battery drain... MS is better than that, and new features haven't cost us much noticeable battery drain ever... Just like tap to wake,,, if you don't like it, for whatever reason, then don't use it...

No. Its simply that you don't understand how the hardware works.
Not being mean, but if you can't grasp the difference between a bursting CPU, and rendering moving images in real time, then you should stop taking the years you said you've spent thinking about this, and spend it reading a book or learning to code ;)

There's always someone like you who wants to get technical, and start post comments that are irrelevant to getting new features...
And, I always say.... Screw all of that.. Android phones already do what you naysayer's always don't give WP credit for being able to achieve...
I already have a day job, and I'm not interested, yet, in learning how to code.. That's stupid for anyone to even bring up... We're not talking about some crazy, new, unheard of, far out feature here... We're talking about something that you can already see your WP device do if you look at the Music, and Games hub tiles... We just are asking for more of that, and to be able to control it with our own choice of animation,,, like Android fans have been doing for years... Not, the most advanced rocket science we're talking about here, and its extremely feasible... It's already there❕
But, as usual you guys bring up the same old argument.. Battery life... Microkia has done a pretty good job of managing that so far with my 1520, and if Google can pull it off then why can't MS?... Do you think MS is less capable?

Hmm how can you not expect for somebody to bring up a technical approach when what you are requesting does require CODE! and core power management amongst other tech nitbits?

Just because android has it doesnt mean that it is optimized and also obiously WP does not have the feature so it would have to be coded, tested and optomized for battery link. Yes there are current animations for xbox and music I am sure that feature spread out to all app or some would equal battery drain. It is obviously being tightly mnaged by microsoft so it does not get out of hand. 

Everything on these devices require code.. What's new about that❔
It works great on Android devices, And, I see it in action everyday. But, that's besides the point..
It's simple, and clear.. Animations are possible, and it would be a cool feature.. That's the bottom line.. Whether it would have to be added to the OS is a waist of time to talk about because that is obvious.. More battery usage is also obvious, but that is besides the point.. Like I said.. It's a cool idea, and other phones already have it, so it is possible... End of story.
Some of you guys need to quit being so negative, short sighted, and set higher expectations for what WP can do.. If other OS's can do something then WP has the potential to do it better.. That's what I've seen from my experience using WP for almost 4 years... Stop looking at the platform, and MS, as less than iDroid, and expect more... Expect that anything is possible with WP❕

What's the point though? Nobody is asking for this and the benefits don't necessarily offset the real risk to battery life.

Moving wallpapers WAS one of the cool things about early Android, but it's not a feature in high use whatsoever nowadays. Google hasn't updated these animations in years.

Our platform is finally hitting maturity, I'd rather Microsoft spend their time building things into phones that customers can actually use rather than glitzy crap that serves no real purpose.

Customizing the background color would be pretty cool too, but using an image as a background is pointless because you can barely even see it. I think the customizeable tiles is a good idea.

The ideal way to do this would have been to use background image and then make the tile transparent.

Or at least give us the ability to set the opacity of the tiles.


No. Metro design language is strictly AGAINST transparency unless absolutely neccesary. transparency was the age of vista.. were past that.

Desktop has transparency. It's not necessary but it's there. Some of the restrictions on the Modern design language are in the process of being relaxed - to make it less bland.

Yea.. One spot.. Taskbar.. Which shouldn't be in the first place, but its not an important text info box like tiles, metro is about priorities, making the foreground stick out and the background blend, transparency goes 100% against that.

Agreed, that would make it perfect to have an option of both. Either picture on the tiles, or a picture background with transparent tiles. If only...

All tiles transparent, as an option, would be my choice. No use having some tiles transparent and some not.

Exactly❕..... But you're right.. We need more than just black, and white... We should be able to use a grid full of careful picked colors.. But, why not just let us choose images, colors, and patterns for ourselves.. Some of us would come up with some pretty cool combos... We shouldn't be held back by others bad taste...

Black and white was all Michael Jackson needed. You need more thank Michael Jackson?

My job is to play on my phone all day, listen to my radio, and wait.. That's what they want me to do, so I don't complain... And, that seriously is what my job is.. I might work on average 20 min. a day.. Weird?

It would look awesome if all of the tiles allowed it. But those ones that dont make the start screen ugly glad its just an option though. They should have just allowed background images and let users adjust the transparency of ALL tiles in the settings.

They can. Its up to the developers to change their app icons to have transparent backgrounds (ever notice how some app tiles don't match your phones theme color? Same issue!)

You are just proving my point. Lol not all developers are going to update their app to allow it lol...hence not all tiles that you pin to your start screen are going to have part of the background picture you choose...thus that tile is going to stick out like a sore thumb and your whole start screen ugly as fcuk....this new feature is definitely a step in the wrong direction...good intentions just bad implementation.

Not at all ! Infact I'm really impressed by it. Thinking about what you said, it'd look cool to have a couple of tiles with their own colours, really cool, contrary to what you said. It would add a sense of multiple designs to it, not a monotonic one. I think you should use it before making up your mind, its gonna be mind blowing !

You tell him to try it before making up his mind, yet youve already decided its "mind blowing"... odd. Also, why would anyone want their start screen to look like its a wretched amalgamation of "multiple designs" that is the exact reason why iOS 7 looked so awful. Microsoft needs to make ALL icons play properly with this effect or it will look like garbage

Developers can actually set their app tiles background colour in code rather than using an image that has the background in it. I believe if the developer set the background colour in code it may get removed for the parallax effect :)

How do we know that one of the reason that all apps have to be recompiled in WP8.1 is so that the background image will take precedence?❔.. We don't.. So lets just wait before we start saying this is going in the wrong direction...

It looks awesome but I still want to be able to change the background colors. (Not with images because that's silly). That would make it even more awesome and it should also effect background color in the app list of course.

Agree.. If people with bad taste want to use a image, and f### up their start screen, let em... That shouldn't ruin it for the rest of us.... Hey, maybe that's a feature of Lumia Blue❕❕❕

Windows 8-like background? Really? You understand the difference in the screen sizes, don't you? You have plenty of screen size on W8, whereas on your phone, the tiles cover the majority of the screen. You will only see bits and pieces of an image on WP8.

Yeah the thing that did it for me was the parallax! Without that it would have looked tacky. It's really starting to grow on me :D So excited for 8.1!!

100% agree without the parallax it would look weird! Now I'm 75% on board not sure if I will use it but the option is great.

Everything is good but I. Still want a different color background other than black or white hopefully we will get some more choices

This is gonna be a huge pullover for iOS users, they're gonna consider switching to wp ! (leave android fanboys alone, they still go gaga over every new stupid launcher which doesn't do anything.

You don't really believe that do you? Apple can do no wrong in most iOS users minds and something as insignificant as this surely wouldn't be the WP feature that they would jumb ship for. Don't forget about the woeful app situation with WP.

there is much work to do, but it is much improved and improving by the day. i disagree that it is "killing" wp. the os is growing steadily around the world, so its definetly not dying.

It isn't that woeful. I've been loving wp since i bought my Lumia, and don't really care that i dont have an official pocket app and have to use third party ones, and some other apps being in the same situation. Apple does make nice phones, nice ui with an eye for minor detail, but..somewhere it does get boring... And apps surely aren't THAT big an issue, people often keep android tabs with them, they can use all the apps in the world on them.

I am currently using a lumia 925 as my smartphone and an iPad Air as my tablet. having tried both of the systems I would change my lumia for an iPhone in a many low quality apps,so battery hungry,so little options...Bluetooth and good looks is not enough for me.i want a device that can last through the day and do everything I want without going at 50 C temperatures...

Baterry hungry? What are you talking about. The iPhone definitely has a worse battery than any Lumia. Check if you don't have a defective unit or too many background tasks. With regards to the apps. There are plenty of high quality apps on wp8, and low quality apps are present on ios as well. I don't miss any apps at all because even when the official app for something is not available. There is always a great third party alternative.

I was a long time iPhone user ( upgrading from the original right through to the 5 and the battery life on all of them was awful, had to charge them 3 times a day, the 5 being the absolute worst ) i switched from the 5 to lumia 1020 which lasts a full day on one charge, i would never go back to the iPhone , the only times my 1020 gets hot is when i'm running out of data with my carrier ( the data connection runs slow when running out of data and the 3g chip works harder ) and i had the same issue with every iPhone 

Troll, move on... This is not a place for you. Even my kid knows how hungry is any iOS device for battery.
My 920 last 24 hours with Whatsapp, Telegram, Yahoo mail, Live email, games, some photographies, all running and working.
Apps ? Yeah right, take those 700k something in your Phone or pad. I've got all my needs covered with WP store.

I know certain Apple fans that would rather die before getting a WP. Android users might come to WP but IOS users are stubborn as hell!

I think its unique, just wish it came with custom background images that the user could add for that truly custom touch.

If you read the first post about this, it mentions that you can use images from OneDrive, Facebook, or your camera roll.

Yeah, I agree

Some photos can result chaotic, but maybe if you use one like the W8 wallpaper, it would be great!!!
Don't you think so?

It seems pretty awesome. My only concern is how many application tiles will support it (hopefully more than just system apps).

No. Apps use solid brushes and .jpg files for tiles. They will not magically become transparent, nor should they.

Yes, but 99% apps do not since there is no native support for png and the memory cost is too high. Try this: change your accent color and see how many tiles change their color immediately.

Well, first off, it's very easy to add PNG support, lots of nugets that include it. Second, it will be natively supported in WP 8.1.

Not live tiles, no. Sure, static app tiles change, but as I said, most people care about how live tiles react, right?

I think it will look better on store shelves than just the plain tiles.. I hope carriers take advantage of the new background option.. I'm sure they will.. Actually, carriers, and OEMs should be loading their own default image on the start screen... This changes a lot as far as the initial perception that potential new WP user will have of devices on store shelves.. I think that has failed to be mentioned, and that is what's really important here...

Right !! Blue does get monotonous for the normal user to see, and the nice wallpapers on s4/s5 look attractive to them. It should change now.

Yeah, I think WP devices currently don't stand out the consumer enough.. The colorful bodies help in some cases, but what's on screen can look to bland, especially with at&t's boring blue, and ugly orange tiles... Verizon isn't to bad, using the red tiles, but those devices could benefit from using BG images as well..

I gotta agree with you. WP is too much "myself" (not the exact word but you got my point) and needs some flexibility, which I hope WP8.1 will help bring, be it the custom choice of themes for carriers, or makers,much important, especially when competing with other OSs. However, i believe it shouldn't (if it ever happens) deviate too much from the native WP style because WP's uniqueness and belongingness are what we all are fan of ;)

Yep!!! WPC should do a story on how the background images will change WP's presence on store shelves next to iDroid devices.

Agree. At the end of the day, marketshare, user reliability and most important, MARKETTING are what all efforts are put for. And background graphics play an important role to catch consumer's eye, be it in stores or TV ads. I mean, right now, as far as I've noticed the live tiles best match with "Lumia" devices only unless the devices are "colored" and made by other OEMs. Ask anyone (who's not a tech savvy and knows nothing about mobile OSs) which looks better, a monostyled live tiles layout or forever changing widgets that can just put anything you want on the screen (I'm not a droid fan though, I hate it). They'll in no time support spydroid, unintentionally. MS has to realize this ASAP and enable background graphics and other customizations.

When talking about marketting, I always have a negative feeling for Microkia. The TV ads (at least here in India) won't show the most amazing features of Lumia. I just won't go a feet beyond Cameras. I love Nokia and I love Microsoft. But to a normal consumer, Same-sung phone ads are way too much tempting to get their hands on it. Nokia should do the same or more.

NOooo Verizon will put more branding on their phones! Lol but seriously this could be good or bad, at least you can change it :P

It can't be any worse than att's sorry WP start screen that they use on every device.. Customers think that's what it always is going to look like.. I'd say that there's gonna be more good, than bad, come out of this..

What i mean is the screen size of the htc 8x. Its only 4.3 with slightly higher ppi compared to 920's 4.5.

So, is 8x capable to have more tiles?

I don't think this is correct Sam.  You can get the parallax view with the 920 without selecting the option for more tiles.  (3rd row).  It can still have 2 rows with parallax.   

This is a small victory for me as I will not use 3 columns with the 920 or future 930 because there is no option to stretch a tile across the screen that has 3 columns.

A ton of other options were possible, the first being the unification of the UX with Windows, meaning a background picture with tiles on top and a colour pallet for the tiles/UI.

I think with a bit or creativity we can do a lot with this feature. First that I can think of is completely customizable colors for live tiles, possibly even creating gradients. I don't think a busy image will look good, but I think there's a possibility to do something cool and unique

Very new and different way to get your image on the home screen! Great thinking! What good would having a standard old school background image be anyway? The tiles would cover it...

I wasn't sure about the ability to change backgroud images on WP but now I am. This parallax view just made me want to try WP 8.1 ASAP!!!

Obviously it will work don't u consider 520 as windows 8 phone , has to make change in every device

I really like what I'm seeing so far. A different implementation of "Background image" just makes the WP that much more unique.

I bet it will be a resourse and battery hog and will make many of the tiles unreadable or hard to read.  Waste of time, code, and thus storage space.  And it looks really dumb with only some of the tiles transparent.

Yes yes yes this... Unless when the tile flips over its just like it was... How will Bing news app look next to this ?

Please come back when you have a clue what you're talking about. This is a very rudimentary texture mapping technique using the GPU that is practically free, and uses the exact same amount of resources as if you put the image behind the tiles instead of on the tiles. It's totally fine if you personally don't like it, but there's no need to piss in the pool for everyone else who does, since it's optional.

I initially hated the idea of putitng the start screen image on the tiles, just because it would seem cluttered with the Tile info, tile icon, and tile image.
But fter seeing that video... it looks pretty cool. I'm kinda "meh" about it, but I think better of it now.

Might look really cool if like a weather app could could use animation backgrounds whenever it updated the weather. Like if it's raining outside a weather app could make it look like it was raining outside the windows/tiles and a sunny day have sunray animations. They can really do alot more with the skinned tile concept. Think I'm sold, there is alot of potential to be creative with this.

Love it, they brought people what they wanted without compromising the UI language, in all honesty having a background is pointless (go ahead and argue the app list bit... yea.. that bit youll spend like maybe 3 minutes in a day?) theres also the uniqeness, it makes WP's UI stand out as a unique UI, which the mobile platform really seems to have a huge issue with today, hell, you could jailbreak and ios and make it look almost exactly like an android at first glance, and of course its insanely easy to make android look like ios, that imo is a clear issue, UIs are the heart of any device, and should be uniquely so for each.