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Rumor: Microsoft looking to add more tiles to Windows Phone for even larger displays

We've already covered rumours of Microsoft looking to add 1080p support for Windows Phone later this year with the GDR3 update (this is all before the anticipated "Blue" update), but now the company may well be addressing the larger real estate issue that will occur with Live Tiles. Should you own a Samsung ATIV S, the three columns of tiles can appear to be rather limited at times, but Mary Jo Foley from ZDNet has learnt that the Windows Phone team is looking at a solution - to add more tiles. 

Think about an extra column for more customisations. Now, by columns we're talking about medium sized Live Tiles, which can be two in each row. With a third column, consumers would be able to have three on one row, or six small tiles (or even one large and medium tile, etc). It would make sense for Microsoft to include this alteration to the home screen in the same update that would add 1080p support. If the company is looking for manufacturers to produce "phablets" running its mobile operating system, it'll need to fiddle around with the restricted interface.

What's unsure is whether or not this update would also affect hardware with WXGA and 720p displays. Foley also lightly touched on core app updates that may also be bundled with the GDR3 release. It's looking more likely that this will open up room for five and six inch hardware to battle against Android devices that sport larger displays. It's believed Windows RT doesn't efficiently scale below eight inches, which would leave partnered OEMs to fill the gap between tablets and the current generation of Windows Phones.

Foley finally notes that we'll not be seeing tablets with phone cabalities or vice versa any time soon.

Source: ZDNet, via: Windows Phone Daily; thanks, Pete, for the tip!

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Reader comments

Rumor: Microsoft looking to add more tiles to Windows Phone for even larger displays

166 Comments

I just hope it to be optional or just for the big-sized screens. Because adding another column means the size of teh existing single tiles will get bigger. The tiles are big enough! 

Oxygen22 I think you meant it will make little tiles look even smaller and that's what is going to be, they shouldn't even make it optional but only for 5-6 inches. Just imagine 5 little tiles in a raw on Lumia 620, NO.

That was my concern. The extra column should only be for large devices and not 4.5" and under otherwise the tiles will become too small. I hope they don't make this a universal change like the universal volume settings, and other universal settings that should be customizable.

This only makes sense for non touch screen Windows 8 devices. Scrolling side to side with a mouse is painful. Get everything on one screen or grouping would help a lot. I've got a couple people at the office who bought new Win8 (non touchscreen) computers. Showed them my surface and it was like a light went on in their head. Its built for touch. Scrolling sucks.

Its not that bad, most mice today use scroll wheels and that simple or they have a touch strip which is equally convenient. Are you only using a PS -2 connecting mouse with only 2 buttons? =/

How about MicroSoft give us that option to choose and not tell us what we want.  If I want 5 little tiles in a row, why can I not have them?  I do not like being told what I cannot do.

I think back when WP was first made, MS may have had a little too much of a knee-jerk reaction to the success of Apple.  That company has made billions by telling consumers what they can or cant do.  MS should't be Apple.  So I agree, give the options.  But put them deep down in the settings so that people don't complain about having too many options.  So its there for enthusiasts but out of the way for average users.

Don't get your hopes up. This will most likely not be optional; rather, it will only come on certain new and especially large devices.

Windows Phone has virtually limitless rows. Start screen columns are limited depending on tile size.

4-small tiles, 2-medium tiles, 1-large tile per row.

I personally don't like monster screens. For me 4.3 is perfect. But it would be good to have huge screen for windows phone.

As I understand it, this would more likely help scale up the Windows Phone OS for smaller tablets, although I can see the market for 1080p Windows Phone devices growing.

Well they might be shitty looking but they do have a fair amount of market share and Microsoft wouldn't want to miss that segment.

Exactly, I dont want more. Im not that fond of the startscreen on Windows 8, WP8 is usefull, Windows 8.. not so much.
Maybe they should focus on notifications instead.

Well, in the old days of 7.5, we only had 2 columns and 1 tile size, and we burned the same wood all winter, and when we would look in the flour barrel the rats would have tears in their eyes but did we complain? NO! In fact, we LIKED IT!

Lumia 920 has the ideal screen size, any bigger and you'll struggle to reach the corners. Btw, I think the current small live tile size is ideal. If they reduce it any further, that might induce difficulty in tapping the correct tile, probably more enhanced while using your thumb.

Have you seen the Droid DNA? It feels smaller than the lumia and just as easy to get your thumb to all points on the screen.

This is good, as it would look quite stupid to have only a couple of huge tiles next to each other, on a 6" screen.

Unification begins with you...become one with yourself and soon others will follow. Oh, you meant for Windows Phone notifications..? Sorry. =[

Oh no, not you Mr. Enxuto, I understood you completely. It was Mr. MediaCastleX who was being irreverent. I was merely trying to show him the path to enlightenment.

Still windows phone doesn't have proper notifications. . . . .
But they are going to............

No, he means that that he wants something that's reasonable and that you either don't understand or don't want him to have.
The Microsoft Push Notification Service (MPNS) used by Windows Phone provides three types of notifications: tiles, toasts, and raw (which we'll ignore for now).
Tile notifications update tiles, makin them "live." Live Tiles are effectively small windows where app information can be conveyed before an app is opened. Typically, this is status information like current weather, number of new messages, etc. It represents a continuing state.
Toast notifications cause a small two-line text notice to popup at the top of the screen. The notice disappears after a few seconds. If you tap it before it disappears, the app that it's for launches and, if the developer was thoughtful, goes to the correct page of the app to show you the details that the toast text hinted at.
 
If the users doesn't notice a toast before it disappears, it is gone forever. The people asking for a toast want a history of these toasts, just as the phone provides a history of missed phone calls, missed texts, or missed emails. Indeed, virtually every channel of communications that the phone has provides a chronological listing of what has come through that channel, except toasts.
Now, can those of us who want a missed toast log have it or is this type of communication one that you don't think users should have? If so, are you willing to make email, texts, and everything else logless so that they become synchronous forms of communication?
P.S. I apologize for the tone, but I'm tired of being told that I already have what I want when I clearly do not or that I have should not want this. I also don't like being lumped in Android fanboys, which I most certainly am not since I think that Android is a visual and programatic mess that Google is just starting to get sorted out.

+1 all that is needed is something/somewhere to aggregate notifications so we don't have to do an Easter egg hunt for them when we hear the notification sounds but can't reach them in time.

I don't think you had any tone...that sounded like a well explained and thought out argument for what is actually being asked. Although, if you really think about it what is actually needed is better memory and storage management for background tasks so that more apps and tiles can work in the background for the live tile information to remain current and active. The toasts that go away sometimes can only refer to apps that have tiles on the start screen and if the management works properly, you should still see the relevant information unless there has been more than one on the same app. What you guys want is not unreasonable but sometimes it's as if it is just something that the other OS made you rely on...again, the true argument is user choice and it IS something you want. Rail away...it might happen someday ;)

Thanks (for letting me know that I'm not too wound up today).
 
For what it's worth, this issue is not really connected to multitasking or memory/storage management and isn't related to pinned app tiles. That is, while both tile updates and toasts can come from the thing called "background tasks" in Settings (but properly called "periodic tasks" in the software development kit), they can also come from outside of the phone via the MPNS and there's no requirement that apps be pinned to get either. (Yes, it's weird, but non-pinned apps can get tile updates. When the phone gets them, it just holds them in case the app is subsequently pinned, whereupon the held tile is what's shown.)
 
I'll give you a good example of toasts without tiles and why someone might want a toast log. Our main app, DrexelOne Mobile, provides lots of info for our students and faculty, but it's totally reasonable that students wouldn't need to pin it to Start. That said, a student might want to turn on push notifications, particularly during finals week because our servers* check for new grades being posted and notifiy users.This means that within a minute of a faculty member posting a student's final grade, the phone could get a toast. Tapping that toast loads the app and jumps to the grades+gpa page. If the student don't see it in those few seconds, the fact that a piece of very wanted information is available is lost and the student is effectively left to manually check grades repeatedly. (Our most active serial-checker was a guy who checked his grades 208 times one day last semester.)
 
Those people still trying to argue that the tile is the sole place for this kind of information are denying users a form of notification that can lead right to the appropriate part of the app. (Maybe some apps are single-purpose, but ours is loaded with functionality.) You might say that the tile could show a count of app alerts...and we could do that, but that would require users to pin our app, an app that may have infrequent use for some and you're making the developers create an "alert log" inside the app so that we tell them what "2" on the tile means. Actually, you're making every developer create in internal app "alert log" instead of moving this shared need out of 100,000 app and into the OS, where it can be developed and maintained just one time.
 
Frankly, despite all of the time spent coming up with designs to the left of the tiles or to the right of the task switching cards, the way that is most consistent with the rest of the OS is to have an app that shows a history of toasts just as we have apps to show histories of emails, texts, and phone calls. Those who want quick access to such a log it can pin the app to Start; its tile would show a count of how many new toasts have come in since the log was last viewed, just like email, texts, and call history. Tapping the Windows key, glancing to see no new alerts, and then pressing Back to resume is far faster than long-press Back then swipe left to glance followed by Back to resume or pressing Windows then swipe right, glance, then Back to resume. A pinned tile for a "toast log" also treats toasts just like every other channel for information.
 
* Yes, we could have written a periodic task to check for grades, but then we'd have thousands of phones banging on our systems all day, creating unecessary load on our servers and wasting the user's battery and data plan. Instead, since the server already knows when new grades are posted, it just calls a function to notify interested students via the Apple, Google, and Microsoft push services. Instant gratification (assuming that the grade is good!) in an efficient and economical way.

Quite a number of things I have just learned from you, about the non-pinned app notifications and that you were a developer! Kudos to you and thanks for the info, btw wonderful work. =D

The only problem with having a separate app for toasts to accumulate in is that a couple of apps that I use a lot are still living in pre-mango state with no fast resume and don't even return to the same screen when you tab back to them. This makes it very annoying having to leave the app at all to check notifications.
 
The best solution for me would be to have a 'charms bar' type thing copied from windows 8, but instead of coming from the right side of screen it would come from the top. The charms bar could have wifi, gps and app specific volume settings on it. When activated the rest of the screen not taken up by the bar itself would be used for notifications.
 
I know everyone has their own preference for a notification centre, and certain designs better suit certain people. In an ideal world where multitasking was perfect i would happily use a design requiring me to leave the app, but I don't think we're quite there yet.

Well after that explanation I can humbly retract my statement. My expereince with the OS has not given me any reason to want a notification center but how you explain things it sounds like there is room for improvement for all parties involved.

Cool. The sad part is that very few apps use toasts and fewer still use MPNS to push them (as opposed to creating them from periodic/background tasks). Developers skimp on doing real push because of the effort of writing a server-side component, the cost of hosting it somewhere, and that the service is essentially unreliable because of the need to create a fall-back mechanism so that users can get the information even if they miss the toast. So, we end up in a viscious circle where the service isn't good so it isn't used and that ensures no priority for fixing the situation. Still, there's hope for updates...

Mr. Manicotti, Nigel Caruthers here, self serving moderator for WPC news comments section. Perhaps you are unaware that there is a 10,000 word minimumm that must be met before your comment can be deemed "AFP" (acceptable for posting). Since you are obviously unaware of this and because your two posts combined are only 10 words shy of meeting this requirement our panel of esteemed judges have decided to let this one slide. Unofficially I should like to say that your submissions were quite informative and easily comprehendible. If for a moment I may descend from my lofty heights of intelligencia (not a real word) to offer up a rousing "YOU DA MANicotti". Really, they were good. I almost skipped over them because they took about 3 thumb swipes to get from top to bottom and I overcame my initial reaction of "Holy crap, another long winded air bag with an axe to grind". Unlike me whose posts bring infinite value to the discussion. Looking forward to reading more from you. (correction: 5 thumb swipes. Gotta be a record)

Thanks. Now if only I could get Microsoft to agree with me...
(I try to keep my posts as filled with fact as my manicotti are with cheese! :)
 

Reading your dissertation made me want to learn how to write WinP 8 applications. I have dabbled in a few dead computer languages at one time or another and it was always an enjoyable experience. Is your company's name; DrexelOne? I'd like to peruse your catalog. Yours was a post worth reading more than once.

Dissertation is probably the right word for what I wrote given that the "company" is actually a university, specifically Drexel University in Philadelphia. The app is DrexelOne. It's a mobile app companion to our web-based portal for students, faculty, and staff. The have apps out for Android, Blackberry, iOS, and Windows Phone. (We used to do webOS, too, but dropped it when HP did.)  We've designed each of them to be full native apps that look like first-party apps on each platform; they all leverage the same back-end integration layer that access data from about a dozen other systems.
 
We don't have many apps, just this one and a U.S. Constitution app that was done for the start of classes in 2011.

That's silly! You expect me to just see what you see when you say something like that...What do you mean exactly, how would that work and why? I truly am curious because I'm pretty sure another way to customize your start screen would be a good start...at least. Start, right? Ah, its too much... =P

Mr. MediaCastleX, we meet again. I am just as curious as you to comprehend the exact meaning of vertical tiles. My Windows Phone tiles are arranged in a grid of horizontal rows and vertical coulumns. My tiles go up and they go down - vertically. They don't go sideways or - horizontally. Many app pages flip horizontally. The home screen moves horizontally. The apps you see on the app page flip vertically. Now, Mr. ThePestilence, PLEASE AMPLIFY YOUR CONCEPT. It might be so good that I could steal your idea and make a fortune.

I got what you mean. For the others, imagine a wide tile that spans the width of the screen. Now rotate that tile 90°. You now have a vertical tile.

There are phablets coming to WP. GDR3 is rumoured to have 1080p and 5 inch and higher screen size support. And the update is coming late this year so there will probably be new hardware by then and new hardware for the blue update for wp8 

When GDR3 is available, but that doesn't mean there will be any capable devices.. Like how multi core devices are supported now, but we have no quad core phones yet.

Notification center coming soon? Even with live tiles and trying to get apps to simply stay running in the background is a big hassle..

That's not enough to make WP8 actually usefull on 5"+ phones. They need to add inking support and true multitasking for at least 2 apps running at the same time, much like it is done on W8.

I think no I feel that any improvements to the OS be that in screen resolution of more tiles is a welcome. And yes larger displays for people who like them.

I can see more tiles for bigger screens. Tiles looked huge going from my trophy to the 8x. Can just imagine what it would look like on bigger screens.

I'm excited about the extra rows. Just so that everyone that's feeling like apple is better. Just remember 1995 when Microsoft bailed apple out so that they wouldn't go bankrupt. And that back in the 90's Microsoft already had the technology and know how of todays AP based technology. But luckily the government had to step in and mess it all up. Think about what we would have today if that never happened. Just saying.

You mean the US government. If Microsoft had relocated its operations into Singapore or Hong Kong they would be a superpower by now.

Why to protect the little people like you and I, of course! So that google can continue to run roughshod over the lot of us today unmolested... =)

Hey, watch it pal. That's Mister Ass Holes to you. What are you, some kind of Irish Man? Didn't the New Nited States whip up on y'all back at Thermopylae?

Ok, ok, joke here except you have to be Irish to understand or, you have studied a wee bit of the history of the Irish.

Saint Patrick is known to all, uh, some Americans as the man that drove all of the pesky snakes out of Ireland. A very important moment in Irish history and he is honored every year on the same day with a celebration that bears his namesake. Yes, yes, that's right, it's Saint Patrick's day. Now, what the Irish don't know, but America is now beginning to suspect is that after all of those snakes were driven from the shores of the Emerald Aisle, they all swam to America, put on suits and became politicians! That's why America get's completely sh*t faced on this day each year as a way of trying drink away our sorrow. If I should ever get to visit Ireland, I'm putting a snake in my suitcase. Better make it 2. How can you tell the gender of a snake? Ok, still have things to work out.

Most people commenting here don't get it!
Its not coming to your device because its for 1080p devices only. This means that the small tiles wont be too small.

Major problems like the tech-journalism industry that don't get it or even the investors who don't know what they're talking about or people who complain alot? I don't think you want to see that happen... =[
Jk, I tend to have an over-active imagination...just imagine if Ballmer snapped and went after the people who are constantly calling for his resignation? A true horror film that would make...this all sounds left-field, is it? =P

Why are you talking about people? I just meant major problems with the OS, like the other problem. They aren't solving that but they are already talking about new functions...

Yes, yes it is Mr. MediaCastleX. Completely left field. Besides, any reader who is not familiar with the great game of Baseball have no idea what "coming from left field" means. Never mind that you completly blew Mr. Sunday's mind with your hallucinogenic induced comment. He'll get over it. Besides all of that, you need to stay the hell out of left field. It's damned crowded out here as it is.

Yeah I'm not a native English speaker so I really don't know what you're talking about. I was just talking about the OS and you guys start talking about baseball and stuff. I really don't know what your meaning haha.

That actually doesn't look too bad. I think this is a good move on MS's part. That way developers won't have to deal with yet another tile resolution.

That doesn't look as bad as I thought it would be.  On a tablet of course.  Phones with 5" and below screens should keep the current WP8 layout.  Wonder what landscape would look like.

Yes your math is correct but the 3-to-2 only really works with full screen apps or gui's since there is a larger edge space to left and right of the tiles than between the tiles so with this fact MS will use the slightly higher resolution tiles of 768. Not sure on the size of the outer edge space but I believe it may allow the 768 tiles to be expanded, that's assuming the 768 tiles are larger then 720 tiles.

This article says that RT doesn't scale well below 8 inches, the other day we had an article that the next wave of surface tablets will include a 7 inch, so how is that going to be.

RT doesn't scale below 8 inch .. MS is bringing an update which would enable RT to work at even smaller screens
So there could be 6-7 inch phones working on Windows RT

Good. There's a huge need for 4.7, 5.0 and 5.5 sized 1080p screens for WP, especially here in the states if the want to keep up with Android.

You mean Samsung...aren't they the ONLY ones that make those? They really got a lot of nerve to slam Windows the way they do =/

See OEM like Nokia and maybe Samsung (not really) have updated their devices...HTC *could* be great but they just throw things out there without a care in the world and DEFINITELY no support for their customers. Dubious... =/

I hear you but if you compare Samsung and HTC I take HTC anytime because the quality is way better than the plastic Samsung. I have an HTC Radar and that's one solid phone and I used to have Galaxy Vibrant Android and that's really a work of crap.

Look  no further than the Huawei Ascend Mate the 6.1" behemoth with the huge  4,050mAh battery. and 1280 X 720 display
It's been pretty much confirmed that Huawei is going to release it once the 1080P issues are out of the way. 
>>the company's product manager has told CNET that Huawei has another Windows Phone 8 product in the pipeline, adding that this upcoming model will be comparable to the 6.1-inch Ascend Mate<<
 
 

How about MS adding both portrait and landscape mode on the home and app screen with option of locking. Hate having to twist and turn the phone around!

Amazing, wonder for how many more major updates, the additional tile sizes will be main feature? So many things to fix that they choose to ignore and add 'more tiles' instead.

You really have those blinders on huh? Don't really have room but for one piece of information at a time? Get a Windows Phone and stay connected! =D

Are we heading back to the days of the purse phone with shoulder strap? I guess that would be "European hand bag phone" for men.

Oddly enough I remember the days of the race to the smallest phone, and I remember one that was only like 2 inches tall and and inch wide...wth happened lol

I like the idea but for displays 5" and above. Windows Phone is really good at scaling. The OS looks perfect on a 3.8" as well as a 4.8" devices due to its "flat" design.

More tiles?? Are you F#$ken serious? Why not beautify the damn think with background images instead of cluttering it with more lame tiles? Jesus Christ!!!!!
So no third scree for notifications, no custom home screen back ground option, no file explorer, no custom MMS\SMS tones.... WOW!
Keep up the good work Microsoft you'll get to 4th place in not time.

A background image would just crowd the simple aesthetics...do you know how to relax? Perhaps you should buy a Zen garden, get out of the city, take a cruise, get stranded and possible capsize and find yourself on an exotic island away from civilization...learn what it truly means to be yourself and a human being. =)

Are you trying to repress him? I think you are...uh...there see that? That's what I'm on about. You're repressing him! See the violence inherent in the system! He's being repressed! Did some watery tart lob a scimitar at you and suddenly you've become Arthur, King of the Windows Central? I should think not!

Well tile sizes, are old news, they have to create something interesting, shit iPhone 5 available to tmo...lol

"Should you own a Samsung ATIV S, the three columns of tiles can appear to be rather limited at times,..."
 
 
Whut? Since when does the ATIV have [3] columns of tiles, and why would that be limiting? Color me riddled.

 
Finally! I love the idea to have ability to choose from variety of more screen sizes. People with bad vision (like me) would enjoy using bigger phones. I envy to Note 2 owners. But only for the screen size :)
 Focus -> Titan -> L900 -> L920. Titan screen size worked best for me. My soon is using Titan II and doesn't want to switch to L920 due to smaller screen.

I'm not smart enough to understand this resolution stuff, j guess. Why wouldn't it still look just like my screen (2 medium-sized tiles) but just sharper?

Go on your desktop and experiment with those resolutions, the effects can be quite enlightening. I play with settings all the time just to see what happens...things are normal, they stretch, they squeeze and everything in between! =P

I would rather they just make the larger screens and design it to resemble the WP7 with the interesting offset tiles with the space on the right. Why people had a problem with that is beyond me, the esthetics were rather pleasing...sometimes I try to emulate the experience on my Lumia 810 with mixed results =/

The 920 is already too big for my taste. So anything larger is a no no for me. And I sure don't want another column of tiles on my current phones since I don't want the small tiles to get any smaller.
Again, Microsoft is concerned with stupid things while more important features are still missing on the OS.

I havent used xbox music, but I cant see how the music app in W8 sucks. It sure could use a few improvements but its amongst the ones I like irrespective of OS.

They need to work on the syncing and fixing all the errors and add a artist button so I don't have to press the back button all the time.

I just want more customization, background picture and double wide and double narrow small tiles. Androids wp skin looks better than WP itself.

So close. The 6" form factor is ideal. 6" high x 3.3" wide. Make it an Atom processor and lets enter the age of the pocket PC. Smart Phones are so 2012. A stupid fad. Convergence!

That sounds horrible. I really hope they dont do that. Even for a bigger 5"+ screen. If they do,  you should definitely have the option to switch between 2 or 3 columns.

You hard core fanboys are so brain washed, adding an extra row of tiles isn't innovative.  So you mean to tell me that you guys would actually want a bigger screen just to cram it with more tiles? So in two years from now Windows phone still has the same old boring UI with the same old two boring screens you would stll buy a WP, that is if it still exsists.
If so, I for one will leave the platform after supporting Windows Mobile since it first came up up until now with WP8.

I'm going to hope against the extra column and hope for a new tile size if anything at all: a double-wide-quarter-height (ticker tape).

"Should you own a Samsung ATIV S, the three columns of tiles can appear to be rather limited at times"
this is wrong. It is "two columns" if you are talking mid sized, or "four columns" if it is about small size.

My wife and I both have Lumia 920s.  They are truly great phones.
However, when our contracts are up in 1.5 years I would be someone in the market for something along the lines of a 6" phone, while my wife would like a much smaller 3.5" phone.  She is using her phone as a glorified phone that takes great pictures, while I have managed to completely replace my laptop with mine so that I have one less device in my life to deal with. 2 very different use models that require 2 very different screen sizes.  One size does not fit all.
It is good to see that moving forward there will be more variety to choose from so that I can have what is essentially a tablet that makes phone calls, while my wife will be able to have a more compact phone that can take decent pictures.  But even today we have seen the release of the 520, 620, and 720, but none of them are available in the US.  On the WP front there is the 920, 820/822/810, Odyssey, and 8X, and that is it.  None of these are small devices, and none of them are exactly 'cheap' if you need your phone replaced outside of contract for whatever reason.   Readily available the smallest windows phone 8 device available is the Attiv Odyssey with a 4" display, and the biggest one is the Lumia 920 with a 4.5" display, which does not exactly leave a lot of room for varieity.  Companies may manufacture phones with more variety, but until they are available, nobody is going to buy one.