New Windows Phone 8.1 video reveals Start screen backgrounds, parallax view

As we reported earlier, the leaks for Windows Phone 8.1 are coming in at a steady pace now. Following up on this morning’s video that showed off the new OS is one focusing on the new Start screen options.

Not much has happened with the Start screen since Windows Phone 8 was announced, but with 8.1 users will have at least two new features to help customize and personalize their phones: Start background and Show more Tiles.

As revealed in this admittedly poorly shot video, users can choose from a pre-selection of background images for their Start screens. Alternatively, users can select photos from their Facebook, OneDrive, or camera roll as well. Perhaps the neat thing is the parallax movement when the user scrolls, giving the Tiles a true “windows” feel to them, much like looking outside a window pane.

The other feature is of course ‘Show more Tiles’ though that is not detailed in this video. In essence, users will be able to toggle between two or three columns of Tiles, allowing users to fill more of the screens with their favorite apps. It’s not clear if there will be display size restrictions though we have heard of it being on the Lumia 630, which is thought to be 4.5 inches.

Much has been made of the background images for the Live Tiles, with some users preferring it to be truly in the background. We disagree. This approach that Microsoft is giving users is truly unique, innovative and when you use the right image, downright gorgeous. Besides selecting a photo, users will be able to use custom solid color wallpaper on the phone, giving them the ability to make their phone look how they want.

More will be revealed next week at Build, so stay tuned.

Source: Coolxap, YouKu; Thanks, alocom and kheang, for the tips


Reader comments

New Windows Phone 8.1 video reveals Start screen backgrounds, parallax view



Has kids corner been updated at all? I had to turn it off cause it still asked for my password when trying to open kids corner, and that kinda defeated the whole purpose for me. So now they don't ever touch my phone haha.

Kids corner needs a serious update where it should have its own lock (or unlocked) code separate from the main phone

He didn't ask for underpants, so presumably he was either already commando when he watched the video and his pants are messed, or the effect of the video was similar to two pounds of sugar free gummy bears and he overflowed his underpants and soiled his pants as well. Either way, pants are wrecked and commando is not a solution. I suggest a Scottish inspired, impromptu shirt kilt.

Or the replier is not American. In British English, "pants" usually means underpants, and "trousers" is the usual word for what we Americans usually call "pants"

Let me do the math.

Nokia Bios Blue - ready to go
WP 8.1 Update - release to carries this summer
AT&T will begin pushing the updates to newer phones by December and older headsets by 2015 at the earliest.


This is gonna be like experiencing WP for the first time all over again.. This update is the best update since WP7.0 was revealed❕

Exactly... Its like 7.0-7.5,, but with much more consumer usable features... This is a update based on the needs of the consumer, not just underlined system changes like 8.0 was.... Developers also get a lot more control this time around, and that's really important too.

hey did anyone notice that when the guy in the video hits the Home button at 0:22

it goes back to the previous page (not the Start screen!)


Is this the new behavior of the Home button?


Same here, I thought it looked terrible but the parallax effect makes it look much better. In the end I do think the choice of image will make a big difference though.

Parallax makes it work. The still shots we've seen previously made you wonder. Next week can't come soon enough. Hope the release is not delayed (looking at you V)

Oh, I'm sure that it'd be easy enough to pick a poor photo for the task and have it still look rubbish. Hopefully, for those without the good taste and restraint necessary to choose suitable images, they'll provide some images that'll play nicely with the theme. A nice rotation of images, a la the Bing homepage, would be a cool option. 

Great idea. Would be nice if this could use the Bing desktop image and have it change automatically like on the lock screen. I bet the transition between lock screen and home screen looks pretty cool when you use the same image for both of them

Agreed. I also want the option to turn off options and I would like no option to turn off options.


Posted via the WPC App for Android!

If they put in toggles for every option the settings menu would become a bigger mess than the android settings menu and would be just as hard to use. Not every little thing needs to be customized.

Yup parallax definitely made it much much better. I was strongly against this. I still wish we could change the background color instead of just having black or white. That in combination with this will be pure awesome.

That is home screen in the image is ugly as sin...against it will look better with a different background image.

The pinned tiles will also matter. If you have too many tiles for 3rd party apps that doesn't use transparent background, you're out of luck.

Yeah its trippy, translucant and cool. Like it. I can see it being a personal choice though, but hey, we all love options right.

You could still get a message on the first saying "You have been pranked" 

Or maybe they'll just tell you that your name isn't on the list. :P :P

No, I want this. Backgrounds behind the tiles is hands down the dumbest thing I have ever heard and I'm glad that's not happening.

I think I'd still prefer the look if you could categorize tiles like in Windows 8 and have a normal background.  Better organization and you'd see more of the background.

Phew... For a second I thought this guy was speaking for all of us and I was going to have to change my opinion to fall in line. Thanks, Daniel

I'll admit I wanted backgrounds behind the tiles, rather than a skin on them. But this...this I did not even think of. A parallax skin underneath basically transparent tiles! That's amazing.

I would worry that it might be a little distracting when trying to find the tile you want to open, but then you can just choose a less distracting (defocused, uniform color) photo to use for the parallax background.

I pointed out this idea about a million times, either here or on the forum, no on listened. If I was a millionaire everyone would have listened. Lol

The other option being a background image that is almost completely covered up by tile? You would only see a small sliver between tiles and a small square in areas where there is no tile. People want a lot of things until they actually get them and realize many of the things they wanted are just stupid. I guarantee you that Microsoft tried both option and many others and showed them to consumer research groups and this was the highest rated.

Actually with the larger 5 inch+, 3 column phones the tile placements are not as rigid as before, in short it's very easy on those phones to arrange your tiles to create empty/black space. In which case a background image would be highly visble and not "almost completely covered up" as you say.  I experiment with all kinds of tile layouts on my Icon, I could easily make a background image "behind" the the tiles look fantastic.

I think having an image behind the tiles would be too iOS6.  This option is more trailblazing.

I was hoping it would be more like the Windows 8.1 Start Screen backgrounds instead, but the parallax effect just adds something to it rather than being a static image.

That looks fifteen hundred twenty times better! And it fits more with Windows 8 which I thought Microsoft was trying to do. 

We just need to be able to change the color. It should effect the color of the app list too. Just black or white is boring. Of course background images would look dumb but background colors would be awesome.

Oh no Daniel, you don't get to bully us around here.

<In Ballmer's Voice>
henilp89 No, I want this. Backgrounds behind the tiles is hands down the dumbest thing I have ever heard and I'm glad that's not happening.
<In Ballmer's Voice>

How about this and a start screen pattern as options? I like the tile skins but more options never hurt anyone (much)... In my honest opinion, a good background pattern with parallex effect and maybe a bit of opacity would make an additional option. They could even prevent you from using both options together if it'd suck.

When people say background without the tiles, they almost always mean with transparent tiles. Not a background thats barely visible. 

The ONLY difference between that implementation and this one would be the black spaces between the tiles and above near the status bar would show wallpaper (the wallpaper would be continuous between the tiles and not broken as it is now). If anything that implementation will show MORE wallpaper than this with the exact same tile characteristics as this, not less as the broken implementation crowd seems to be twisting the concept towards.

No one wants a wallpaper behind the tiles WITHOUT transparency, thats a strawman. Everyone that wants a wallpaper but not this usually wants this:


and not this:



Well you know it's good to have options. You aren't the only wp user, there are million others who want start screen backgrounds. So yeah, options aren't a bad thing even if its dumb. I like the parallax effect but hate skinned tiles. Looks dumb to me :)

backgrounds.... you want a different color to the "borders' of your tiles lol, it's not like you will even see something if you put a image 

As Daniel and others have stated, that idea is stupid and only works if you have no tiles on ur start screen. If that's what you want, go android.

Also, that looks awesome.

Problem is 70+% of the users already go Android... If MS rather adds features they think they are cool than adding features that people actually want that number won't change.

I just really don't see this background in the foreground working. From looking at my start screen and other peoples screenshots, most people just don't have enough theme coloured tiles for this to work.

Don't include me in the "we want" please

I like that this is added, but personally I hate it, but accept that others will enjoy.

The borders around the tiles are roughly 10% of the screen. You wouldn't even be able to make out the background at all. Using that as a background is pretty much pointless.

Again, not necessarily so much if the background would seemlessly extend to the app list as well. Not saying I necessarily want it, just saying it could also be made to work fairly well.

Are people still wanting backgrounds! This waaaay more genuine, other platforms will start to cry when they see this, and they can't implement it as they don't have livetiles. WP8.1 super win!

I showed my phone to an iPhone friend and his comment was, "it looks too busy." As more apps offer transparent as a tile background (or whatever is needed) wp will be the slickest home screen anywhere.

If we still had start screen like in WP7 with blank area on right (Golden ratio), then your idea might have some weight. But as now tiles fill up whole screen, this is much better option.

You're kidding. That was the biggest waste of screen real-estate ever. Killing it off was the best thing MS did. And there is still no need for the arrow at the bottom of the home screen in WP8. We all know what to do.


Put a 2" strip of cardboard down the right edge of your TV and tell me it's more elegant to only have 7/8 of the screen available to you.


The only way I would care about background is if the tiles had transparency options. But even that would not be better than this. This is something completely different from the what's out.

We do want real backgrounds, but this is more than welcomed. Give us more options, that's all we want. Lol.. What about when you swipe to the left? Why can't there be a background over there to? It's flat out boring on that side and ya'll know this!

This is very crazy....man this will blow everyone who says windows phones are monotonous...its getting more and more exciting..

Windows Phone has the most personal and dynamic Start screen of ALL platforms and this feature will even make WP more personal and dynamic! Damn, MSFT did an amazing job on this 8.1 update and I can't wait to test it out on my Lumia 920

Anyone who says thats doesn' know what monotonous mean. Kinda like everyone pinning "minimalist" to WP.

It's hard to understate my disappointment that Microsoft didn't use WP 8.1 to bring WP to the same look that Windows 8 has. This? This is going to cause many people to have unreadable start screen icons due to the backgrounds they will choose. So silly.

Daniel, do you know if it automatically blurs the chosen picture or something? So that it looks easier for the eye?

Daniel has been using Windows Phone 8.1 since February so he has some experience with not only the start screen but with......wait for it......Cortana as well.


No, but in this case, I was taking an Apple-ish view of the situation. I wouldn't let the user mess it up. However, I can't/won't pass judgement until I get it in my own hands. That's the only real way to know how this ends up looking.

Ahh, there's your mistake right there, " I was taking an Apple-ish view of the situation".


It's high time people stop doing that... and by high time, I mean it never should have been done.

How about you wait and see it before you cast judgement down from the heavens?  If people can pick their own background, I don't see why you should care if they pick one that doesn't work great.  You won't be using the phone.

People like to make their phone their own, so not sure how anyone could construe this to be a negative.  If you don't like it, feel free to not use it.

My judgement is final! ;)

Nah, I'll wait and see. The only thing I tend not to like about the black background of the Start Screen is that it seems a little harsh to be black only. 

Like almost everything Microsoft, I'll come around to it eventually even if I get it and don't like it at first.

Wait until flood-gate opens with custom backgrounds...I am sure there are lots of creative people around here and would love to share their creative geniuses.

I love how you state that "this is going to cause many people to have unreadable start screen icons" because if that is the case they can CHOOSE a different picture. It allows choice and options.

Wow that looks cool i was worried as Daniel Said about backgrounds they dont make sense in metro, but this is cool

Using a solid color for the background still doesn't change your accent color anywhere else in the OS. I'd like a color picker rather than this sort of solution.

the smallest size of tiles is already quite small @ 4.3", dunno why you'd want to reduce it further...

To be fair you haven't. You said it may be 2nd April. Then said it may be delayed by a week. When people said, "so 9th?", you left them guessing :P

It would be nice if we could have the option to put a background BEHIND the tiles, I know it wouldn't be that visible but with a proper image it could look good. This paralax background looks awesome, I'm not complaining.

I love it but why nit both at the same time...put an image of a beautiful beach in the skinned background and then a beautiful wallpaper like background around the skin...so it actually looks like you are looking through a window with a beautiful view!

I love it! But why not have both at the same time...Then you put a background image of a beautiful beach inside the skinned tiles and then put a background of a beautiful wallpaper ( like the real patterned one that you would put on a wall) or paneling or even a bamboo wall...then it would actually look as if you were looking through a window...everytime you look at your phone you could daydream about your long overdue vacation that you would like to take but don't have either the time or money to make happen...then you would get lost in your phone without ever opening an app only to get wrestled back to reality when a call comes through with a jarring ring! This would be great!

As far as MS is concern, it is going to be available to all phones, currently running WP8.

Anyone else worried that it's going to take ages for third-parties especially but even Microsoft to update app tiles to take advantage of the background image? It's a shame currently when half the tiles are using your accent colour and the other half blatantly ignoring it e.g. Skydrive, Facebook, Twitter etc. I think this is still going to be a problem with 8.1 background images.