Microsoft teases new Start Screen Innovation plans for Windows Phone in 2014

Windows Phone 8 came out last fall. October 29th to be exact. It came with some killer hardware between the Nokia Lumia 920 and HTC 8X. It also had a slew of handy new features within the OS itself. Its major change, something most consumers will never know or appreciate, was the change to the Windows NT kernel. The same kernel powering Windows 8. It’s been over 8 months since then, what does Microsoft have in store for Windows Phone going forward?

Microsoft’s Chief Operating Officer, B. Kevin Turner, took the stage at the Worldwide Partner Conference in Houston today. He revealed some interesting tidbits throughout his time on stage, but the one you’re going to be most stoked about pertains to a specific slide he showed. Speaking about the company as a whole, he stated that while fiscal year 2013 was big for Microsoft, 2014 will be even bigger. Quick side note, Microsoft’s fiscal year starts on July 1st. So we’re now in FY14 for them.

The slide he shared showed off little hints and teases for the plans for the majority of Microsoft’s services and products for FY14. Windows 8, Skype, Windows Phone, Surface and more have some big plans coming.

Windows Phone

  • Low Cost
  • Killer Hardware
  • Skype Experience
  • Start Screen Innovation
  • Common App Platform With Windows

While low cost and killer hardware are fairly ambiguous and slightly obvious, it’s the other three bullet points that are interesting. Microsoft owns Skype, so you’d expect to have the best mobile Skype experience with Windows Phone right? That hasn’t exactly been the case, but it looks like we might be closer to that OS integration we’ve all been wanting. On competing platforms like Android and iOS you have a new ability to send video messages through Skype. You can’t do that on Windows Phone yet, some folks on the interwebs think that could be a future native experience not requiring a separate Skype app for Windows Phone. Integration into the Windows Phone OS like Apple’s iMessage could be a killer feature as Skype becomes the de facto messaging system across Microsoft’s platforms and products.

Lumia 925

While the homepage on iOS has remained fundamentally the same since 2007, Microsoft might take a different approach with our Start screen on Windows Phone. Start Screen Innovation could suggest that Microsoft isn’t content staying complacent with the current (while still innovative) Start screen experience on Windows Phone. Windows Phone 8.1 could bring some fresh ideas to the live tiles we already know and love.

It was inevitable, Windows Phone and Windows have been on a collision path for quite some time. Consumers want larger phones and smaller tablets, but between Windows and Windows Phone what OS would power those devices that straddle the line between phone and mini tablet? It could be both. Windows Phone 8.1 looks to bring bridge the gap by introducing a common app platform with Windows. What this means could be open to many theories. Windows Phone apps could run on Windows without much work by developers or maybe we’ll have one unified store to rule them all like Android and iOS. What do you think Microsoft means by that?

We don't expect Windows Phone 'Blue' until early 2014. You should be getting the GDR2 update within the next month or so, followed by GDR3 later this fall. 

Bulletin point time. Below are some other interesting highlights you might care about. Products like the Surface, Xbox One, and Skype all complement owning a Windows Phone. Figured you might be interested in changes coming to them within the year.


  • Update to Surface RT
  • New Accessories
  • New Accessory colors
  • Update to Surface Pro


  • Large meetings
  • Skype on Xbox
  • Windows 8.1 and Windows Phone
  • Enterprise Void in Cloud
  • Cloud Calling
  • 365 Integration


  • Xbox One
  • Kinect for Xbox One
  • Hardware & Accessories
  • Entertainment Studios
  • 1st &3rd party games
  • Music Service Updates

Xbox One

For the Surface family of devices, an update to both the RT and Pro versions was obvious. But could Microsoft be doing more than just throwing in new processors for both variants? Remember how the Surface Pro has those connectors on the bottom? It’s possible we might see a battery dock of some sort.

What are you most stoked about above? Gives us your theories and thoughts on what some of these vague teases mean for the future of products you use on a daily bias.

Via: Reddit, Mary Jo Foley

Sam Sabri