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Windows Phone 8.1 screenshot leaked, showing on-screen capacitive buttons

The Twitter account @evleaks, which has proved to be a reliable source in the past, has today tweeted am alleged leaked screenshot of Windows Phone 8.1 "Blue." This screenshot shows virtual, on-screen capacitive buttons with the familiar back, Windows and search setup. Just like Android, you're looking at a black bar at the bottom of the screen with all three buttons present.

Rum: 8

This potential move by Microsoft would enable manufacturing partners to decide on whether or not they wish to include capacitive buttons on Windows Phone hardware. Utilising an on-screen alternative setup would bring down the cost of production even further, offering more savings to the consumer. 

Evleaks WP8.1 Tweet

As well as cost-savings, the change would also make it easier for Android OEMs to load both Windows Phone and Android on the same hardware without having to build two separate models (ATIV S and Galaxy being a good example). Manufacturers would then have less reasons not to work with Windows Phone, especially if Microsoft also slashes licensing.

Source: Twitter (@evleaks); thanks to everyone who tipped us!

Rich Edmonds
Senior Editor, PC Build

Rich Edmonds is Senior Editor of PC hardware at Windows Central, covering everything related to PC components and NAS. He's been involved in technology for more than a decade and knows a thing or two about the magic inside a PC chassis. You can follow him over on Twitter at @RichEdmonds.

229 Comments
  • Ya read it on wm power user a few hours ago and does tat mean wp8.1 is comming soon?
  • Mostly at build 2014 (April 2-4). I hope they release the update to the app studio users just like they did with update 3. Otherwise we will be wiating for another year.
  • yah... me too... and I do like how I can easily distinguish the phone's OS by just looking into it even the screen is turned off... i know that its a windows phone if it has those 3 front buttons with the windows flag on the middle..   and with this news...(if it will make it to the final build)... I CAN'T IF THE SCREEN IS TURNED OFF... ALL WINDOWS PHONES NOW WILL BE MORE THE SAME WITH ANDROID...
  • Windows phones still have the dedicated camera button on the side. Android does not have that.
  • some android phones have it too....
  • I seem to recall a low-end WP released without a camera button. Anyone remember which phone? I think it was for an Asian country.
  • Yes but on screen buttons are cheaper. It's a good thing.
  • This seems related to the rumors that Microsoft is trying to get Android OEMs to release dual boot devices. I guess they feel once users try WP they would prefer it and having a dual boot phone means you could still access apps that aren't available. Even if OEMs decide against dual booting, making it easier for them to release the same hardware with just a different software will help get more WP devices out there (just ship with different software, worst case you take back the unsold inventory, flash them, and sell as Androids).
  • Hmm... maybe they can include Hyper-V with WP8.1 and then we can run virtualized Android apps. #dreaming
  • I'm against the dual boot and/or virtual machine (ala Hyper-V to run Android) philosophy. Since it will doubled the storage used for both OS and makes developer less needing on porting their apps to WP. If we look back then on the era OS2 vs DOS. OS2 is a great OS with surprisingly have 99% compatibility for DOS apps. OS2 sells like a hotcakes, but OS2 apps existence is crippled since devs chose to develop for DOS instead since it can run at both OS. I'm inclined to your second opinion that OEM can release two version of devices with exact hardware and different OS.
  • It will look ugly with onscreen buttons
  • It is optional. Some manufacturers will keep capacitive buttons. Nokia will definitely have models with, and some without ;)
  • What? Did I miss something, like Nokia buying MS? I thought it was the other way around :p
  • You were right about the other way. The deal is yet to be done in the next year so meanwhile, Nokia is still Nokia... :)
  • You also thought wrongly. MS isn't buying Nokia. Just the people and buildings that were their D&S division. ;P
  • No need to split hairs ... from consumer point of view Microsoft is buying what Nokia had always been known for .. phones. Microsoft is buying Nokia.  But you are correct, Nokia keeps their name, other business segments and certain patents.
  • Nokia hasn't always been known for phones and regardless of what you think, stating that Microsoft is buying Nokia is a lie. There is no splitting hairs, you are either telling the truth or you are not. Don't spread misinformation because of your own personal opinion. Fact is, Microsoft is not buying Nokia and facts are truer than opinions.
  • Calm down. If you remember correctly this started because someone said "Nokia will have models with...". No. Nokia wont, because Nokia wont be making phones. Microsoft bought Nokias device devision. And mate, hate to break it to you but the average punter only knows Nokia for phones. Untwist your panties.
  • Thank you for your colorful comment. The fact remains that Microsoft is not buying Nokia. Your opinion, nor mine, nor the people that you classify as average punters' opinion can change the facts. I'd rather people know the truth than to be given false information. True or False: Is Microsoft buying Nokia? False
    Is Microsoft buying Nokia's Devices and Services Division? True See how easy that was? Why would I go around lying and stating that Microsoft is buying Nokia when they are clearly, factually, currently are not buying Nokia. If people don't like the word lie, then stop lying. If a person honestly thought Microsoft was buying Nokia, then maybe they didn't know the truth. Well now they know and knowing is half the battle. The other half is to act responsibly with what we know. I choose to act responsibly with the knowledge that I have and if anyone knowingly continues to misinform people, shame on them.
  • Oh pls, get off the lectern, no one needs a lecture, he clearly stated it was the device division twice !
  • You think what I wrote is a lecture? If you reread what I wrote above, my comment was clearly directed to anyone that continues to spread misinformation and not just to whomever this "he" is that you are referring to. Plus, if you clearly understood the reason why DJCBS wrote what he wrote then you would understand that I am clearly only talking about people who are falsly saying Microsoft is buying Nokia and if this "he" that you are referring to is actually stating the facts, devices and serviced, then that would mean that I am not directly adressing him as he would not be one of those people.
  • Yawn....
  • There not buying the people thats their choice 
  • I don't know why Nokia would have phones without. I think the cost savings is they can use the same android phone for Windows Phone. Or is the capacitive buttons really that expensive to make?
  • Agree
  • You're only thinking about the cost of those three capacitive buttons, which is completely irrelevant. The bill of materials for a $750 smarthphone costs about $120, so the hardware is NEVER the source of the costs. What you are paying for when you buy a smartphone is NOT primarily the materials, but rather hardware engineering, software development, marketing and assembly/manufacturing capacity. The last issue is what we're talking about, when people mention the costs related to the three capacitive buttons... Assume that it takes about one minute to fit the three capacitive buttons into the case and test that they function correctly. Even if your're only expecting to produce a million devices, then just that single assembly step already requires two years of manufacturing time. That is obviously unnaceptable, so you must scale the manufacturing infrastructure and completely automate QA... considering that a million devices isn't even a tenth of the volume OEMs expect to sell per year, then you can imagine that scaling manufacturing just to accomodate those three measly buttons costs real money... omitting the three hardware buttons means you can skip that entire assembly step... that's where the savings are.
  • Not ugly, but I don't care much for Androids onscreen buttons, so im not a fan of this evolution of WP.
  • "Evolution" suggests the move isn't optional for the manufacturers. Thing is, when to dial a number on a mobile phone switched generally from you pushing a few physical buttons to touching the screen...a lot of people, self included, reacted in the same way. Now it's weird to use a phone with number keys. We get used to things.
  • but its bad for gaming, already capacitive buttons are problem onscreen will further amplify it  
  • in Android 4.4 , Google has already relesead the APIs for the "Immersive mode".So developers can configure games and apps to run in full screen, with the navigation buttons only showing if you pull from the bar (Youtube already had this mode since some time ago).Problem solved! If MS is smart and puts virtual nav buttons on their devices, they might as well do this kind of trick.
  • Screens that have onscreen buttons will just be taller, so they end up in the same place as they already are. The capacitive buttons already use the same digitiser as the screen, so almost nothing will change from the point of view of how they're interacted with.
  • Nope, we still don't have screens taller than 16:9 in phones, so it will definitely take up screen real estate and be further away from the bottom of the phone than normal.
  • Why is adding more pixels (not available to the OS and app) not possible? MS couldn't change the available resolution because it would create fragmentation among all the apps.
  • Because you'd need to create different standards in the manufacturing process to create screens with custom aspect ratio. Now what would be more probable, OEMs increasing manufacturing costs and Microsoft having to code in new resolution into the OS itself, or for microsoft to ask the developers to change the design of their app to give space for the new on-screen buttons?
  • No new software resolution is required, in fact a new resolution is required in your second option, not in your first. And considering that they would be creating fragmentation for 150k apps in one fell swoop -- I think the former is more logical.
  • You really think they'd try to increase manufacturing cost and create a non-standard screen resolution just to support 3rd party devs? Kinda destroys the savings you'd get from not using hardware capacitive button in the first place, doesn't it?
    Fragmentation to 150k apps? You mean like when they introduced 1080p support? I dont see that creating problems for the apps that are already in the store. Just like GDR3, this would most probably come earlier to developers so that they can optimize their app for the change, so it shouldn't cause too much trouble. Not as much of a hassle as having to change both software and hardware to accomodate the change, at least.
  • 1080p caused exactly zero fragmentation. I'm not sure where you're getting your facts from, but they're wrong.
  • How will this change anything? They will be in exactly the same place and work exactly the same way.
  • Yes it'll
  • Well,  at least I  heard that it will be left up the OEM wether to include this feature or not
  • Maybe, but it would definitely bring down the price of the next 500 series phone, which would help WP a lot. So ugly or not, still a good move. :D
  • I like physical buttons. If I accidently hit search one more time...
  • I KNOW RIGHT!!!
  • They absolutely need to change the way capacitive buttons work..at least an option to disable them...kids corner sucks if kids accidentally hit capacitive button..which is all the time.
  • Very true kids corner is a pain in the ass, and I know its (kids) corner but why restrict volume level it sucks soo much.
  • My "kids corner" is called "Music Room" where I keep all my music apps. Unfortunately the volume only goes to 50% which absolutely SUCKS!
  • Really... Just a simple setting to control that would be great for people without kids
  • Because kids could blast the sound to loud... It is for KIDS
  • True but still a stupid restriction at least give an option where we still have control of sound.
  • Either physical buttons or the virtual would work for me. I often show someone a picture or a website on my 920 and they almost always hit the search. I would like it if the search would disappear in this mode.
  • I would enjoy being able to have an option to double click the buttons or have to press for it for more than a split second. The search button is clicked by mistake a dozen times a day.
  • That's a good idea.
  • +925
  • I know it happens to me at least once per day, heh.
  • That was one of the great things about my 710. Honestly its not to much of an issue with my 1520 they seem to be in a good place away from the edge.
  • No, it'll look just the same, except the buttons can disappear at times like watching video.
  • I'm still not sure how well that would work, how to call the buttons if you want to quit sooner than the video is over? I feel like it just complicates things a bit much, but then everyone does so enjoy the complexity that Android brings! (sarcasm) =/
  • Why not make the bar work like the charms do in Windows 8? If I don't need them, then they stay out of the way. If I do, then I call them up with a swipe from the bottom.
  • Likely this, or it does a nexus style solution with the buttons being almost but not completely hidden.
  • Like this idea VERY much
  • +1. Bottom swipe for 'charms', top swipe for open apps screen.
  • Very true! Well said
  • Much improve
    Such money saving
    Very mixed reactions from users
    Wow
  • Hahah, you've just wrote sorta haiku! =D
  • Doge meme :P
  • Well, I will never buy a WP with on-screen buttons. So it will be the end on an era as far as I'm concerned, and I have 5 lines with all but one running WP.
    But I know I can rely on Samsung to NOT joint this foolishness.
  • Samsung is probably one of the companies pushing for on-screen buttons, hence the example of the Ativ S and the Galaxy S3.
  • I don't believe so, look at the S3, S4 or the Note 3. They all use off screen buttons.
  • A lot improve
    More sell devices
    Money less
    Features more
    Such dodge
  • http://www.carpages.ca/blog/wp-content/uploads/2011/01/dodge-logo.jpg
  • Much funny
    Such reaction
    WOW
  • And we've been invaded by doge. I am okay with this.
  • that's my line!
  • Sorry xandros9, you're always a little too late.
  • Microsoft is going to eat android
  • Yeah, sure it will. Like the Linux community saying it will eat Windows.
  • If ms would start doing something what Google is doing with the YouTube(for example making doc files working only on Windows, blocking Google's sites from every Windows os, and stuffs like these) wp would eat Every other platforms. (sorry for my crappy english^^)
  • Linux is just a piece of $hit ... even the chrome OS or the MacOS is much better than this crap.
  • You are a fool. Linux is everywhere. And ChromeOS is Linux you dope.
  • True, chrome is a cloud based Linux or a crappy high priced version of it and I say high priced cause its unusable offline so it should cost no more then chrome cast cause its unusable outside.
  • oh what a shame....i made a mistake, you can kill me now fool.
  • Dumbass spotted.
  • Windows v Linux
    Less brain use=better ???
  • Yes. That's what computers are for?
  • ChomeOS is Linux. Nice.
  • In mobile, Linux is winning.
  • Yeah and in mobile, you can do 100% of the things you can do on a computer. For playing around mobile is fun. For actually creating blue prints and designing car, buildings, ships, and telescopes you can't use your precious 8 core android phone.
  • Well technically they have in mobile since Android comes from Linux, right? I do apologize though, Linux hasn't done anything spectacularly better than simply reiterating free, customizable versions of windows...just an alternative reiteration. =/
  • Unlikely...
  • I know this is a good idea from a sales perspective, but I've always preferred actual buttons versus on-screen. Yet again, I also disliked the change in smartphones from when they had buttons you could push (Samsung Windows Phone) versus the dedicated touch ones at the bottom.
  • Yeah... Stupid marketing decisions/fads will continue. Mobile technology is always two steps forward, one step back. Hardware buttons are logical and functional. Capacitive buttons can't be felt, don't have any filtering for accidental touches, therefore can't be used without looking, can't turn off the led, can't be used when the phone is off... But hey, they're trendy! I had hopes that textures, pressure activation and tactile feedback would be implemented in capacitive to restore lost functionality, but I can imagine this being the future. More steps backward....
  • Why would you want to use a menu, search or back button when the phone is turned off? And they can fix the accidental taps but giving you the option of double tapping to use the burton (someone here came up with that idea! Not my idea). So, if Microsoft thought about it, they COULD fix that issue. And I don't look at the buttons to hit them. So I can and do use them without being able to see them because they are in the same spot. On every WP.
  • You can't feel the buttons so you can't turn on the phone in your pocket and use them- that's what I mean when I said you have to be looking at them.
    As far as why you would be pressing hardware buttons while the phone is off- thank about the volume buttons. How stupid would it be to have to turn on your phone to adjust the volume? That would be a terrible interface and control scheme! That is effectively what current devices have un-evolved to- with music; forcing you to turn on the phone and look at the screen, all because capacitive buttons are cheaper than the nicer alternative. I shouldn't have to turn on my phone to change the track or pause the song. I should just be able to reach in my pocket, feel for the buttons, and press which one I need accordingly. Headphone remotes are not ubiquitous enough for them to replace this feature nor do half of them support WP anyway (IOS only).
  • Muscle memory is a thing, just saying.
  • An entirely unrelated thing.
  • Now every screen has to be bigger by 0.2" inch for those buttons.
  • But the phone would be same size, because they could easily get rid of all the wasted space that the capacitive buttons use now. It is also a good thing, because when you are playing a game, (on android) the buttons shrink lots, so you press just below the screen to get them back. Better game screen size :)
  • That doesn't make any sense...
  • Dies this mean screens will be a little bigger since they won't need the extra space in the bottom?
  • Yes, but it'll be taken up by the on screen buttons. Maybe they wont take up space if your in a game...depends how Microsoft execute it
  • It has to. How would you exit the game?
  • By pressing just below the screen. This is how android works on my nexus 10. I think there might be a setting somewhere. It doesn't always work, but 80% of the time it does.
  • You just summed up Android in one sentence.
  • Screen will get bigger without the actual phone getting bigger which is a good thing for me .. Plus if designed well and am sure nokia will do .. You'll be looking at some sexy phone designs.. I am sooo waiting for the new hardware.
  • On screen buttons suck. They remove screen real-estate, can lock up with the phone, and remove consistency between the button on tablets. If Microsoft gets around to making a phone I hope they stick with standard buttons.
  • I still like the normal Windows button.
  • I despise on screen buttons with a passion.  If this becomes the standard on WP, I might just be forced to go back to iOS :(
  • Oh, didn't you hear? iOS might remove their button next too! =P
  • Slight overreacting, but i agree that it is a horrible thing
  • Idk that screenshot looks like the capacitive buttons are at the same exact place as they are on my Lumia 1020... Below the screen. Am I missing something here?
  • I'm not seeing anything in the pic that's supposedly different.
  • Same here...that is a 925...
  • The keyword is "screenshot"
  • But that isn't a screenshot in the twitter post. It is a partial pic of something but not a screenshot.
  • Will it come for Lumia 625???
  • Yeah, they're somehow gonna transform a phone they already made...lol, they will just call it something else. ;)
  • windows phone will be one of good mobile os in planet earth (only)
  • I'd like to see the opposite direction and have real push buttons, avoid accidental button pushes.
  • What decade are you in? Oh sorry... Well, they arnt that good, and bot many would buy, and they arnt the best.. If you're wanting buttons, go to blackberry or other OS's. Not smartphone OS's I'm afraid... :(
  • How old are you, 10?
  • He might be around 80 ;)
  • He makes a good point. Not to mention pushable buttons stop working making the device unusable, and requiring some type of on screen thing to continue use. Like ios's assistive touch. 
  • Are you talking about me? For your information, I am in my late 20's! And I actually learn to move on, not stay the same... But I guess everyone is different (don't start a massive argument now please) :(
  • I'm hoping that software buttons can be disabled or hidden by an in-game setting... So no accidental button pushes. That's easy for MS to do in the OS - to achieve the same with physical buttons requires the OEM to incorporate it.
  • They had one, the Lumia 710 ;)
  • Was a really good phone!
  • If it will make the bezel smaller, then I'm all for it.
  • Excellent point, I really want smaller bezels
  • +920
  • Not sure if l don't understand but my Nokia 928 has the same buttons and l dig them!
  • 928 has off screen buttons. These are being shown as on screen. Think Android.
  • Call me crazy but I see nothing different about this picture.
  • It is because its a typical L925 with nothing different...
  • Again, the keyword here is "screenshot".
  • Why can't anyone just admit they don't have any idea what they're talking about? =P
  • Options are good but I prefer off-screen. Just a preference. Also, if an app locks up will the on screen buttons still work? The off screen home button still works when apps freeze which is a major positive in my book.
  • I thought they were doing away with the back button? I don't think this rumour is true...
  • They got some handful amount of votes against the idea at WP uservoice
  • Eh, dissapointing leak, i would like to hear anything about notification center and some other cool new feature.
  • True . About other basic features with some improvements and other new rare features . But this ? Lame .
  • I don't see what's so cool about redundant features... =P
  • On screen buttons are ugly. And those 3 are the worst. A button on metro must be inside a circle. MSFT is drunk already breaking their UI guidelines.
    wonder what clusterfuck they will do for the Windows 8+ UI if they don't catch to Android on tablets.
    2014 is looking like the last chance for MSFT on mobile
  • Go home Ricardo you're drunk.
  • They're identical to the capacitive ones, so I'm not sure what the fuss is over
  • Buttons being in a circle isn't metro, take it from some one who designs for Windows Phone, things being in circles ≠ Metro. Metro is much more than that. They aren't breaking any design guidelines
  • Sweet! Hopefully this will help with the bezel design.