According to a leaked shot of what appears to be a screen portion of Windows Phone 8.1, Microsoft is testing virtual buttons for the next generation of its mobile operating system.
Thanks to a striking but inconclusive photo from @evleaks, future Windows Phone devices may transition from the well-known capacitive-based setup buttons mandated on every device today to an Android-like virtual setup, which can accommodate varying orientations. This is likely a direct result of the jumbo-fication of smartphones in general, which are better served by being used in landscape mode for certain scenarios. Android has had this functionality since Ice Cream Sandwich in 2011, though some OEMs are still resistant to the change.
Another reason for the change is to give Android OEMs incentive to use identical hardware to create Windows Phone versions of their Android flagships. While Samsung and HTC are ostensibly still parters with Microsoft in the Windows Phone ecosystem, neither have unveiled a brand new design in over a year.
Microsoft is expected to unveil Windows Phone 8.1, known internally as “Blue”, as its BUILD Developer conference in early April.