Microsoft experiments with making Windows Live Tiles interactive

Microsoft researchers are looking at ways to allow Windows 8, Windows Phone and Xbox users able to interact directly with Live Tiles.
Written by Mary Jo Foley, Senior Contributing Editor

Microsoft researchers in Asia are experimenting with the usefulness and feasibility of making Windows' Live Tiles interactive.


A newly published video clip from Microsoft Research's TechFest 2014 event in February 2014, Human-Computer Interaction Group researcher Jiawei Gu shows off the Interactive Live Tiles research project.

Update: Looks like Microsoft Research has removed the three videos that showed off the Interactive Tiles Project demo. Boo!

Update 2: Thanks to quick thinking/grabbing by @h0x0d, all three videos are still viewable. Here's the main one.

In one of the video clips showing off the research work (thanks @h0x0d, a k a the "WalkingCat" for the links), Gu demonstrates how users potentially could interact in new ways with the Live Tiles that are core to the Windows 8.X, Windows Phone and Xbox user interfaces.

Gu shows off the ability to drill down inside of a Live Tile -- rather than having to open full-screen a Metro-Style app -- to get music information and e-mails. He also shows off a new Interactive Desktop Tile that would allow users to open Desktop Office apps and, seemingly, other non-Microsoft-developed destkop/Win32 apps. Being able to interact with Desktop apps in this way could help Windows 8 users who find moving between the Desktop and Metro-Style environments less than smooth and intuitive.

On the Microsoft Research site, the "Interactive Tile" project is described this way:

"This project features an Interactive-Tile UI system that enables users to access and manipulate Live Tiles in an interactive way with touch gestures. Interactive Tile’s UI is responsive and flexible to an app’s content and function. Users can provide quick input to the Interactive Tile on the Start screen. With a perception of Start as an entrance page, Interactive Tiles were introduced to empower the start screen with an intermediate access level to applications."

Gu describes the underlying technology as enabling "parallel tasking." In the video, he shows the Interactive Tiles working on a traditional PC with a monitor, allowing users to run the Interactive Tile in a sidebar alongside other apps, as well as an Interactive Tile on a Windows Phone.

Like all Microsoft Research projects, there is no guarantee if or when Interactive Live Tiles will become commercialized and part of any/all flavor of Windows.

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