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Microsoft working to make Windows Live Tiles more interactive and useful

Microsoft working to make Windows Live Tiles more interactive and useful

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Microsoft is working to make its signature Live Tiles much more interactive and capable. Today, the tiles mainly exist to provide glanceable information for popular apps across Windows 8 and Windows Phone. They'll tell you how many email messages are waiting for you, or display a comment someone's posted to your Facebook wall. But the company clearly has bigger plans for the future, according to a video from Microsoft Research.

In the clip, we see a new "interactive tile view" concept that makes it much easier to respond to specific notifications. For example, rather than just tapping on the Outlook tile to pull up the app, you can scroll through your inbox and tap on a specific email to view that message — all from the Live Tile. The footage also showcases a revised Desktop Live Tile that gathers every app a user has running in the traditional Windows mode. Here again, you can tap on any program that's listed to quickly open it.

Sometime in the future, Live Tiles for apps like weather and calculator could become so useful that you'll rarely need to bother opening their full-screen versions. An updated weather tile on the Windows start screen could allow users to tap on each day of the week for a condensed forecast, and the Xbox Music tile could give greater control over song playback. It looks as though Microsoft wants Live Tiles to grow smarter and more capable, essentially acting more like widgets. For now, interactive tiles remain very much in the experimental phase, so there's no telling if or when they'll make the jump to Windows proper.