Do not remove hardware back button!
I recently read an article which stated that there is at least one confirmation that in windows phone 8.1 it will be removing the hardware back button requirement. If I am being completely honest, when I moved to windows phone from iPhone the back button was one of my favorite features (as simple as it sounds). It is always in the same place, has the same function, and is extremely useful to me. I use it very often and I feel like it really increases the quality of the windows phone experience.
PLEASE do not remove this as it would make my next windows phone a significantly less pleasant experience.
Alex Kaspar commented
For me this back button is very important ( thats why I have a Windows Phone not a Iphone)
Tom Gillen commented
The back button is one of the best parts of the OS. Having a single consistent way to go back to where I was is brilliant.
I like how you can open a link from an email in the browser, and then hit back and end up back in your email.
Microsoft must be planning some kind of software equivalent anyway, as nearly every app on WP will break if they simply removed it.
Another comment on same subject, but with more votes and seems to come back in searches better is on http://windowsphone.uservoice.com/forums/101801-feature-suggestions/suggestions/4559384-don-t-remove-the-back-button- so maybe worth moving your votes to this alternative to build critical mass on this.
If there is no back button in Windows Phone 8.1 I will not be buying any further Windows Phones. This is not how to improve user experience. I have dozens of ideas that would make much more sense than removing the back button. Easier would be to stop using capacitive and use hardware back, start, and search buttons to avoid accidental touches, improve playlist creation in Zune (Music+Videos), ability to clear out 'other' on command, etc etc etc... But keep the button as it is.
The back button is definitely THE reason I love my Windows Phone.
On Android, I always get annoyed by a somehow unpredictable behaviour. On iOS, I always find myself pushing the lower right corner of the device. Putting the back button on the top of the screen simply seems ridiculous to me.
On Windows Phone, the back button is predictable, it has consistent behaviour. It is always there and in the same place, no matter which app I am using. It is essential for navigating the OS and Apps. And it is easy to reach, extremely easy.
It definitely is my favorite feature in Windows Phone. Please, do not remove it. At least, bring up another solution, which works as good as the current. It Needs to be easy to reach or perform, and have consistent behaviour.
(To add a line here: the way OneNote works - clicking the title brings you back - is definitely not a good way to implement a back button. It is way to far away frm the bottom to be reached easily. Another word on gestures: pressing a button at least seems to be a lot faster than moving your finger around)
Don't kill please.
On a side note to MS: if you guys are planning to go gestures based - so close the app like in Win8, and maybe some sort of 2 finger swipe (or something similar) for a back gesture - I think this would be reasonable.
I'm just really hoping you don't get rid of it in a dumb way - please don't disappoint us MS.
A MILLION times this.
Seriously MS - think about it...removing a back button means more on-screen buttons. On a phone, this wastes extremely valuable space - these aren't desktops with massive displays - we need the screen space, and we need the back button.
If users don't understand the use of the back button (which IMO means those people are simply morons) YOU need to show them how it works.
For your existing user-base who know how to use it, removing it would mean the death of WP. I'm sure I'm not the only one - but the way the back button works on WP is one MAJOR reason why I won't ever want to use Android or iOS. Android's back button doesn't close apps, and iOS is just garbage having to stick with the single button/software buttons for everything.
I hope you guys thought this through - and that the back button hardware-requirement will simply be removed for the larger screened devices - but still a requirement for the small screen devices.