Microsoft testing ways to make Windows Live Tiles interactive

In Asia, Microsoft researchers are experimenting with new ways to interact with the Live Tiles that are core to the Windows 8.X, Windows Phone, and Xbox user interfaces.

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A Microsoft video shows off a potential future for Live Tiles. Screenshot by CNET

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

In a video, Human-Computer Interaction Group researcher Jiawei 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.

Three videos about Live Tiles were available temporarily before the Microsoft links stopped working today. However, the videos are still available on a third-party site.

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 was described this way before a link stopped working today:

"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.

Updated at 10:30 a.m. PT with a video link.

This story published originally as "Microsoft experiments with making Windows Live Tiles interactive" on ZDNet.

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