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Microsoft makes design central to its future
Technology » New Surface tablet designed to go everywhere that you go.

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The icon, featured in Windows Phone and the Xbox One, has three stacked lines resembling two buns and a patty. It mostly acts as a "junk drawer" for random menu items, so it’s not clear what you’ll get when you click on it, Shum says.

On the Xbox One controller for instance, a physical hamburger button represents "enter" on a virtual keyboard. In games like "Titanfall," it brings up a menu of various in-game options. In Windows Phone’s Cortana app, though, a hamburger button will bring up options for interacting with the digital assistant.

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Shum says his team wants to make the icon work similarly across devices. A hint: it will act like a signpost in a city with many neighborhoods. "It should always be this thing that allows you to go to different parts of the city," he says.

The company is also working to expand the use of the Cortana digital assistant, which is active on some Windows Phone devices. The voice-activated persona is meant to offer help proactively — giving you a snapshot of traffic on the route from the office to your home when the workday ends, for instance.

Kat Holmes, a principal designer who helped design Cortana, is working on ways that it might work in other Microsoft devices, from PCs to the Xbox. The guiding principle, which adheres closely to Microsoft’s new philosophy, is to help the user in various ways depending on the situation.

Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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