Since the introduction of Windows Phone 8.1 I noticed a strange behavior.

After hit the Back button for the last time in some apps (closing it) I still can see them in the app switcher (hold back button).

Some examples: Facebook, Calendar (built in), Tweetium.

If I'm in start screen and hit Back I don't go there but if I switch using the app switcher I can go straight to the place a left the app.

If a close it by swiping down or hitting "x" it kills the app.

I'm waiting for a better explanation than "they are working in background" or "it's like Windows 8.1", please.

  • What's wrong with the "they are working in the background" explanation?
    – Indrek
    Jan 1, 2015 at 12:16
  • @Indrek Maybe I didn't explained correctly. Actually I'm frustrated because in my phone if I position it in a post in Facebook (for example) and hit back to close, after 10 minutes if I switch back to this app it will "resuming" forever (>3sec) and will load like I had clicked in the tile with the app entirely closed. So it's not in background, it's almost freezing. Jan 1, 2015 at 12:23
  • @Indrek Wonder if it work like that for everybody. Jan 1, 2015 at 12:37
  • I see that behaviour too, on 8.1. I thought this was related to whether or not the app was allowed to run in the background in Battery Saver, but one of the apps that lingers in the app list on my phone is Facebook Messenger, which (now that I check it) doesn't even have the "Allow app to run in the background" option. Curious...
    – Indrek
    Jan 1, 2015 at 14:00
  • @Indrek I think it's related to the app be made using new 8.1 SDK instead of 8.0 SDK. Jan 1, 2015 at 17:25

1 Answer 1


The reason you are seeing this behavior is due to the different runtimes available for apps to use in Windows Phone 8.1.

Since Windows Phone 8.1, there was a major change to the lifecycle of apps. Tapping back from the main page of an 8.1 WinRT (Universal) will not close an app. This is also the same lifecycle you see in Windows 8.1 apps.

However, if the app uses WP 8.0 (Silverlight), the app will close by tapping back from the first page of an app (unless the dev screwed up and has a circular navigation happening, in which it will go to another page in the app instead of leaving the app).

There is a variety of choices for devs today; 8.0 Silverlight, 8.1 Silverlight and WinRT (Windows 8.1 model).

Just to be clear, apps never run in the background on Windows Phone. They go into a suspended state. If the app has been suspended for a long time, been pushed down too far by other apps or if you close it manually they go into terminated state.

When you go back to a suspended app, you'll see the "resuming..." notice. This is when the developer loads the data that was saved when it was suspended. So from your perspective, it was never closed.

-A small summary of what does run in the background- What does run the background are "background tasks" which are small snippets of code that run independently of your app, even when the app has been terminated. That's why you have the option in settings to disable background tasks.

  • So the apps that you see in the switcher but cannot switch to from the home screen using the Back button - which runtime are they using?
    – Indrek
    Jan 2, 2015 at 5:14
  • There is something unusual going on if the app cannot be backed into from Start if it was the last opened. I can have Microsoft investigate this and report back here. Do you have an example of which app does this? Jan 2, 2015 at 14:31
  • Thanks Ambassador. I knew this kind of question could be answer only by someone with great internal knowledge. Jan 2, 2015 at 14:49
  • @LanceMcCarthy Facebook Messenger, for example. Or the built-in Calendar app.
    – Indrek
    Jan 2, 2015 at 16:40
  • @Indrek I can successfully open any of those apps by tapping the tile even though they are suspended in app switcher. Sometimes they crash. Jan 2, 2015 at 21:29

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