Windows Phone 8 was shown off by Microsoft last night details including future hardware specifications and advances in the software that will make this one of the most compelling platforms in the future. Find out more below:
All the juice from the Windows Phone 8 Announcement
- The first thing that was announced confirmed something that was long understood to be the case, but nevertheless it is fantastic to hear that Windows Phone 8 shares a kernel and a substantial amount of code with Windows 8. What does this mean to the average developer? Well because of sharing of C and C++ libraries, Direct X components and SQLite support, developers can actually write an app once and move it from one platform to another with only a few code tweaks. In fact, thanks to the Shared Windows Core, pretty much the only major difference for coders is screen resolution and size. The potential Windows Phone developer base has just literally exploded way past what anyone else has to offer.
For consumers, this means that the application base of Windows Phone can potentially be the new benchmark for any OS.
- Windows Phone 8 will support multi-core processors (up to a mammoth 64 cores because of that shared core) and will support some new resolutions as well, like the increasingly common 1280 x 720 or even the 1280 x 768. Also on the cards is NFC support.
- In direct competition with Google Wallet and Apple’s recently announced Passbook, Microsoft has announced that Windows Phone will have wallet functionality with integration for 3rd parties and NFC. Also included in Windows Phone 8 is the ability to (finally) allow for in-app payments in conjunction with the wallet experience.
- Windows Phone 8 will use Nokia mapping data with built-in turn-by-turn navigation bringing one of the best features of the Lumia range of phones to all of the Windows Phone devices.
- Oh and there will be new colours too…
- Skype’s video chatting/VoIP service is being integrated deeply in Windows Phone 8. From a user perspective, incoming Skype calls are treated like cellular communications, meaning that they will appear just as regular calls do and are integrated with standard phone features such as call waiting. The VoIP apps (the API is open to other VoIP applications as well) continue to run in the background, of course, thanks to WP8′s new multitasking capabilities, and VoIP integration will be available to all developers.
- Speaking of the multitasking capabilities of the phone will now feature full and proper background multitasking and it will be available to all developers.
What happens to Windows Phone 7 and 7.5 devices when Windows Phone 8 comes out?
Well the bad news is that there will no be an upgrade path for any of the previous Windows devices, the solution put forward by Microsoft is that they will be making an upgrade they are calling Windows Phone 7.8.
So here’s the plan to ensure current Windows Phone users stay happy, some of the key software benefits included in Windows Phone 8 (such as the new Start screen) will be available to legacy devices in the form of Windows Phone 7.8. There’ll be support for three tile sizes, with the smallest being fingertip size (a quarter of the standard square). The update will be delivered directly to users, sidestepping carriers, and can be done over WiFi.
Personally I am excited for the evolution of the Windows Phone OS. It has long been the dark horse with the most potential to revolutionise the industry and with the catch up in hardware (multi-core and HD displays) and Microsoft’s removal of many of the gripes from the software side of the equation, Windows Phone 8 will be a singularly compelling experience.
Things that worry me:
- Windows Phone 7.5 devices will not sell well in the next few monthsconsidering the fact that people who will be looking for a new phone now will not want to be left without all of the excellent features announced.
- Nokia will continue to take a hit as they will have no other smartphone portfolio besides those running 7.5 and will therefore be at some risk.
- By the time Windows Phone 8 devices are shipping, where will the competition be by then?
Other opinion via the Engadget editorial staff
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