At the Windows Phone Developer Summit early yesterday, Microsoft gave a sneak peek of the future of their mobile OS – Windows Phone 8. Codenamed “Apollo”, Windows Phone 8-powered devices are expected to debut this fall.
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Joe Belfiore, Corporate VP of Microsoft, took the stage to detail 8 key platform announcements WP8 would be bringing to the plate. Belfiore was quick to explain (and he did so several times) that WP8 is still work-in-progress and that the demos may not be as smooth as one would expect. Also Belfiore quipped, “What we’re not doing today is disclosing all of the end user features.”
Windows Phone 8 will ship with shared Windows Core, meaning a shared set of components like kernel and graphics support. For consumers, this opens up a wider range of devices and more choice of hardware. Transition from Windows 8 to Windows Phone will be easy, and vice versa. For developers and manufacturers, it means less development time, faster to market, and more possibilities in hardware.
Key WP8 platform announcements in brief:
- Multi-core support – Windows Phone 8 will support a wider range of devices, and the latest and greatest hardware. No longer will consumers be limited to single-core devices currently available.
- Multiple Screen support – High definition is coming to WP8 with WVGA (1280×768), WXGA(1280xx720) and 720p will be supported now.
- MicroSD support – Expandable storage finally comes to Windows Phone!
- Native Code support – “Killer games” is the key word mentioned. Shared code is a huge benefit from games developers, making it easy to port games from Windows to WP8.
- NFC support with Wallet – Mobile payments, file-sharing and more! Microsoft claims “the most complete Wallet experience”. Think Google Wallet and Apple Passbook. Only better. Also, secure elements for mobile payments on the SIM.
- Nokia Map Technology – Turn-by-turn navigation, offline map support and NAVTEQ data support.
- Built for Business – supports encryption and secure boot. IT managers, smile.
Belfiore was also plenty excited to announce the sexy new Start Screen. Live Tiles, not found on any other mobile platform, has been a key differentiator in user interface and user experience. With WP8, Microsoft is bringing resizable tiles (large, medium, small), giving users plenty of customisation and personalisation options for the phones. It looks fantastic!
Check out the new Start Screen below:
Windows Phone 8 will ship with new dual-core hardware coming this fall. For current WP7 phone owners (including me), you’re out of luck. Because of huge platform changes, WP8 will only be available for new hardware. I’m not discounting the fact for the jailbreak/hacker community to change that, though. Bought the new flagship Lumia 900? Tough. You’ll only get Windows Phone 7.8 (yes, it will come with the new Start Screen).