Microsoft details Windows Phone 8, arriving this fall

By on June 20, 2012, 1:59 PM

Microsoft’s Windows Phone Developer Summit kicked off just a few hours ago where the company is sharing a bit of what’s coming with the next major update to their smartphone platform. Among the most noticeable changes at first glance is a redesigned home screen, which now allows every tile to be customized in one of three sizes available, and does away with the right-hand "rail" that held the link to the full app list.

Besides expanding the screen real-estate for live tiles Microsoft will also be offering more color customization and personalization options for the new Start Screen in Windows Phone 8.

Skype and VoIP

VoIP functionality will be baked into the operating system, but rather than just offering native Skype integration, Microsoft is adding a background agent that can handle incoming and outgoing calls as well as messaging and integration with several of Windows Phone 8 features. Skype is fully going take advantage of this and so can any other VoIP applications without favoring one over the other.

Microsoft's Greg Sullivan believes the integration is so good that he jokes Apple should create its own FaceTime app on Windows Phone 8, and it would work better than it does on the iPhone.

Internet Explorer 10, Nokia Maps

Windows Phone 8 will of course include Internet Explorer 10, which is based on the same desktop code used in the Windows 8, offering four times faster javascript performance and full HTML5 support. It will also bring over some security-related improvements, like a phishing filter and the SmartScreen URL reputation system.

Nokia mapping information will be a key part of Windows Phone 8 going forward. Although this means the Finnish phone maker will be surrendering one of the advantages it had over competing Windows Phone OEMs, the move will ensure a good mapping experience on every Windows Phone 8 device. It will include support offline maps, turn by turn directions, and all third part apps will be able to access mapping data.

A shared core

The new Windows Phone 8 platform will share common code with the Windows 8 desktop OS. Stuff such as the kernel code, file system, networking services, media foundation, device drivers, and parts of the security model from Windows 8 will be shared between the two platforms. Microsoft is calling this the ‘Windows Core’ and it will enable developers to port their apps between the two platforms without re-writing a lot of code.

Developers will get access to new tools and an updated SDK later this summer that are based on Visual Studio 2012 — supporting apps for both Windows Phone and Windows Phone 8.

Despite this change all existing Windows Phone apps will continue to run on Windows Phone 8. On the downside, however, current Windows Phone 7.5 and earlier devices will not be able to upgrade to Windows Phone 8 — as has been rumored for months. Instead, the company plans to rollout a Windows Phone 7.8 update that will bring some of Windows Phone 8’s changes to existing devices.

Dual-core processors, NFC, microSD support

Microsoft is also expanding the hardware specifications that Windows Phone 8 supports, allowing manufacturers to deliver more powerful solutions to challenge the iPhone and high-end Android devices. The platform will support dual-core devices this fall and quad-cores sometime after that — in fact, one of the hardware implications of the ‘Windows Core’ is that WP8 in theory will support up to 64-core chips.

Windows Phone 8 will also support more powerful GPUs and three screen resolutions: the current WVGA (800 x 480), WXGA (1280 x 768) and true 720p (1280 x 720). These will have similar aspect ratios (two at 15:9 and one at 16:9) to ensure there's no issue with applications not looking properly all devices.

Another noteworthy addition is NFC support and Microsoft’s own Mobile Wallet Hub. The latter is designed to support NFC payments and the ability to store credit card information, member cards, and frequent flyer cards. It is sort of a hybrid between Google Wallet and Apple’s Passbook, and apparently Microsoft already has several carriers and financial institutions on board with its payments solution.

Additionally, there's a new feature called Tap + Send that allows seamless content sharing between NFC-enabled Windows Phone 8 devices, similar to Android's Beam function.

Microsoft is also adding full SD card support to Windows Phone 8, allowing users to transfer music, photos, video, and even install applications just like they would with removable external storage in Windows PCs.




User Comments: 15

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KG363 KG363 said:

The lack of upgradability for us 7.5 users really ticks me off. I hope that 7.8 will be nearly the same, though. I'll have to wait until fall 2013 to upgrade then.

treeski treeski said:

The lack of upgradability for us 7.5 users really ticks me off. I hope that 7.8 will be nearly the same, though. I'll have to wait until fall 2013 to upgrade then.

It is annoying, I agree. At least they're not completely ignoring the 7.5 users. I got my Samsung Focus shortly after it came out, so my next update should be right around when WinPhone8 is available.

Wagan8r Wagan8r said:

So excited for this! I held off on upgrading my Samsung Focus to a second gen Windows Phone for this.

I honestly don't see why people are so upset about not being able to upgrade to WP8. I used to have an iPhone 3G, and when iOS 4 came out, it only supported a limited feature set of iOS 4, not to mention making my phone absolutely unusable!

Let's recap the progression of iOS and WP.

iPhone 3G with iOS 2 : First gen WPs with WP 7

- : First gen WPs upgraded to WP 7 NoDo

iPhone 3GS released, 3G upgrated to iOS 3 : Second gen phones released, first gen upgraded to WP 7.5

iPhone 4 released, 3GS upgraded and 3G partially upgraded to iOS4 : Third gen WPs with WP8, first and second gen upgraded to 7.8 (partial WP8)

I'd much rather see Microsoft holding off on features that are not meant to run on my phone so that the user experience stays at a high level.

Staff
Jos Jos said:

I have to admit Windows Phone 8 is looking really good. I love how in two days (with the Surface and WP8) Microsoft has shown the industry that it's possible to innovate and do things differently, as opposed to being lazy and producing poor copies of Apple's products.

I hope their smartphone platform finally gains some traction.

psycros psycros said:

A bad copy of iOS still looks far better than Metro.

TekGun TekGun said:

I'm fairly happy with only getting 7.8 on my current phone it's a great OS anyway. I'll be due an upgrade in 2013 so I'll just grab a win phone 8 then.

Guest said:

this just makes me sad. I just got a 7.5 in march and was following the windows 8 update for quite a while. then I find out that now its not gonna be applicable to the 7.5 phones? what kind of crap is that microsoft?

yukka, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Got an HD7 here. Contract runs out in November, just in time to upgrade if I want. I will give 7.8 a go for a bit and see if the camera app/video on the win8 phones can beat the iphone 4s when I come to purchase my new one. Only thing with going back to iPhone for me is that the screen size can't compete - I am used to a 4.3inch phone nowadays. Love the mini tablet feel of it.

By the way, am I the only person thinking phones will become a major (even worse than now) target for thieves if you can wave them at barscanners and pay for stuff? Sounds highly dodgy to me.

TekGun TekGun said:

By the way, am I the only person thinking phones will become a major (even worse than now) target for thieves if you can wave them at barscanners and pay for stuff? Sounds highly dodgy to me.

Never really thought about that, maybe it requires a pin or something put in first, I'm only guessing though.

spydercanopus spydercanopus said:

By the way, am I the only person thinking phones will become a major (even worse than now) target for thieves if you can wave them at barscanners and pay for stuff? Sounds highly dodgy to me.

Thieves will be stealing hands when your NFC chip is in your wrist. Personally, I'll be putting my NFC in the grip of my gun and will hump the receiver to pay.

mosu said:

USB 3.0 support? I'd really love a device with mSATA and a couple of SDXC microSD cards and good wireless connectivity besides GSM.Also I'm expecting Nokia maps by Navteq to have a better coverage of my country.I know I'm talking hardware, but support is what makes it working.

Guest said:

If Metro is so good, how come almost no one is excited for Windows 8 on the PC? How come MS has hardly gained market share in the smartphone space? When Android was just new on the scene, the pace with which it was gaining market share was astronomical.

Metro is a failure so far. It looks kiddish, difficult to see anything. It's like a kaleidoscope in front of you with all these colors.

TekGun TekGun said:

Metro is a failure so far. It looks kiddish, difficult to see anything. It's like a kaleidoscope in front of you with all these colors.

Aww is it confusing? nevermind try a Vtech.

Guest said:

"If Metro is so good, how come almost no one is excited for Windows 8 on the PC? How come MS has hardly gained market share in the smartphone space? When Android was just new on the scene, the pace with which it was gaining market share was astronomical."

Im glad you can comfortably speak for everyone when saying "no one is excited to see Windows 8 on the PC." Ignorance is bliss I guess. Many people do not like change and Windows 8 is a HUGE change to how every computing is done. Its being forced upon them and they are naturally pushing back. Seems to happen with every new release when some feature people liked gets changed. Adapt and move on. Period.

MS hasnt moved as fast in the market place compared to Android. You are correct in saying that. However, what other options were available when Android hit at its low price point when competeing with the iPhone? Anything worth mentioning? Probably not. It was "comparable" to an iPhone and a much lower price so people who wanted a smart phone picked it up. Anything else you want answered or you want to troll alittle more?

Guest said:

I believe windows phones have a higher market

share than the iPhone in China.

Windows and iPhone have superior software/

hardware integration.

I hope there is some kind of breakthrough in

battery technology by it's release date, because

nobody, Apple included, will be using 2 or 4 cores

with 4G LTE engaged for more than 3 hours unless

the battery is exchangable, double it's current

size or the fabrication of CPU's etc is 22nm or less.

The inclusion of micro SD cards is a bonus in terms

of expandable memory.(up to 64GB on the latest items)

Many ISP's are limiting data download to 2GB a month

to promote their own 'cloud'.

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-----------------------------------------------------the smartphone is plugged into a power source

for most of the day.

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