Just days after unveiling its Surface Tablet, Microsoft has taken the stage again and announced its upcoming upgrade to the Windows Phone OS — Windows Phone 8.
Windows Phone 8 Is Now Official, Shares Core With Windows 8
As of now, Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8 are officially sharing the same core. Which means Windows Phone 8 is just Windows 8 on a phone. But there’s more to that statement than what is apparent. According to Joe Belfiore (head of the phone division inside Windows), it is exactly what they had promised “more apps, bigger, more important apps coming faster and beautiful games.”
The new hardware standard for Windows Phone 8 would dual-core minimum and beyond. We are very likely to see a quite a few quad-cores in action. There are three new standard screen resolutions to look forward to plus some extendable storage through MicroSd memory card support. Belfiore also said all Windows Phone 7.5 apps will be able to run on all three resolutions without change.
Windows Phone 8 will also offer developers the option of easily porting their apps between Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8 because they share the same core. Which is to say that at heart they essentially the same operating system that just grew differently to adapt to phone and general usage.
Other exciting features of the phone includes system-wide speech integration that allows developers to make apps that are searchable and usable fully through speech. You can launch, control and search inside apps using speech. There’s also the Wallet feature, which is essentially a digital payment system that is already found on Google’s latest Android OS. It is usable through NFC embedded in to the phone, which can then be swiped just like a credit card at special terminals.
Microsoft has upgraded the map feature, which now uses Nokia’s own Maps. It has the usual mix of modern navigation features including turn by turn directions and support for offline maps. Windows Phone 8 will also come with Internet Explorer 10 that has anti-phishing features built right in.
Microsoft has not forgotten its enterprise customers either. Windows Phone 8 will come standard with encryption and a mobile version of the Office suite of productivity apps including the likes of the ever popular MS Word and MS Excel.
For the general user, there’s now greater personalization ability built in. Users will be able to resize live tiles and choose between more colors. They can now arrange the tiles in the exact way that they deem fit. These features have in fact been on the top of the list for most-wanted features by users.
And as already quoted earlier, theirs more games coming this way. Microsoft has promised to deliver better games on Windows Phone 8 compared to Windows Phone 7. And since developers can easily port games from Windows 8 to Windows Phone 8 with only the screen size and performance parts changing, games will see a much easier migration and release for Windows Phone. Whilst PlayStation and Wii users go about using their handheld gaming consoles that double up as secondary devices for the main consoles, Windows users are likely to use their phone for everything that requires a secondary screen in the Windows world. That includes Xbox, as demonstrated with the SmartGlass app, and Windows 8. Or so it would seem from the way Microsoft has been going about it.
As for actual game launches, Microsoft has announced Big Fish and Gameloft as launch partners for Gaming on Windows 8. Which means we are going to see some great games during the Windows 8 launch.
Windows Phone 8 is going to launched with four handset partners according to what Microsoft has to say on the matter. This will happen later this year, most likely around or with the Windows 8 launch. And these manufacturers are going to be Nokia, Samsung, HTC and Huawei. They are all apparently readying phones for the launch. All of these phones will be based on Qualcomm processors apparently. Since announcement event was mostly targeted at developers, no further hardware details were given out. But we can already guess features like Gorilla Glass 2 and digital ink ready.
Given the new hardware standards for Windows Phone 8, it is also possible that we will see a lot of Galaxy S III Rivals with great, high resolution displays, four processor cores, 2GB of RAM and a price tag to match. Samsung themselves have expressed interest in making a Galaxy Phone with Windows Phone on onboard. So we might just see on such phone from Samsung themselves. The other likely contender is HTC, now that they are clearly in with Microsoft and not being cut off, as earlier rumors had suggested.
One of the good things about Windows Phone 8 is that it won’t be modified by the manufacturer like Android. This would mean direct upgrades pushed out by Microsoft to the users of all Windows Phone 8 handsets. And this will be over the air, so users will not have to connect their phones to a PC. So they can technically not have a PC, just have a phone and still get the upgrades. Microsoft says users will have access to upgrades up to at least 18 months from the launch date of the device that they would be purchasing. Yes, that does sound like there’s a catch there but then they said ‘at least’. So there’s still hope.
Microsoft will finally be at par with Android and iOS once Windows Phone 8 is launched. For years the company has slogged away at revamping its mobile OS and being called out for being late. Now it finally seems like they will be catching up and putting an OS out there that can match the two competing platforms feature per feature. So by now, every platform has some kind of voice activated control and service. All of them are moving (iOS) or have moved to including NFC (Android and WP). There’s multi-core processors all across the board and resolutions are getting higher. So this just puts that much more option in to the buyers hands and the platforms will just have to battle it out in the open market.