With all the recent news surrounding Microsoft’s next operating system, Windows 8, it was only a matter of time until they would announce the next generation of their mobile OS, and this morning at their Windows Phone Summit in San Francisco, Microsoft officially announced Windows Phone 8. It’s the most advanced mobile OS Microsoft has ever made and will accompany the main PC and tablet operating system, Windows 8, when it launches on new phones later this year.
Many of Windows Phone 8’s new capabilities come directly from its PC and tablet counterpart as Windows Phone 8 is based on the same core technologies that power Windows 8. As a result, Windows Phone 8 will share many of the common networking, security, media and web browser technologies, and will contain a whole host of new features for consumers, developers, and businesses.
Of course, you’ll want to know what some of these new features are, so here is a small list of what you can expect:
Multi-core processor support: As reviewers have noted, Windows Phone runs buttery smooth on phones with a single processor. But piggybacking on the Windows core provides support for multiple cores—so we’re ready for whatever hardware makers dream up.
Bigger, sharper screens: Windows Phone 8 supports two new screen resolutions—1280x768 and 1280x720, opening the door to amazing new handsets with high-definition 720p displays.
More flexible storage: Windows Phone 8 supports removable MicroSD cards, so you can stuff your phone with extra photos, music, and whatever else is important to you, and then easily move it all onto your PC.
NFC wireless sharing: If you haven’t heard the term “NFC” yet, I’m betting you soon will. This emerging wireless technology lets phones share things over short distances. In Windows Phone 8, it helps make sharing photos, Office docs, and contact info easier—just tap your phone another NFC-equipped device. How cool is that?
Internet Explorer 10: The next version of Windows Phone comes with the same web browsing engine that’s headed for Window 8 PCs and tablets. IE10 is faster and more secure, with advanced anti-phishing features like SmartScreen Filter to block dangerous websites and malware.
Wallet: Windows Phone 8’s new digital Wallet feature does two great things. It can keep debit and credit cards, coupons, boarding passes, and other important info right at your fingertips. And when paired with a secure SIM from your carrier, you can also pay for things with a tap of your phone at compatible checkout counters.
Better maps and directions: Windows Phone 8 builds in Nokia mapping as part of the platform. Our partnership will provide more detailed maps and turn-by-turn directions in many countries, plus the ability to store maps offline on your phone so you can work with maps without a data connection.
Cooler apps and games: Basing Windows Phone 8 on the Windows core will unleash a new wave of amazing apps and especially games.
One of the other main changes includes an update to the main Start screen that allows greater customization to the Live Tiles that Windows Phone users press to access apps and a new palette of theme colours.
The following short video shows the new Start screen in action:
Unfortunately, existing Windows Phone 7.5 users will not receive the upgrade to Windows Phone 8 for free. Windows Phone 8 is a generation shift in technology, which means that it will not run on existing hardware. Instead they will be offered an update named Windows Phone 7.8, which will include the new Windows Phone 8 Start screen.
In related news, the Windows Phone Marketplace has officially hit 100,000 apps and games and to mark the milestone, Microsoft has announced a new batch of marquee titles. The official Audible app for audiobooks arrives in Marketplace today, while official apps from Chase and PayPal are in the works.
More importantly for gamers, Gameloft has Windows Phone versions of Asphalt 7: Heat
and N.O.V.A. 3 Near Orbit Vanguard Alliance
currently in development, while Nokia is helping to port the popular Zynga games Words with Friends
and Draw Something
to Windows Phone later this year, though it is unconfirmed if these will be released for existing Windows Phone devices or for the New Windows Phone 8.
Of course this new platform will have a lot of new functionality for developers to utilise and the following list will give you a taste of what developers will have to work with in the future:
Native code support: Windows Phone 8 has full C and C++ support, making it easier to write apps for multiple platforms more quickly. It also means Windows Phone 8 supports popular gaming middleware such as Havok Vision Engine, Autodesk Scaleform, Audiokinetic Wwise, and Firelight FMOD, as well as native DirectX-based game development.
In-app payments: In Windows Phone 8 we make it possible for app makers to sell virtual and digital goods within their apps.
Integrated Internet calling: In Windows Phone 8, developers can create VoIP apps that plug into our existing calling feature so Internet calls can be answered like traditional phone calls, using the same calling interface.
Multitasking enhancements. Windows Phone 8 now allows location-based apps like exercise trackers or navigation aids to run in the background, so they keep working even when you’re doing other things on your phone.
Later this summer, we’ll have much more for developers on the Windows Phone 8 Software Development Kit (SDK) and the new Visual Studio 11-based development tools. So stay tuned.
As I mentioned earlier, Windows Phone 8 will also include a host of new features for business users, and so if you tend to use your phone for work, you may be interested in some of the following new features:
Device encryption: To help keep everything from documents to passwords safe, Windows Phone 8 includes built-in technology to encrypt the entire device, including the operating system and data files.
Better security: Windows Phone 8 supports the United Extensible Firmware Interface (UEFI) secure boot protocol and features improved app “sandboxing,” so the phone is better protected from malware with multiple layers of security.
Remote management: With Windows Phone 8, IT departments can manage apps and phones remotely, with tools similar to ones they now employ for Windows PCs.
Company Hub and apps: Companies can create their own Windows Phone 8 Hub for custom employee apps and other critical business info.
Finally, Windows Phone 8 will support a total of 50 languages and Microsoft will also be expanding the Windows Phone Marketplace to support app downloads in over 180 countries.
The first wave of devices for Windows Phone 8 will come from Nokia, Huawei, Samsung, and HTC and are expected to be released sometime this Fall.