Microsoft Reveals Windows Phone 8

Microsoft has just made its next-generation mobile operating system official at the press event in San Francisco, revealing eight key features for the Windows Phone 8 platform.

In the biggest cosmetic change, the dynamic “live tiles” on the home screen in Windows Phone 8 have been given an extreme makeover. They’re now much more customizable, giving users many more options for colors and sizes. The idea is you can tailor your home screen in much more detail — for example, if you’re a sports nut, you can decorate it with sports apps that update on the fly with scores and photos. Photo: Windows Phone Blog

Microsoft just revealed the next big step in its mobile software, Windows Phone 8.

Windows Phone 8, codenamed “Apollo,” brings the platform in line with other mobile OSes by adding support for muti-core processors, higher screen resolutions and newer wireless technologies like near field communication (NFC), as reported by Mashable.

Joe Belfiore, head of the Windows Phone division at Microsoft, states in the blog post that Windows 8 is a whole new chapter in the Windows Phone “story.”

“Some of you have been wondering, “Will we also get Windows Phone 8 as an update?” The answer, unfortunately, is no,” Belfiore writes.

He goes on: “Windows Phone 8 is a generation shift in technology, which means that it will not run on existing hardware. BUT we care deeply about our existing customers and want to keep their phones fresh, so we’re providing the new Start screen in this new update.”

According to Venture Beat, the first and the most interesting news is that Windows Phone will contain strong ties to Windows for the desktop.

Windows Phone “will ship with a shared core inside the common code between Windows Phone 8 and Windows 8,” said Belfiore. “It changes what the platform is about… that core technology has its heritage in the Windows kernel.”

Meanwhile, many Windows Phone 8 features were exactly as rumored, writes WebProNews. The OS will support multi-core processing, screen resolutions up to 1280 x 768, and NFC.

The new Windows Phones als support external storage in the form of microSD cards as well as NFC.

It puts Nokia Maps front and center, removing the redundancy between that service and Microsoft’s own Bing Maps service. The Windows Phone will also support offline viewing of maps.

Windows Phone 8 will come with Internet Explorer 10, the same browser that Windows 8 PCs will use in the fall.

Microsoft is also introducing a new “digital Wallet” feature that works similarly to Google Wallet, with some extra functionality (such as boarding pass storage) that recalls Apple’s upcoming Passbook app for iOS 6.

“Developers working on Windows 8 will have incredibly easy transition to Windows Phone 8,” said Joe Belfiore.

That brings Microsoft closer to its vision of having an integrated ecosystem that will make it easier for developers to build for, and consumers to access, multiple Microsoft platforms across different devices.

“The fundamental Microsoft play is one of streamlining the multiple access points into the same ecosystem of apps, content and services from many devices,” said Al Hilwa, an analyst with research firm IDC.

“The long-term plan is that phone, tablet, PC and set-top can tap into the same ecosystem,” he said.

The company also has much more to offer IT departments with Windows Phone 8. The new OS supports encryption, secure boot and device management, including mobile versions of Microsoft’s popular Office apps.

Another good news – apps that now run on Windows Phone 7 and 7.5 will work on Windows Phone 8.

More business-friendly features have been added, such as security capabilities such as encryption.

“This is a huge release for us,” Belfiore said.

And there is one more feature that is likely to be very attractive – Windows Phone 8 will treat a Skype call like just another phone call (Skype being a recent Microsoft acquisition), according to NBR.

However, that probably won’t impress phone companies like Telecom, Vodafone and 2degrees, who aren’t great fans of internet calling, and who have so far done little by way of co-promotion for Windows Phone devices.

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