After the announcement of Microsoft Surface, the software giant recently gave a sneak peek of their swanky new mobile operating system, Windows Phone 8. At an event in San Francisco, the brand officially raised the curtains on this latest mobile OS and claimed that it is the most advanced one Microsoft has ever made. This OS will be available on new handsets that will be launched later this year. Windows Phone 8 was earlier codenamed Apollo and it is the successor to Windows 7.5 Mango.
So, what is Windows Phone 8 all about? Is it a worthy increment over the previous iterations by Microsoft? This and more has been delved into below, so read on.
Microsoft has changed the look of their homescreen by making it more personal and customizable. Live Tiles will now come in three different sizes, with different theme colours, all of which are under the control of the user. Live Tiles has been one of the standout features of Windows Phone and something that their current owners really love, so they’ve made it more flexible and unique. Check out the video of Live Tiles after the break.
This means that you can now adjust the tiles, as per your liking and your requirement, be it sports, social networking or even music. The other unimportant things take a backseat to give you the content you care about the most. The screen display now supports higher resolutions as well. The two new ones to be supported, include 1280 x 768 and 1280 x 720p, so no more sticking to 480 x 800 resolution screens. When we had made our wishlist last year, we had spoken about more customization from the user end for the homescreen and that has finally arrived. However, the demo video still hasn’t showcased what happens when you press ‘right’ on the homescreen. A lot of people weren’t particularly happy with the long list that came after that.
Belfiore announcing the new updates
Here's the complete video of the Windows Phone 8 Summit:
Windows Phone runs buttery smooth on phones with a single-core processor. It’s even faster than dual-core Androids at present, but Microsoft isn’t giving one extra reason to critics. With Windows Phone 8 multiple cores are supported, so hardware makers can push the boundaries of their smartphone specs. Not only that, there’s support for 64 multi core processors, if it does happen in Windows Phone 8’s lifetime.
Multi core support
It seems that Microsoft will continue its partnership with Qualcomm to provide SoCs for Windows Phone handsets and their announced Windows Phone 8 devices will use Qualcomm’s Snapdragon S4 Plus SoCs. The actual chipset is the MSM8960, which packs in two Krait-based CPU cores running anywhere between 1.5GHz and 1.7GHz. It will also pack in an Adreno 225 GPU onboard, along with an LTE chip. This makes it one of the most efficient systems on a chip solution in the market and is highly sought after by many top OEMs. For instance, Samsung will be using the S4 chipset in their U.S variant of the S III, while the HTC uses the S4 in the international version of the One S. Qualcomm’s SoC continues to power 100 percent of all Windows Phone devices to date and it doesn’t seem like that’s going to change anytime soon. With WP8, Microsoft will continue to set a strict guideline for OEMs, which means they probably will not be able to use other SoCs in the new WP8 handsets. While this could seem a bit restrictive, think about it this way, with Microsoft allowing just a single series of chipsets to be used with their new OS, they can fine tune the SoC to work best with WP8 and also avoid fragmentation. This will deliver a uniform experience across OEMs.
The one main advantage that Android and Apple users still have over Windows Phone is the number of apps. At the event, the company announced that their Windows Phone Marketplace now has more than 100,000 apps. The official Audible app for audiobooks arrives in the Marketplace today. Official apps from Chase and PayPal are in the works. Gameloft has Windows Phone versions of Asphalt 7: Heat and N.O.V.A. 3 Near Orbit Vanguard Alliance on the way. Zynga games, like Words with Friends and Draw Something are also coming to Windows Phone later this year, so big titles are definitely coming your way. That’s not all, the best part will be the convergence factor, that we have covered after the break.
Enter the next level in Windows mobility
When Windows Phone 8 comes this fall, it will use a native game development platform that is based on DirectX and it will share a common core with Windows 8 operating system for PC. That means your apps and games intended for Windows Phone 8 will work on Windows RT and Windows 8 Pro, which will help bring seamless integration and convergence. Because of this, developers will have an easier job, as they will not have to write and rewrite codes, making it easy for PC games to be ported over to Windows Phones.
Middleware partners, such as Havok Technology and Autodesk will support Windows Phone 8. Havok’s Andrew Bowell also mentioned that Windows Phone 8 games developed using Havok’s Technology Suite will have immersive and real 3D worlds with highly realistic characters and cinematic visuals. There will be full C and C++ support, making it easier for developers to write apps more quickly. The gaming middleware that will be supported is Havok Vision Engine, Autodesk Scaleform, Audiokinetic Wwise, and Firelight FMOD, as well as native DirectX-based game development. In-app payments are also going to be a part of the ecosystem and companies will be able to create their own hubs and apps.
Work and Windows Phone 8
The next version of Windows Phone comes with the same web browsing engine that’s headed for Window 8 PCs and tablets. Microsoft claims that IE10 is faster and more secure, with advanced anti-phishing features, like SmartScreen Filter to block dangerous websites and malware. What was interesting to note was that Windows 6.5 provided a whole range of solutions for IT professionals, which was eliminated with Windows Phone 7. That was a step backward for professionals at work. Now, with Windows Phone 8, the experience is moving into the workplace with more features that companies and IT departments require.
For your IT needs
Windows Phone 8 will have built in device encryption technology to encrypt the entire device, which includes the operating system and the data files, so that your documents and passwords are kept safe. The next addition is United Extensible Firmware Interface (UEFI) secure boot protocol that features improved app “sandboxing,” so the phone is better protected from malware with multiple layers of security. With WP8, IT departments can manage apps and phones remotely with tools that they employ for Windows PC. Not only that, companies can create their own hubs for custom employee apps and other critical business information as well.
Windows Phone 7.8
Sadly, the current crop of Windows Phone devices will not get Windows Phone 8. That is a major drawback, but Microsoft is planning an update for the existing devices that will give them the Windows Phone 8 start screen and it’s called Windows Phone 7.8. Windows Phone 8 is a generation shift in technology, which means that it will not run on existing hardware.
- NFC will be integrated into Windows Phone 8 for sharing photos, Office docs and contacts.
- Windows Phone 8 will come with a new digital Wallet feature that 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. We doubt the last bit will come to India soon, though.
- Windows Phone 8 supports removable microSD cards, so users can stuff their phone with extra photos, music, and whatever else is important and then easily move it all onto their PC.
- Windows Phone 8 builds in Nokia mapping as part of the platform. This 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.
- Windows Phone 8 will support a total of 50 languages and Marketplace is expanding as well, app support will be for up to 180 countries, that is nearly triple the current footprint.
- OTA updates will be possible, so you won’t have to update your phone via connecting it to the PC. Devices will be supported at least 18 months from the launch date.
- The first wave of devices for Windows Phone 8 will come from Nokia, Huawei, Samsung, and HTC, all built on next-generation chips from Qualcomm, as mentioned earlier.
So, that’s what has been revealed so far about Windows Phone 8. Do you like it? Do you not? What did they miss? Let us know in the comments section below.
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