At an event in San Francisco today, Microsoft took the wraps off its Windows Phone 8 operating system, after offering a brief sneak peek back in June to showcase some of the new platform enhancements.

Windows Phone 8 devices go on sale from November, and Microsoft is betting that a smartphone designed with people in mind can connect with the masses.

“Microsoft is excited for the world to meet the new Windows Phone,” said Terry Myerson, corporate vice president of Microsoft’s Windows Phone Division. “We set out to create the most personal smartphone there is, focused on keeping you closer to the people and things that matter most,” he said. “It’s also the best phone for Windows, helping you stay connected across devices. And finally, of course, there’s the hardware. We have a killer lineup of new phones featuring big bright screens, awesome audio capabilities and great cameras from HTC, Nokia and Samsung.”


Meet the Windows Phones

Microsoft’s Joe Belfiore, corporate vice president of Windows Phone Program Management shares that the Windows Phone, with the Start screen and Live Tiles, is highly customisable. Users can pin their favourite people, apps, games, and music to the Start screen and colourful Live Tiles will light up with real-time information and updates.

A new feature in Windows Phone 8 is Kid’s Corner, which offers a worry-free way for parents to share their smartphones when the kids start clamouring to play games on the phone. A simple swipe activates a protected place on the phone where kids can play on specific apps and features selected by a parent. Family and friends will also enjoy the new Rooms feature, which lets people create a private network to chat and share photos, notes, calendars and other content with a closed group of people, rather than the entire social network.


WP8 devices go on sale starting next month

At the launch event, Belfiore said of the new camera and photo features in Windows Phone 8, “I love using my phone to capture memories… The Lumia 920 and Windows Phone 8X both take gorgeous photos and videos, even in low light”.

The Windows Phone Store has 120,000 apps to choose from, with hundreds added every day and hits coming this holiday season, such as Angry Birds Star Wars, Cut the Rope Experiments, Disney’s Where’s My Water, LivingSocial, Temple Run, and Urbanspoon. As part of its announcement today, Microsoft declared that Pandora, the leading Internet radio service, is coming to Windows Phone in early Q1 2013 with one year of ad-free music.

Pandora's chief executive officer and President Joe Kennedy said, “Pandora now has more than 175 million registered users and over three-quarters of our listener hours now come from mobile and other connected devices. We are pleased to join other app leaders who are developing for Windows Phone and we are delighted Microsoft is sponsoring a year of ad-free Pandora for Windows Phone users. Our listeners expect Pandora to be wherever they are—in the home, in the automobile, and on the go. Offering Pandora on Windows Phone gives them yet another option and we think they will be delighted with the experience.”

Windows Phone 8 was designed to be the best companion with Windows 8, adds the company in its official statement. Windows and Windows Phone now share common underlying technology, which allows for shared tools, increased hardware support for multi-core processors, and a wide range of other platform capabilities. It also features a common look and feel with Windows 8, which makes shifting from phone to PC seamless and natural.

That underlying technology between Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8 now allows developers to create native C++ code – a shared development model that makes porting Windows apps and games relatively easy.

“We expect the hundreds of millions of Windows 8-based tablets and PCs sold next year to raise consumer awareness of the new Windows UI pioneered by phone,” Myerson said. “We believe more developers will target the Windows family now that we’ve made it easier to target a range of exciting new devices – from phones to tablets to PCs – running software that people ask for by name.”

Another advantage of using the Windows family is Microsoft’s personal cloud based service, SkyDrive. Now photos, Office documents and music are always in sync and available across all Windows devices.

The new Xbox Music service offers access to albums, songs and playlists whether you are on your Xbox console, your Windows Phone or a Windows 8 PC or tablet. And entertainment gets interactive with Xbox SmartGlass, which turns your mobile phone or tablet into a second screen that interacts with your Xbox 360 to elevate your entertainment experience.

HTC, Nokia, and Samsung have all introduced new Windows Phones that will start hitting the shelves in November.

The Samsung ATIV S is wrapped in brushed aluminium with the largest Windows Phone screen to date at 4.8 inches.

The designers behind HTC’s Windows Phone 8X and 8S saw Windows Phone 8’s Live Tiles, and were inspired to build the phones from the ground up on the same lines.

Nokia’s Lumia 920 packs an advanced camera into a phone. It’s the first phone to have Optical Image Stabilization along with Nokia’s trademark Carl Zeiss optics. The Lumia 820 has swappable back plates in bold, vibrant colours. Both Lumia phones are the first modern smartphones with wireless charging.

Windows Phone 8 is being touted as the one to make headway against competitors such as the iPhone and Android.

Tags: , , , , , ,