At the Windows Phone Summit, Microsoft announces Windows Phone 8 platform preview. Microsoft said it would not disclose all the end user features, but instead, disclose the new platform features.
Windows Phone 8 will ship with a common core that is cross-functional with Windows 8. This will allow developers to easily and quickly develop and translate apps from Windows 8 to Windows Phone, or Windows Phone to Windows 8. It will also support multi-core chips, in fact, it could run on a 64-core machine.
Windows Phone 8 no longer focuses on a single screen resolution like Windows Phone 7 does. There will also be two new resolutions for Windows Phone and they will be 720P and WXGA (or as they call it 720P+), with these additons, WP8 will now support WVGA, WXGA, and 720p (800x480 15:9, 1280x768 15:9, and 1280x720 16:9) -- and Microsoft is saying that all current applications will work on these new resolutions.
Developers who are working on Windows 8, will easily be able to move their applications to the phone platform. Likewise, those who have already developed applications for Windows Phone 7.5, will easily be able to move their applications to Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8.
Windows Phone 8 will support removable microSD cards and also make it easier for iOS and Android developers to port over their apps and games to Windows Phone.
Microsoft says, removable Micro SD support will be core to the platform too, and that they believe will allow vendors to create lower costs device as they can ship with less memory and then you can supplement with an SD card if you need more storage.
NFC will also be available on Windows Phone 8 that will allow communication between phones, tablets and PCs.
WP8, Microsoft says will also support "the complete wallet experience" with the Wallet hub. The Wallet hub will integrate receipts, frequent flyer information, balances, and with a secure SIM, you can use cards in your wallet to make purchases and payments. Currently, they are working with ISIS but at launch, will not be onbaord with the service that nearly all US carriers are using. Microsoft said to expect ISIS integration, next year.
Microsoft will also be bringing IE10 to Windows Phone and it will be using the same engine as on the desktop which will make web developing easier. It will also come with Microsoft's SmartScreen technology to help keep you (and your family members) safe on the web.
Windows Phone 8 will features built-in Nokia mapping technology including turn-by-turn navigation and will work offline and all third part apps will be able to access offline maps too.
Encryption and secure-boot are two business features that will also come with Windows Phone 8, along with BitLocker, LOB App deployment, Device Management and familiar Office apps. IT folks will also be able to sign and deploy application without using Microsoft's Marketplace.
And best of all, Windows Phone 8 comes with a newer Start Screen that allows users to adjust the tile size and customize the colors. The new start screen featuring new Live Tile sizes, resizing the home page to include 4 small tiles (or 2 medium, or 1 large) across, and includes more apps on screen at one time, pin apps, set size of app tiles and more!
The new start screen also introduces more features and customizations, such as abilities to pin apps and contacts, shrink or increase the sizes of app tiles, and more!
Here is how the new start screen looks:
For developers out there, Microsoft will be bringing native code support which will allow for top notch games and capabilities. Here is what developers can expect from WP8:
- 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.
In addtion to aforementioned developers features, Microsoft says, that later this summer, they'll release Windows Phone 8 Software Development Kit (SDK) and the new Visual Studio 11-based development tools.
Microsoft also revealed that existing Windows Phone 7.5 users will receive an upgrade to Windows Phone 7.8, and "not Windows Phone 8" -- mainly because Windows Phone 8 is a generation shift in technology, which means that it'll not run on existing hardware. But, Microsoft is planning to release an update with the new Windows Phone 8 Start screen calling it "Windows Phone 7.8."
Windows Phone 7.8 will come with the new Windows Phone 8 Start Screen, and includes re-sizable Live Tiles, new colors for the tiles and the removal of the gap on the right side of the Start Screen.
Microsoft's Greg Sullivan explained that "the nature of the investment [in Windows Phone 8] is primarily in areas that are not exploitable by existing hardware." Windows Phone 8 introduces support for multi-core processors, amongst other things, so the "Lumia 900 getting support for using dual-core or NFC doesn't mean a lot," says Sullivan, "because it doesn't have the hardware to take advantage of that." Microsoft decided to focus its efforts on Windows Phone 8 to make it as good as it possibly could.
Microsoft announced a number of new platform improvements coming to Windows Phone 8, including a "Shared Windows Core", support for multi-cores, NFC, Micro SD, and a new Start Screen, featuring new Live Tile sizes, resizing the home page to include 4 small tiles (or 2 medium, or 1 large) across:
"When you pull that Lumia out of your pocket after you've received that 7.8 update, it will look and feel the same as a Windows Phone 8 device," claims Sullivan. "Because you don't have a multicore chip and don't have some of these other elements, it didn't make sense for us to make those investments for devices that couldn't really exploit them." We pressed Sullivan for details on which devices will be upgradeable to Windows Phone 7.8, but he wouldn't reveal specifics. "I think it's safe to assume to latest generation of devices are a primary target," he said, pointing to the Lumia 900 as an example of a device that the company wants to "keep fresh."
The new Windows Phone 8 OS will also include the new Metro Windows Logo.
Windows Phone 8 is expected this Fall.
Microsoft also revealed that all Windows Phone 8 devices will get OTA updates, so you don't have to bother plugging your phone into your PC to update anymore. And all devices will receive all updates for 18 months from device launch, guaranteed.
Microsoft shows the current launch partners for Windows Phone 8. 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.
WP8 will have native Skype support, and it will work on top of the lock screen as well. Of course, Skype will work in the background too which should appease those of us who like to use Skype and other applications at the same time.
Microsoft also revealed that Nokia has created a number of new and updated Windows Phone apps for the current version of the OS. The apps will be made available to owners of the various Lumia devices starting sometime next week.
One of the new apps will be called "PlayTo," which will allow users to share photos, video and music wirelessly with others. Another new app "Nokia Counters," will give Lumia owners a new way to make sure their data, text and voice use doesn't go over their wireless carrier's caps.
An update to Nokia Music will take the version number to 3.0 and add in a new feature that lets it recommend songs to users without any need to sign up or login. Camera Extras will also get an update that will add a number of new features, including a self-timer and ways to take actions and panorama shots. It will also have a new Smart Group Shot feature that will suggest which image will be the best one to keep.
Updates to Nokia Maps, Nokia Transport and Nokia Drive are coming soon as well. The Nokia Drive update will include My Commute, which will figure out the best travel route to take for the least amount of time.
And Nokia is helping deliver the much-requested Zynga games Words with Friends and Draw Something to Windows Phone later this year.
Microsoft also revealed that Windows Phone Marketplace officially hit 100,000 apps and games--"a milestone we reached faster than Android," and a testament to the thousands of talented developers around the world who've supported us since launch. Together they deliver more than 200 new titles, on average, each day.
To mark the milestone, Microsoft announced a new batch of marquee titles. The official Audible app for audiobooks arrives in 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.
And don't miss the fun new "100,000 Apps and Counting" mugs and other goodies in the official Windows Phone Gear Store!
On the localization past, Microsoft says, WP8 will support a total of 50 languages, or double the current geographic coverage. Also, the company is expanding Marketplace, to support app downloads in over 180 countries--"nearly triple its current footprint."
Also, with WP8, Microsoft is moving into the workplace in a big way, introducing a number of features and capabilities include:
- 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, Microsoft also announced of working to create a program that gives registered enthusiasts early access to updates prior to broad availability.
Here's a full list of all Windows Phone 8 features announced today:
- 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, for reasons I'll touch on in a moment.
Here are some more screen of the new Stat Screen:
This short video shows the new Start screen in action:
Here is a summary of features that Microsoft didn't reveal during the event (via):
- DataSmart based on the metered broadband connection capabilities in Windows 8, helps users to monitor their data usage on WP8 device, and ensures that users get the most out of their data plans. This is comprised of:
- Cloud-based browser proxy service in Internet Explorer 10 - which limits the amount of data used by Internet Explorer 10 and apps by compressing web traffic. It is said that this feature saves about 30 percent in bandwidth usage.
- DataSmart app - allow users to monitor their data usage against their carrier's data plan. The Live Tile allow users see their data usage on the fly.
- Local Scout Wi-Fi hotspot searching - a new feature to Local Scout that will help users find nearby Wi-Fi hotspots. Windows Phone 8 can also be configured to automatically offload from cellular data to mobile operator-owned Wi-Fi networks, without any user action required.
- Xbox SmartGlass - allow Windows Phone 8 to connect with Xbox 360 to make games and contents more interactive and more engaging. This is also augmented by Play To and Play on Xbox functionalities in the various Xbox Live Games, Xbox Music and Xbox Video apps, similar to Windows 8's counterparts.
- Device Management - device management can now be done over the air via a new Metro style sync app or via the Windows Phone website. Users can also share content from their Windows 8/RT based devices to the phone using standard home networking sharing technologies.
- NFC wireless sharing - using the built-in NFC tap and share feature, you can share photos, Office docs, and contact info by simply tapping with another NFC-enabled device. This was actually shown during the Windows Phone Summit yesterday.
- Cloud Music and Video access - SkyDrive is no longer just limited to the Office and Photos hubs, serving only documents and pictures directly from the cloud to your phone, but also music and videos. Users will be able to access their music and videos stored on SkyDrive directly from the new Xbox Music and Xbox Video apps.
- Fetch - SkyDrive's "fetch" functionality, currently available on the SkyDrive application for Windows, will be built-in to Windows Phone 8. You will be able to navigate into your phone's storage via SkyDrive.com, and copy content (like camera-taken photos) back and forth seamlessly.
- New social networking integration - particularly with those social networks in China, such as Sina Weibo, will be coming. It is said that more functionality to existing and new social networks will also be coming.
- Rich Communications Suite (RCSe) app - a dedicated RCSe app will be coming, being co-developed with Nokia, and takes advantage of the extensibility features of the contact card and calling interface. It will meet operator requirements and provides cross-communications app integration via the RCSe service.
- Skype app - a revised Skype app will also be coming which also takes advantage of the extensibility features of the contact card and calling interface, so that a "Skype" option will appear next to phone numbers, messaging links, and the like, for those contacts that use Skype.
- Lens apps - In Windows Phone 7.x, Microsoft allowed individual OEMs to customise the Camera app, but created an inconsistent experience across various devices from different OEMs. Windows Phone 8 is set to change this, and with the help of Nokia, the OS will includes a basic Camera with great new features that provide most of what users are looking for. However, this is now also extensible and Microsoft will let third party apps plug into the Camera experience, letting these Lens apps to be launched when a user presses the camera button (rather than the built-in Camera app). You will also be able to identify in the Photos hub which pictures was taken with which Lens app, and then subsequently edit it within the corresponding Lens app.
- App-to-app communication - Much like Windows 8's contracts feature, Windows Phone 8 will also support the same app-to-app communication functionality. An example was actually shown during the Windows Phone Summit, where within a third party app a user is able to quickly check-in via the Facebook app, without even leaving the first app.
- Location and context-sensitive recommendation - It is said that Windows Phone 8's Local Scout will offer a new personal recommendations feature, and other new location- and context-sensitive features will also be coming.
- Bing integrated into Marketplace - The Windows Phone marketplace will automatically list the known good apps that are matched to the user's buying and downloading habits. You will notice things like "Top Apps for You", similar to the Windows Store on Windows 8/RT.