Microsoft last week showcased its latest software upgrade for its windows phone platform. There are numerous changes and expected additions, and some Eco-system fragmentation. So lets start with what’s new.
New Start Screen
The most Glaring change to Windows Phone 8 and also coming to update 7.8 is the new start screen. . “We’re going to have three sizes of live tiles, small, medium, and large,” says Sullivan, pointing out that the existing ones in Windows Phone 7 are medium and large versions. “The small tiles will enable us to fit more on the start screen, and to have things that don’t require a lot of real estate to convey information.” Inline with this change, Microsoft is also expanding the screen real-estate that you’re going to be able to place live tiles on. The trough along the right hand side of the Start Screen will now be filled with tiles. “It’s going to fill up the whole screen,” explains Sullivan.
Users will also get the ability to customize the size of every tile, so each one can now be small, medium, or large. Likewise, developers will now be able to create a custom large tile — something that was previously reserved for OEMs and Microsoft’s first party hubs in Windows Phone 7
Multi-Core CPU support, MicroSD, ie10
First up is multi-core support, with dual-core arriving from the outset, with future Quad-core support. “We have support for dual-core, quad-core, octo-core, in theory as many as 64-cores,” says Lieberman. WP8 will also support three resolution scales: 800 x 480, 1280 x 768, and 1280 x 720. The three screen resolutions supported in Windows Phone 8 will have similar aspect ratios (two at 15:9 and one at 16:9)
WP8 hardware will support removable microSD expansion, apps can be loaded from these cards, possibly opening the door for new distribution methods. As expected, WP8 will include Internet Explorer 10, which should deliver a desktop-quality browsing experience. The new and improved browser borrows the same desktop code used in the Windows 8 Internet Explorer 10 variant, and brings with it some security-related improvements. Internet Explorer 10 mobile will include a phishing filter and Microsoft’s SmartScreen URL reputation system — allowing Windows Phone 8 users to leverage the data used across millions of Windows systems to warn against malicious sites and phishing schemes.
NFC support & Wallet
NFC support is coming, and along with that, Microsoft will have its own mobile wallet. Plus Microsoft is giving carriers more control over mobile payments, by having them issue their own secure SIMs, and their wallet system will support support ISIS, the payment cabal Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile are on-board with.
Nokia Maps on all Windows 8 devices
Bing Maps will now be powered by Nokia, for more accurate mapping and turn-by-turn navigation and offline Map support. “Nokia Maps will now fuel the first party map experience on the device,” explains Lieberman,The change will see Nokia’s NAVTEQ data fuel the mapping experience in Windows Phone 8 and “in a lot of other places too” for Microsoft’s services
Skype & VOIP Integration
” Microsoft is building in the APIs and infrastructure to support generalized VoIP applications in Windows Phone 8, including Skype and others. “Skype largely will just be an application that you’ll be able to download that will take advantage of the VoIP integration that we think will be industry leading,” explains Sullivan. The integration means VoIP applications will become a full first-class app on Windows Phone 8 handsets, allowing them to integrate into the phone dialer, People Hub, and more. Sullivan believes the integration is so good that he jokes Apple should create its own FaceTime app on Windows Phone 8, “it’ll actually be better integrated on Windows Phone than it is on the iPhone.” The functionality is clearly a platform by itself, allowing app developers to plug into it in a seamless way. “Skype is fully gonna take advantage of that,” says Sullivan, “but it’ll still be an app you download.”
WP8, and Microsoft is looking to see a bunch of new high-performance titles developed for the platform, with a focus on gaming. So WP8 will allow developer use native C and C++ libraries, alongside SQLite and Direct X support, making it easier to port PC games or making it easier for PC game
Enterprise & Business Features
One big aspect for big business and enterprise users is on-device encryption, something that Microsoft plans to support in Windows Phone 8. Microsoft is also adding support for device management, internal line-of-business software, and a private marketplace for application distribution in the enterprise. “Some of the key things that our enterprise and IT customers have been asking for will be enabled,” promises Sullivan, a move that will please Microsoft’s crowd of IT pros who had been calling for such features.
Windows Phone 7.8 for Current Windows Phone devices
“We’re saying fall for availability of new phones running Windows Phone 8,” says Sullivan. Existing Windows Phone 7.x users will also receive the 7.8 update around that time, bringing UI updates and other undisclosed “core customer experiences.” So current Windows Phone user like myself won’t be left out of the mix in UI changes. What this amounts to, is that most hardware specific changes coming to Windows 8 like screen resolution, NFC will no t be part of the Windows 7.8 update coming in a couple of weeks