Thursday, June 28, 2012

Windows Phone 8: All you need to know and more

 

It’s not even been a week, when Microsoft launched their own tablet line – Microsoft Surface and now on June 20th, the software giant gave another surprise to its Windows Phone users by giving a sneak-peak into their latest version of Windows Phone Operating System, Windows Phone 8. Microsoft held a press conference in San Francisco to showcase the new features of the latest mobile OS. Microsoft claimed that the new version of mobile OS is the most advanced version they have ever created. Windows Phone 8 will adopt the Windows NT kernel in place of the old Windows-CE architecture. Windows NT kernel will share many features with Windows 8, which will allow applications to run on both platforms.

The latest version will be available to the new phones only because of the changes in hardware requirements and it will officially launch later this year.

So, what is Windows Phone 8? Should you care about its release? What’s in it for you? Read all this below.

 

Windows everywhere

Windows Phone 8 is going to share remarkable resemblance with the latest Windows 8. You probably have noticed the start screen of Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8, both looks somewhat similar. But it’s not only the skin that looks same. Both platforms will now share the same core. Microsoft has ditched the Windows-CE architecture and has adopted Windows NT kernel, which is also used in Windows 8. Which means the younger Windows Phone OS and the big brother Windows OS will work on the same technology, will have the same file system and same web browsing and media technology.

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The shared core has opened the gates of new opportunities for developers. Developers now will be able to use the native libraries of C or C++, with DirectX and SQLite support. In simple language, create a program for Window 8 and that same program can be ported to Windows Phone 8. Game Studios can port their existing Windows based games to Windows Phone and while writing a new game for Windows 8, they are writing the game for Windows Phone 8 too.

 

Changes, Changes and Changes

As Microsoft has opted for shared Windows NT kernel, changes will be there. Whether it’s in terms of hardware or new features (read apps). With Windows core, Windows Phone is now capable of supporting Multi-Core processor, dual-core, quad-core, or octo-core, you name it.

Windows Phone 8 will support new screen resolutions as well – 1280 x 720 and 1280 x 768, which will allow phones with whooping 720p high-definition displays.  These screen resolutions are going to have similar aspect ratios, one with 16:9 and two with 15:9. But a developer doesn’t have to write two separate codes for these different screen resolutions, Windows Phone 8 will automatically take care of it.

Microsoft said, Windows Phone 8 will support all sorts of removable MicroSD cards, which clearly means more storage space plus not to forget the internal memory that comes along with the phone.

Microsoft will now officially support NFC (Near Field Communication). New Windows Phone 8 will have a Wallet Hub, which will support NFC Payments and will also be able to store information of Credit Cards or frequent flier cards. If you ask us, it looks like Microsoft took the Google’s NFC payment part and Apple’s latest Passbook app and mixed it to create their own Wallet Hub. The NFC support will also allow Microsoft Windows Phone 8 to share content just by bumping it with another phone. They are calling this new feature Tap + Send. This new feature is similar to Android’s beam function. Microsoft is also planning to bring the Tap + Send feature to Windows 8, so that content can be shared between two OS easily.

The latest version of windows phone will also enjoy Internet Explorer 10, which is on its way to windows OS as well. IE 10 is way more secure and faster than its previous versions, with features like SmarScreen Filter and advanced Anti-Phishing features.

Nokia Maps will be the first party app for giving the map experience to Windows Phone 8 users. Nokia Maps will also bring the ability to browse offline maps, which was obviously missing in Bing Maps. This ability will enable users to store offline maps onto their phone and it will allow them to see it later without any data connection.

The most important change that will come is that more games and app are on its way for sure. Windows Phone 8 sharing the same core with Windows 8, will only results in a volcano of new apps and especially games.

 

A fresh Start

There are tons of features that have been given to Windows Phone, out of which one is the new flexible Start Screen. The Start Screen will be under complete control of the user, which will make it more customizable and personal. The Start Screen will now support three sizes of Live Tiles, small medium and large and a new palette of theme colors.

 

 

image-live-tiles

 

VOIP integration and Skype (Video Calling)

The VOIP integration means that VOIP apps are going to become a part of Windows Phone 8 universe, allowing them to use people hub and even phone dialer. Developers now will be able to tap into the existing phone features so calls coming from Internet can be answered in the same way a traditional call is answered. This functionality can be considered as a platform, allowing developers to use it in a way they want and Skype will automatically get advantage from it. We can also assume that deep Skype integration can be a part of Windows Phone 8.

image-skype-voip

Will the existing Windows 7.x devices receive Windows Phone 8 upgrade?

Unfortunately, the answer is no. All Windows 7.x devices are not compatible with Windows Phone 8 because of the hardware changes. Although existing 7.x device uses will get an update to 7.8 instead, probably at the same time when Windows Phone 8 will make its debut in the market.

Microsoft will give the new Start Screen of Windows Phone 8 to the existing 7.x device users, so that everybody can enjoy and use it.  This Start Screen update for existing 7.x users will be called Windows 7.8.

This is just a sneak-peak of Windows Phone 8 given by Microsoft at the San Francisco event. More features will be seen in the final version of Windows Phone 8. But one thing is for sure that it’s going to be a Gamers Delight, with all the native C++ and C library support. Whatever Microsoft is planning to give to its Windows Phone users, this teaser is more than enough to satisfy the Windows Phone fans.

So, do you like it? Is there something that you wish to be included in the new version of Windows Phone? Or will you still prefer Android or iOS over Windows Phone 8? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.