Its been almost year and a half since Windows Phone 7 was launched. And now at Windows Phone Summit, Microsoft previewed Windows Phone 8 . It talked about what the future holds for the Windows Phone platform and shared various aspects of the platform which the developer partners are interested in.
Joe Belfiore, Terry Myerson, Kevin Gallo talked about the future of Windows Phone in detail, showing some of its platform features. There are lots of new features in Windows Phone 8, that were not disclosed in the keynote. Focussing mainly on the platform & how it would benefit consumers, developers & hardware vendors, there were a lot of demos, along with what was in store for current Nokia Lumia customers.
Shared Windows Core
In Windows Phone 7, the heart of the OS is based on Windows CE. And though this was great for low-cost, low power phones that preceded Windows Phone 7, as phones got more powerful, it was felt that the hardware could benefit immensely from a core upgrade. The biggest announcement thus, was about the shared Windows Core: Windows Phone 8 will come with a Shared Core – common core between Windows Phone 8 and Windows 8.
The Windows Kernel which is in use today by more than 1.3 billion people today. It is well-tested and has high familiarity among people.. Now this familiarity, performance and reliability is coming to Windows Phone 8! For consumers, this Shared Core, means much greater choice in Hardware. So we will now get to see a wider range of Phones with wider range of capabilities at wider range of price points. We will see amazing Apps experience with the kind of apps coming in Windows Phone 8.
From the developers point of view, those who are working on Shared common core in Windows 8, will have a very easy transition to Windows Phone 8, and similarly developers who have done their apps in Windows Phone 8 already can port their apps easily to Windows 8.
So its better for consumers, better for developers and better for hardware partners too, as at the heart of the shared core, the kernel exposes the driver model for many of the devices in the phone, tablet, laptop or a PC. When the code is common, then many of the manufacturers who build those components, have to write the driver code one time, & expose the code across a range of devices from the high end desktop PC, to a portable tablet to a low cost Windows Phone. Thus we can see how the Shared code benefits all!
8 new platform announcements
As mentioned earlier, there are many new end-user features, but Microsoft didn’t disclose them all, but focused mainly on platform features, which is the foundation of Windows Phone 8 and previewed it to show how it benefits a wide range of audience.
1. Hardware Related :
A. Windows Phone 8 to support Multi-core chipsets – Shared core with its Kernel in the course of many years is optimised for multi-core chips. The shared kernel which is shipping with Windows Phone 8 has already been tested on 64 core machines on desktops & servers. And the smooth experience the users of Single core Windows Phone devices had will be now much bettered on dual-core & beyond devices. The Windows Phone 8 releasing this fall has been focusing on dual-core, optimizing it for great performance & battery life.
B. Windows Phone 8 to support new Higher Screen Resolutions – When Windows Phone 7 was launched, it was supporting one screen resolution. This was done to give the ecosystem to focus on a single target. Was easier for ISVs to implement apps as they know that apps work great on every Windows Phone. Now this is the right time to expand and its moving up and adding 2 new High definition resolutions – 720p (1280×720) 16:9 and WXGA/720p+ (1280×768) 15:9 . And this choice was intentional making sure graphics hardware supports all of the existing Windows Phone 7.5 apps and works well without any modifications on these new resolutions.
C. Windows Phone 8 to support Removable MicroSD – With Windows Phone 8, Removable MicroSD support is added as core part of the platform. This MicroSD supports PC too. An end user can add a MicroSD card when he requires to enhance the storage and also use to transfer contents between PC to Phone or among phones. It not only helps users but also hardware vendors and operators. As the cost can be kept lower by providing lower storage and user can add when he requires.
3. Native code – Common platform for Windows Phone 8 and Windows – Another exciting announcement was about the Native Code development. The biggest effect this will have on Windows Phone will be the arrival of freaking amazing games. Lot of benefits comes along because of this shared architecture between PC and Windows Phone, as they both share DirectX, share common graphics drivers. So when a game developer writes code for a detailed rich immersive game experience for a PC, will have an easy port for their games to be on the phone too. And because of the shared core, the capability of phones can be scaled up to have some beefy powerful Phones running some amazing games. A threat for the handheld consoles, maybe? A Windows Phone as a hand-held gaming device?
Another big benefit of Native Code support is the Portability across platforms. Developers who have developed apps writing complex codes on iOS or Android will find it much easier to port their codes on Windows Phones. We will see more apps, bigger important apps coming faster to Windows Phone and will see unbelievably beautiful immersive games on Windows Phones.
4. NFC support– Another Hardware related feature that will not only benefit the end-user but also the developer & Hardware vendor is Support for Native NFC. Support for NFC is not limited to phone. The Shared Windows core enables NFC scenarios between phones, laptops, PCs.
5. Wallet Experience – The support for NFC leads to another feature. Windows Phone 8 will include the most complete Wallet Experience on any Smartphone. It will be providing better experience than Google’s model of Wallet
Every Windows Phone will include the Wallet Hub & whether ones Mobile operator has the support for Secured SIM or not one still gets all the benefits of 3rd party services integrating with the Wallet.
6. Windows Phone to include Nokia Map Technology & Turn by Turn Directions – Windows Phone 8 will include Nokia’s Mapping Technology built-in! So the users will be getting the benefits of the Nokia map data. Thus Windows Phone will have better detailed local information in maps across the globe by NAVTEQ map data. Another benefit is these work offline. So one can choose a region of the World and Store the Map data. So when you travel to that place, even in poor connectivity can access the maps. All these are put on a Map control to be utilised by Developers.
Apart from this Windows Phone in partnership with Nokia is providing Turn by Turn Directions, which will be included in Windows Phone in many countries across the world.
7. Windows Phone 8 Ready for Business - This feature addresses IT Administrators who were not happy with what Windows Phone has had to offer for their enterprise or business. Windows Phone 8 addresses those concerns and is ready for Business! Windows Phone 8 will Support Encryption and Secure Boot. Microsoft’s well known and proven BitLocker Technology will be encrypting the contents of the device. So the data will be very safe on a Windows Phone 8.
Apart from this Windows Phone 8 will allow IT administrators to sign & deploy apps in their own way without going to Microsoft’s marketplace. Now WP8 allows you to set up one’s Line of Business app deployment. Device management will be provided, similar to what we are already using on a Windows PC. And Windows Phone 8 will continue to provide the familiar Office Apps.
8. New Start Screen - Actually its not a platform feature but an end user feature which will have the platform implications. Windows Phone 8 will provide a new Start Screen. Putting the user in total control of the Live Tiles – more beautiful, customizable and more Personal – you can set the size of any tile – can pin any tile to StartScreen and offer more colors too!
These are just some of the Platform related features of Windows Phone 8. Apart from these there are many more cool features which have not been revealed yet. I would recommend to watch the Full Keynote video of the Windows Phone Summit to see the actual demo of these cool features such as NFC, Wallet, Amazing Games, etc.
Apart from these here are some more WP8 features to be noted:
- Windows Phone 8 will be first available on 4 Hardware OEMs – Nokia, Huawei, Samsung and HTC. All of these devices will be built on Next Generation Silicon from Qualcomm and will have the Best Windows Phone
- Improved multitasking, Talk with your apps – Speech enabled apps
- Windows Phone 8 will be available all over the World. 50 languages (including Hindi ), Apps available in 180+ countries.
- And for updates one doesn’t have to connect your USB cable, Updates will be delivered Over the Air !!
- Microsoft will support every device for at least 18 months from the date of launch of that device
- Microsoft to let registered enthusiast get early access to updates before broad consumer push
So all these will make Windows Phone 8 fresher and more uptodate than ever before!
- Windows Phone 8 is a generation change and because of this will not run on existing devices. But as Microsoft cares for Windows Phone 7.5 customers, its creating a 7.8 update for WP7.5 customers that brings to them the new Start experience. Also Nokia will be providing number of new applications in a wave of innovation for the current Lumia customers.Will be available by next week and ensuing weeks around the World. Apps such as
- Nokia Play To – To stream pictures, music & videos wirelessly. To your TV, Blu-Ray player etc.
- Nokia Counters – to track the data, voice and messaging usage. To monitor usage, mange costs, Set limits etc. of the usage.
- Nokia Music new ver- New ver of Nokia Music app will be released
- Camera Extras – Self Timer, Action Shot, Panorama maker, Smart Group Shot (Check the demo in the Keynote Video)
- Nokia to bring great updates to all core Transportation & navigation apps- Maps, Transport, Drive
So current Lumia customers will be getting so many cool updates !
You can watch the videos of the NEW Windows Phone Start Screen here.