Windows Phone 8 – a Win!

Today, Microsoft announced the Windows Phone 8 and its features at a Windows Phone Developer Summit in San Francisco which is due to launch this fall. The much awaited update to the Windows Phone does bring in some really cool features.

To being with, Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8 come together now – a shared core! The Windows Kernel is being used by 1.3 billion people, while the shared kernel will help Windows 8 developers port their apps to Windows Phone easily. There are 8 basic feature updates with Windows Phone 8 – let me sum it up in brief.

1. Latest and Greatest Hardware
WP8 will have 3 screen resolutions. So along with 800×480, we’ll now have 1280×768 and 1280×720 as well. Removable microSD cards will be supported. Even though Windows Phone 7 worked great on a single core processor, Windows Phone 8 will be shipped on multi-core devices to take advantage of superior hardware and quality.

2. Internet Explorer 10
IE10 will built in with Windows Phone 8. So HTML developers can code once and let it work the same on the PC, Tablet and Phone. Classic!

3. Native Code support
They had this one coming. It was pretty difficult to convince game developers on other platforms to get their game on WP for one big reason. A major shift in technology. XNA. Native Code support will let game developers adopt to the platform easily, based on DirectX. Same game for Windows 8 and Windows Phone.

4. Better sharing with NFC
NFC on Windows Phone – they call it Tap + Share. This feature is integrated deep into the OS such that it allows transferring app sessions from one phone to another. Aimed at Android, and Bulls-eye!

5. The complete Wallet Experience
Windows Phone wallet aims to take at the Passbook app in iOS6. Holds Credit/Debit card details, Loyalty and Membership cards, Saved details. Also supports NFC – “Tap to Pay”. Partnering with Telecomms around the globe can make wallet an elite application on Windows Phone.

6. Nokia Maps with Windows Phone 8
Nokia Maps technologies will be brought to Windows Phone. This will make the map business more competitive with a recent update on iOS with its own versions on Maps.

7. Enterprise Ready!
This is very Microsoft is always interested. The Enterprise market – and for good reasons, this market does love it back. Encryption, Secure Boot and Device management made available to Microsoft IT admin. Big thing – Sharepoint servers will also be included in the enterprise system.

8. The Start Screen
Adds customizable tile sizes. Tiles, which define you and you phone can now be customized to a newer level. šŸ™‚

You can view the whole keynote here

And now, the bitter part – Windows Phone 8 won’t be coming to old devices. There is not upgrade path to Windows Phone 8! Bummer. I literally imagined a bunch of Nokia Lumia 900 owners hurl their devices in the air. I’m certain, that the few who have bought a device in the last 30 days will opt for a money-back. I’d think otherwise, because there’s more to the news. Current devices will get the new Start screen update with Windows Phone 7.8. The current marketplace has 100k apps, and the count still be rising and developers will ship apps for WP7 for a reasonable period even after WP8 launch because of the large user base, and legacy support on WP7. Considering the stats, you can still own a Windows Phone 7 for atleast 8 months from now.

People rant about WP8 not coming to old devices – I’d say, it was inevitable. The hardware requirements are too demanding for the older phones. For now WP8 seems promising – once again, the execution of the device matters.

All in all – too soon to predict the outcomes before we see the devices. Windows 8 will be launched late in August, we can expect Windows Phone 8 by November. <Fingers Crossed>