June 21st, 2012
The early rumors of Windows Phone 8 were coming right off the heels of CES this year, such as the leak featuring Joe Belfiore himself. Fittingly, the same man has announced Windows Phone 8 today, and many of the rumors surrounding the upcoming OS have found themselves vindicated. So what exactly does this announcement entail? Let's see!
Before we cover what's new, I'd like to set some minds at rest, specifically, those who currently own Windows Phone 7 phones. There will be no direct upgrade to Windows Phone 8, however, you will receive an upgrade to Windows Phone 7.8. This is much akin to, say, the upgrade the Zune 30 received when the Zune 80 became available; you got everything the older hardware could support, rather than the new firmware straight. For the Zune 30, support for the squircle was useless, just like, say, NFC support won't help your Lumia 900 any. Microsoft's Greg Sullivan says to expect the 7.8 update only to come to current generation phones. Though somewhat disheartening, considering some first gen phones like the Samsung Focus are still prized, the good news is that older phones means you're that much closer to the standard 2 year upgrade cycle, meaning you have the freedom to upgrade and take advantage of the new hardware which is promising indeed. With that out of the way, what do we have to look forward to in new devices?
First off, it's confirmed that Windows Phone 8 will be powered by "the same core technologies that power Windows 8," presumably Windows RT (the ARM variant). Much like how you can resize live tiles in Windows 8 and gain access to different uses, you can change the size of Windows Phone 8 live tiles to small, to the regular size we're all used to, to a larger rectangle to show off snippets of text or larger images. This feature is also confirmed for Windows Phone 7.8. You can see this feature in action in the following video:
There's also a few much-desired hardware upgrades, such as larger resolution screens, multi-core processors, and wide and simple MicroSD support. NFC is making its way over as well, with an accompanying digital Wallet feature to support it. Internet Explorer 10 is coming along, of course, as well as Nokia's support in the built-in map tools. Speaking of Nokia, you may be happy to know that they're responsible for helping Zynga bring over Words with Friends and Draw Something, two of those must-have games for some people, along with a camera app to add functionality to the default set of features; you can check out those and other apps over at Nokia. Other apps, like official Chase and PayPal apps, are due in the future as well, with the new official Audible app available now on the Marketplace. For future apps, native code support will be improved, as well as improvements to multitasking. In-app payments will be supported, and VoIP programs can interface with the built-in calling function of the device (they're still phones, remember!) and be answered like any other phone call. Future revelations are also promised. And speaking of apps, Microsoft has now officially recognized their 100K barrier breaking and released a video showcasing some of what's out there:
Microsoft also promises more enterprise features (and further tempt people from the sinking ship that is RIM) such as device encryption and remote management, but for most of you this probably won't affect your daily lives. What will, however, is a further expansion of the Marketplace support, reaching 180 countries and 50 languages, which is quite impressive. Updates should be getting even better (remember how smooth, relatively anyway, Mango went over?) with over-the-air becoming the norm and a promised 18 months of support for every device from the date of its launch. There will also be a program for enthusiasts to sign up for early access, a welcome feature indeed.
And that's it for this round of announcements; it's quite a lot of information, and the results seem promising. New hardware is expected from Nokia, Samsung, and HTC, which makes sense considering they're the largest and most visible hardware manufacturers in Windows Phone devices, but apparently Huawei is also pledged to making a first-gen WP8 device, which is surprising considering they've never made a Windows Phone before. They distinguished themselves with quad core devices like the Ascend D, so it'll be interesting to see what they can bring to the table in Windows Phone 8. And that's it for the news, folks, enjoy!
[Windows Phone Blog]
5 comments on "Windows Phone 8 is finally here"
Pink Led Rush
Pretty excited! Have they said when the new devices are to be expected?
Well, there's a rumor going on about 3 HTC phones, Rio, Accord and Zenith.
Rio (the lesser of the 3) :
Display : 4" WVGA
Camera : 5MP 720p
Processor : Qualcomm MSM8227
Ram : 512MB
Connectivity : 14.4Mbps HSPA
Accord (middle of the 3) :
Display : 4.3" Super LCD 2 720p
Camera : 8MP 1080p
Processor : MSM8260A dual-core
Ram : 1GB
Connectivity : 42Mbps HSPA+
Zenith (the best of the 3) :
Display : 4.7" Super LCD 2 720p
Camera : 8MP 1080p (maybe if lucky, the One X camera?)
Processor : Not sure the exact number, but apparently a Quad-core S4 chip
Ram : 1GB
Connectivity : 42Mbps HSPA+
Now, take this all with a grain of salt as it may not be the real deal, but we'll find out closer to the end of the year, 'cause the Rio and Accord are apparently shipping in the September - October range, while Zenith near the Christmas holiday.
[source : wpcentral]
I'm really exited that WP8 is finally going to be able to compete with the "superphone" market with dual processors and HD screens.
Just watched the 2 hour Summit video and I am totally blown away. The only things I'm worried about is if I can use the Zune software with it or not and if Verizon will support many devices. I heard they might get rid of Zune software with Windows 8 for a more basic, user friendly name and software. Crossing my fingers with Verizon too.
Hopefully Sprint will be there too. My contract is up, and I am now holding out for the win 8 phones. It would be a nice thing if Microsoft can figure a way for the early adapters (Win 7 owners) to upgrade to the new phones at a reduced price, based on the amount of time that they have owned their Win 7 phones (the newer it is, the higher the rebate). That might help to silence the criticism that they are getting for now enabling the current phones to upgrade to the new O/S.
Unfortunately, this is the price of progress. Too many of the new features are hardware dependent, and would not work in the older phones. At least, they are getting something with the 7.8 upgrade, but if someone bought a Nokia 900 last month, they should be able to trade up to a new windows 8 phone for a reasonable price - perhaps with the proviso that the clock starts running anew on their contract.