Thursday, June 21, 2012

Windows Phone 8, Windows 8 to share core code, but existing phones out of luck

Right on the heels of their announcement around a Windows RT / Windows 8 Pro tablet - one sleek and decidedly un-Microsoft-like - coming later this year, Microsoft held its Windows Phone Summit in San Francisco. There, the company formally announced what we already knew was coming: Windows Phone 8.

Some of the information was unsurprising. Windows Phone 8 will share its core code with Windows 8. Microsoft’s head of Windows Phone, Joe Belfiore said, “We can now say that there is one Windows. Windows 8, Windows Phone 8 ... one Windows.”

The new version will support dual-core devices when it ships this fall and - in the future - quad-core and even all the way up to 64-core devices.

Windows Phone 8 looks to be finally getting more competitive with iOS and Android ... it also includes support for microSD cards, as well as support for three different screen resolutions, 1280 x 720, along with 800 x 600 (WVGA) and 1280 x 768 (WXGA).

When it comes to device platforms, considering the rather limited horsepower of mobile devices, everyone wants their browser to work faster. Belfiore said that Internet Explorer 10 would share the same Javascript and rendering engines as the tablet version of the browser.

A Sunspider benchmark comparing IE10 vs. the Galaxy S III vs. the HTC One S and an iPhone 4S running iOS 6 beta showed IE 10 doing the best, followed by the Galaxy S III, the HTC One S and the iPhone 4S, in that order.

Native code support for Windows Phone 8 means it will be easier to port applications developed for mainstream Windows over to Windows Phone. Joining in on the Near Field Communication (NFC) / mobile payment / digital wallet party, Windows Phone 8 will also support NFC hardware.

In addition, Microsoft said that it will integrate VoIP services into Windows Phone 8 that the company feels will be "industry leading." This doesn't mean Skype integration, to be clear; Skype will remain a stand-alone app.

There is bad news, however. Since the current generation of Windows Phone devices doesn't have the hardware capable of taking advantage of most of the changes coming in Windows Phone 8, none of them - zero - will get the new platform version.

However, Microsoft has said that much of the Windows 8 user interface will arrive on current devices in Windows Phone 7.8. Those changes include an improved Start Screen, with three sizes of live tiles, small, medium, and large (existing tiles are medium and large).

Microsoft will also expand the on-screen real-estate can be filled with live tiles. The "trough" along the right hand side of the Start Screen will now be filled with tiles.

In terms of which OEMs will ship the first set of Windows Phone 8 devices, the list's top entrant should surprise no one. Microsoft's key OEM partner Nokia will be among the first phone makers with devices, but also HTC, Samsung and China’s Huawei will ship devices initially.

Devices will get ROM updates for at least 18 months, which might appease those upset about a lack of a Windows Phone 8 upgrade path.

Checking your credit score does not hurt

No comments: