Microsoft Corp. on Wednesday introduced its new operating system for smartphones, the Windows Phone 8. The new operating system is based on Windows 8 core components, which means that the mobile OS from Microsoft has finally gained the NT core, which means that the OS now supports multi-core system-on-chips, higher resolution screen and more robust software. In fact, Windows Phone 8 is a mini Windows 8 from many prospects.
Windows Phone 8 and the operating system for PCs will share common networking, security, media and Internet Explorer 10 web browser technology, and a common file system, which will translate in a PC user experience on a mobile phone. In addition, Windows Phone 8 will support multi-core microprocessors to boost performance and improve multitasking; higher resolution screens - 1280x768 and 1280x720; removable MicroSD cards; UEFI boot protocol to enhance security; support for encryption of the whole device; remote management; NFC wireless sharing for photos, Office docs, and contacts; Wallet application to keep debit and credit cards, coupons, boarding passes and other important info; improved maps and other useful features.
The new Windows Phone 8 and Windows Phone 7.8 operating systems will additionally support more flexible Start screen with smaller tiles and therefore easier to use. General user interface of both WP8 and WP7.8 will remain similar to current smartphones and thus the new handsets will be compatible with applications developed for earlier versions of Windows Phone. Unfortunately, neither Windows Phone 7- nor Windows Phone 7.5 will receive the Windows Phone 8 update as the latter requires significantly more advanced hardware.
... Means Better Software
Windows Phone 8 has full C and C++ support, making it easier to write apps for multiple platforms more quickly. It also means Windows Phone 8 supports popular gaming middleware such as Havok Vision Engine, Autodesk Scaleform, Audiokinetic Wwise, and Firelight FMOD, as well as native DirectX-based game development. Naturally, since WP7-generation phones do not support C/C++, they will not run apps designed specifically for WP8 and better devices, which will naturally upset the current users.
A rather questionable move is that with Windows Phone 8 Microsoft will integrate Internet calling directly into the OS itself. Developers, such as Microsoft-owned Skype, can create VoIP apps that plug into our existing calling feature so Internet calls can be answered like traditional phone calls, using the same calling interface. While end-users will most likely love the new capability, the operators will hate it as they earn money on voice calls.
Windows Phone 8 will support a total of 50 languages; Windows Phone Marketplace, the store for apps and games, will support app downloads in over 180 countries.
First WP8 Handsets Due Late in 2012
While Microsoft Windows Phone 8 looks very promising, it remains to be seen how well will it work and how well will it be received by the market. Given that Microsoft dictates hardware specs to device makers, it makes no sense to expect WP8 products from various manufacturers to be truly different. In addition, it is unclear how energy efficient will be a PC-class operating system on a smartphone. Finally, it is completely uncertain how will operators like the maximum integration of Skype and VoIP into the phones' platform.
The first wave of devices for Windows Phone 8 will arrive later this year and will come from Nokia, Huawei, Samsung and HTC, all built on next-generation Snapdragon S4 chips from Qualcomm, which probably points to incompatibility of WP8 with Intel Corp.'s x86 chips.