Microsoft presented its latest mobile platform wares at the launch of Windows Phone 8 platform in San Francisco on Wednesday night. The company has had a hectic week so far, first with the unveiling of its swanky Surface tablets on Monday (18/06/2012), then with the big reveal of the snazzy Windows Phone 8 software that’ll be winging its way to many a mobile soon.
In the presentation, Microsoft’s corporate vice president of Windows Phone, Terry Myerson, and Windows Phone program manager, Joe Belfiore, gave a run down of the key features that will set WP 8 apart from previous iterations, and gave us a ‘first look’ at the exciting new mobile platform.
Homescreen MakeoverWindows Phone has had a bit of a design revamp since the days of its Mango iteration, with an improved user experience giving more control over the Live Tiles element of the interface. The two columns of medium sized tiles that were previously in a fixed position can now be customised into four columns of mini tiles, or one wide tile if you so wish. Mixing and matching tile sizes allows you to create a Tetris-style jigsaw pattern of all your different apps! Cool eh?
The new design will certainly attract new fans to Windows Phone who want to customise their own homescreen design, but those who like the standard two column look of WP 7 can still stick to what they know if they want to.
Hardware Restrictions LiftedHurrah! WP8 will have better hardware support, meaning devices featuring dual-core processors, HD screens, NFC and microSD cards will no longer miss out. There’ll also be an NFC Hub in Windows Phone 8, making contactless payments and NFC file sharing possible. Another new addition is a ‘Wallet’ app that will have the facility to store credit card details, and also support a handy in-app purchase system as well.
Microsoft expects the Windows Marketplace to expand rapidly now that the Windows 8 platform will be stretched across desktops, tablets and smartphones, mainly because there will be more of an incentive for developers to create apps with such a big audience reach. A limited app selection has been one of the pitfalls of Windows Phone 7, so the predicted Marketplace boost could encourage new customers to purchase a Windows 8 device.
The New Windows Phone 8 Start Screen
It all sounds pretty swish and is definitely a massive leap forward for Microsoft, especially considering that, aside from last year’s Nokia partnership, things have been pretty quiet on the Windows Phone front. The tech giant has also pledged to keep supporting the platform for at least 18 months, which does raise a few eyebrows as to what could happen to WP 8 thereafter. Hmmmm.
As with most new product launches, release dates are notoriously mysterious, but if the rumours are to be believed it’s likely that Windows Phone 8 handsets will begin to land in the autumn. Until then, why not take a butchers at the preview video and get a little taster of the Windows Phone frolics soon to come.
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