Today in a 2 hour keynote, Microsoft spoke for the first time about Windows Phone 8, the next generation of Windows Phone Operating system, and revealed a number of platform improvements coming to new devices “this fall”. While no specific phones were shown or announced, Terry Meyerson did announce that 4 device manufacturers would have Windows Phone 8 phones ready at launch: Nokia, Huawei, HTC, and Samsung.
Microsoft also announced that while current generation Windows Phones would not be upgradeable to the new OS, an interim version, Windows Phone 7.8, will be made available that will bring the new Start Screen (featuring a new smaller size of Live Tile) to at least some current Windows Phone owners.
Terry Meyerson, Joe Belfiore, and Greg Sullivan took the stage to announce that Windows Phone 8 will include a number of platform and system improvements, including:
- A “Shared Windows Core”, meaning Windows Phone 8 will be running the same core as Windows 8
- The shared core will mean that common software drivers for hardware devices (printers, etc) will work on Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8
- Multi-core support
- A new SIM-level “Wallet” experience
- removable Micro SD cards
- New screen resolutions, now supporting WVGA, WXGA (768 lines of resolution in landscape mode) and 720p. Current apps will work on the new resolutions
- Native Code support for 3rd party apps
- Nokia Maps built in (apparently replacing built in Bing Maps support)
- IE 10
- All 100,000 apps currently in the Marketplace will be recompiled by Microsoft to run faster and better on Windows Phone 8 (no need for developers to recompile or re-submit). WP8 will run all current apps
- Zynga Games coming to Windows Phone later this year, Audible app will be “available today”
- Improved speech integration, including app level speech integration, allowing “conversations with apps” (announced while taking a shot at Siri in the process)
- Full multitasking
- Built in VoIP support – developers will not have to code for answering VoIP calls, send to bluetooth, etc.
In addition, Nokia’s Kevin Shields took the stage to announce a number of new Nokia apps and improvements to existing ones, including Nokia Drive, Plays To, Counters, Nokia Music 3.0, and Camera Extras. These should be coming to Nokia devices as early as next week.
What are your favorite features for Windows Phone 8 (and remember that these are just platform improvements, user feature improvements are still to be announced)?