Yesterday Microsoft held yet another press conference, however this time they weren’t announcing new Surface Tablets. Instead this time they were revealing Windows Phone 8, the latest Windows Phone version that will ship with the next generation of Windows Phone devices.
Microsoft are really struggling to break into the smartphone market, Windows Phone 7 was really meant to get them in the door, but sales are still pretty sluggish. However Microsoft is showing no signs of giving up, and Windows Phone 8 is yet another big leap for them, proving that they can keep up with the big players, Apple and Android.
So in case you missed the Windows Phone 8 announcement, here’s a round up of what’s new.
New Start Screen
Windows Phone has always had a pretty cool and unique start screen, but Microsoft have still continued to improve on it. As you can see from the screenshot above, the start screen now spans the width of the screen. There’s now support for more color themes and the live tiles can be adjusted in size.
New Hardware Support
NFC (Near Field Communication) support is the lasted big hardware change this time around. There is now also support for multicore processors, new screen resolutions (including 1280 x 720px) as well as support for MicroSD cards.
New Software Features
Windows Phone 8 will now support in-app purchases which is already found on both Android and iOS. Microsoft have also added in a new “wallet” which you can store personal info securely.
Windows Phones will now also be able to get over the air updates, instead of having to be connected to a PC and Microsoft have started bringing a lot of Windows 8 into Windows Phone 8, such as ways that the OS’s handle security, gaming and networking.
Microsoft recently acquired Skype and now there’s a new app for Windows Phone 8. Skype will be closely integrated throughout Windows Phone 8 and you’ll have the option to make calls via Skype or through your carrier once you install the app.
One final major feature that Microsoft introduced was “TellMe”, which allows you to speak commands to an app. For the demo Microsoft showcased Audible. You’re able to launch, pause, stop and resume media simply with your voice which is pretty cool.
So Who Gets It and When?
Well first off, current Windows Phone users probably feel a little hard done by, as they won’t be able to get the upgrade. However Microsoft has softened the blow a little and announced that Windows Phone 7.8 will be available as an upgrade. This will bring the new start screen along with a few other changes.
Microsoft didn’t give a specific date for Windows Phone 8 to be released, but they just said that phones running it will ship in the fall. They also mentioned the “Holiday Season” so it could be anytime between August and Christmas! I’m sure we’ll get a few more hints closer to the time.
Overall Windows Phone 8 is another big improvement for Windows Phone, which is already proving to be a great operating system. However Android and iOS are still leagues ahead of it in terms of market share and I’m sure this is something Microsoft are working hard to change.
What do you think of Windows Phone 8?
Let us know in the comments below
Image Credit: The Verge