Microsoft’s next-generation operating system for smartphones is on the way, and Microsoft is introducing some of the features we’ll see in Windows Phone 8. That includes support for a wider range of hardware including higher resolution displays, support for apps written in native code, and a shared core with the Windows 8 operating system for desktop, notebook, and tablet computers.
Both operating systems are due to ship this fall.
Windows Phone 8 will add support for smartphones with multi-core processors and removable microSD cards. Microsoft is also adding support for additional screen resolutions.
In addition to 800 x 480 pixel screens, we may see Windows Phone 8 devices with 1280 x 720 pixel and 1280 x 768 pixel displays. The mobile operating system will also add improved support for NFC, or Near Field Communication allowing for data transfer between devices.
Microsoft is also developing a Wallet app which will allow customers to use their phones to make secure mobile payments.
Common Core & App Development
Windows Phone 8 will share code with Windows 8, including kernel software and drivers for networking, graphics, and multimedia hardware. Among other things, this will make it easier for Windows Phone developers to port their apps to run on Windows 8 hardware, and vice versa.
Microsoft will also now allow developers to write apps in native code, taking advantage of DirectX 10 graphics. Up until now, third party developers could only write Windows Phone apps in Silverlight or XNA.
Internet Explorer 10
The same web browser will basically run now on Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8. Both browsers use the same rendering engine, so if a website can load on a Windows 8 tablet, it will also be able to run on a Windows Phone 8 device.
Microsoft is building Nokia’s mapping software into the operating system, offering support for turn-by-turn navigation and offline map access.
Microsoft bought Skype a few years ago — and now the company is finally making use of the software for mobile. Windows Phone 8 won’t just have a Skype app — the voice and video chat app will be built directly into the operating system.
When you receive a Skype call, it will appear like any other phone call, allowing you to use call waiting and other phone-like features.
Windows Phone 8 will support Bitlocker device encryption, secure boot technology, device management features, and mobile versions of Micrsoft Office apps.
Microsoft says this lets users customize the look and feel of their device to display the content they most want to see on the start screen. The change also makes the Windows Phone 8 smart screen work much more like the Windows 8/Windows RT start screen.
Unfortunately current Windows Phone 7.5 users won’t be able to upgrade, since Windows Phone 8 won’t run on any existing devices. Instead, Microsoft will release a Windows Phone 7.8 update which brings just some of the new features (such as customizable start screens) to current devices.
And while all apps written for Windows Phone 7 will run on Windows Phone 8, the reverse isn’t necessarily true. Now that developers will be able to write apps using native code, those apps may not necessarily run on older Windows handsets.
image credits: The Verge