Microsoft has announced that the first handsets running Windows Phone 8 will ship during the first weekend in November. Samsung, HTC, and Nokia will offer some of the first phones, and they’ll be available in the US from AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon.
So what’s new in Windows Phone 8?
Microsoft is updating its smartphone operating system with a version of the Internet Explorer 10 web browser that runs on Windows 8, offering users more customization options for the Start Screen, and adding more security features.
A new Skype app will also be available soon, with support for always-on features that let you make and take Skype calls as if they were normal phone calls. That’s not surprising, since Microsoft is now the proud own of Skype.
Other updates include a Kid’s Corner that lets your kids use your phone without getting into too much trouble, support for Wallet features such as mobile payments using an NFC chip, a Rooms feature that lets you create private groups which you can chat with and share content with, and tools for uploading your data to the cloud or synchronizing it across devices.
Pandora, Facebook, and Twitter have all unveiled new apps for Windows Phone 8 recently, and while there aren’t nearly as many third-party apps for Windows Phone as for Android or iOS, Microsoft is saying that many of the apps that matter most are available. The company claims 46 of the top 50 mobile apps are already available for Windows Phone 8.