So here it is – at long last, Microsoft detailed their new mobile platform, Windows Phone 8, yesterday. Although they have yet to detail the majority of new features that would be of any use to consumers, they did, however, let out a huge amount of new information including an updated Start Screen with a new UI, kernel updates, upgrade information, and more.
- First, and most importantly, Windows Phone 8 has been completely rewritten on top of the Windows NT codebase, the same kernel that is used in all recent desktop versions of Windows, as well as the upcoming Windows 8 and Windows RT. This means that Windows Phone 8 actually has more in common, from a tech standpoint, with desktop Windows than with Windows Phone 7, which was based on the inferior Windows CE.
- Compatibility for native applications, including applications written in C and C++ libraries, as well as with complete SQLite and Direct X support. Direct X, notably, is the same graphics engine that drives 99.9% of all PC games written for Windows. This should make game development significantly easier. Curiously, Windows Phone 8 does not support applications written in WinRT, the new language introduced in Windows 8 and Windows RT.
- Backwards compatibility with all Windows Phone 7 applications. Although Windows Phone 8 applications can now be written in these superior technologies, all applications written for Windows Phone 7 will continue to function as they did.
- Multicore processor support – up to 64-cores. While Windows Phone 7 was limited to single core processors (highly limiting the appeal of high end phones to enthusiasts, especially when compared to new Android phones which have been starting to appear with quad-core processors), Windows Phone 8 will support up to 64-cores.
- NFC (a digital payment method) support. Android had it, iOS is rumored to get it with the supposed iPhone 5, and now Windows Phone 8 has it too.
- Support for new display resolutions, including WVGA, WXGA, and 720p.
- SD card support for installing applications and putting media (such as music, and videos) onto.
- The new Start Screen, which will allow for customizable live tile sizes (which, if you ask me, looks more than a little unappealing).
- Integrated VoIP support. Get VoIP calls as if they were native phone calls through both wifi and carrier data.
- Built-in redesigned Maps application based on Nokia’s maps app, including offline support and “Nokia Drive”.
Now for the big downside – in an absolutely shocking move, Microsoft has announced that Windows Phone 8 will not run on old Windows Phone 7 devices, including the just-released Nokia Lumia 900. Instead, these devices will be getting a sort of stop-gap, halfway of a release called Windows Phone 7.8, which will include some unannounced user-end features of Windows Phone 8, including that new Start Screen.