Microsoft takes another stab at mobile
Microsoft has had a big week – not only did they launch the next-generation version of their insanely popular Windows operating system and the eagerly anticipated Microsoft Surface tablet, the company today launched Windows Phone 8 at a launch event. Though there wasn’t a huge amount of new information about the platform revealed that we didn’t already know, we’ve gathered everything new Microsoft did let us in on today for your convenience here.
First, Windows Phone 8 will be coming to three of the four major US carriers – AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon. Sprint has decided to sit things out for now after sales and user reaction for their HTC Pro 7 fell flat, but there’s always opportunities for them to get in the game as time goes by. Though no specifics were announced, AT&T is certainly getting the Nokia Lumia 920, Nokia Lumia 820 and the HTC Windows Phone 8X; T-Mobile will be offering the Nokia Lumia 810, as well as the HTC Windows Phone 8X, and Verizon will be offering a variant of Lumia 820, the Nokia Lumia 822.
On the software front, Microsoft had a couple of announcements to make – first, they’ve bundled a new app on all devices called Windows Phone 8 Rooms, which appears to be a cloud service that allows Windows Phone 8 devices to share calendars, chats, notes, and photos. Devices can be manually included or excluded from a “room”.
Next up is “Data Sense”, an application and service that allows users to keep track of and optimize their data usage. Using some nifty tech, Data Sense will actually compress web pages to the point of offering a “45 percent decrease” when compared to competitors. Unfortunately, Microsoft is at the whim of the carriers here and need to wait for them to give the a-okay before they can launch the service. Verizon is all set to go, however AT&T and T-Mobile aren’t yet on board.
Next up is a redesigned lock screen, which has been designed to give owners a little “surprise” every time they open up their phones – photos from Facebook, sports scores, etcetera. It looks like a fantastic way to get information on the fly, however if I were to guess the lack of predictability and consistency could be off putting to some users.
Microsoft is also getting children in on the fun this time around, offering what they’re calling “Kids Corner” – a new specialized section of Windows Phone 8 with shortcuts to kiddie approved apps, games, and music that can be added or removed by parents.
The company is also touting an ever “improving” marketplace, with Microsoft announcing that such hotly desired applications such as Pandora, Cut the Rope, Angry Birds Space, Words With Friends, and more will be launching soon.
Update October 29th, 2012 @ 4:56 PM EST - Added information about the Nokia Lumia 822 for Verizon and the HTC Windows Phone 8X for T-Mobile.