Microsoft Previews Windows Phone 8 – The 21 Things You Need To Know

Windows Phone 8 Start Screen

Boom. Microsoft’s Windows Phone Summit just concluded, where the Redmond based company gave a sneak peek at the next big thing to happen to Windows Phone, after Nokia – Windows Phone 8 Apollo. It’s got me excited, to be really honest. Even though it’s a sneak peek, and there are tons more to come, I’m listing stuff that’s exciting and that you, the end users, should know. Let’s get going, then!

  1. Support for microSD cards, finally! Yes. Windows Phone 8 will support microSD cards, viz., external storage. You can speculate about File system coming to Apollo, and a File Manager, as a result.
  2. Multi core processors! Oh yes. Windows Phone Mango is very fast, but some games lag. Along with this, there will be newer Graphics processors, a new Qualcomm silicon, all of which, hopefully, translates to great gaming. And oh, did I tell you, gaming is going to be HUGE on Windows Phone 8? Yes. That’s right.
  3. Multiple screen resolutions support: Three different screen resolutions will be supported – 800 x 480 (15:9), 1280×768 (15:9), and 1280×720 (16:9). Should help them upscale and downscale, in an easier way
  4. Internet Explorer 10 Mobile: If you’ve tried Internet Explorer 10, on a Windows 8 preview version, you’ll know it’s nothing like any older version of IE. It’s really fast, and IE 10 Mobile will use the same HTML rendering as the desktop version. Really nice stuff, can’t wait for it to come to WP8. Better yet, it also features SmartScreen (anti-phishing.). Should hopefully help you from visiting scammy websites. There’s proxy support as well, so you can browse anonymously save on data charges (data compression takes place in Microsoft’s data centers). An aside: Microsoft says that the IE 10 Mobile is faster than Samsung Galaxy S3’s browser. If that’s true, then that’ll be a great addition. IE 9 Mobile currently, is very slow.
  5. Native Code access to Windows Phone 8 Developers. What does that mean, you ask? Great games, cool apps, and stuff like that. This basically should let you fall in love with Windows Phone. Developers, rejoice!
  6. Native NFC support. What does this mean? Should ensure you can use NFC between compatible devices, not restricted by the manufacturer/carrier. Great push for NFC. Microsoft has also added a Wallet app, where you can add basically any card – debit, credit, library cards, membership and loyalty cards and NFC Tap-to-pay support.
  7. Nokia Maps to be integrated into Windows Phone 8. Those who used to crib about all cool stuff being launched only for Nokia’s Lumia devices – you have a reason to smile. That is, of course, assuming you buy a WP8 device when it comes out. Nokia, on the other hand, just gave up on their most valuable asset.
  8. Business features: Windows Phone 8 will include full-device, hardware-accelerated encryption with BitLocker and always-on Secure Boot capabilities, just like Windows 8. Also, it will support additional Exchange ActiveSync policies and System Center configuration settings and inventory capabilities. Businesses will be able to distribute phone apps privately as they can with Windows 8 apps.
  9. New Start Screen! Well, honestly, I don’t like the idea very much. You get three different sizes of live tiles, now – large “double-wide,” standard medium, and small. And oh, you can resize any Live Tile, as you deem fit. I like this part.
  10. Better backgrounding – VOIP and Location-based apps won’t shut down when in the background. Smart, but I’ll come to a conclusion only when I check it out in real life.
  11. Which brings me to… Skype! Skype will be highly improved, with high-level access to APIs. It will still be a separate app, but won’t feel like one. In fact, any developer can build a VOIP app with deep integration into Windows Phone 8. Sounds good.
  12. New Speech, voice recognition system. Developers can use it in their apps. Users? They can communicate with their apps! Wow. And while we’re at it, Audible for Windows Phone is here! Available starting today.
  13. Local Scout, now with personal recommendations.
  14. In-app purchasing coming soon.
  15. Data Smart – lets you keep a tab on the data consumption, and avoid a bill shock.
  16. WP8 will support IPV6, with improved Bluetooth support.
  17. Support for 50+ languages.
  18. SkyDrive integration: Microsoft will make your content available on all of its platforms via SkyDrive.
  19. Draw Something, Words with Friends coming soon apart from Asphalt 7 and N.O.V.A 3. Draw Something and Words with Friends will be initially exclusive to Nokia’s Lumia devices, for a period of two months, after which they will be available to the other phones as well.
  20. Just before I jump on to the best part of today’s announcement – Camera improvements. Include a new ‘lens apps’. More details at release 😉
  21. And the last bit is the best one – Software updates OVER THE AIR. No need to connect your phone to the PC, anymore! Good? Okay. Then what about this – if you register as an ‘enthusiast’ with Microsoft, you will get updates before others. A.MAZING. I’ll do this the first moment I know where to. Don’t worry, I’ll let you guys know about this, too! 😉

Aside, they also said that every Windows Phone, beginning from Windows Phone 8, will be supported for 18 months = any OS update in that duration, will be released for your device as well.

Existing Windows Phone 7.x users won’t be getting Windows Phone 8, though. Single bad news from today, but that was expected by everyone. The shift from Mango to Apollo is huge. I really mean it. There’s a major under-the-hood change, but the WP7.x users will get the new Start screen, and some more. Stay hooked!

PS: Nokia, Samsung, Huawei and HTC will be the first to come out with Windows Phone 8 based devices. Huawei is certainly a surprise addition, but from what I’ve heard, they’re going to do a lot of exciting stuff, in the coming months.