Eight new platform announcements for Windows Phone 8

Eight new platform announcements for Windows Phone 8

Summary: Joe Belfiore revealed eight new platform features for Windows Phone 8 today with many more end user features remaining to be announced. Existing WP 7.5 owners will get the improved Start screen experience too.


There is some in-depth, detailed coverage of Windows Phone 8 on The Verge, Paul Thurrott's Supersite for Windows, WPCentral, Engadget, and many others. Joe Belfiore told us on stage that he wanted to make eight new platform announcements for Windows Phone 8 so I thought it would be appropriate to list them here as a starting point for you to get an idea about what is coming in the new OS from Microsoft. He said they were NOT revealing all the end user features so expect a lot more from Microsoft this fall.

One: Latest and greatest hardware

The hardware features Joe talked about are current hardware specs we see on Android and iOS, but these are likely not what the next generation of devices will have and I think this is one area where Apple will surpass Windows Phone with their iPhone 5 announcement later this year.

Multi-core processors: So far Windows Phone has run with single core processors and the amazing thing is that Microsoft has been able to deliver a fantastic, fluid experience with this older internal hardware. Android requires multi-core processors to run well so it is quite a testament to the Windows Phone team that they were able to create such an efficient mobile operating system. Dual-core and more should enable even more capability and optimize battery life, but so far it hasn't been required to deliver excellent experiences.

More screen resolutions: Windows Phone launched only with support for WVGA (800x480 pixels) resolution and even on my large screen Nokia Lumia 900 it still looks great. However, the Live Tiles are large and when you compare current devices to something like the HTC One X or Samsung Galaxy S III wit 1280 x 720 HD displays you can see there is room for improvement in display resolution. Windows Phone 8 will support WVGA (800x480), WXGA (1280x768), and 720p (1280x720). The great thing is that all existing WP 7.5 apps will run on all resolutions without any required changes. Developers can optimize if they want, but it is not required.

Removable microSD expansion: One of the things that people complained about when Windows Phone 7 launched was the lack of capability to expand storage with microSD cards. I find it kind of strange that Microsoft is adding this in now when the trend is to move to integrated only storage with extensive cloud support. I rarely use microSD cards and am fine with 16GB or 32GB of internal storage. This likely appeals more to geeks, but may also appeal to enterprise customers who may be putting files onto external cards and popping them into their phones.

Two: Internet Explorer 10

I find the Internet Explorer browser in WP 7.5 to be an excellent mobile browser, but personally still prefer Google Chrome on ICS devices. IE 10 will include the following:

  • SmartScreen anti-phishing filter
  • 4x faster JavaScript performance compared to WP 7.5
  • 2x HTML5 support compared to WP 7.5

Microsoft showed the new IE 10 browser beating all others in SunSpider tests too.

Three: Native code for killer games

I am a sucker for good games, even though I don't spend a lot of time playing them, and purchase most of the latest Xbox Live titles that are released by Microsoft each week. With Windows Phone 8, Microsoft will be supporting a common platform across Windows 8 and WP 8 with native game development based on DirectX. Developers can write the same game for both platforms, which should end up giving us many more choices on WP thanks to the huge Windows 8 market.

Four: NFC support

Android, BlackBerry, and Symbian currently have NFC support and Apple should as well. I like NFC for reading my train commuter card and using Google Wallet and the more platforms that get it then the more prevalent the technology should become.

Five: Wallet hub

I wrote about some of the features in the new Wallet Hub and think it takes what Apple showed with Passbook to the next level to truly become a physical wallet replacement. The application will provide an experience for credit and debit cards, loyalty and membership cards, saved deals, and eventually NFC tap to pay.

Six: Nokia map technology

Nokia Lumia device owners have enjoyed a premium Nokia Maps experience with offline map support and turn-by-turn navigation. Microsoft will be bringing this to all WP 8 devices with NAVTEQ map data powering the maps. Apple announced a similar product for iOS 6, but without any offline map support.

Seven: Windows Phone 8 for business

Mary Jo wrote about many of the upcoming business features and if you watch the presentation by Joe you will see he mentions the following:

  • Trusted shared Windows core
  • Encryption and Secure Boot
  • LOB app deployment
  • Device management
  • Familiar Office apps

Eight: New Start screen

I find the Start screen with Live Tiles to be one of my favorite aspects of Windows Phone and have two primary screens (one swipe up) with the tiles I access daily. Microsoft is going to soon give you more capability as they get rid of the large black right rail and give you quad tiles where you can fit in four small tiles where one single tile fit before. You will still have the double wide tiles as well. I love the idea behind making a Social quad tile area or one for my favorite games and cannot wait to get this Start screen update on my Nokia Lumia 900 in the coming weeks.

WP 7.8 for current WP owners

While existing devices will NOT get the full Windows Phone 8 update, they will get a 7.8 update that provides the following:

  • New Start screen experience (gets rid of right side gutter)
  • Tile customization
  • Windows Update via WiFi

I know it is not much, but I bought my Nokia Lumia 900 knowing what it does now and am perfectly happy with it. Thus, getting the new Start screen tile layout options is great and one of the major fixes I wanted to see. That and the capability for taking screenshots, which we still haven't heard about and I can only hope is one of those user features not yet revealed.

Overall, Windows Phone 8 looks like a solid update for Microsoft and I just hope that Microsoft markets it stronger than they have in the past. I imagine it will become easier with the shared core and the excitement for Windows 8 has the potential to significantly influence the success of Windows Phone 8.

Related ZDNet coverage

Topics: Mobility, Microsoft, Nokia, Operating Systems, Software, Windows

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.


Log in or register to join the discussion
  • the wallet hub

    is for 7.8 just it wont support NFC.
    • You keep saying that.

      Yet people who cover Microsoft as a profession, don't seem to agree. Please point us to where Microsoft has specifically stated this.
  • What about Windows 8 APIs?

    A new OS is all about new APIs, otherwise its just bug fixes to an existing OS. Or an Service Pack in Microsoft speak.

    What will be the API differences? Will any of the new APIs port back to WP7? If not, this would mean WP7 won't run a lot of WP8 apps.
    • WP8 apps won't run on WP7

      Apps compiled for WP8 won't run on WP7. But if the developer is publishing an app that doesn't require the capabilites of WP8, he can publish it for WP7 and WP8.

      In Summary, WP7 apps will run in WP8, but WP8 apps won't run on WP7
      • They Added Languages - Can Those Target 7.5?

        According to my understanding, they didn't use to provide for C/C++ support. As they now do, could that support be used to target WP7 as well? That would be huge for me.
      • New languages

        @ WebSiteManager

        Unless these things are ported back to WP7, there is no way you could have access. This is unlikely though, because:

        - WP7 has relatively small and insignificant market share (no motivation by lots of existing customers)
        - WP7 phones (that is, all current WP7 phones) are already declared obsolete (bad choice... but, that's their decision) - so the WP7 market share has no chance to increase, ever
        - new languages likely are implemented using the new APIs, and those are not going to be available on WP7 either, for the already stated reasons.

        The worst thing is that those new languages are introduced because of demand, so that developers can use certain frameworks etc for new applications. Yet one more reason why WP8 apps won't work on WP7.
        If you write your app using any of these languages, it won't run on WP7, unless you rewrite it in another language (extremely unlikely to happen).
        • I would say unknown not extremely unlikely

          The markup / programming language pairs for Windows 8 Metro may not be exactly what will be used for WP8. To completely say that there will be no compile for WP7 is an unknown at this point. We should know in a month when the SDK is available.
  • RIP Lumia

    So the Lumia is already abandonware, months after its release. This is a pretty poor track record, at least compared to the iPhone. Of course, it's not terrible compared to Android.
    • Wrong. There is still lots coming from both MS and Nokia for Lumias

      See this for a small sample. http://conversations.nokia.com/2012/06/20/new-nokia-apps-zynga-games-to-make-your-lumia-even-better/
      I don't think yesterdays mini dev preview was the end of what 7.8 will include either.
      Johnny Vegas
    • Not Abandoning Any Time Soon

      When Apple came out with the iPhone, I thought it was a very nice device. I've had my Lumia for two months, and it's so much slicker than the iPhones my colleagues carry. I'll enjoy the new tile options I'll get with 7.8, but so far, I haven't seen anything in WP8 that makes me unhappy with my Lumia 900. Eventually, they'll come up with hardware or programs that make me be ready for a new phone, but I knew that when I signed a two-year contract. And I can guarantee you that I will glady recommend the 900 to anyone looking to get a phone anytime soon. Obviously, when Nokia provides a replacement, that may very well be better, but that's going to happen when you have two-year spans between phones.
      • WP8

        Ok, how didn't you see anything exciting in WP8, when WP8 doesn't exist yet and you had no chance to ever try it.

        Or have you some special access to Microsoft code and already evaluated WP8?

        What you outline is one of the problems I see with the smartphone sales in the US: they are usually tied to two year contracts. I live in Europe and most of the (expensive) smartphones are sold here without any subsidy or contract. Imagine, you need a new phone for some reason, to sign up for new multi-year phone service.. Nightmare.
        At least, we are not forced to claim our two year old smartphone is the greatest one available :)
        • He said WP8 stuff did not make him unhappy

          I read his comment as he didn't feel the need to upgrade for announced WP8 features.

          I actually disagree. The security and business features to me are core. If they get back ported to 7.8, that would be great. If they are not, I would hold off until WP8.

          I don't think we will know exactly until the SDK's are out.
      • Not abandoning any time soon ... either ...

        I agree, I looked at the new Windows 8 phones (and other phones) and came to the same conclusion. My HTC-HD7 is hands down the best phone I have ever owned. It does everything I want it to do flawlessly. Even things like my Slingplayer perform better on it, than on my Kindle or PC. None of the new phones come with a kickstand for watching videos - Something I use my phone for pretty often.
        The Office apps get used a lot, Skydrive works to WP7.5's advantage for the lack of an SDHC card slot for Music, Photos, and Documents in Office. Even the battery life is great. I think I'll hold off for a bit myself.
    • Why would it be abandonware?

      Does the release of Windows 8 Phones somehow cause the WP7 models to quit working? That the WP7 apps on the phone will disappear?

      It will still do everything two years from now that it is doing today, which appears to be good enough for people, as they purchased it with the knowledge that it will do what they want it to do.
      John Zern
      • Its simple

        New apps and new versions of the same apps will be *rewritten* for WP8. Those will not run on WP7.

        Most people don't know, because of the "Windows" part of the name, but WP7 and WP8 are two completely different operating systems, much like say, Windows and Linux. Some applications will be similar, but most won't.
        • Not REWRITTEN, just RECOMPILED

          Unless of course you require the new hardware or API capabilities. I also think Microsoft said they would be actively recompiling WP7 apps for WP8.
  • Great post Matthew

    Refreshing really; in a clear and professional style. There are many others at ZDNet that could learn a thing or two from you.
  • C'mon small tiles, these can't be delivered to everyone

    Major UI enhancements such as these put tremendous strain on the hardware making them difficult to port to older hardware;-)

    Keeps on getting better raofl
    Richard Flude
    • .

      That would be mildly funny if it wasn't for the fact that small tiles are being put onto the old phones. Good job!
  • Lumia Commercials...remember those?

    The ones where the snarky man claimed that the 'Beta test was over?'

    Guess it wasn't.