Windows Phone 8 details revealed: No upgrade for Mango phones

Windows Phone 8 details revealed: No upgrade for Mango phones

Summary: Microsoft has revealed that Windows Phone 8 will have a 'common core' with the desktop OS, plus NFC and multicore support – but it won't run on current Windows Phone 7 handsets


Microsoft has given more details on Windows Phone 8, a major update to its phone OS that makes it easier for developers to port apps between desktop and mobile Windows.

Windows Phone 8

Windows Phone 8 will come with multicore support, NFC and a digital wallet, Microsoft has announced. Image credit: Josh Miller/CNET News

Windows Phone 8, code-named Apollo, will have a "common core" with desktop Windows, Microsoft said at a Windows Phone Summit event in San Francisco on Wednesday. This means it will use significant components of the desktop Windows 8, including the Windows NT kernel.

"With Windows Phone 7, there was one thing we couldn't change: the core technology was based on Windows CE," Joe Belfiore, Microsoft's manager for Windows Phone. "We could benefit from a change of core."

Among the details revealed on Wednesday is that Apollo will bring Windows Phone support for handsets with multicore chips. It also adds support for higher screen resolutions, covering 1280x720-pixel displays with a 16:9 aspect ratio and 1280x768-pixel displays with a 15:9 ratio.

Other new features include SD card storage, the addition of near-field communications (NFC) payment tools and a secure digital wallet. Microsoft's lead partner for NFC and its digital wallet is Orange, which will launch devices with secure SIM cards. New in-app purchases tied to the wallet will let users bypass the Windows Phone Marketplace.

Users will get a more customisable start screen, with a choice of three sizes of Metro Live Tile and new theme colours. Windows Phone 8 will also use the same Internet Explorer 10 browser as Windows 8, and will replace Bing Maps with Nokia's mapping technology, giving it offline mapping and turn-by-turn directions.

Describing Wednesday's event as a "sneak peek", Microsoft did not reveal the entire Windows Phone 8 feature set nor discuss the hardware requirements for devices. Instead it focused on the benefits to the Windows Phone ecosystem and to developers of improved links to its much larger and more mature PC ecosystem.

However, the company did say that Windows Phone 8 will not run on current Windows Phone devices, due to hardware limitations. Instead, Windows Phone 7 users will be able to upgrade to a new point release, Windows Phone 7.8. This will have some of Windows Phone 8's new user interface features, but will be built on the existing Windows Phone 7 kernel and will not be able to run Windows Phone 8 applications. Existing Windows Phone 7 applications will run on Windows Phone 8.

Porting applications

The 'common core' does not mean Windows developers will be able to run existing Windows desktop applications on a phone, Microsoft also pointed out. However, it does mean it will be a lot easier to port applications from one platform to the other.

Applications will be able to use common system APIs, such as those for file system and networking, and developers will be able to share code components between the two platforms or use the same device drivers. Phone and PC will keep separate user interfaces, as well as different multi-tasking models, while both will use Microsoft's Visual Studio 2012 development tools.

Microsoft is giving developers the ability to write native code applications in C++ in addition to the current Silverlight-based managed code environment. New functions will allow VoIP applications to run in the background, allowing messaging and app-to-app calling. Native applications will not have complete access to the phone hardware, and will run isolated from each other using similar sandboxing techniques to those used by Windows 8's Windows RT programming model.

The upcoming mobile OS is "enterprise ready", Microsoft said. New management tools and features include support for secure disk encryption and for controlled distribution of enterprise software applications. There will also be support for device management tools, with a set of APIs to handle integration with both Microsoft's and third-party software.

Windows Phone 8 and Windows Phone 7.8 will be available sometime in the autumn, with developer tools and documentation to be released over the summer.

Topics: Mobility, Smartphones

Simon Bisson

About Simon Bisson

Simon Bisson is a freelance technology journalist. He specialises in architecture and enterprise IT. He ran one of the UK's first national ISPs and moved to writing around the time of the collapse of the first dotcom boom. He still writes code.

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  • The Title is very misleading. The upgrade is allowed to 7.8 bar some hardware dependent features...
  • @NotInterested
    The title isn't misleading at all. Microsoft have failed to offer a Windows Phone 8 upgrade to existing WP7 Nokia Lumia customers including the newest Nokia Lumia 900. Its a disgrace.

    The currrent Nokia Lumia range is essentially obsolete, 'a stepping stone'. Its not really news though, the kernel switch was being discussed 4 months ago on buying sites such as UK's 'Hotukdeals', see thread 'nokia-lumia-710-vodafone-payg-could-unlocked-150-1138598'.

    Luckily HUKD isn't all full of MS Astroturfing deals. Anyone with any knowledge of MS & their platforrms, knew these phones wouldn't get an upgrade to WP8, because the single core processor wouldn't be upto the job of running the additional code base of Win RT. Ballmer had stated Windows should be perceived as a single OS, they weren't going to have WOA/Win RT, and WP8 based on Win CE. People put two and two together, and guessed right.

    Actually I think Simon Bisson probably fully knew in his heart of heart too, but still promoted Nokia Lumias, when basically they were MS's short term fix to get Microsoft through until WP8 was released. If you're spoon fed - occasionally it leaves a bad taste. I feel sorry for Nokia in all this because they have been used and left with a lot of phones that are now obsolete.

    If I was a Nokia Lumia 800/900 Customer I'd never buy another MS/Nokia product - as said -its a disgrace, especially for Nokia Lumia 800/900 users. Luckily many potential buyers were made aware that these Lumias didn't have much of future, through such sites as HUKD, and probably a reason sales have been slow in the UK. It has a fair amount of clout with regard to phone buying choices. If anything its a postive today for crowd sourced 'knowledge sharing' sites such HUKD, because the early comments were proved right.

    Microsoft still have a lot to learn from Apple, and upgrading their legacy phones to the latest full OS release is going to be one hell of a lesson for them. Watch the backlash begin.
  • @SoapyTablet

    So you reckon that Windows Phone 8 is going to run on low-end smartphones similar to the Nokia 610 this year? Or do you think Nokia and Microsoft are going to abandon that market?
    Jack Schofield
  • IMHO, Windows Phone 8 will probably accelerate the death of RIM.
  • @Jack.
    I don't think Nokia and Microsoft will, but I think buyers will abandon WP7, for all but the cheapest phones.
    The bottom-end Nokia 610. This will remain a WP7 Device, upgraded to WP7.8, in the same way not all Android Devices are ICS4.0.
    The Windows Phone Event today, talked about a WP8 using a multi-core processor, so the bottom end of the market will be left to WP7, until multi-cores are cheap enough.

    Its a dual phone OS Strategy, with a single Phone OS Aim. The Nokia 610 in its current form is abandoned in as far as WP8 is concerned.