You'll love Windows Phone 8 if you like Windows Phone 7

You'll love Windows Phone 8 if you like Windows Phone 7

Summary: Look beyond the built-in consumer-facing upgrades, and Windows Phone 8 doesn't offer a killer reason to develop for the platform beyond what its predecessor offered.

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It has been a quality 24 hours for gadget freaks and lovers of shiny objects: Microsoft has unveiled most of Windows Phone 8, and Google has launched a trio of new Nexus devices.

HTC 8X
(Credit: Microsoft)

The Mountain View, California, search giant clearly decided that lowering the cost of its devices is the angle that it will use to generate excitement. And with a new Nexus 4 priced at US$299, it looks like a winner.

Meanwhile, the boffins at Redmond, Washington, took an entirely new tack with the new Windows Phone 8 (WP8) operating system.

Unlike last week's Windows 8 launch, where all and sundry knew exactly what to expect, and many techies had already installed and played with the new version of Windows, Microsoft decided to keep parts of WP8 under wraps to generate "excitement."

I'll admit that I was excited for today's WP8 launch, but it was the sort of excitement that one feels knowing that the 24-hour marathon showing of Bio-Dome will end shortly.

This isn't a new sensation. WP8 has been building developer angst for months.

WP8 is in the extraordinary position of having launched without a development kit being shown to developers at large — that will belatedly follow tomorrow, but the opportunity to allow developers to dip their feet into the new platform has been missed. It is a very un-Microsoft way to go about a launch. Normally, you'd expect the company to parade a series of applications developed to show off the features of Windows Phone 8. This time, though, we were left with our imaginations.

And armed with this new WP8 SDK, what killer feature of WP8 would make developers want to develop for the platform?

Microsoft hopes that it will be the increased code reuse between Windows 8, Windows RT, and WP8, and the ability to program in C and C++. But given that Windows 8 is barely off the ground itself, a lot of developers will still have to write brand-new "Metro" applications, or port older applications across.

There are plenty of baked-in, enterprise-focused features: company application hubs, full device encryption, Secure Boot, and improved device management. But nothing in this list stands out and cries for developer attention, and that attention is what Microsoft desperately needs. Similarly, the consumer-facing upgrades do not strike out as major upgrades over WP8's rivals.

Windows Phone 8 is offering developers not much more than what Windows Phone 7 possessed, albeit with a bigger screen, more Live Tile real estate, and hopefully a decent web browser in the form of IE10.

It feels more like an upgrade than a Windows 8-coupled revolution.

If your handset is of recent iOS or Android ilk, then there is nothing to be seen that is worthy of envy — in fact, I recommend just making groups of applications, simply because you can, as you will not see that on WP8. But if you are an existing Windows Phone user, or you liked the look of WP7, then now is time to jump into the ecosystem.

Australia will have five WP8 handsets on offer initially.

Nokia will be offering its Lumia 920 through Telstra, with its Lumia 820 available on Optus and Vodafone. Both handsets are expected to hit shelves at the end of November.

HTC will come out with its 8X and 8S handsets. The 8X is an impressive bit of gear, offering a 720p HD display (1280x720) with 342 pixels per inch (ppi) — by comparison, the iPhone 5 has 326ppi, and Samsung's Galaxy S III has 306ppi — and a nicely tapered body. The 8X will arrive on Telstra and Vodafone, and its 8S brethren will be found on Telstra and Optus.

Optus will offer Samsung's Ativ S phone exclusively.

A lack of handset options won't hold WP8 back, but Microsoft is now competing with an unlocked Nexus device that retails for US$299.

Microsoft is locked in a struggle for third place with RIM. Both are trying to make an impact in Western nations, but RIM does extraordinarily well in developing countries, whereas Windows Phone does extraordinary well at internal Microsoft meetings and not much else. At least RIM has a couple of cards left up its sleeve with BlackBerry 10.

Today, Microsoft has shown its cards — and it's the same hand we saw last time around.

Topics: Microsoft, Software Development

About

Chris started his journalistic adventure in 2006 as the Editor of Builder AU after originally joining CBS as a programmer. After a Canadian sojourn, he returned in 2011 as the Editor of TechRepublic Australia, and is now the Australian Editor of ZDNet.

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17 comments
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  • Price

    Price for the new Win 8 devices looks VERY aggressive, given the features built in. (Both hardware and (in case of Nokia especially), software too.

    Yes, Blackberry is still big in parts of the third world (Indonesia) but I see that coming to an end. I'm in Thailand and Blackberry was a fad for a while 1-2 years ago, but everyone is moving to iPhone and Android. I think that will happen in other countries too, fairly soon.

    In summary, RIM is dead; if Microsoft/Nokia ever had a fighting chance to survive, this is it!
    Han CNX
  • Re: You'll love Windows Phone 8 if you like Windows Phone 7

    Given that not many people seemed to like Windows Phone 7...
    ldo17
    • Well, actually you are right?!?!

      Those that have Windows Phone 7 satisfaction rates are extremely high. I have one and like it in contrast to the iPhone and Android. You should give it a shot, you might just like it.
      SmoothDouglas
      • Re: Windows Phone 7 satisfaction rates are extremely high.

        Satisfaction rates for the old Commodore-Amiga were amazingly high, too--one might say the users were fanatical about it. Didn't stop the company going bust, though.
        ldo17
        • Windows Phone

          is not a company, are you a troll or bitter because you are an Android fan? Must suck to own the sh**** OS in the market.
          Xenon8
      • Windows Phone 7 satisfaction rates

        no wonder, considering only Microsoft employees and fanboys bought it.

        For the average consumer, when they are not forced they buy anything but Microsoft
        theo_durcan
      • That is only part of the equation

        W8/WP8 are too late to the show. For the past two and a half years I have been being apps etc for iOS and it is now quite a substantial investment. even assuming that all of the apps exist for W8/WP8, I have no intention of dumping iOS and buying a W8 slate and WP8 phone to then have to re-buy all of the apps - and I suspect that the majority of iOS and Android users feel the same. W8/WP8 might be good, even great, but it is too late.

        Question - do WP8 apps run on a WinRT tablet (such as the Surface) or will all of the apps need to be double purchased?
        Wakemewhentrollsgone
  • This article is a little premature

    Considering the SDK was just announced to be released tomorrow, and we still don't know what all will be in it, this article seems very premature.

    The two things we do know, that C/C++ and the Unity 3D game engine will be supported ARE HUGE new reasons to develop for the Windows Phone platform. Lack of native development support is one of the biggest reasons why game developers haven't ported their games to the Windows Phone platform before now.
    noenflux
  • stupid argument

    I don't know if you're clueless or just trying to mislead people. There are so many errors in this.
    The point of C++ support isn't so you can develop with the same language on Windows 8 & RT & Phone, you can do that with C#.

    The point of C++ is to make it easier to port applications from other platforms. Are you trying to say that isn't a huge advantage for developers over WinPhone7?

    Comparing Blackberry to Windows Phone is stupid. Even the biggest Windows Phone Haters have given up on that.
    cpmcgrath
    • Re: The point of C++ is to make it easier to port applications from other p

      Well, considering Android was already doing that two years ago when Windows Phone first launched, it seems like Microsoft is a little late to catch that train...
      ldo17
      • @ld017, How much google is paying to troll here?

        it seems it is pretty lucrative. Would it be possible for you to pass some leads, I would like to make some dough for the holidays.
        Ram U
        • Re: it seems it is pretty lucrative.

          The difference between you and me is that I am primarily concerned with the products and the companies making them, not with the personalities of random commenters I might come across, whether on ZDNet or some other forum. Others seem to prefer to spend their time with personal attacks on each other (is that what "trolling" means?), I just try to keep in mind the maxim "play the ball, not the man".

          Because if you're playing the man, that's an admission you're not capable of playing the ball.
          ldo17
        • how much they pay you?

          do you do overtime at sturbucks?
          theo_durcan
  • No reason to move to Windows Phone from iOS or Android?

    I would argue that their are PLENTY of reasons to move to WP8.

    I purchased an Android smartphone because my carrier Sprint did not have a good Windows phone option and has demonstrated they do not care about Windows Phone. My local store does not even display the single token current WP7 device that Sprint has. They seem to be ignoring WP8, so I'll move on, now that my contract is up.

    In view of the recent research indicating that Android is becoming a malware-invested jungle, I'll happily leave that disaster behind and move to a WP8 phone.

    I'm also not at all impressed with Apple's iPhone 5, a device with nothing new to show us that we haven't seen already from other handset makers.

    I am impressed with what I've seen of the WP8 feature set. I'm sure it will integrate better with the Windows PC's that I already use in my work and at home. And I know Microsoft will have a greater commitment to security and reliability than Apple or Google because of Micorosoft's overwhelming presence in the corporate IT world, where those things matter. I can certainly envision a situation where corporate IT staffers will gravitate toward WP8 devices instead of iPhones or Android phones because of the ease of integration with existing systems. WP8 won't stop the BYOD movement, but it will put a powerful ally (corporate IT) in a position to help decide which enterprise-wide devices are used in the future.
    DrTechnical.db
  • You'll love Windows Phone 8 if you like Windows Phone 7

    Those words are so true. I love Microsoft Windows Phone 7 therefore I will love Microsfot Windows Phone 8. Live tiles and live apps to give me information on the screen so I don't have to go looking for apps will be hard to beat. Now we just need some release dates for these phones.
    Loverock Davidson-
    • Microsfot Windows Phone 8

      That's what it is now called, interesting.
      RickLively
  • What about NFC

    WP7 didn't have NFC. Are you telling me that you can't think of some cool applications that developers can create around NFC on WP8. Seriously dude. I am not a developer and I don't even own a Windows phone but that was the first thing that I thought of.

    Maybe I should learn to develop for WP8, if you are representative of the competition I will do well, very well indeed, mewahahahaha he he he
    Burger Meister