Windows Phone 8: What's on the feature list

Two reports with lists of alleged Windows Phone 8 "Apollo" features have leaked. Developers and business users may find a lot to like, if the information is true.
Written by Mary Jo Foley, Senior Contributing Editor

It looks like information about Windows Phone 8's operating system, codenamed "Apollo," is starting to leak in earnest.

On February 2, PocketNow.com posted a list of what the site says are Windows Phone 8 features revealed in "a video hosted by senior vice president and Windows Phone manager Joe Belfiore, and intended for partners at Nokia." (The site seems to have seen a video of Belfiore's talk, but has not posted it to the Web or referenced where its editors saw the video.)

Shortly thereafter, Windows SuperSite Editor Paul Thurrott posted about some of those same Apollo features, which he said he can corroborate will be in the product.

Microsoft isn't commenting as to whether or not these features will be in Apollo. (In fact, Microsoft still has not officially confirmed even the Apollo codename, as far as I know.) But here's what both of these sources said are coming:

  • Support for multicore processors
  • Support for new screen resolutions (a total of four, although actual pixel counts weren't specified, according to PocketNow)
  • Support for removable microSD card storage
  • Support for NFC and an associated "Wallet Experience"
  • Inclusion of Windows' core elements, including kernel, networking stacks, security, and multimedia support. (I believe this is confirmation that elements of Windows 8's MinWin core will replace Embedded Compact with Windows Phone 8.)
  • New data-tracking capabilities, showing users a breakdown of their data consumption by various networks
  • Use of a proxy server to deliver pages more efficiently and quickly to Internet Explorer 10 Mobile
  • Of special interest to enterprise users: Addition of native BitLocker encryption and Secure Boot
  • Of special interest to developers: New app-to-app communication capability that sounds like Windows 8's  contracts feature, as Thurrott noted
  • A separate but improved Skype application, but not integration of Skype into the operating system
  • Replacement of the Zune PC client software with an update mechanism more akin to ActiveSync

The Mobile World Congress (MWC) show kicks off later this month and Microsoft's Windows Phone team is going to have a big presence there. I've heard from my contacts that Microsoft is going to start talking about Apollo at MWC.

I have to say I'm doubtful the Redmondians are going to talk about it publicly at the show. If I were to place bets, I'd say Apollo talk will be mostly if not entirely behind closed doors with select partners and carriers.

Why? Microsoft and Nokia haven't even launched their "hero" device -- the Nokia Lumia 900 -- here in the U.S. yet. That is supposedly happening around March 18. If Microsoft were to start talking about all the great features in Windows Phone 8 (allegedly due to ship on phones before the end of 2012) now, it would be like the Windows team talking about Windows 9. Momentum for the soon-to-be-announced products would plummet before it even had a chance to build.

I can't say for sure whether these new reports about Windows Phone "Apollo" are on the money, but I'd have to say they definitely seem plausible.

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