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The unveiling of Windows Phone 8 was not a full-fledged reveal if Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) is to be believed. According to vice president Joe Belfiore, more end-user features of its latest mobile operating system will be sprung up on users this fall. But he did make eight key platform announcements for the software code named Apollo. Here’s a closer look at those changes:
Windows Phone 8 supports multi-core chips, specifically those made by Qualcomm (NASDAQ:QCOM). Both Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) iPhones and Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) Android-powered smartphones have had multi-core support for a while, so this change was to be expected. The new operating system also supports three screen resolutions: 800×480 pixels, 1280×769, and 1280×720. The software also has support for microSD card memory expansion, which will enable device makers to include a card slot.
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The new mobile OS shares its native C and C++ code with the PC version of Windows 8, which basically makes the task of app developers a lot easier. The idea is to encourage more and more developers to create application for the Windows Phone Marketplace, which has been fairly bare compared to the respective stores of Apple and Google. The shared native code will also help developers write high-performance code, which means more games. “The biggest effect this will have is we’re going to see some freaking killer games this year,” Belfiore said.
Windows Phone 8 also supports NFC sharing, making it easier to transfer data to the phone or share it between the phone and tablets and PCs. Android, Research In Motion’s (NASDAQ:RIMM) BlackBerry, and Nokia’s (NYSE:NOK) Symbian all already have NFC support, though Apple still doesn’t.
The bigger impact of NFC is seen in this feature. Windows Phone 8’s Wallet hub stores credit and debit card information, membership cards, as well as coupons, a lot like Apple’s iOS 6 app Passbook does. It is also reminiscent of Google Pay, but with one difference. While Google’s software stores information on the device, making it hard to move information from device to device, Windows Phone will store the data on a secure SIM card. However, at the moment, the tap-to-pay function will only be available on France Telecom’s (NYSE:FTE) Orange carrier.
Microsoft has decided to get rid of Bing Maps and replace them with Nokia’s Navteq mapping technology. There will be offline map support, turn-by-turn navigation, and map control for developers.
Windows Phone 8 runs Microsoft Office and includes a software management system, definitely making it attractive in the workplace. It also comes with a security platform that includes Secure Boot and encryption, helping businesses offer a way for private distribution of programs.
Microsoft reserved most pride for its new Start Screen that includes customizable, full-screen Live Tiles. “These live tiles are the heart and soul of the Windows Phone,” Belfiore said. “We know that our users really love their phones, and we think the biggest reason is because Live Tiles make the phones so special and so personal.” There is also support for new color themes, but Microsoft didn’t list those yet.
New phones running Windows Phone 8 will start shipping in the fall, just when Apple is coming out with its iOS 6, and is rumored to be launching the next-generation iPhone. Get ready for a hot fall.
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