Microsoft Details Windows Phone 8

WP8

Without unveiling the OS in its entirety, Microsoft has today outlined several of the key features making their way to Windows Phone 8 later this year. Tom Warren has a fantastic overview:

Microsoft is lifting the curtain to provide a preview of some of the software and hardware changes for its Windows Phone 8 operating system today. NFC, dual- and quad-core support are all set, and Microsoft has shifted over to the NT kernel for Windows Phone 8 to make it even easier for developers to code for its mobile and desktop ecosystems. There’s a new Wallet hub, deeper integration of Skype, and an updated Start Screen interface with support for small tiles. Despite the improvements and hardware support, Microsoft will not release this particular update to existing devices. Instead, the company plans to rollout a Windows Phone 7.8 update separately that will bring some of Windows Phone 8’s user interface changes to existing devices, but many of the other improvements will require new hardware.

Although it’s certainly a shame that older devices will be relegated to a stagnant OS, I appreciate Microsoft’s willingness to move forward. Abandoning the Windows CE foundation, Microsoft opens the door to a great deal of innovative overlap between Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8. Furthermore, the naming convention begins to make a great deal of sense — particularly with respect to the unified UI/UX.

I’ve spent the past week or two experimenting with a Windows Phone device, and — without delving into the specifics prematurely — I am very pleased with what Microsoft has announced today. Be it NFC, native code, Passbook-esque functionality, an improved Start screen, or improved Skype integration, Microsoft is clearly moving in the right direction with its oft-forgotten mobile OS.

Later in the week, I’ll have plenty more to say on the topic of Windows Phone but, for now, I’d highly recommend reading through Mr. Warren’s lengthy overview of the Windows Phone 8 update.