Windows Phone 8, codenamed Apollo, will be based on the Windows 8 kernel and not on Windows CE as are current versions. This will not impact app compatibility: Microsoft expects to have over 100,000 Windows Phone 7.5-compatible apps available by the time WP8 launches, and they will all work fine on this new OS.
Windows Phone 8, as its name suggests, will also be tied closely to the desktop version of Windows 8 in other ways. They'll be launched closely to each other, and will share integrated ecosystems, thanks to the shared underlying code, components, and user experiences. Windows Phone 8 is part of the "Windows Reimagined" campaign that Microsoft announced for Windows 8. This makes sense as they're companion products in every sense of the word.
First things first. Considering Windows 8 is scheduled for a late 2012 release, it's clear that we may be seeing Windows Phone 8 a lot earlier than expected.
Aside from that, the details outlined by Thurrott and Pocket Now seem like thoroughly positive steps for the platform. With deep SkyDrive integration, Windows 8 compatibility, NFC, hardware malleability, and greater business support, Microsoft is evidently not sitting back and hoping for the best with Windows Phone 8.
I've repeatedly argued that Windows Phone 7 provides the only compelling alternative to iOS. With the evident dedication to the platform and an apparent eagerness to evolve, I feel positive for the platform's long-term prospects. Microsoft has clearly recognized the importance of control over an ecosystem and the value of interoperability between devices. Deeply integrating compatibility with its desktop, cloud, and enterprise offerings is an important step -- one that many competitors have failed to make.
The Nokia Lumia 900 is, in my eyes, a fantastic device. I'd go as far as to say that it's the first real Windows Phone 7 phone. The marriage of Microsoft's unique platform with such attractive hardware is a wonderful thing, and embodies one of the first devices that has made me take pause when considering my dedication to iOS. While I don't intend to abandon iOS any time soon, but deep integration with Windows 8, a unique UI, and no-brainer service implementation will be difficult for many consumers to pass up, particularly in the face of the disjointedness of Android.
Microsoft's responsiveness to the platform and to the changing mobile marketplace embody a Microsoft I'm unfamiliar with. Adopting scrappy startup behavior is certainly a humble and affable trait -- something I thought I would never utter with regard to Microsoft.
In a post regarding an anti-Google blog post from Microsoft, Ben Brooks writes:
It should strike you as awesome that Microsoft did this, because think back 10 years and try to imagine them being this snarky. I love this post. Not because it is helpful, just because Microsoft seems to be everything that Google didn’t want to be, but now somehow Microsoft is looking better than Google.
Rather than arrogantly sitting atop millions of Windows users, Microsoft is operating in an entirely new and competitive manner and, as I've said before, competition is a wonderful thing.