October 29, only a few days after the Windows 8 release, Microsoft will launch and announce all the features it has filled in its long awaited Windows Phone 8 operating system.
The new phones - from handset makers Nokia, HTC of Taiwan, Samsung Electronics, and China's Huawei - will feature Skype calling, voice commands, near-field communication (NFC) for wireless transactions and built-in Nokia maps with turn-by-turn navigation.
Though there are still a lot of things we don't know about Windows Phone 8, Microsoft has made some details public. Here's a quick rundown of what's already known: the OS has a tile-based look and feel, support for wireless payment (think tapping your phone instead of swiping a credit card), and built-in navigation and video chat.
It will also be relatively easy to port Android and iOS apps to Windows Phone 8, which should make developers happy. And one other plus: users will be able to get software updates directly from Microsoft, rather than having to wait for carriers such as Verizon, AT&T, and Sprint to release phone-specific updates - a common complaint among many Android users.
We also know something about the hardware: Windows Phone 8 will launch, in the US at least, on the Nokia Lumia 920 and 820 handsets, which got rave reviews when they were unveiled earlier this year. Those will be out in November, as will models from Samsung (the Ativ S) and HTC (the 8X and 8S). HTC has promised that it's "going big" on the Windows Phone 8 platform, which may mean there are new phones still in store.
Among the details revealed on Wednesday is that Apollo (codename for Windows 8 operating system) will bring Windows Phone support for handsets with multi-core chips. It also adds support for higher screen resolutions, covering 1280x720-pixel displays with a 16:9 aspect ratio and 1280x768-pixel displays with a 15:9 ratio.
With Windows phone 8 you will never worry about memory problem, as its new features include SD card storage, the addition of near-field communications (NFC) payment tools and a secure digital wallet. Microsoft's lead partner for NFC and its digital wallet is Orange, which will launch devices with secure SIM cards. New in-app purchases tied to the wallet will let users bypass the Windows Phone Marketplace.
Users will get a more customizable start screen, with a choice of three sizes of Metro Live Tile and new theme colors. Windows Phone 8 will also use the same Internet Explorer 10 browser as Windows 8, and will replace Bing Maps with Nokia's mapping technology, giving it offline mapping and turn-by-turn directions.
However, the company did say that Windows Phone 8 will not run on current Windows Phone devices, due to hardware limitations. Instead, Windows Phone 7 users will be able to upgrade to a new point release, Windows Phone 7.8. This will have some of Windows Phone 8's new user interface features, but will be built on the existing Windows Phone 7 kernel and will not be able to run Windows Phone 8 applications. Existing Windows Phone 7 applications will run on Windows Phone 8.
It is already news that the Nokia Lumia 920 and 820 will be available exclusively on AT&T for a period of time. The HTC 8X and 8S is also set for launch in November on the Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile carriers. So there is one more device in line for launch before the festive season. The consumers will be having a difficult time in choosing form so many gizmos. Hold your breath till the end of October and November, there is much action awaiting you.
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