Overnight at the Microsoft June 20th Windows Phone Developer Summit in the US, Microsoft’s Joe Befiore delivered the news every WP7 owner, enthusiast and tech commentator was waiting on. That’s right, they answered the question on whether existing phones would get the new WP8 update. But they did a whole lot more than that. Reducing the announcements to just this level does not do justice to an amazing initial introduction to the new OS coming later this year. And remember, despite everything WPDownUnder is about to report, this was only an introduction” to WP8 – MS has held back a lot more for the full launch expected in late Q3….
Read on to check out all the amazing news!!!
Meet the beautiful, new – and dare I say “re-imagined” Windows Phone 8 Start Screen (WOW ) -
More on this in a minute.
So – to cut to the chase…back in March of this year I made my only public prediction (not thinking speculation was particularly helpful) on what I expected would take place re: existing Windows Phone handsets and WP8:
Well – we can report that as expected, MS have indeed confirmed that WP8 will be coming to new handsets only, with specific Hardware to support the new code base and feature set. HOWEVER, before you fill the comments section below, they also confirmed a “compromise” update which ALL current windows phones will received, WP7.8! Like the prediction above, this update will bring the new UI look and feel to current devices, without the kernel changes (think OS ‘under the bonnet’) and hardware related feature-set:
“The new Start screen is so useful and emblematic of what Windows Phone is about that we want everybody to enjoy it. So we’ll be delivering it to existing phones as a software update sometime after Window Phone 8 is released. Let me repeat: If you currently own a Windows Phone 7.5 handset, Microsoft is planning to release an update with the new Windows Phone 8 Start screen. We’re calling it “Windows Phone 7.8.”
Some of you have been wondering, “Will we also get Windows Phone 8 as an update?” The answer, unfortunately, is no.
Windows Phone 8 is a generation shift in technology, which means that it will not run on existing hardware. BUT we care deeply about our existing customers and want to keep their phones fresh, so we’re providing the new Start screen in this new update.” Joe Belfiore, MS.
So what is coming to Windows Phone 8? Well the WPBlog post by MS succinctly captures the coming changes announced so far – and remember, this is just an initial reveal by MS, as they confirmed they are holding back a lot more of the specific changes, tweaks and enhancements until the official launch!
Windows Phone 8:
These are some amazing, huge changes! For Gaming, for Apps, for Daily use and connectivity, for scalability (premium to entry-level smart phones) and for the future, and all based on a kernel or platform shared with the forthcoming Windows 8 release – opening up even more possibilities! For Developers, MS confirmed some of these key new benefits:
Finally Windows Phone can catch-up, and hopefully exceed the competition for gaming experiences! However MS still had more up its sleave. Acknowledging some of the business/enterprise concerns over the platform from an IT administrator and deployers perspective, they announced:
And they still weren’t done!
- Windows Phone 8 will have Skype and VoiP integrated into the OS, in a similar vein to the current social media integration of Facebook and Twitter etc, offering a richer experience and true multi-tasking!
- Audible App is arriving on Windows Phone – for both WP8 – but more importantly, for all current WP7 handsets from later today, bringing rich audiobook interaction and with WP8, built-in Voice control in-app, not just via the OS!
- Improved language support – totalling >50 for WP8 launch.
- WP8 initial hardware launch partners: Nokia, Huawei, Samsung, and HTC, all built on next-generation chips from Qualcomm.
- Improved Camera API Access – offering “Lens Apps” to developers for more camera control and effects.
- Announcing that the Windows Phone Marketplace officially hit 100,000 apps and games—a milestone reached faster than Android, and a testament to the thousands of talented developers around the world since launch. Together they deliver more than 200 new titles, on average, each day.
- Official apps from Chase and PayPal are in the works. Gameloft has Windows Phone versions of Asphalt 7: Heat and N.O.V.A. 3 Near Orbit Vanguard Alliance on the way.
- Nokia is helping deliver the much-requested Zynga games Words with Friends and Draw Something to Windows Phone later this year.
- Fun new “100,000 Apps and Counting” mugs and other goodies in the official Windows Phone Gear Store!
- Improvements to Local Scout – including Wi-Fi hotspot locations and personal recommendations
- DATASMART – offering capabilities to monitor your Data/Cellular plan usage (Yes!) – with Nokia also announcing an App for this under their services.
And last – but by no means least – something YOU ALL WANTED TO HEAR!!!! Changes to the Updates process for Windows Phone:
Going even further than this – Paul Thurrott over at Winsupersite states:
“Windows Update. Windows Phone 7.8 will be delivered directly to all Windows Phone users, bypassing the carriers. You will be able to download and install Windows Phone 7.8 over Wi-Fi, at home or wherever else, and install this update. This type of updating will be made available in Windows Phone 8, as well, as given my long, loud, and lengthy complaining about the lack of such updating in Windows Phone 7.x, you won’t be surprised, maybe, to discover that Microsoft jokingly calls this “the Paul Thurrott feature” internally.
And this is just the “tip of the iceberg”. WPDownUnder will keep you appraised of all the WP8 and WP7.8 news as it comes to hand! 2012 looks to be an exciting year for Windows Phone Down Under!