Microsoft released Windows Phone 8 today.  Read on for details.

invite-news-wp-event

Microsoft released Windows Phone 8 today, holding release events in Milan, Italy; London, England; and San Francisco, CA, among other locations.  Andrew was at the London event and has Good Stuff on the way.  For now, check out the press release:

Windows Phone 8: Built for You, Poised for a Breakthrough
Oct. 29, 2012
Microsoft unveils Windows Phone 8, the most personal smartphone there is. The company believes the experience will connect with consumers worldwide.

REDMOND, Wash. — Oct. 29, 2012 — Windows Phone 8 devices go on sale starting in November, and Microsoft is betting that a smartphone designed with people in mind can connect with the masses.

At an event in San Francisco, Microsoft fully took the wraps off of Windows Phone 8 after a brief peek back in June to showcase some of the new platform enhancements.

“Microsoft is excited for the world to meet the new Windows Phone,” said Terry Myerson, corporate vice president of Microsoft’s Windows Phone Division.

“We set out to create the most personal smartphone there is, focused on keeping you closer to the people and things that matter most,” he said. “It’s also the best phone for Windows, helping you stay connected across devices. And finally, of course, there’s the hardware. We have a killer lineup of new phones featuring big bright screens, awesome audio capabilities and great cameras from HTC, Nokia and Samsung.”

Meet Windows Phone 8

From the first time you pick up a Windows Phone you can see how personal it can be with the highly customizable Start screen and Live Tiles, said Joe Belfiore, corporate vice president of Windows Phone Program Management. People can pin their favorite people, apps, games and music right to the Start screen, and colorful Live Tiles will light up with real-time information and updates.

The new features in Windows Phone 8 offer something for everyone, Belfiore said. For people with children, Kid’s Corner offers a worry-free way for parents to share their smartphone when the kids start clamoring to play Angry Birds. A simple swipe activates a protected place on the phone where kids can play on specific apps and features selected by a parent.

Families and friends will also enjoy the new Rooms feature, which lets people create a private network to chat and share photos, notes, calendars and other content with a close group of people, not your entire social network.

As a self-proclaimed shutterbug, Belfiore is a big fan of the new camera and photo features in Windows Phone 8. “I love using my phone to capture memories,” he said. “The Lumia 920 and Windows Phone 8X both take gorgeous photos and videos, even in low light.”

In addition to the new software features, the Windows Phone Store has 120,000 apps to choose from, with hundreds added every day and hits coming this holiday season, such as “Angry Birds Star Wars,” “Cut the Rope Experiments,” “Disney’s Where’s My Water,” “LivingSocial,” “Temple Run,” “Urbanspoon” and many more. Today, Microsoft announced that Pandora, the leading Internet radio service, is coming to Windows Phone in early Q1 2013 with one year of ad-free music.

Pandora Chief Executive Officer and President Joe Kennedy said, “Pandora now has more than 175 million registered users and over three-quarters of our listener hours now come from mobile and other connected devices. We are pleased to join other app leaders who are developing for Windows Phone and we are delighted Microsoft is sponsoring a year of ad-free Pandora for Windows Phone users. Our listeners expect Pandora to be wherever they are—in the home, in the automobile, and on the go. Offering Pandora on Windows Phone gives them yet another option and we think they will be delighted with the experience.”

Best Companion for Windows

Windows Phone 8 was designed to be the best companion with Windows 8, Myerson said. Windows and Windows Phone now share common underlying technology, which allows for shared tools, increased hardware support for multicore processors and a wide range of other platform capabilities. It also features a common look and feel with Windows 8, which makes shifting from phone to PC seamless and natural.

That underlying technology between Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8 now allows developers to create native C++ code – a shared development model that makes porting Windows apps and games relatively easy.

“We expect the hundreds of millions of Windows 8-based tablets and PCs sold next year to raise consumer awareness of the new Windows UI pioneered by phone,” Myerson said. “We believe more developers will target the Windows family now that we’ve made it easier to target a range of exciting new devices – from phones to tablets to PCs – running software that people ask for by name.”

Another big advantage of the Windows family is Microsoft’s personal cloud based service, SkyDrive. Now photos, Office documents and music are always in sync and available across all Windows devices.

The new Xbox Music service offers anytime, anywhere access to albums, songs and playlists whether you’re on your Xbox console, your Windows Phone or a Windows 8 PC or tablet. And entertainment gets even more interactive with Xbox SmartGlass, which turns your mobile phone or tablet into a second screen that intelligently interacts with your Xbox 360 to elevate your entertainment experience.