Microsoft announced some of the upcoming changes in Windows Phone 8 today. We bring you some details!
Developer Related Improvements
Microsoft announced the following improvements related to developers:
- Native code support: Windows Phone 8 has full C and C++ support, making it easier to write apps for multiple platforms more quickly. It also means Windows Phone 8 supports popular gaming middleware such as Havok Vision Engine, Autodesk Scaleform, Audiokinetic Wwise, and Firelight FMOD, as well as native DirectX-based game development.
- In-app payments: In Windows Phone 8 we make it possible for app makers to sell virtual and digital goods within their apps.
- Integrated Internet calling: In Windows Phone 8, developers can create VoIP apps that plug into our existing calling feature so Internet calls can be answered like traditional phone calls, using the same calling interface.
- Multitasking enhancements. Windows Phone 8 now allows location-based apps like exercise trackers or navigation aids to run in the background, so they keep working even when you’re doing other things on your phone.
These developments will make it easier to code applications that will run on both Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8. Microsoft expects games to be ported over to the phone. In addition, some of the issues that users had using Skype on Windows Phone 7 will be eliminated by enabling VoIP capabilities as first tier applications. A new SDK will be available later this summer.
Windows Phone 7.8
Microsoft announced that current Windows Phone 7 hardware will not see an upgrade to Windows Phone 8. Instead, Windows Phone 7.8 will be released in order to bring some of the new Windows Phone 8 features to current hardware. I expect that recent Lumia 800 and 900 customers will not be pleased that their new handsets will be obsoleted fairly quickly.
I was very happy to hear about support for multiple cores and device encryption and corporate management features. These gaps to the competitive operating systems for mobile were glaring and were going to limit the ability for Windows Phone to be embraced by corporate customers and by power users. In addition, the ability to support new and HD screen resolutions is another improvement that will help make this platform more compelling. The ability to deploy apps and games across both phones and PC’s with minimal effort is a huge plus for Windows Phone 8. Also, IE10 running consistently across phones and PC’s will enhance the user experience. And apps that work in WP7 will work just fine on WP8. Very nice!
On a negative note, anyone who recently purchased a Windows Phone like the Nokia Lumia 900 will likely be annoyed that their hardware is already obsolete. I expect Microsoft will try to bring as much of the Windows Phone 8 experience to recent handsets as they can, but this will be difficult as the hardware requirements have changed.
It looks like Microsoft is closing the gaps to competing mobile operating system platforms while providing some degree of differentiation with Windows Phone 8. I am very happy to see a real, viable alternative to Android and iOS and am very intrigued to see how this new version of Windows Phone 8 is implemented by handset makers and mobile carriers.
I am in the market for a new cell phone, and with these enhancements, Windows Phone is now on my radar screen….now I just need to wait for the fall to see what gets announced. We’ll bring you updates when we get more information.
Go ahead and watch the event here.
Windows Phone 8 Blog Posting Microsoft Windows Phone 8 Event Video