Microsoft got some pretty good buzz with their new Surface tablet computer this week, a new product that basically just copies what it’s more popular competitors already can do. As a follow-up, Microsoft this morning unveiled the Windows Phone 8 – the smartphone that blow you away with features that other phones have already blown you away with.
For a phone that pretty much no one is using, the Windows Phone 8 release is causing quite a stir.
The full announcement is available via online video. Gizmodo has declared the Windows Phone 8’s home screen “the best of any phone”. The Verge has a great high resolution detail of this screen. The start screen is indeed nicely laid out, highly customizable, and provides dynamic, real time updates for things like emails, weather, and Facebook updates. But if the biggest upgrade that a phone offers is an enhanced home screen… well, that phone might not be the huge technological innovation it’s being sold as.
The Windows Phone 8 will offer new features like a multi-core processor, a 1280 x 768 display resolution, and NFC support for mobile payments. Do any of these terms actually mean anything to you? If not, do not expect to be impressed with much about this phone.
Another attraction of the Windows Phone 8 is that it will integrate seamlessly with Windows 8. Windows 8, however, is not actually available yet. So we just basically have to take Microsoft at their word that this will represent something of value.
“The future of Windows 8 is a 'shared core' between Windows Phone 8 and Windows 8," Windows Phone 8 product manager Joe Belfiore said at the release. So your phone apps will also work on your computer, and in the exact same fashion. Developers won’t have to “version” different versions.
One of the nagging problems of the current Windows Phone is that it tells you an update is available, only to block that update when you install it because of service provider restrictions. On the Windows Phone 8, the phone will only announce to you an update that your service provider supports. Users can also opt out of any of their carrier’s restrictions – though there’s a strong possibility that will void your warranty.
By the way, if you have a current Windows phone -- none of this stuff will work for you. Microsoft will not be offering these updates to current Windows Phone users, except for a bare-bones update that provides the new start screen. Previous-version hardware buyers are flat-out screwed.
Which is another feature that this phone borrowed from the iPhone!