On the heels of Microsoft’s Surface tablet launch, the company debuted their new Smartphone operating system today, Windows Phone 8. Unlike the previous version, Windows Phone 7, which ran on the Windows CE framework, Windows Phone 8 utilizes the same shared infrastructure as Windows NT. This change, in addition to Microsoft’s own hardware requirements, makes WP8 incompatible with all existing WP7 devices, including the Nokia Lumia 900.
Want a 64-core Smartphone? It isn’t totally out of the question with WP8, which supports up to 64 cores. Notably, this allows Microsoft to compete with Apple and Google, both of which utilize dual and quad core chipsets. Moreover, Redmond ditches the highly criticized 800 x 480 display in lieu of a classier 1280 x 720 display like the Galaxy S III. Other notable hardware includes support for expandable storage using a microSD card and Near Field Communications (NFC) support for mobile payments.
A Step in the Right Direction
These latest developments set Microsoft on a similar path as their Cupertino-based rival, Apple. Like WP8, Apple’s iOS ecosystem uses similar code as their desktop platform, OS X. Furthermore, Microsoft is unifying their product line with both phone and tablet versions of their flagship desktop operating system.
Initial Frustration is for the Greater Good
Customers may be disappointed to learn they won’t be able to upgrade their existing – and relatively new – Windows Phone to the new OS. These are minor sacrifices for the greater good of humankind. Similar to Apple and their iOS decommission policy; Microsoft set the bar high for manufacturers. A single-core phone with an 800 x 480 screen is severely outdated in this day in age.
Windows Phone 8’s new home screen stretches the width of the screen and allows users to resize their live tiles, choosing from three sizes. Microsoft also supports new color schemes, for added aesthetic. Additionally, a new Wallet feature is built into the OS, so you can confidently store sensitive information, such as credit card numbers, with ease. Like iOS 5, WP8 can receive over-the-air updates and support in-app purchases for added convenience.
Windows Phone 7 User?
Awe, shucks! Looks like your phone is now merely obsolete, but the good news is WP8 is still many months away, so you have time to finagle your way out of the contract. But I ask, why buy such an underpowered phone to begin with?
Is It Enough to Battle Android or iOS?
To say Microsoft is a bit late in the smartphone and tablet game is an understatement, but is it enough to put a dent in Google and Apple’s bottom lines? Call me maybe – there is serious potential, but will likely be hindered due to fragmentation on the hardware front. I could see the phone winning the enterprise if it offers tight Exchange, Office and SharePoint integration, in addition to desktop-class security. If there’s one thing corporations value, it’s security. And Android doesn’t exactly have the best track record, with their malware and such.
For consumers, the deciding factor will likely be app support. If it shares the same code as Windows RT and Windows 8, developers may be more likely to build apps. The keyword being, more likely… there still isn’t a positive ROI on Windows Phone, given the high R&D costs. But if the phones launch with most of the mainstream apps, the platform has a shot.