Microsoft raises the curtain on Windows Phone 8

Microsoft raises the curtain on Windows Phone 8

San Francisco : CA : USA | Oct 29, 2012 at 2:48 PM PDT
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The Windows Phone never made much money for Microsoft, and has always had a piddling user community—just 3.5 percent of smartphone users have a Windows phone. Microsoft hoped to change all that Monday morning, by putting the very attractive Jessica Alba on stage to help introduce the very attractive Windows Phone 8.

The Windows Phone 8, introduced this morning at a press event in San Francisco, takes the radically overhauled new Windows 8 design and puts it on a handheld mobile phone. The big innovation here, Microsoft claims, is that Windows 8 and the Windows 8 phone share the same "kernel," or core software operating system. In other words, the Windows Phone 8 experience is as close as possible to the experience of using your computer—that is, your computer if you're running Windows 8.

Microsoft unveiled the Windows Phone 8 today, with its "swiping through tiles" interface that Microsoft says provides the most highly customizable home screen of any smartphone. At first glance, the Windows Phone 8 looks as sharp and innovative as anything developed by Apple or Android. Whether Microsoft can now sell as many of these phones as their competitors remains to be seen.

First, the most important feature of the Windows Phone 8—how much will it cost? Frankly, I cannot give you a straight answer, and that fact just might affect whether or not people will plan to buy one. There are a whole slew of different Windows 8 phones, some made by HTC, some by Nokia, and some made by Samsung. Only the HTC 8X and Nokia Lumia have available pricing announced. The HTC 8X is $199.99 with a two-year contract with Verizon, or $149.99 with a two-year T-Mobile. The Nokia Lumia 822 and Lumia 810 are both $99.99 through those two carriers, with the same mandatory two-year commitment. No non-contract prices were announced.

There are, like, five different Nokia Lumia models, and several other different Windows Phone 8 models with different specs whose prices are not yet announced. This may confuse buyers in general, as it sure confuses me.

What are the cool features of these many phones? Well, you get ad-free Pandora at no cost for a year. Your lock screens are customizable, so some features can be password-protected and others not. Skype is deeply integrated into the phone, not surprising considering that Microsoft owns Skype. The Windows Phone 8 compresses data, to limit your data usage when web surfing. There is a special feature where you can customize your phone into "Safe Mode" for when kids use it, demo-ed by Jessica Alba at the event.

With respect, Microsoft, when I think of Jessica Alba, the first thought that comes to my mind is not "kids."

Microsoft is hoping the Windows Phone 8 will register the company some smartphone sector relevance and jumpstart adoption of Windows 8. A recent poll by the Associated Press shows that 52 percent of US buyers have never even heard of Windows 8. Of those who had heard of Windows 8, 61 percent said they don't want it.

It's probably going to take more than Jessica Alba to change these people’s minds.

Joe Kukura is based in San Francisco, California, United States of America, and is an Anchor on Allvoices.
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