Windows Phone 8 features detailed

The good folks at Pocketnow who apparently managed to get their eyes on an internal Microsoft/Nokia video hosted by Joe Belfiore (I say apparently because they haven’t posted the video and it isn’t clear if they actually saw it or if they are reporting what somebody saw in it) detailing most of the new features coming with Windows Phone 8.

First of all the OS will be, as we all have been expecting, based on the Windows 8 Kernel and share the same networking stack, multimedia and security support as its bigger brother. This means that most Metro applications developed for Windows 8 will be easily portable to Windows Phone 8. Once again nothing really surprising here. Native code development will also be part of the show this time around and finally enable developers to creating richer applications and games. Microsoft is also apparently going to ditch the Zune desktop software in favor of an ActiveSync like integration with Windows 8 while Xbox and Skydrive integration will finally be fully backed into both the desktop and mobile OS (Ie: Music on Skydrive will instantly be available on the phone etc..). Skype which has yet to be released on Windows Phone 7 will also be seamlessly integrated into Windows Phone 8 and the Dialer/Phone application. Third party app-to-app communication will also be supported now. On the business front Windows Phone 8 will support Microsoft’s BitLocker encryption (128bit) and finally enable businesses to easily deploy proprietary software on the fleet of Windows Phones.

Internet Explorer 10 will also include server side compression support (via a proxy server) to reduce page loading times by 30%. This shouldn’t come as a surprise knowing that Microsoft was actually the first company to introduce such feature in the short R&D browser project on Windows Mobile 5 code named DeepFish a few years ago. Hopefully this feature will be optional though. The OS will also include a DataSmart Live Tile Functionality which ill serve as a hub where users can easily track their data usage (a similar feature is present in Windows 8 ) and LocalScout will detect nearby WiFi hotspots too.

On the hardware front Windows Phone 8 will now support four different screen resolutions (not specified) compared to only one right now (WVGA) and also multi-core CPU configurations. Nothing really uprising here given that we all expected it. Micrdo-SD expansion cards support will also be official now and allow users to finally have Windows Phone devices with more than 16Gb of internal storage. WP8 will also have native NFC support and a new Camera API that will allow hardware partners to more deeply integrate their camera.

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Windows Phone 7 apps will run on Windows Phone 8

Just in case you where still putting any faith in that crazy Russian guy named Eldar…here’s another major blow to his latest FUD against Microsoft and Nokia:

Crazy Russian guy: WP8 os isnt compatible with wp7 on app level (u need to rewrite all apps). Thats another os core with metro ui…

Microsoft: Rewatch Mix11 keynote. We were pretty clear on this. Any app built today will run on next major Windows Phone version.

Windows Phone 7 apps will run on Windows Phone 8. Case closed.

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Windows Phone 8 specifications rumor: Windows 8 kernel and more

My man OIAQ sent me a tweet yesterday about a post on 4PDA.RU which seems to contain inside information about the upcoming Windows Phone 8 OS release (Apollo). The info falls in line with what most of us have been expecting. I just got the chance to check it out and decided to post it just as a heads up (and so that some folks will not say that I’m now completely out of the loop..) so here’s the low down:

- “WOA platforms will require that all desktop binary images be signed with a trusted Microsoft certificate. Any unsigned code will fail to load … This … does not cover Metro Style applications for which there is a separately documented signing requirement and developer licensing”

- “Windows Phone “Apollo” brings together platform parity with Windows 8, experience parity with Windows Phone “Mango”, and a set of new features and functionality developed for Windows Phone “Apollo”.”

- “Platform parity means that the phone OS is now based on the Windows NT kernel instead of the Windows CE kernel. Windows Phone “Apollo” uses the Core System from Windows 8, which is a minimal Windows system that boots, manages its hardware and resources, authenticates and communicates on a network, and can be managed at a basic level.”

-”The final significant changes of note are the adoption of ESENT, also known as Jet, for the database engine, and the managed-code runtime. Rather than using the .NET Compact Framework from Windows Phone 7, Windows Phone ”Apollo” uses the Core CLR produced by the Developer Division at Microsoft.”

-”Only SDHC cards formatted as FAT or exFAT are supported. If the card is unformatted or contains an unsupported format, such as NTFS, the SD card will be formatted according to the SD specification if the user accepts the format prompt. This means that SDHC cards (cards less than or equal to 32GB) will be formatted as FAT”

- “The internal user store will not have this limitation since it is formatted as NTFS”.

-”Texus Shell (TShell) is a tool that allows you to interact with Windows Phone “Apollo” phones via a Windows PowerShell command prompt. You can copy files to the phone, execute processes, attach a debugger, run commands using the phone’s command interpreter, and run test content stored on WTT test servers”

-”The Windows Phone “Apollo” release ports the ambient light, proximity, magnetometer, compass, and gyroscope sensors from Windows Phone “Mango”. It also incorporates the accelerometer, which was a standalone implementation in the previous OS version”,

- “You can use Hyper-V to test x86 builds of the phone OS”

So there you have it folks. Seems highly accurate but treat this a a rumor until the official announcement later this year.

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AT&T to showcase Qualcomm powered Windows 8 4G LTE tablet next week

AT&T’s 2012 developer summit which is taking place in Las Vegas right before CES is full of interesting session this year. One in particular session caught my attention because it is related to Windows 8 and Qualcomm’s SoCs.

A Metro Style Hemi™ – Windows 8 tablets super charged with 4G LTE – 3:30 – 4:15

Attend this session and see how to transform the higher speed and lower latency of LTE into an amazing user experience. First, learn from Qualcomm about the power of their Snapdragon chip, and how developers can tap into the Snapdragon Developer Program to create rich Windows 8 apps that help deliver differentiated consumer experiences that capitalize on LTE’s potential. Then see how the intuitive elegance of Windows 8′s Metro-style application design has been layered over this horsepower. Finally, hear how standalone applications can be transformed on this powerful platform, converting independent programs into streamlined, integrated live tiles. Opportunities abound in this session for developers of connected apps; discover how AT&T and Microsoft are working to make developing connected applications easier.

Based on this description it’s safe to assume that AT&T and Qualcomm are going to showcase a working Windows 8 tablet powered by a Snapdragon S4 Krait SoC next week and I would assume that we are also going to hear some things related to Win8 tablets out of CES in the following days. The wording of this description also confirms that AT&T is going to be a windows 8 launch partner in the US same as for Windows Phone (there’s also a Nokia dev session on the same day..but we already knew that the AT&T version of the Lumia 800 is a go).

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Windows Phone in 2012: Predictions and wishes

Time for me to share with you my 2012 Windows Phone predictions and wishes now that you are all probably enjoying your new Mango handsets (or 1st Gen phones running Mango..). Keep in mind that what I’m going to post bellow is nothing more than speculations on my part so don’t quote me on that (well unless it turns out to be true later down the road…). So let’s start with what I wish Microsoft fixes, adds in the coming months in Tango:

- Universal search (this one is most probably coming..)
- Fix the frame dropping video playback issue that I seem to be the only person on earth who has noticed it (was present on my HTC Titan sample and both my Lumia 800 which makes me believe that’s it’s a OS issue with the MSM8255)
- Release Skype and Photosynth for Windows Phone: The silence surrounding both apps is intriguing. I wouldn’t be surprised if both where directly integrated into the OS instead of released as third-party apps (wishful thinking..I know).
- Ability to delete more than one picture or video at a time in the pictures hub
- Basic photo editing (crop, rotate, re-size)
- Basic video editing functionality (this one will have to wait for Windows Phone 8 I guess)
- SMS / MMS Backup (looks like this one is in the works “Come join the Windows Phone Backup, Migrate, and Restore team. Our goal is to ensure that no matter if someone loses their phone, drops their phone in a lake, buys a new windows phone, or just has their toddler wipe their phone by entering the wrong PIN over and over, a user can quickly and seamlessly get their phone back to a good state. The features we are producing will be new for the next version of Windows Phone and will help ensure Microsoft stays ahead of the competition when it comes to disaster recovery.” )
- MMS videos!
- Ability to assign different ring tones to groups or individual contacts Totally forgot that this was already made available in Mango. sorry for that.

Now let’s talk about Windows Phone 8. It will be announced in 2012 but I’m not really confident that MWC is going to be the venue used by Microsoft to unveil it. As you have probably already heard Microsoft is no longer going to keynote at CES after 2012 and will instead have it’s own events to unveiled announce new products similar to what Apple has been doing lately after it dropped from the MacWorld Expo. This is why I’m thinking that Microsoft may only announce Tango during MWC this February and simple tease WP8 for a further announcement closer to the middle of the year. Here’s what I’m hoping for Windows Phone 8 aka Apollo:

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Windows Phone in 2012: What are you expecting ?

As you may have noticed interesting news stories have been non existent lately in the windows Phone world and given that I have less time to post I won’t bother posting about every single rumored sales statistics or other meaningless stuff. Unfortunately there’s isn’t much left to talk about now that we are nearing Christmas and the end of the year.

If you are a Nokia Lumia 800 owner I’m sure that you are eagerly waiting to the promised January Firmware update that should fix the battery issues (and hopefully this one included!) alongside other bugs and camera improvements. Speaking of the camera, Nokia’s Digital Imaging Guru Damian Dinning has once again tweeted that “improvements” are coming to the Lumia 800′s camera and noted that even though the hardware is the same as the Nokia N9 the “image processing is completely different”. Obvious given that the two handset have different OS’s and SoCs. It should also be noted the Lumia 800 (and 710) is Nokia’s first Qualcomm powered device so it’s normal that everything isn’t yet fully functional and bug free.

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Microsoft shakes up Windows Phone division

Steve Ballmer took the time today to announce to its troops that current Windows Phone Division president Andy Less will now have a new role at Microsoft and will be replaced by Terry Myerson who was already heading the divisions engineering team. I personally think that this is the right thing to do as I have always felt that Lees wasn’t really the guy for this division and more a Ballmer buddy who was put there back when Windows Mobile was on the brink of death. Now that Windows Phone 7 is out and well (sales will come later..well, unless Nokia continues to ship buggy devices worldwide) it was time to put somebody who knows what he’s talking about in charge what is seen as one of the company’s most critical asset. As a matter of fact Andy has now a new undisclosed role at Microsoft (reporting directly to Ballmer as usual) which will be a “time-critical opportunity focused on driving maximum impact in 2012 with Windows Phone and Windows 8″ Whatever that means it sure looks like what I’ve been speculating all along and here (Windows Phone 8 and Windows 8 sharing the same kernel) may be close to the reality.

Check out Steve Ballmer’s full email after the break:

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Windows Phone 8 Apollo coming mid 2012 ?


Grab some tissues and a pinch of salt! According to a Nokia VP Michael Halbherr, Executive VP present at Nokia World in London Windows Phone 8 aka Apollo will launch in mid- 2012. That’s nearly 6 months earlier than what everybody else was expecting. Nokia is rightfully pushing Microsoft to include NFC support in it and full integration of Nokia’s Navteq mapping assets. Once again, treat this as a rumor but things may be getting a little more interesting than expected in the coming months unless this VP is confusing Tango with Apollo.

UPDATE: As I expcted that Nokia VP was on something nasty…the original story was updated with a note saying that the “timing was inaccurate”..no sh@t Sherlock? Back to our regular news/rumors/nonsense schedule… Apollo = Late 2012 Tango = mid 2012. Mark my words…
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Windows Phone 7 applications and games show up in the Windows 8 store

Here’s something interesting that just popped up during the Build Keynote and sort of confirms what we have been recently hearing: Windows Phone 7 applications may be compatible with Windows 8 (and here). As you can see in the screenshot above several Windows Phone 7 Xbox Live games are listed in the games section: Tentacles, Parachute Panic, Geo Defense etc… It is still not know if this is really going to be the case or if only a simple recompile will get WP7 apps and games to run Windows 8.

Edit: An on stage demo just showed how easy it is to develop the same app on Windows 8 and Windows Phone:

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Windows 8 Developer Preview launching today

Microsoft has just announced that the first developer preview of Windows 8 will be made available later today at 8PM PT:

You probably want to try out the preview release—and you can. Starting at 8PM today, Seattle time, you can download all of the code that attendees at BUILD received. This includes 32 or 64 bit x86 builds, with or without development tools. The releases also include a suite of sample/SDK applications and the SDK (please note these are merely illustrations of potential apps, not apps that we intend to ship with Windows 8). The ISOs are linked to from http://dev.windows.com. You download with a Windows Live ID (which you might want to use to test out some of the new roaming features).

Remember that this can be installed on virtually any PC released in the last 5/6 years. But if you really wish to start developing for Windows 8 and want to experience it the right way then it’s time to pre-order the Samsung Slate PC Series 7 today (see it running Windows 8 here). Microsoft has also release to PDF documents describing the current state of the OS and the Developer preview build:

UPDATE: You can now download the Windows 8 Developer Preview directly from here.

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Microsoft’s first Windows 8 tablet from Samsung

Microsoft is expected to give away a Samsung slate tablet to all registered developers attending the Build conference in LA today. From the looks of it the device is either the recently unveiled Samsung Slate PC Series 7 (powered by an X86 intel i5) or a ARM version of it powered by NVIDIA Kel-El quad-core CortexA9 SoC. In either cases we will know more about it in the coming hours. For more Windows 8 info check out my recent post about the Windows Phone 8 convergence and for more about NVIDIA’s future SoC and mobile plans don’t forget to listen to Jen Hsun keynotes.


UPDATE
:there’s now an unboxing video of it in action after the break. The device seems to be the Samsung Slate PC Series 7 (there’s the Intel Logo on the box) loaded with a developer preview of Windows 8 (Edit: Videos are now set to private.They should be back up in less than 2 hours once the Build Keynote starts).

UPDATE: Watch the device in live action during Build Keynote after the break:

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Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8 to have the same kernel ? Tango 1 and Tango 2 updates in the works

S. Chapman did some detective work lately and found a handful of Employee Resumes and job ads that hint at the possibility that Windows Phone 8 aka Apollo will be based on the same Kernel as Windows 8. A few months ago I stumbled up a Windows Phone Division job ad that definitely made it sound like both OSes were closely related and today’s findings are even clearer. Here’s one example:

The responsibilities included program managing software update features to provide device update technology that enables end-users to update Windows Phone OS with a new set of phone features including bug fixes. In this role, I delivered a set of functional requirements specifications for the major update components to enable image updates for the next generation Windows Phone OS (aka Apollo). They are Packaging System, Imaging System, Flashing System, Update OS, Update Validator and Update Application. Also drove and tracked early investigations for the Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8 OS convergence to create Mobile SKUs.

Here’s another one from an HTC Senior Product planner:

Owned the advanced planning relationship with Microsoft; drove Microsoft “Apollo” product planning discussion and led HTC cross-division feedback. Identified high potential partners and technologies; initiated/participated in new partnership discussions; ensured the relevant technology integrations and strategic alignment.Restructured communication channel between the planning and field communication team; greatly increased the sell-in material accuracy and increased the overall update rate by 50+% Spearheaded the 2012 Windows mobile phone product roadmap.

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Windows 8 Metro UI discussed

Microsoft’s Windows President Steven Sinofsky has just shred some more information about the upcoming Windows 8 Metro UI that was unveiled a few months ago. The whole post essential describes the company’s decision to have 2 distinct UIs in windows 8 instead of transitioning everything to Metro as many have suggested ever since we saw it in action a couple months ago:

We believe there is room for a more elegant, perhaps a more nuanced, approach. You get a beautiful, fast and fluid, Metro style interface and a huge variety of new apps to use. These applications have new attributes (a platform) that go well beyond the graphical styling (much to come on this at Build). As we showed, you get an amazing touch experience, and also one that works with mouse, trackpad, and keyboard. And if you want to stay permanently immersed in that Metro world, you will never see the desktop—we won’t even load it (literally the code will not be loaded) unless you explicitly choose to go there! This is Windows reimagined.

Microsoft will share more info about the development languages and APIs later this month during the Build conference:

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Windows Phone 8 job ad spotted

The first official mention of Windows Phone 8 aka Apollo has just appear in a job description on Microsoft’s careers website:

Want to be part of making Windows Phone 8 a reality? Want to work on a strategic and exciting product targeted at the next version of Windows? Then the Consumer eXperience (ConX) team is the place for you! The Windows Phone team is taking on a huge challenge stirring up the out of box experience for Windows Phone 8 and is committed to building/improving a compelling and dynamic high quality look and feel to our end user experience.

This promises to be a volatile world churning within the OS, Phone 8 as well as our AUT (Application Under Test) that we’ll ship in the Windows Marketplace! Our test team needs a few more key folks to compliment the talent already onboarded. We are looking for experienced and intelligent engineers to join our team! Join us in our mission to bring the most compelling Windows Phone experience to customers to date! If this sounds like the next step for you in your career here at Microsoft, we would love to hear from you. We can talk about the opportunities and challenges we are facing right now to see if your passions are a fit.

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Get a taste of how Windows 8 Tablet applications will look like

Fandango has developed a really awesome Sliverlight out-of-browser application for Windows 7 slates/Tablets that gives us an early look at what the future Windows 8 tablet applications will look and feel. One the application is installed you will be able to pin it to your taskbar as if it was a regular app and quickly access it when look for movie tickets, trailers and, info -only in the US so if you are not in NA just enter any US location during the setup process to try it out).The Fandango touch app has a Metro like UI so any Windows Phone 7 user should feel at home when using it (it’s has essentially the same design as the WP7 Fandango application). It also feature a really slick integration of the Bing Maps control and built in media player (yes it works with the mouse to if you don’t have a touche-enabled Win7 PC).Check out some screenshots after the break

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Windows 8 Hardware recommendations for OEMs

Microsoft discussed the new hardware recommendations for the upcoming Windows 8 tablets and slates today during the OS’s unveiling at the Computex trade-show in Taiwan. According to Microsoft Corporate Vice President Mike Angiulo Windows 8 devices manufacturers will have to follow strict hardware guidelines when building products similar to Windows Phone 7 OEMs right now. Three ARM chipset manufacturers are currently certified to for Windows 8: Qualcomm (Press Release here), Texas Intrusments (Press Release here) and NVIDIA. ODMs and OEMs will apparently (according to Acer) only be allowed to deal with one of the three SoC makers for their whole line of Win8 products.

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Windows 8 UI unveiled: Windows Phone 7 Metro inspired (Video)

After months of leaks and rumors the Windows 8 UI has finally been unveiled by Microsoft’s Windows Division President Steven Sinofsky today at the D9 conference.

As you can see in the picture below the UI is heavily influenced by Windows Phone 7‘s Metro UI where Application can be pinned directly on the home screen. The Metro like UX is actually a shell running in windows this means that you will also have access to the “regular”desktop UI for legacy apps and other tasks as seen in the video after the break. Both regular and Metro UI will always be on and apparently can’t be switched of.

According to has been said Windows 8′s software ecosystem will essentially be composed of to types of applications: regular ones (C++,C# etc) that will run exactly like the ones we have right now on Windows and lightweight HTML5 / Javascript applications that will use internet Explorer’s rendering engine. Surprisingly Silverlight isn’t mentioned at all. This will surely fuel the “Silverlight is dying” talk in the days to come and makes me wonder if it will now only be relevant for Windows Phone 7.X development. Microsoft has also tweaked the touch interface to to make the regular application useable with finger touch. Video and pictures after the break:

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Mosaic By Tribune RSS reader for Windows 7 Slates with Metro UI released

Remember the fancy looking Mosaic By Tribune RSS reader announced for Windows 7 slates and Windows Phone 7 back in Las Vegas a few weeks ago? Well, the beta of the Windows 7 version is now available for download (unlike the Flickr application which was supposed to launch yesterday). This is actually a out-of-the-browser Silverlight application that only weights a few Kb and that you will be able to pin to your task bar juts like any other third-party app. The whole thing uses the Metro UI and definitely feels like using a WP7 application directly on a PC but with the added screen real estate as a bonus. It works with touch or with your mouse so you shouldn’t have any problem navigating through the news stories.

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Microsoft.com site re-design now uses Metro UI

Microsoft’s soon to be launched re-designed microsoft.com website is now using the famous Metro UI introduced in Windows Phone 7 last year. You will now experience the same pivot and panorama design and animations when clicking on the icon and moving from one section to another. It does look a bit cluttered at times but this just goes to show the importance of Windows Phone 7 and it’s UI. I personally wouldn’t be surprised to see the same design and user experience in the upcoming Windows 8 OS and its Jupiter UI framework. Check it out here.