Microsoft may be down in the single-digits when it comes to worldwide smartphone market share, but the company is not going to sit by on the sidelines while the competition from Apple and Google pass it by. Today at the Windows Phone Summit, Microsoft announced the follow-up to Windows Phone 7.5 -- Windows Phone 8.
While Windows Phone 7.x is based on Windows CE, Windows Phone 8 shares its NT kernel with PC-oriented Windows 8 operating system. Thanks to the shared codebase, developers won't have to do "double duty" developing programs for Windows Phone 8 and Windows 8.
Windows Phone 8 will support dual-core processor at launch, and quad-core support will come at a later date (Windows Phone 8 can theoretically support up to 64 cores ). In addition, Windows Phone 8 will support three screen resolutions: 800x480, 1280x768, and 1280x720. Although we question the need for both of the latter screen resolutions, we'll give Microsoft the benefit of the doubt on this one.
Other features include microSD support for removable storage (movies, videos, photos, apps), VoIP/Skype integration, in-app purchases, Internet Explorer 10 (complete with anti-phising technology), native NFC support, and a mobile Wallet Hub to store credit/debit cards, and deals/offers, (it sounds quite a bit like Apple's Passbook from iOS 6). Nokia's NAVTEQ mapping technology will also be built-in to Windows Phone 8 including offline maps. Another new feature, Tap+Send, allows users to "bump" phones to share data. However, we've seen this functionality before in Android devices.
The biggest change announced is a revamp of the Start screen and the Live Tiles system. Microsoft is now giving users the ability to completely control the Start screen and resize tiles to make their phones more personal. For example, if the Pictures hub is most important to you, you can resize the tile to make is take a huge portion of your screen while at the same time reducing the size of tiles that don't interest you as much.
Microsoft also made it official that current smartphones running Windows Phone 7.x will not be getting an upgrade to Windows Phone 8. While some functionality will make its way into Windows Phone 7.8 (like the new customizable Start screen), you'll have to purchase a brand new smartphone to get the full Windows Phone 8 experience.