Microsoft Reveals Windows Phone 8, Snubs Current Windows Phones

    June 20, 2012
    Sean Patterson
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Microsoft today revealed its future smartphone platform: Windows Phone 8. The announcement came as part of the Windows Phone Developer Summit currently taking place in San Francisco.

Joe Belfiore, head of the Windows Phone division at Microsoft, took to the official Windows Phone Blog to lay out all of the details. In the blog post he states that Windows 8 is a whole new chapter in the Windows Phone “story.” The new operating system, which Belfiore calls Microsoft’s most advanced mobile OS ever (one would hope), will start arriving on phones later this year. However, he also had some bad news to impart: Windows Phone 8 will not be making it to any existing Windows Phones. From the blog post:

Some of you have been wondering, “Will we also get Windows Phone 8 as an update?” The answer, unfortunately, is no.

Windows Phone 8 is a generation shift in technology, which means that it will not run on existing hardware. BUT we care deeply about our existing customers and want to keep their phones fresh, so we’re providing the new Start screen in this new update.

Leaving current Windows Phone adopters out in the cold is harsh, but it could be the clean sweep Microsoft needs to make sure all of its products are functioning within the same ecosystem. For example, the Start screen Belfiore mentioned is a Windows 8-style metro interface. It provides users with many color-palate options and eschews the Android and Apple icons for “Live Tiles,” which come in three sizes. Microsoft is very proud of those Live Tiles, and has provided a Windows Phone 8 trailer for the Start screen:

Many Windows Phone 8 features were exactly as rumored. The OS will support multi-core processing, screen resolutions up to 1280 x 768, and NFC. It will also support MicroSD card storage, a must-have for mobile media consumers. Windows Phone 8 will come with Internet Explorer 10 and Nokia mapping integrated into the platform. IE 10 is the same browser that Windows 8 PCs will use in the fall. Microsoft is also debuting a new “digital Wallet” feature that works similarly to Google Wallet, with some extra functionality (such as boarding pass storage) that recalls Apple’s upcoming Passbook app for iOS 6.

Windows Phone 8 Start screens

Belfiore made it seem as if Microsoft is looking to finally put RIM out of its misery when he listed the enterprise features that will be baked into Windows Phone 8. The OS will feature built-in device encryption and supports the United Extensible Firmware Interface (UEFI). The remote management capabilities of the platform will help business IT keep a tight reign on devices, and custom Windows Phone 8 “hubs” will be available for companies to provide company apps and info directly to employees.

More details about Windows Phone 8 will be rolling out in the weeks and months leading up to its release. Microsoft’s new mobile OS will debut later this year alongside the new Windows 8 PC OS. Between those new operating systems and the new Surface tablets, it looks as if this fall will be make-or-break for Microsoft’s new Metro strategy.

  • http://www.gravexwebservices.net Michael Burke

    I bought a Galaxy S2 last year, and quickly got rid of it for the Samsung Omnia 7. Windows Phone 7 is good, and I enjoy using the phone. It’s reliable, and I feel that the email features on this phone are a match for the BlackBerry email feature. (I previously owned a BlackBerry for three years).

    That said, it would be nice to have the option to upgrade the OS on this phone, instead of basically cutting me and all the other Windows Phone users off. I won’t be going out and buying another Windows Phone because of this tactic. I think this tactic could hurt Microsoft in the long run, as I doubt all of the early adopters of the first Windows Phone 7 will upgrade.

  • Raven

    The new start screen looks cluttered and messy. The removal of the gutter is a great mistake.

  • http://www.markreynolds.com.au Mark Reynolds

    Will Windows Phone 8 be terrific? Probably. Will we eventually think that it was both necessary and a good move to make the new phone OS compatible with the Windows 8 OS core, and necessary due to hardware limitations of Windows Phone 7.x devices to make a clean break from the past and develop a completely new line incompatible with past Windows Phones? Probably. However, adopters of Windows Phone 7 tend to be die-hard Microsoft fans, who will feel badly stung by Microsoft not to have been informed of the impending change which Microsoft must surely have known about for some time. I resisted purchasing a Windows Phone until a really decent one was developed. In my case, this was a toss-up between the HTC Titan 4G and the Nokia Lumia 900 – both with great reviews, and both delayed from entry into the market in Australia after initial announcements for what seemed like an unbearable amount of time. Finally, I purchased the HTC Titan 4G (precisely because of its 4G capability) on the day that it was released – only to find out about a week later that Windows Phone 8 will be released in a few months and will be completely incompatible with Windows Phone 7 devices. I think even Microsoft die-hards (and I count myself as one) will feel somewhat cheated over not being informed earlier about Microsoft’s plans for their Windows Phone line when they obviously must have been aware of their intended direction for quite some time. Will I purchase a Windows Phone 8 device later on? Almost certainly – but it will be difficult not to feel somewhat cheated to have paid a fair amount of money for a top end Windows Phone 7 device only to have it become redundant in just a few months.