Hurricane Sandy canceled all of the major events on the East Coast this morning. Microsoft held the Windows 8 launch event in New York City this past weekend, but smartly decided to launch Windows Phone 8 in San Francisco.
Microsoft started off its Windows Phone 8 event saying that Windows Phone now has an app ecosystem of over 120,000 apps. These apps are now available in over 50 languages and in 191 countries.
Windows Phone 8 is being billed as “the most personal smartphone.” To take this further, Microsoft said that they are going to “reinvent the smartphone around you.” The company said that Apple and Android haven’t reinvented the smartphone and how we interact with them since its inception. Windows Phone 8 is going to turn that on its head.
Staying in line with the concept of a more personal phone, Microsoft details the “live app.” These apps are not just icons, but rather moving live tiles that constantly update with the latest information. A new feature for live apps is a new lock screen that’s powered by live apps that bring you new photos and notifications from your apps on the lock screen. For example, the Facebook app updates the lock screen with your personal photos. A number of app developers including Twitter, Zynga and Rovio are updating their apps to take advantage of live apps.
Besides Facebook, Microsoft detailed another new live app hitting Windows Phone 8. The new live app version of Skype will be able to run in the background without taking up any resources. In the future, it seems that more apps will be able to run in the background without taking up any power or resources.
Pandora is also coming to Windows Phone 8 in early 2013. Microsoft is offering a year of free music with no ads.
Impressively enough, Microsoft has a new feature built into Windows Phone 8 that keeps track of all your data in real time. It’s called Data Sense and it helps you use less data. It will compress Web pages to use less data. It will also automatically adjust your phone’s use of data so that you never go ever. With the feature, Microsoft promises 45 percent more Web browsing on Windows Phone 8 compared to another smartphone on the same data pan. Data Sense will first be available on Verizon.
Kids Corner is one of the newest features that Microsoft claims is exclusive to Windows Phone 8. It lets a parent set aside specific apps that their kid can play without having to worry. It prevents kids from deleting any files, or accessing any harmful content.
Microsoft invites Jessica Alba to come up on stage to talk about Kid’s Corner. Alba says that her two-year-old daughter tweeted out nonsense on her account. Kid’s Corner keeps her kids out of her Twitter account while letting them play around in their own playground.
Moving on, Microsoft discusses the People app. It’s essentially the contact list on other phones, but it includes all of the social media accounts of those people. Now these people can be put into Rooms. An example would be a family room in which all members of the family can be receive exclusive updates from other family members.
The Room can be extended to other phones including iOS and Android devices. The full functionality of Rooms can’t be used on iPhones, but iPhone owners can get important updates from Windows Phone 8 users who have put the iPhone owner in their Room.
SkyDrive, Microsoft’s cloud platform, is being extended across all Windows 8 devices. One example is a voice note on a document. It’s automatically uploaded to the cloud and shared across all of your Windows 8 devices from phones to desktop.
The same goes for photos. Any photos taken will be automatically uploaded to SkyDrive. The photos can then be accessed across all Windows 8 devices. As for storage, Microsoft offers 7GB of free storage on SkyDrive. Photos will also be saved to the cloud forever.
Xbox Music will sync with your computer and match any songs you already own. The sync app will be available on Windows 8, Windows 7 and Macs in the near future.
Steve Ballmer takes the stage to talk up the reinvention of the smartphone once again. He says that the personalization will make Windows Phone 8 a winner. Beyond the personalization, he says that Windows Phone 8 hardware is the best in the industry. He goes over the phones that we’ve already seen including the Nokia Lumia 920.
Windows Phone 8 hardware will launch this weekend across Europe. In the US, Windows Phone 8X from HTC will be available from Verizon by Thanksgiving. T-Mobile will carry the Lumia 810 and Windows Phone 8X on November 14. AT&T will get the Nokia Lumia 920, Lumia 820 and Windows Phone 8X in November.
The 65 Microsoft stores around the US will sell every available Windows Phone 8. The phones will be available in every color from the online Microsoft store as well.
With that, Microsoft ended its Windows Phone 8 event.