Microsoft has just unveiled Windows Phone 8 taking the time to showcase features the software giant thinks differentiates the new mobile operating platform.
“We can’t wait for the world to meet Windows Phone 8, the most personal smartphone there is,” said Microsoft’s Terry Myerson.
“Windows Phone 8 comes on a range of phones that are stunning, colorful and unique,” the Microsoft Windows Phone Division corporate vice president added.
Microsoft is putting emphasis on the Live Tiles of the Windows Phone 8 user interface.
The software giant says that the feature is “the heart and soul of Windows Phone, and no other phone has them.”
“People can arrange the iconic Start screen however they want by pinning their favorite people, apps, music, games, photos and more. Three sizes of Live Tiles and 20 bright color choices including cobalt, crimson and lime mean you can personalize your Start screen to be unmistakably yours,” Microsoft added.
As an extension of Live Tiles which displays information on Windows Phone 8 tiles, the new OS also features Live Apps which bring information right to the Start screen.
Microsoft also unveiled Kid’s Corner which creates a space safe for kids. It’s sort of like setting up another user on a Windows personal computer with parents deciding what their kids can do when they hand over their smartphones.
“Exclusive to Windows Phone 8, Kid’s Corner is a worry-free way to share your phone with your kids, so they can play “Angry Birds” without texting your angry boss. Parents can now hand over their phones to the kids without worrying about deleted photos, misdirected emails, unapproved purchases or accidental phone calls. After a simple setup, parents can activate a specialized place on the phone for kids to play — complete with their own customizable Start screens — where they can access only the apps, games, music and videos picked by parents.”
Windows Phone 8 also features Rooms, a feature for chatting where you group individuals based on your own criteria.
You can then use these Rooms to chat with specific groups.
Data Sense for Windows Phone 8 adds another nifty feature for the Microsoft mobile OS.
Apart from showing how much data is used by an app and monitoring if you are approaching your plan limit, Data Sense also saves data by “compressing Web images, deferring data tasks to free Wi-Fi and automatically adjusting your usage as you get closer to your plan limits,” Microsoft says.
Microsoft has also decided to take advantage of Near Field Communication with Windows Phone 8 as it adds a feature called Wallet where you can store your debit, credit, loyalty and membership card information on your Windows Phone 8 device.
Capitalizing on its multi-billion-dollar acquisition of Skype, Microsoft also made integration of the communications tool tighter in Windows Phone 8.
The Skype app which comes soon to Windows Phone 8 will be always-on, displaying information via live tiles and will let users be able to make and receive Skype calls just like a regular phone call. Simply tap a friend or family member’s contact card in the People Hub, or just pick up when the phone rings.
Microsoft also did not forget to mention its growing number of apps at the Windows Phone Store which it says now has 120,000 apps to choose from.
Titles available on the Windows Phone Store includes “Angry Birds Star Wars,” “Cut the Rope Experiments,” “Disney’s Where’s My Water,” “LivingSocial,” “Temple Run” and “Urbanspoon”.
Microsoft also reveal Pandora will come to Windows Phone 8 early next year.
The company is also pushing Windows Phone 8 as part of an ecosystem saying devices running on the mobile OS are the perfect companion for other Windows devices.
With a similar look and feel, the same technology core, and the same built-in SkyDrive cloud service, Windows Phone 8 is built to work seamlessly with Windows 8 PCs, Microsoft Surface devices and the Xbox 360 console, Microsoft said.
As an example, Microsoft says that now you can edit a document on the go with Windows Phone 8 and pick right up again on your PC when you get home. Or access your music including your albums, songs and playlists, wherever and whenever on Xbox Music.(4) Create a playlist from your PC, walk out the door and cue up that same list from your phone. It’s all possible with Windows.
The Redmond, Washington-based software giant featured its hardware partners as well. It says:
Leading up to today’s launch, Nokia, Samsung and HTC have announced an array of phones for Windows Phone 8, featuring large, vivid screens, new camera innovations, NFC capabilities, and bold colors such as red, yellow, blue, black and white.(2) Each phone offers unique features and comes in a variety of price points.
- Nokia. The Nokia Lumia 920 offers state-of-the-art photography that fits in your pocket, and it is the world’s only smartphone to include Optical Image Stabilization. The Nokia Lumia 822, 820 and 810 offer a ClearBlack display and removable back exchangeable shells in a range of vibrant colors.(3) Both the Nokia Lumia 920 and 820 offer wireless charging.
- HTC. The Windows Phone 8X by HTC was designed with sleek lines and radiant colors to match Windows Phone’s new Live Tiles. This phone also breaks new ground in optics with 1080p video recording, f2.0 aperture and a dedicated HTC ImageChip on the main 8-megapixel camera and an ultrawide-angle lens on the front camera that lets you fit up to four people in the frame for a premium Skype experience. The 8X and its smaller sibling, the 8S, both boast a killer music experience with Beats Audio and exclusive built-in amps that pair perfectly with Xbox Music.
- Samsung. The Samsung ATIV S brings the biggest screen to Windows Phone, with a bright 4.8-inch touch screen and large battery for extended battery life. Wrapped in brushed aluminum, the ATIV S balances high-end materials and technology with a hairline design and light weight. The ATIV Odyssey was announced today as the latest Windows Phone from Samsung with more details to come.”
As for pricing and availability, Microsoft says:
“Pricing and Availability
Major mobile operators in the United States will start selling Windows Phone 8 in the coming weeks:
- Microsoft and Verizon Wireless have opened a new chapter in a long partnership. Verizon Wireless will carry the Windows Phone 8X by HTC for $199.99 with a two-year contract, and the Nokia Lumia 822, exclusive to Verizon, for $99.99 with a two-year contract. Both will be available by Thanksgiving. In addition the Samsung ATIV Odyssey, also exclusive to Verizon, will be available in December.
- AT&T will carry the Nokia Lumia 920, the Lumia 820 and the Windows Phone 8X by HTC, all going on sale in November. AT&T will have more to share on prices in the coming weeks.
- T-Mobile will carry the Windows Phone 8X by HTC starting at $149.99(6) for the 16GB version and the Nokia Lumia 810 from $99.99.(6) T-Mobile is expecting customers to be able to purchase these Windows Phones on Nov. 14.
All 65 Microsoft Stores open this holiday will carry every phone available for sale in the U.S., and every color option will be available through its online store at http://www.microsoftstore.com.”