A new version of Windows Phone debuted yesterday, adding a raft of new features to the smartphone platform and capping a frenzied week of activity for Microsoft.
Unveiled at the Windows Phone Summit in San Franscisco , Windows Phone 8 (WP8) brings increased scope for customisation, by adding the option to resize the platform’s colourful live tiles and fill the homescreen with up to four columns of apps instead of the previously rigid two-column layout.
In keeping with handset makers’ current zeal for voice interaction, WP8 also features a Siri-style app. And in a move that marks the end of Nokia Maps’ exclusivity to Nokia’s own phones, the mapping solution will be baked into WP8 and will be available on all handsets running the new version of the OS.
Elsewhere, we can also look forward to a new browser in the shape of Internet Explorer 10 that’s faster to use and boosts protection from malware and enhanced, 3D gaming. The new Near Field Communications (NFC)-harnessing Microsoft Wallet app, meanwhile, brings contactless payments to the platform for the first time.
To clear the way for the new features and ensure the phones have got enough brawn to handle them, Microsoft has added support for multi-core processors and will be equipped with NFC chips.
The bad news is that if you’ve got a Windows handset running version 7.0 or 7.5 of the software, you won’t be invited to the WP8 party when the forthcoming iteration drops in the fourth quarter.
However, Microsoft will make a kind of slimmed-down version available. Dubbed Windows Phone 7.8 this will bring select features of WP8 to older-generation handsets.
Earlier this week, we got our first glimpse of Windows 8 tablets at a separate press event held by the Big M, as the company begins a fresh assault of a smartphone and tablet markets currently dominated by Apple and Google's Android OS.