Microsoft's Joe Belfiore reveals Windows Phone 8 details

Despite near-universal praise from reviewers, bloggers and consumers who have used it, Windows Phone hasn’t exactly taken the world by storm yet. However, there's still a lot of talk out about 2012 being “Windows Phone’s year”, and the arrival of Nokia’s new handsets will undoubtedly help the hardware and software ecosystem grow.

Before the end of the year, two significant updates to the Windows Phone OS are expected – the first, known as Tango, will be a relatively incremental update that’s expected to bring new features for developing markets, including support for as many as 120 new languages; the second, referred to internally as Apollo, but expected to be called Windows Phone 8 when it arrives towards the end of the year, will be a much larger and more comprehensive update.  

In a video produced by Microsoft to be shared internally and with its hardware partners - and seen by PocketNow - Joe Belfiore, senior vice-president and Windows Phone manager, revealed a number of details about Windows Phone 8.


Hardware

One of the key criticisms about the current Windows Phone ecosystem is the strict set of guidelines that Microsoft has established for phone handsets, which allow few opportunities for manufacturers to differentiate on a hardware level. The Android ecosystem is filled with screens of all resolutions and sizes, multi-core processors and any number of other component variations, while Windows Phone handsets are all relatively similar on the inside.

Joe Belfiore explains in the video that Windows Phone 8 will bring a much greater range of hardware configurations; “scale and choice” of hardware is a key focus here. There will be support for four additional screen resolutions (the exact resolutions were not specified, but we’d hope to see both lower and higher, and perhaps even HD, resolutions supported), as well as support for multi-core processing and for removable microSD cards.

As we expected, NFC will also be baked into Apollo, bringing capabilities for what Belfiore calls “the wallet experience”, to allow consumers to use their device for contactless payments, and tap-to-share experiences with other devices, such as phones, tablets and PCs.


Windows 8

As we know, Microsoft is extending its Metro user experience to its next-generation PC operating system, Windows 8, but the connection between Windows 8 and its mobile counterpart will go further than just look and feel. There will be major software commonalities and ‘overlap’ between the two, allowing software developers to “reuse, by far, most of their code” in developing apps for both PC and phone. Kernel, networking stacks, multimedia and security features are identified as areas of significant commonality.

Windows Phone 8 will no longer rely on the Zune PC software to manage synchronisation between the phone and computer; instead, it seems, there will be a more closely integrated sync solution that will allow WP8 and W8 devices to connect and share data. Belfiore identifies the example of having your music collection instantly synchronised to a new Windows Phone 8 device via improved SkyDrive integration, without having to manually synchronise the handset with the PC.

Further integration is promised with the Xbox Companion app, which gets its own Windows 8 version.


Software ecosystem

By the time Windows Phone 8 arrives, Microsoft believes that there will be around 100,000 apps available in the Marketplace (having reached 60,000 apps just a couple of weeks ago). Native code support will make it much easier for apps to be ported from other platforms such as Android and iOS, as well as offering greater support for more powerful apps.

Skype, now part of the Microsoft family of course (and coming soon to Windows Phone 7.5 as a non-native downloadable app), will be integrated into the Windows Phone 8 OS via a new and improved Skype client; although Skype will remain a separate app, it will 'hook' into the OS to allow Skype calls to be placed with the same ease and direct access with which one can currently make a ‘traditional’ non-VoIP call. This kind of integration is a development of the Windows Phone App Connect and Windows 8 Contracts features, which allow the OS and individual apps to interact with each more seamlessly.

A redeveloped camera API will see Microsoft provide a ‘basic camera interface’ which OEMs can skin or add to with viewfinders and other third-party plug-ins. An example given is of a so-called ‘lens app’ that can combine burst mode with smile detection to enhance the quality of the snap.


Data management

DataSmart is a new feature that aims to drastically simplify the way data is used and managed. Windows Phone 8 will actively afford precedence to wi-fi connections wherever available, automatically connecting to carrier-aligned wi-fi networks if they are in range. Data usage can also be monitored at a glance with a live tile. Much of this functionality was revealed in its preview of the Windows 8 mobile data experience, which we covered here on Neowin a couple of weeks ago.

Internet Explorer 10 on Windows Phone 8 will use a proxy server to feed compressed pages to handsets to reduce the amount of data required to serve web content; in this case, it’s claimed that data consumption can be reduced by 30%.


Business and enterprise

One criticism levelled at Windows Phone is the lack of ‘hardcore’ support for enterprise and business environments. In an effort to address these concerns, Windows Phone 8 will offer integrated 128-bit BitLocker encryption, as currently found on some Windows PC operating system versions.

Businesses will also be able to deploy their own proprietary software directly to handsets, behind their own corporate firewalls, without having to submit to the public Windows Phone Marketplace.


Images of Joe Belfiore via SmartKeitai.com and Metro.co.uk

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Any chance Tango will have the Sim Toolkit & USSD upgrade? There are many countries that need them especially those in Africa...

If WP is as good as it looks and will be what MS says it will, then I may give it a try. I normalyl get a new phone every year so we shall see. But MS needs to hurry up. So far, no WP on Verizon cept for the HTC Trophy released well over a year ago.

techbeck said,
If WP is as good as it looks and will be what MS says it will, then I may give it a try. I normalyl get a new phone every year so we shall see. But MS needs to hurry up. So far, no WP on Verizon cept for the HTC Trophy released well over a year ago.

Yeah, Verizon's support is really underwhelming. I have the Trophy (Because I wanted a Windows Phone) and I do like it a lot. But I would like to upgrade to another Windows Phone as well. Still waiting to see what happens with Verizon. They need to get their act together.

M_Lyons10 said,

Yeah, Verizon's support is really underwhelming. I have the Trophy (Because I wanted a Windows Phone) and I do like it a lot. But I would like to upgrade to another Windows Phone as well. Still waiting to see what happens with Verizon. They need to get their act together.

Yea, if I choose to try WP...then I want a newer device. Not something that will drop in support right after I get it. So hopefully Verizon hurries up and MS as well.

"Businesses will also be able to deploy their own proprietary software directly to handsets, behind their own corporate firewalls, without having to submit to the public Windows Phone Marketplace."

What about VPN access outside of the network where the phone will actually be used?

Cyborg_X said,
"Businesses will also be able to deploy their own proprietary software directly to handsets, behind their own corporate firewalls, without having to submit to the public Windows Phone Marketplace."

What about VPN access outside of the network where the phone will actually be used?

VPN for business I view as a necessity. I'm sure it's something they're working on.

Cyborg_X said,
"Businesses will also be able to deploy their own proprietary software directly to handsets, behind their own corporate firewalls, without having to submit to the public Windows Phone Marketplace."

What about VPN access outside of the network where the phone will actually be used?

"Kernel, networking stacks, multimedia and security features are identified as areas of significant commonality." Would assume somewhere in there VPN access would be possible

thealexweb said,
Wait is IE10 gonna be a bit like Opera Mini but the pages will render more properly.

I suppose so. Opera Mini always really messed up the page content. I hope Microsoft doesn't fall into the same problems.

thealexweb said,
Wait is IE10 gonna be a bit like Opera Mini but the pages will render more properly.

It'll probably be optional, and probably be more like Opera Turbo than Opera Mini (in that, it compress' elements on the page, but not the page itself)

thealexweb said,
Wait is IE10 gonna be a bit like Opera Mini but the pages will render more properly.

Ok I hope this is a comparative thing, as Opera didn't invent this, and aren't even the company that runs through my mind what I think about this technology.

If you look at Microsoft Proxy Caching that goes back to 1995, and used on Windows Servers for organizations and also ISPs, there are several types of caching and 'compression'

Most HTML pages are messy, they are not compacted down to the smallest size by removing comments, whitespace, etc. This is one type of 'compression'

There is also actually 'compressing' the HTML pages, like zipping them, and unzipping them.

There is element and content caching, that can cache media from videos to music streamed or downloaded.

There is also 'image' compression, that lowers the quality of the JPGs or PNGs or at least doesn't load a 2048x2048 image that is displayed as 100x100 on the page, which is no loss in image quality.

I can see where 'carriers' will augment their own 'proxy caching' technologies that many of them ALREADY use.

As for page rendering, if it breaks the page or doesn't look right, Microsoft probably won't allow that content to be cached, as they also do on the fly render testing on the server before the 'compressed' version is ever sent to a user.

Windows 8 - XAML + C# / C++, Windows Phone 8 - XAML + C# / C++, WinRT ported to Windows Phone 8. Tablet emulator and Phone emulator coming in the same package. DirectX 11.2 ported to Windows Phone 8.

Hey, I'm free to dream, right?

kavazovangel said,
Windows 8 - XAML + C# / C++, Windows Phone 8 - XAML + C# / C++, WinRT ported to Windows Phone 8. Tablet emulator and Phone emulator coming in the same package. DirectX 11.2 ported to Windows Phone 8.

Hey, I'm free to dream, right?

The dream may soon become reality.

WP7 is missing quality apps, that I am used to on Android. I can't use anything, but Bing. I would like to be able to use Google, if I'd like to. JS. Lack of customising. I can't even test my apps on my phone without spending an extra $100 because Chevron won't sale any more tokens.

KomaWeiss said,
WP7 is missing quality apps, that I am used to on Android. I can't use anything, but Bing. I would like to be able to use Google, if I'd like to. JS. Lack of customising. I can't even test my apps on my phone without spending an extra $100 because Chevron won't sale any more tokens.

you can use google, just not as the native search. android doesn't function the same as wp7. it wouldn't be possible to change it, it's too integrated into the OS. you know any students? use their student email and get a free developer account. it works fine, that's what i did. didn't spend a penny.

KomaWeiss said,
WP7 is missing quality apps, that I am used to on Android. I can't use anything, but Bing. I would like to be able to use Google, if I'd like to. JS. Lack of customising. I can't even test my apps on my phone without spending an extra $100 because Chevron won't sale any more tokens.

are you sure you know what you are talking about

KomaWeiss said,
WP7 is missing quality apps, that I am used to on Android. I can't use anything, but Bing. I would like to be able to use Google, if I'd like to. JS. Lack of customising. I can't even test my apps on my phone without spending an extra $100 because Chevron won't sale any more tokens.

Android has quality apps?

KomaWeiss said,
WP7 is missing quality apps, that I am used to on Android. I can't use anything, but Bing. I would like to be able to use Google, if I'd like to. JS. Lack of customising. I can't even test my apps on my phone without spending an extra $100 because Chevron won't sale any more tokens.

Just stay with android, you really dont have to use WP7 you know.

auziez said,

are you sure you know what you are talking about

Yeah, the only quality app I'm presently missing is RedBox and I've been assured that it's on the way...

Enron said,

Android has quality apps?

As soon as KomaWeiss posted I knew we'd get someone saying that, believe it or not there are tons of good apps on android, if i moved to WP I'd lose about two thirds of the apps I have installed.

Enron said,

Android has quality apps?

Yes, tons of them. Do a little research next time. And if I choose to give WP a go, then I would want to use the same apps that I am accustomed to. I will not switch to a different platform and lose functionality and do more work to get the info I need. But MS will have more Apps once they start pumping out more phones on more providers.

techbeck said,

Yes, tons of them. Do a little research next time. And if I choose to give WP a go, then I would want to use the same apps that I am accustomed to. I will not switch to a different platform and lose functionality and do more work to get the info I need. But MS will have more Apps once they start pumping out more phones on more providers.

It was a joke. I know Android usually gets a lot of major apps at the same time or shortly after iOS. The performance and experience/consistency of the Android phones with said apps leaves a lot to desire though (from my personal experience).

Enron said,

It was a joke. I know Android usually gets a lot of major apps at the same time or shortly after iOS. The performance and experience/consistency of the Android phones with said apps leaves a lot to desire though (from my personal experience).

I hear ya. Have to do a little more research and know what you are getting with Android to make sure it will run the apps you need efficiently. There are so many Android devices out there and some times, well alot of the time, people dont research the device and go off price.

techbeck said,

Yes, tons of them. Do a little research next time. And if I choose to give WP a go, then I would want to use the same apps that I am accustomed to. I will not switch to a different platform and lose functionality and do more work to get the info I need. But MS will have more Apps once they start pumping out more phones on more providers.

It sounds like you want the same exact apps you have on Android to be on WP. Of course if that were to happen, then we would hear from the Android/iOS crowd, as we usually do when there is a port, that there are no original apps on WP.

Enron said,

Android has quality apps?


Not an Android user (except for the Fire), but you're dumb if you think that's the case. You just need to, you know, actually look for them. Same for all platforms.

KomaWeiss said,
WP7 is missing quality apps, that I am used to on Android. I can't use anything, but Bing. I would like to be able to use Google, if I'd like to. JS. Lack of customising. I can't even test my apps on my phone without spending an extra $100 because Chevron won't sale any more tokens.

i feel the exact opposite.. I have the Transformer prime and hate how I cant change the search bar on the homescreen to bing easily.. I love bing personally.. and cant stand google.. I try a search on the prime and i end up signing up for G+ or something stupid

techbeck said,

Yes, tons of them. Do a little research next time. And if I choose to give WP a go, then I would want to use the same apps that I am accustomed to. I will not switch to a different platform and lose functionality and do more work to get the info I need. But MS will have more Apps once they start pumping out more phones on more providers.

Humor, not so much uh?

The thing is, the Android Market, eve last year at this time, was much like WP7's market is now. This is good for WP7, as it has been around just over a year.

I can remember 'waiting' for Android Apps from major companies that just instantly built iPhone/iPad Apps. Even today, there are a lot of companies that still only offer iPhone Apps, no Android and no WP7 Apps.

Give the WP7 market time, and then see what happens. By the time WP8 is here, it will be a new world for Windows Phone. WP7 users now enjoy the phone, let us keeping using and testing and adding suggestions to Microsoft and 3rd parties, and then when it is the accepted 3rd standard, and WP8 is here, consider moving to it. Stick with whatever ya like for now, that is why we all don't buy one brand of something.

***
Interesting side note, most of the same complaints about WP7 and the novel way it is offered to OEMs in the industry is like watching Windows 3.0 all over again.

Users complained that it was 'different', wasn't a power user OS, didn't have Applications for it. In the time between Win3.0 and Win3.1, most of the complaints on this forum were also said of Win3.0.

However, as the tighter and more advanced device APIs were introduced and technologies from the NT team filtered into Win3.1 & 3.11, by the time Win 3.1 hit, it was such a solid mix of new concepts and providing a broader set of OS level features that OS/2 had no chance of getting a foot in the door.

(Also OS/2 having a ton of 16bit code and drivers, and a single input queue made it a hard sell for real IT people as they were looking to NT 3.1 or would pick Win 3.1 just because it wasn't limited to a single input queue that would lock up everything because of an errant application. This was silly of OS/2 have pre-emptive multi-tasking, and then have the input queue locking the OS from the user.)

Windows 3.0 and especially 3.1 also changed how the OS industry worked, and how computer MFRs worked. Prior to Win 3.1, OEMs had to support the OS and provide a lot of software and features for the OS from their own development teams. With Win3.1, Microsoft did all the work, and as long as they built their computer to a minimum set of specifications, they no longer had to handle the OS, just load Win3.1 and ship the computer.

This worked well for OEMs as the development costs of supporting any *nix at the time or even DOS required a lot of work, time, development, support, that for a licensed copy of Windows, Microsoft did for them.

As Win3.1 took on the role past what a traditional OS provides, and incorporated OS level abilities like internal rendering/display APIs for Fonts and new multimedia and input drivers, this further reduced fragmentation and the work OEMs had to do.

This is why Windows 3.x-Win9x was successful more than anything, as OEMs got a good deal and could focus on building computers, and sound card MFRs and Printer MFRs could focus on building hardware and use the universal driver models and API sets of Windows.

This also let developer build applications without having to write sound card drivers or digitizer drivers for CAD or plotter drivers, etc...

By all this going to Microsoft to carry the 'work' it freed up the rest of the industry to build their products and not worry about how to get it supported or working on consumer PCs.

(HP was rather bad about 'rewriting' the printer stack, which is why their hardware was solid good stuff, but their drivers were pure crap for years.)


If you look at WP7, it is the same model, a bit more rich set of OS supplied features, minimum hardware specifications and Microsoft does the rest for Phone Makers, the Carriers all the way to the chip makers.

Users get consistency, and the most important thing is developers get consistency, as they don't have to recreate basic features and can use existing APIs from the OS Platform.

So like Win3.x days, they no longer have to write for a specific hardware, and as the OS and hardware changes, their code continues to evolve and work without having to do an update.

(On Android, every developer has to rebuild basic touch features and gestures instead of just asking for the OS to provide it for them, and this make coding bigger and messier)

Phone makers don't have to build and rebuild their specific Android version for their specific device, and all the OS crap is once again Microsoft's problem for Hardware makers, Developers, Carriers and End-Users.

It reduces their internal costs and support costs, and builds and updates, and a lot of work that has been 'normal' in the Mobile world, just as it was normal in the PC world before Windows 3.x.

This puts WP7 closer to iOS in the ease of updates and yet isn't limited to a couple of hardware products.

It is wrapping a good model and ecosystem around an eclectic set of hardware and making it work like a close hardware solution that made Windows 3.x and will probably make WP7/WP8 popular, as it is changing the device world almost the exact same way.

Regarding updates...
Android has some concerns, besides the version fragmentation and OEM version build fragmentation. Even when Google provide 'fixes' to major security holes, MOST Android users never get these updates. There are a LOT of unsecured and buggy Android devices running around, and they won't get the 'next' version of Android either as the MFR can't afford to build and deliver it for a specific device. Even Motorola themselves stopped Android updates on many of their phones, that was a cost to publish the update issue, not a hardware one. If it was WP7, this would be Microsoft's responsibility, not the phone makers, and it would get the update.)

KomaWeiss said,
WP7 is missing quality apps, that I am used to on Android. I can't use anything, but Bing. I would like to be able to use Google, if I'd like to. JS. Lack of customising. I can't even test my apps on my phone without spending an extra $100 because Chevron won't sale any more tokens.

Regarding using Google...

You can and there are 100 ways to use it.

One example, Instead of using the device search button, pin the website as Tile at the top of your screen, then the Windows Key will get your there to click on it instantly.

As for changing the 'device' search, WP7 doesn't just use 'Bing' it also is running internal search technologies. Sure it look like it is just Bing, and in a way is, but it is also searching 'in the phone', and this set of internal searching is expanding functionality, that Google can't support this and would limit the features of your phone if you replaced this.

You can use GMail, GDocs, you just can't use Chrome and you can't overwrite OS or touch the OS or other Apps. This is why the isolation piece of the WP7 security works, and it doesn't have the potential for Malware, as Apps just can't touch things that are not theirs.

Side note, 'wanting' to use Google is not so healthy. Google search, ok fine, I can approve that. However, GMail, GDocs, GVoice and other things that are available to any Google employee and also used to predict trends is far more dangerous than people realize.

I am an OS Theorist and Engineer, and have been teaching security models and teaching about CIS issues for years. What Google is doing is dangerous.

CIS 101, information is power, money, leverage, etc and must be secured and viewable to only the people that own it. Google is the opposite of this.

If the software systems I built for NASA and Lockheed for the ISS would have reportd even a 'log' of the state of the application, it would have been a security concern. Now it is amazing to see people let Google create a 'life' log of them that is a time-line and tracking system.

Like many people, I don't care as I have nothing to hide, but this is a false argument also, as giving up civil liberties just because they don't current affect you is still giving them up.

If it wasn't Google, people would go WTH, this is just wrong and has rather bad potential outcomes for the world as whole.

Really, reconsider the Google thing. The more people that reject what they do, they will go away or do better.

thenetavenger said,

Regarding using Google...

You can and there are 100 ways to use it.

One example, Instead of using the device search button, pin the website as Tile at the top of your screen, then the Windows Key will get your there to click on it instantly.

As for changing the 'device' search, WP7 doesn't just use 'Bing' it also is running internal search technologies. Sure it look like it is just Bing, and in a way is, but it is also searching 'in the phone', and this set of internal searching is expanding functionality, that Google can't support this and would limit the features of your phone if you replaced this.

You can use GMail, GDocs, you just can't use Chrome and you can't overwrite OS or touch the OS or other Apps. This is why the isolation piece of the WP7 security works, and it doesn't have the potential for Malware, as Apps just can't touch things that are not theirs.

Side note, 'wanting' to use Google is not so healthy. Google search, ok fine, I can approve that. However, GMail, GDocs, GVoice and other things that are available to any Google employee and also used to predict trends is far more dangerous than people realize.

I am an OS Theorist and Engineer, and have been teaching security models and teaching about CIS issues for years. What Google is doing is dangerous.

CIS 101, information is power, money, leverage, etc and must be secured and viewable to only the people that own it. Google is the opposite of this.

If the software systems I built for NASA and Lockheed for the ISS would have reportd even a 'log' of the state of the application, it would have been a security concern. Now it is amazing to see people let Google create a 'life' log of them that is a time-line and tracking system.

Like many people, I don't care as I have nothing to hide, but this is a false argument also, as giving up civil liberties just because they don't current affect you is still giving them up.

If it wasn't Google, people would go WTH, this is just wrong and has rather bad potential outcomes for the world as whole.

Really, reconsider the Google thing. The more people that reject what they do, they will go away or do better.

Agreed 100%. I use Google's services less and less and now with this new Privacy Policy I'm going to cut that back even further. Don't be evil my ***...

Tom said,
Joe Belfiore is pretty sexy.

...

Anyway - moving the syncing out of a music app is good, it should be deeply baked in to windows itself.

However - I would like to hear more on:

Docking solution - The Zune had it, WP7 does not. Stupid. I get to plug in 2 cables every night, one for power, one to get sound pumped into my iHome clock radio. It does not need to be manditory, but having a standard dock connector that each vendor can use is way overdue.

Start/Windows button - this should turn on the phone. Something on the front should turn on the phone. I haven an HD7, and just turning it on is not as easy as it could be. (Its not hard, but awkward, especially with one hand). Some phones have power buttons on the side which is better, but some phones actually have a real hardware button for the start button - and it doesnt turn the phone on... Duh.

Buttons - After having used windows phone since release - the touch sensitive buttons really are a pain. I accidently bing myself at least 5 times a day, and every time I hand the phone to someone else say to look at a photo or read something, they bing or back button themselves. Any reason these cant be real hardware buttons?

Ryanlm said,
Something on the front should turn on the phone. I haven an HD7, and just turning it on is not as easy as it could be. (Its not hard, but awkward, especially with one hand)...

Don't turn it off then you wont have to turn it on...