A few random nuggets on Windows Phone 8 from our Microsoft interview

Here at the Windows Phone 8 announcement, I had a bit of time to sit down with Casey McGee, Senior Marketing Manager for Microsoft's Mobile Communications Business. We had a quick chat about various aspects of what was - and was not - covered in today's presentation, and these are just a few bits and pieces that he shared with me:

  • I asked about the availability of native screenshot capture in the Windows Phone 8 OS. "Stay tuned!" was the reply, with a slight smile; I tried to draw a firm 'yes' or 'no' out of him, but he wouldn't give in.
  • Casey wasn't 100% certain on this, but it's his belief that there is no limit to the number of tiles that can be displayed on the Start Screen.
  • Don't read too much into the fact that only four OEMs - Nokia, Huawei, Samsung and HTC - were identified as launch partners for Windows Phone 8 devices. While there are some notable exceptions - particularly LG and Acer - we should expect other OEMs to make announcements in due course.
  • In the presentation earlier, Microsoft made plenty of noise about WP8 being optimised for multi-core processors. Casey wouldn't be drawn on the kind of optimisation - if any - that Microsoft may have made for single-core processors, so it's not yet clear whether any single-core devices will be sold with Windows Phone 8 on board. This might not seem terribly interesting for developed markets like Europe and the US, but it could be significant for developing markets, where multi-core processors could add more cost to handsets, which could prove critical for more price-sensitive customers.
  • There is, apparently, no development codename (e.g. Apollo, Tango etc.) for the Windows Phone 7.8 update that will be made available to current 7.5 handsets. Internally, the update is simply referred to as "7.8".
  • Microsoft committed to support devices for at least eighteen months with OS updates and Casey was keen to underline that that is Microsoft's "bare minimum" commitment. He told me that MS believes it's important to establish that bare minimum to maintain customer confidence - but Microsoft is working with carriers on a region-by-region basis to try to provide a sensible update program for users (for example, in Canada, where some users commit to 36-month contracts). That doesn't necessarily mean that Canadian customers should expect 36 months of updates though.
  • Updates will still be subject to carrier approval, despite being delivered OTA.
  • I also asked about whether or not a 'silent update' process might be available for the OS - for example, to emergency-patch serious vulnerabilities - such as is available on the Windows PC client, with 'automatic updates' that download and install themselves. Casey told me that it's possible for Microsoft to push a notification to the device, to alert the user that "an update is available", but doesn't believe that there's any auto-update procedure in place that does not require user authorisation at point of installation.

We'll try to find out more about Windows Phone 8 in the hours, days and weeks ahead - so be sure to stay tuned to Neowin for all the latest info!

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