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Windows 8: NFC built right in, already in developer tablets

We didn't see this one coming. Microsoft has integrated NFC right into Windows 8; so much so that it's already there, and is even enabled in the developer tablet devices to be given out today at BUILD.

In a post on NFCWorld, it was revealed that Microsoft chose NXP to help develop the NFC technology for Windows 8. NFC says it has "collaborated extensively with Microsoft to develop an NFC driver for Windows 8 that enables a variety of NFC use cases. NXP has configured its PN544 NFC controller chip to support Windows 8." The company also announced that the technology is part of the Samsung devices being given out to BUILD attendees today.

NXP says that the Windows 8 "use cases" right now for NFC technology are the following:

  • Windows 8 device pairing (eg Bluetooth headsets and speakers)
  • Data sharing (eg digital business cards)
  • Device control transfer (eg transfer a video call from a tablet to another NFC-enabled device)
  • Tag reading (eg linking the physical world with the cloud through interaction with smart posters and NFC-tagged devices)

Developers can use the NFC support to offer promotions, coupons and discounts and NXP imagines that "bringing physical touch points to online social networking for enhanced check-in experience; perform surveys and brand reviews; add NFC-enabled tokens to unlock or enhance a gaming experience; and, enable content delivery in document, audio or video format" are fantastic ways to utitlize the technology.

It's worth noting right now that it doesn't appear to support future NFC payment methods, such as tap-and-go at the petrol pump or stores and it's not clear if this will be added in the future. If you're not sure what NFC is exactly, it stands for "Near Field Communication", a method of communication with other devices to share or read information from. It's designed to be simple and "tap-and-go."

It's impressive that the technology is already part of Windows 8, as it adoption and popularity continues to rise worldwide. But what does this mean for Windows Phone 7? Will the platform be getting NFC soon? We suspect we'll know more when Nokia make their announcement next month.

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