Microsoft has had a busy week. First, on Monday, it tossed its hat into the tablet ring by announcing its Surface Windows tablet. Then, yesterday, it released data about its Windows Phone 8 operating system — and to much dismay, it won't be available as an upgrade for existing Windows Phone 7 users.
The buzz on the newest version of Microsoft's smartphone OS begins with its support for handsets with dual- and quad-core processors, as well as screens with 800x480, 1280x768, and 1280x720 pixel resolutions. This means that the handsets housing the OS should become more sophisticated.
Windows Phone 8 will also integrate extensive homepage customization, including color selection and tile sizing; this in particular seems to have charmed industry experts in attendence, with PCWorld declaring the new start screen "by far one of the cooler things Microsoft showed at the developer summit." Beyond that, the OS will support DirectX and microSD card expansion, and it will include Nokia Maps, a more secure browsing experience, and a Wallet app that uses NFC (near field communication).
Perhaps most excitedly for developers though, the OS will also make use of coding that is more closely linked to the desktop version of Windows. Or, as TechCrunch puts it, "Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8 will be incestuously intertwined at its NT kernel core." This should allow developers greater ease in porting their apps between the two platforms. Moreover, the OS will support in-app purchases, which will (in theory) provide incentive for app developers to create a more robust Windows Phone app landscape.
But current Windows Phone 7 users, don't get too excited! Your phones won't be able to upgrade to Windows Phone 8 due to hardware limitations. And furthermore, as TechCrunch points out, apps developed for 8 won't work on 7 phones. While that's likely a bummer for any Windows Phone 7 user, CNET points out that it's particularly a shame for Lumia 900 owners, since the handset was heavily sold as "the next big thing in smartphones." These smartphone users will be able to obtain the aforementioned start page customization options, however, with a slight upgrade to "Windows 7.8." But otherwise, they're now holding a phone that's stuck with an outdated OS.
Readers, do any of you have a Windows Phone 7 smartphone? How do you feel about the news that you won't be able to upgrade to 8? Non-users, are you at all intrigued by the updates, or will you continue using your OS of choice? Sound off in the comments below.
Front page photo credit: Cult of Mac