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Michael Endler
Michael Endler
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Windows Phone 8: Star Features

Microsoft pulled out all the stops to introduce its new mobile OS -- but will it be enough to tempt iOS and Android users?
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Belfiore stated that many scenarios cause people to worry about data overages: new smartphone users who are getting used to more complicated plans, people on fixed budgets, etc. The problem, he said, is that many people understand neither how their phone is using data nor how this usage can be optimized. He asserted that WP8 addresses this issue with a new feature called Data Sense.

The utility covers several bases, but the most notable is its ability to shrink Web browsing's potentially large data footprint by individually compressing each page a user visits. "Go ahead, keep looking," quipped Belfiore, who -- with the help of several visual aids -- added, "It looks like Web browsing always looks -- nothing's different, no settings to mess with. But it uses less data because of compression."

Data Sense additionally attempts to help people avoid unnecessary reliance on cellular networks by automatically looking for nearby Wi-Fi hotspots. Other features include alerts when a data cap has nearly been reached, as well as a Live Tile-based display of data usage that's intended to identify which apps are bandwidth hogs.

Belfiore said Data Sense offers unique capabilities, but conceded that some elements are available from other mobile OSes. He argued, however, that the ultimate differentiator is in the end results: according to Microsoft's testing, users are able to access 45% more Web data with the function activated.

Some might be disappointed to learn, though, that the Data Sense will not be immediately available on all devices. The full gamut of wireless providers that sell WP8 phones will eventually offer the new capability, but many won't unroll it until later this year. Belfiore mentioned that Verizon will be the first onboard.


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