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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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One byproduct of social media is that most of us are connected to more people than we're actively invested in at any given moment. A WP8 Live Tile that draws indiscriminately from Facebook, for example, would probably include at least one reference to someone the user barely recognizes for every link to someone who's actually part of that user's legitimate social circle.

WP8 addresses the overload of friends, family and content by allowing users to establish "rooms" for given groups -- parents, brothers and sisters might go in one room, for example, while co-workers might go in another. The segmentation allows the dynamic content-sharing facilitated by Live Tiles to be scaled on a more intimate level.

Belfiore said rooms include shared calendars that can be accessed only by those within the group, and also access to location data -- useful, he stated, if members of a family disperse for a few hours, but need to reconvene later. Other in-room features include private messaging and shared notes.

Though Microsoft clearly wants to expand its share of the mobile market, it recognizes that at least some of a WP8 user's close contacts will rely on other platforms. As a result, Belfiore said, the company allows users of competing OSes to be invited into a given room's community. The full experience, he said, will be available only on devices running WP8, but many functions -- such as access to a communal calendar -- will be globally accessible.


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