The next version of Windows Phone will be based on the same kernel as Windows 8. This is good news for everyone.
Thanks to a Microsoft video intended for Nokia and obtained by Pocketnow.com, we have a clearer understanding of what Windows 8 phone will look like. The video, hosted by senior vice president and Windows Phone manager Joe Belfiore, said the Windows 8 phone, code named Apollo, will share much of the Windows 8 kernel. Currently Windows Phone 7.5 (Mango) has a kernel based on Windows CE. What does this mean? Well, different things for different people.
For developers, it means:
Apollo will use many of the same components as Windows 8, allowing developers to "reuse--by far--most of their code" when building apps for the desktop and the phone. Belfiore discusses "the kernel, networking stacks, security, and multimedia support as areas of heavy overlap" with Windows 8.
For consumers, it means:
-- A Skype client that hooks directly into the OS, letting Skype calls behave almost identically to regular, non-VoIP telephony.
-- Use of Data Smart, a way to actively save cellular data when possible and avoid 'bill shock.'
-- A choice of four screen resolutions and a removable MicroSD card.
-- Support for app-to-app communication.
-- Skydrive finally will come of age to create seamless sharing among devices, such as having music already installed on a new phone without syncing to a PC.
-- A camera that will be based around a lens app. Microsoft will provide a basic camera interface that can either be skinned by OEMs or overlaid with viewfinders from third parties. Belfiore gives the example of a lens app that combines burst mode with smile detection to capture a perfect portrait shot.
-- Windows Phone 7.5 app compatibility with Windows Phone 8, which should top 100,000 by the Windows Phone 8 launch. (iOS has over 425,000 apps)
-- NFC (Near Field Communication) and Wallet will allow users to securely pay via their phone.
For the enterprise, it means:
According to tech journalist Paul Thurrott, Windows Phone 8 will come with "hardware-accelerated encryption with BitLocker and always-on Secure Boot capabilities, just like Windows 8." Also, it will support additional Exchange ActiveSync policies and System Center configuration settings and inventory capabilities.
Businesses will be able to distribute phone apps privately as they can with Windows 8 apps.
In the big picture, the integration is the right recipe for Microsoft's success in the mobile market. Though worldwide there are a staggering 6 billion mobile subscriptions, essentially one for every person on the planet, most of these subscriptions are for feature phones, not smart phones. The global smart phone penetration is at only 27%, so the game is far from over for Microsoft. The smartphone market is still up for grabs and one player has yet to capture even a quarter of it. Much of this growth will be in developing countries.
Although late to the game, Microsoft is getting help from Apple, who couldn't offer a clear vision for enterprise admins at the 2012 MacIT event in January. The company that pretty much invented the D in BYOD (Bring Your Own Devices) is slow to give IT the tools to seamlessly integrate them. IT departments are struggling with the complexity and confusion of enterprise deployment of iOS devices, made all the more difficult by Apple IDs and iTunes accounts. Apple's attitude--by more than one account--is take it or leave it. This might be due to the fact that it has had so much success from the consumerization part of CoIT that it doesn't see the need to address the IT angle of it, leaving the door open--at least for a time--for Microsoft to get its phone in the door.
Microsoft is expected to make an announcement on its future Windows Phone plans at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona at the end of February.
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