Microsoft on Wednesday revealed key pieces of its Windows Phone 8 smartphone strategy at an event for developers in San Francisco. The news is mostly good, and should vastly improve the scale and reach of the Windows Phone ecosystem when the platform launches later this year.
Looking at all the pieces of its mobile strategy offered by Microsoft, it's easy to foresee a brighter future for Windows Phone in the marketplace. It won't be smooth sailing, however, as there are some data points shared by Microsoft that will surely upset its current installed base. First, here's a list of the good stuff.
Shared Core: One of the most significant features of Windows Phone 8 is that it shares its core kernel with Windows 8. This means application developers will be able to more easily target Microsoft's entire range of devices--smartphones, tablets, and computers.
Upgraded Hardware: With Windows Phone 8, Microsoft greatly expanded the types of hardware that can run its smartphone platform. Moving forward, Windows Phone will support multicore processors and removable/expandable storage. It also adds support for more screen resolutions, including 480 x 800, 768 x 1280, and 720 x 1280.
[ The Windows smartphone platform has some fans. Read Seton Hall Gives Nokia Windows Phones To Freshmen. ]
Nokia Maps: Microsoft has long hinted that partner Nokia will provide mapping products for the entire Windows Phone platform and Wednesday confirmed that change. With Windows Phone 8, Windows Phone will no longer use Bing Maps and instead will use Nokia Maps. All of Nokia Maps' features will be available to all Windows Phones, including voice navigation and offline mode.
NFC and Wallet: Microsoft hopes to leapfrog other mobile payment services with its new Mobile Wallet Hub. The Hub will let Windows Phone 8 users store their credit and debit card information, membership cards and loyalty programs, and local daily deals all in one app. Further, it will support banking via near-field communications for tap-and-go mobile payments. Microsoft also noted that it is working with Isis, which is a joint initiative being developed by AT&T, T-Mobile USA, and Verizon Wireless. Windows Phone 8's Mobile Wallet Hub will support Isis next year.
C and C++: Windows Phone 8 offers native support for the C and C++ development languages. This will be a boon for developers. Microsoft also plans to offer a wide range of APIs that work between Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8, which is possible thanks to the shared core.
Desktop IE10: The desktop version of Internet Explorer 10 is headed to Windows Phone 8. Microsoft believes this will be good for developers, whose websites will work equally well on Windows Phone devices and desktops. It includes anti-phishing filters, and other tools for added security.
Enterprise-Ready: WP8 offers a complete security platform for enterprises. It includes Secure Boot and Bitlocker encryption. WP8 offers flexible app distribution that is controlled by businesses. It also offers device management for large enterprises. It also includes a new Company Hub, an app that is run by companies for their employees with Windows Phone devices.
All together, these changes point to positive things ahead for Windows Phone 8, but not everything is roses. Find out why in "Windows Phone 8: The Bad."
More than 900 IT and security professionals responded to InformationWeek’s 2012 Strategic Security Survey. Our results cover a variety of areas critical to information risk management, including cloud, mobility, and software development. Download the 2012 Strategic Security report now. (Free registration required.)