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Microsoft follows Surface with Windows Phone 8 unveiling

June 20, 2012|By Salvador Rodriguez
  • Following up its introduction of Surface, Microsoft unveiled Windows Phone 8 Wednesday.
Following up its introduction of Surface, Microsoft unveiled Windows… (Microsoft )

Microsoft was able to follow up the grandiose Monday presentation of the Surface tablet with another strong showing Wednesday, unveiling details of its upcoming Windows Phone 8 operating system.

The company's next mobile OS has been beefed up to support improved hardware, improve user experience and play well with Windows 8 versions for PCs and tablets.

As far as hardware, Windows Phone 8 will now support phones with dual-core processors, HD 720p displays and microSD memory card storage, according to a Microsoft blog post. Phones will be made by Nokia, Huawei, Samsung and HTC with chips by Qualcomm.

PHOTOS: The Microsoft Surface

But the star of the OS announcement is the improved Live Tiles used for the Windows Phone start screen. Microsoft will now allow users to customize further by giving them the option to choose the size of tiles -- from small, medium and large -- as well as different theme colors.

Windows Phone 8 will also be designed to work with all other versions of the upcoming Windows 8. The company spoke about a "shared core" between the two OSes, with both using the same kernal files system, multimedia apps and graphics support, according to PCWorld.

That kind of integration follows in the footsteps of Apple, which has also increasingly tied its mobile OS to that of its Mac line. Perhaps Google may want to start figuring out what it can do, if anything, to compete on the integration level.

But that wasn't the only page that Microsoft took out of Apple's book. Like iOS' Passbook, Windows Phone 8 will also come with a "mobile-wallet hub" that will store your credit card information, frequent flyer memberships, coupons and other information. And. just as Apple has done, Microsoft will also revamp its mobile mapping software. It said it would ditch the current Bing maps software for new technology built by Nokia.

Beyond consumers, Microsoft made a play for the enterprise market by also announcing a "Company Hub," which IT professionals will appreciate as it will allow them to more easily customize employees' phones.

But it wasn't all good news. Microsoft did say Windows Phone 7 users won't be able to update their phones when the new OS drops some time this fall. The company said existing Windows Phone devices can't support the new OS. Instead, they will have to settle for Windows Phone 7.8, which will at least give them the new live tiles interface.


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