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It’s been a big week for Microsoft! By now, most people have heard the buzz about Microsoft Surface tablets but the company also just unveiled its next generation of Windows Phones – Windows Phone 8.
The software giant announced this week that its next version of mobile software will include a lot of cool new features like turn-by turn navigation, Skype integration, and a whole new home screen. The home screen, which has rectangular tiles to represent apps, will now allow users to change the tile sizes if they're using the phone for many things at once. Super convenient!
Joe Belfiore, Microsoft's manager of the Windows Phone program, said the next version of Windows Phone 8 will share the same underlying technology as the Windows operating system that will run on tablets, laptops, and desktops.
"Yes, you read that right: Windows Phone 8 is based on the same core technologies that power Windows 8. As a result, Windows Phone 8 will unleash a new wave of features for consumers, developers, and businesses," Belfiore wrote in a post on the Windows Phone blog.
Microsoft's next version of Windows Phone will have high-resolution 720p screens, dual and quad-core processors, and NFC (Near Field Communication) chips. NFC chips are particularly cool because they will include a new wallet function so users can pay for purchases just by tapping their phones at locations that support this feature! There will also be a Tap + Send function so users can simply tap their Windows Phone 8 phones together to send pictures, similar to Android's Beam function, which is integrated into the Samsung Galaxy S III.
Microsoft has also teamed up with Audible to bring speech recognition to Windows Phone 8, allowing users to shout a variety of commands at their handsets. Microsoft demonstrated how the latest speech platform can let a user to play movies, browse audiobooks, and perform searches. It's also available for Mango devices, so go on over to the Marketplace today and search Audible if you want to give it a try.
Voice-Over IP (VOIP) calls on the Windows Phone will look just like regular phone calls, with all the same features and notifications, which is an improvement over Windows. Skype (which was recently acquired by Microsoft) and other VoIP services will integrate right into the phone dialer and People or contacts apps.
According to ABCNews, there's another partnership at work in Windows Phone 8 – the one between Microsoft and Nokia. The two companies worked closely on Nokia's new Lumia handsets, and now they are bringing Nokia's mapping technology to the operating system, including offline maps and turn-by-turn navigation.
Continuing its fierce rivalry with Apple’s iPad, Microsoft announced that Zynga is bringing Words with Friends and Draw Something to Microsoft’s app MarketPlace. But Windows Phone only has 100,000 apps in its MarketPlace so far, while Apple has over 500,000 in its App Store.
The first wave of Windows Phone 8 phones will be made by Nokia, Samsung, and HTC. Myerson said Windows Phone 8 will support 50 languages and apps available in 180 countries. Unfortunately, existing Windows Phones won't be able to upgrade to the new operating system.
Microsoft did not disclose when Windows Phone 8 would be available. They’re currently sticking with the vague “autumn” timeframe, which could mean any time from October to Christmas. But don’t worry; I’m sure Microsoft won’t want to miss the holiday season rush, which will be a great opportunity to see how they’re latest products fare against the competition!