What is Windows Phone?
Nokia has scheduled its annual Nokia World event for September 5th and it would stand as a fitting stage to unveil their new Windows Phone 8 launch devices, provided they are ready in time, as Bloomberg point out.
At least two Windows Phone 8 Nokia handsets are expected to appear at this year’s event, mirroring that of Nokia World 2011, where the company unveiled its first Lumia devices, the Nokia Lumia 800 and the Nokia Lumia 710.
Key features of Windows Phone
Windows Phone launched late 2010. It’s evolved since its original release but still holds the same key features and functions at heart. There are certain aspects that help it stand out as a mobile operating system in the market and give it a distinctly Windows Phone ‘feel:’
- Microsoft’s mobile operating system
- Metro UI with Live Tiles
- Internet Explorer
- Hotmail integration
- Xbox integration
- Zune store
- Microsoft Office
- People Hub
- Pinning apps, contacts and groups to homescreen
- Bing services
- Local Scout
How does Windows Phone differ to Android and iOS?
Windows Phone is a mobile operating system built by Microsoft, just as Android is a product of Google and iOS is a product of Apple. Windows Phone entered into the market later than its leading smartphone OS rivals but graces itself on a host of mobile manufacturers including HTC and Samung, some of which make Android devices too. In 2011 Nokia and Microsoft announced a strategic alliance, with Nokia adopting Windows Phone as its primary phone platform.
The key differentiating features are the fact that Windows Phone handsets hav Xbox integration, uses Internet Explorer as the default mobile browser and includes a full mobile version of Microsoft Office out of the box, something no other handset can boast. Also, whereas Google has access to Google Play and iOS offers the App Store, WP users have access to the Windows Phone Marketplace which now has over 100,000 apps.
What is Windows Phone 7.5?
Although all current Windows Phones are capable of running version 7.5 of Microsoft’s mobile OS. They all originally launched running Windows Phone 7. The 7.5 update brought a number of improvements helping to make the OS more competitive:
- Customisable ringtones
- Lower hardware requirements
- Visual voicemail
- Battery saver mode
- Improved voice commands
- Facebook Chat integration
- WiFi hotspot functionality
What is Windows Phone 7.8?
It was a bittersweet affair in June when Microsoft announced Windows Phone 8. The prospect of new handsets was marred by the news that all current Windows Phone handsets aren’t upgradable. To reconcile current WP users, the company has said that such handsets will be given an update to Windows Phone 7.8.
Although the underlying functionality is expected to be the same, the key differentiation over Windows Phone 7.5 is that the 7.8 update brings the same user interface as Windows Phone 8. The tile size of Windows Phone apps currently available on 7 and 7.5 devices will be called medium tiles, with the option to scale up or down the tile size to large or small respectively. What’s more, users will be able to arrange a mix of tile size in various configurations on their homescreen.
What is Windows Phone 8?
By the latter half of this year, we’ll be able to pick up a new Windows Phone handset, which will no doubt make full use of the new features of the operating system now open to developers. When devices arrive, here are some of the additional features they’ll be able to make use of:
Multi-core support – Thus far all Windows Phone handsets have had a single-core processor, whilst iOS and Android devices have been utilising dual-core and (in some cases) quad-core processors.
New screen resolutions – The current generation of devices have also been locked to using one screen resolution. Windows Phone 8 will allow flexibility so manufacturers will be able to produce a more diverse range of handsets.
Removable memory – Many Android devices offer removable SD cards with which they can install/store both apps and files like music, movies and pictures. Once Windows Phone 8 is released, users will be able to do the same on their new devices, provided a removable microSD card is accessible.
“Shared Core” – Microsoft is planning on releasing their new desktop computing OS in the coming months – Windows 8. One of the highlights for developers is Windows Phone 8’s “shared core” enabling for easier transfer of applications from one platform to the other and visa versa.
Nokia Maps integration – Currently Nokia Maps is an exclusive Windows Phone application, unique to Nokia’s Lumia handsets, in Windows Phone 8 it will be made available to all Windows Phone users.
When will Windows Phone 8 become available?
With Nokia World expected to take place next month, we could be seeing Windows Phone 8 devices appear on stage. In terms of market availability, the launch date is less certain so we’re guessing the latter end of 2012.
What is a Nokia Lumia?
All of Nokia’s Windows Phone smartphones carry the Lumia name. Currently the lineup stands with the Nokia Lumia 610, Lumia 710, Lumia 800 and Lumia 900. For the meantime, if it has Lumia in the name, it’ll be running Windows Phone.
Is Nokia the only company to make Windows Phone smartphones?
It may have become apparent that although Nokia are a significant player in the Windows Phone space, they are not the only one. Currently notable manufacturers of Windows Phone 7.5 devices are Samsung, HTC, LG and ZTE, however the Windows Phone 8 manufacturer portfolio looks a little different with the likes of Huawei, HTC and Samsung stepping up.