Windows Phone 8 looking good, is it good enough?

Windows Phone 8 looking good, is it good enough?

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Yesterday Microsoft finally reviled revealed  [nice Freudian slip] the features of Windows Phone 8 at a big launch in San Francisco.  Microsoft say this is the most personal smartphone available  with the new customisable start screen and live tiles.

There are things like Kid’s Corner where parents can let their kids play with their phone and play games like Angry Birds while locking them out of other areas of the phone like being able to delete all your email.

Microsoft also took the opportunity talk about new apps coming to Windows Phone 8 including Pandora, Temple Run and Urbanspoon.

I caught some of the keynote yesterday and I have to say Windows Phone 8 looks impressive. I like the idea of the live lock screen and the new live tiles. Also looking good is the hardware from Nokia, Samsung and HTC. I have been a recent convert to Android but Windows Phone 8 does look good and I am very keen to give it a try. Microsoft need to try and get some momentum with the platform and hopefully Windows Phone 8 can do that.

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Details from Microsoft:

“Microsoft is excited for the world to meet the new Windows Phone,” said Terry Myerson, corporate vice president of Microsoft’s Windows Phone Division.

“We set out to create the most personal smartphone there is, focused on keeping you closer to the people and things that matter most,” he said. “It’s also the best phone for Windows, helping you stay connected across devices. And finally, of course, there’s the hardware. We have a killer lineup of new phones featuring big bright screens, awesome audio capabilities and great cameras from HTC, Nokia and Samsung.”

Meet Windows Phone 8

From the first time you pick up a Windows Phone you can see how personal it can be with the highly customizable Start screen and Live Tiles, said Joe Belfiore, corporate vice president of Windows Phone Program Management. People can pin their favorite people, apps, games and music right to the Start screen, and colorful Live Tiles will light up with real-time information and updates.

The new features in Windows Phone 8 offer something for everyone, Belfiore said. For people with children, Kid’s Corner offers a worry-free way for parents to share their smartphone when the kids start clamoring to play Angry Birds. A simple swipe activates a protected place on the phone where kids can play on specific apps and features selected by a parent.

Families and friends will also enjoy the new Rooms feature, which lets people create a private network to chat and share photos, notes, calendars and other content with a close group of people, not your entire social network.

As a self-proclaimed shutterbug, Belfiore is a big fan of the new camera and photo features in Windows Phone 8. “I love using my phone to capture memories,” he said. “The Lumia 920 and Windows Phone 8X both take gorgeous photos and videos, even in low light.”

In addition to the new software features, the Windows Phone Store has 120,000 apps to choose from, with hundreds added every day and hits coming this holiday season, such as “Angry Birds Star Wars,” “Cut the Rope Experiments,” “Disney’s Where’s My Water,” “LivingSocial,” “Temple Run,” “Urbanspoon” and many more. Today, Microsoft announced that Pandora, the leading Internet radio service, is coming to Windows Phone in early Q1 2013 with one year of ad-free music.

Pandora Chief Executive Officer and President Joe Kennedy said, “Pandora now has more than 175 million registered users and over three-quarters of our listener hours now come from mobile and other connected devices. We are pleased to join other app leaders who are developing for Windows Phone and we are delighted Microsoft is sponsoring a year of ad-free Pandora for Windows Phone users. Our listeners expect Pandora to be wherever they are—in the home, in the automobile, and on the go. Offering Pandora on Windows Phone gives them yet another option and we think they will be delighted with the experience.”

Best Companion for Windows

Windows Phone 8 was designed to be the best companion with Windows 8, Myerson said. Windows and Windows Phone now share common underlying technology, which allows for shared tools, increased hardware support for multicore processors and a wide range of other platform capabilities. It also features a common look and feel with Windows 8, which makes shifting from phone to PC seamless and natural.

That underlying technology between Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8 now allows developers to create native C++ code – a shared development model that makes porting Windows apps and games relatively easy.

“We expect the hundreds of millions of Windows 8-based tablets and PCs sold next year to raise consumer awareness of the new Windows UI pioneered by phone,” Myerson said. “We believe more developers will target the Windows family now that we’ve made it easier to target a range of exciting new devices – from phones to tablets to PCs – running software that people ask for by name.”

Another big advantage of the Windows family is Microsoft’s personal cloud based service, SkyDrive. Now photos, Office documents and music are always in sync and available across all Windows devices.

The new Xbox Music service offers anytime, anywhere access to albums, songs and playlists whether you’re on your Xbox console, your Windows Phone or a Windows 8 PC or tablet. And entertainment gets even more interactive with Xbox SmartGlass, which turns your mobile phone or tablet into a second screen that intelligently interacts with your Xbox 360 to elevate your entertainment experience.

Stunning Phones

HTC, Nokia and Samsung have all introduced new Windows Phones that will start hitting the streets in November.

The Samsung ATIV S is wrapped in brushed aluminum with the largest Windows Phone screen to date at 4.8″, yet it’s unbelievably thin and light.

The designers behind HTC’s Windows Phone 8X and 8S saw Windows Phone 8’s Live Tiles and were inspired to build the phones from the ground up with the same elegant, modern lines and radiant colors.

Nokia’s Lumia 920 packs a state-of-the-art camera into a phone. It’s the first phone to have Optical Image Stabilization along with Nokia’s trademark Carl Zeiss optics. The Lumia 820 is a great phone for people who want to show color in their lives with swappable back plates in bold, vibrant colors. Both Lumia phones are the first modern smartphones with wireless charging.

Myerson expressed confidence that Windows Phone 8 was primed to make headway against competitors such as iPhone and Android.

“The best thing we can do is build a compelling product that people fall in love with,” he said. “We think we have done that with Windows Phone 8.”

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