Microsoft announced today that its new mobile operating system, Windows Phone 8, will become closely linked with desktop PCs and tablets running Windows 8.
With many wondering the fate of Windows phones in an iPhone world, Microsoft is effectively linking the fate of its mobile operating system to the success of its PC operating system, which is currently used by 1.3 billion people worldwide.
"The future of Windows 8 is a "shared core" between Windows Phone 8 and Windows 8," said Windows Phone 8 product manager Joe Belfiore. This means that the two operating systems will share the same kernal, the same files system, multimedia apps and graphics support. Apps that work on Windows phones will also work on desktop PCs and tablets. Users will be able to share content and apps seamlessly between their Windows Phone and their Windows tablet or desktop PC.
Microsoft made a series of feature announcements under the "shared core" theme. Some of the specifics:
- Microsoft rolled out a newly designed version of the "tiles" user interface used in Windows Phone 8. The tiles are "live" and can show various types of content at different times. You can also make a tile for a Nokia map on the home screen.
- Windows Phone is (finally) adding support for standard 720p, WXGA 1280 by 768, and WVGA 800 by 480 displays.
- WP8 will add micro SD support to its phones. Windows Phone users will be able to use the small memory cards to store memory and move data back and forth from their phones.
- Microsoft also announced that Windows Phone 8 will support the same web page rendering engine as Windows 8, so developers will be able to develop web pages for desktops and tablets, and know that the pages will work the same way on phones.
- Windows Phone 8 will include a "mobile wallet hub" allowing users to pay for goods and services with their phones.
- Windows Phone will include Nokia mapping technology built in. This comes just on the heels of news that Apple has developed its own mapping app for iPhone, but Nokia's maps have more development time behind them, and are expected to be a major addition to WP8.
Microsoft rolled out the new features in a Windows Phone platform preview for developers (who need to know the new features early) held in San Francisco today.