Windows Phone 8 is Sexy
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Just days after making one of their largest forays into hardware ever, Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) held its Windows Phone Summit. The Summit was a developer’s conference designed to preview and detail the changes and advantages built into Microsoft's next version of Windows Phone. The summit came just a week after Apple’s (NASDAQ: AAPL) developer conference, WWDC, where Apple previewed the latest version of their iOS operating system, iOS 6. The Windows Phone Summit also comes in the same month as Google’s (NASDAQ: GOOG) developer conference Google I/O. We have seen a new tablet, a new version of Android, a new home streaming device and expect to see additional news about Google TV from the Google I/O conference.
The Windows Phone 8 announcement confirmed most of the rumors that we had heard beforehand. Nokia mapping technology will be included in Windows Phone. This will include an off-line mode, turn by turn navigation and will be opened up to Windows Phone developers. “Windows Phone will have much better detail with the Navteq map data that’s built into Nokia’s map technology,” Belfiore said. The new version of Windows Phone will feature device encryption, secure boot and other security additions. These features will be appealing to IT administrators and should speed the adoption of Windows Phone in the corporate environment.
Windows Phone now supports NFC technology which Google Wallet. Microsoft claims that their implementation of NFC is more secure than what Google has in Google Wallet. At the moment the Microsoft Wallet app is launching with the European carrier Orange. Microsoft is working with US carriers to bring added functionality to Wallet in the US. Microsoft is also bringing Internet Explorer 10 to Windows Phone with a common rendering engine as that of IE on Windows 8. In a separate event at E3 earlier in June, Microsoft also announced they were bringing IE to Xbox. Windows Phone’s sexiest new feature, according to Belfiore, is the ability to adjust the size of the live tiles on the home screen. Windows Phone now also includes more Skype integration, Audible book support and supports multi-core processors.
The largest new feature to come out of the Windows Phone Summit was that Windows Phone 8 and Windows 8 will share a common core. This means that it will, supposedly, be very simple for developers to write a Windows 8 app and then port it to Windows Phone 8. The result of this common core is that “We will see more apps, bigger apps coming faster, and we will see bigger, more beautiful apps running on Windows Phone running faster than ever before,” Belfiore said. In the past Windows Phone had been based on Windows CE, this will no longer be the case starting with this new version of Windows Phone. While this more unified code base will be a good thing going forward at the moment it means that all current Windows Phones will not be upgradable to Windows Phone 8.
This is a major deal for Nokia (NYSE: NOK), Microsofts premium partner for Windows Phone hardware. Nokia is laying off 10,000 employees and seeing their smartphone market share dropping. The inability for their current Windows Phone smartphones to be upgraded to Windows Phone 8 could depress their sales further until they start shipping Windows Phone 8 based phones.
The fans of Windows Phone who went out and bought an early Windows Phone will have to buy another one to get Windows Phone 8. Current Windows Phone users will get an upgrade that will give them the adjustable live tiles but that is the only Windows Phone 8 feature they will get. Microsoft also stated that Windows Phone 8 will be supported for 18 months.
Apple's recently announced iOS 6 will be backwards compatible to the iPhone 3GS and the iPad 2. With a controlled environment Apple has the upper hand when it comes to backwards compatibility and maintaining a quick update cycle. At the Apple keynote they also revealed that iOS 5 is currently running on 80% of iOS devices. The latest iteration of Android, Ice Cream Sandwich, is only running on 7% of Android devices. Now with Windows Phone 8 not coming to any current Windows Phones, Apple remains king when it comes to keeping their devices up to date. Google launched the Google Update Alliance which supposedly means that Google Android phones will be supported for 18 months; however this has not come to pass.
Windows Phone will now go head to head with iOS 6 and the upcoming release of Android 4.1 Jelly Bean. All of the features announced by Microsoft are good additions to the Windows Phone system, and they also help integrate Microsoft’s products. A common core, Internet Explorer, Skype and the Metro Interface are all aimed at making the Windows experience uniform regardless of what device you are using. Apple and Google are also moving toward this unified experience.
Once Windows Phone 8 has launched on new multi-core devices this will give Nokia the ability to ramp up their hardware devices and should see Windows phones finally gain some market share. The main issue for Nokia is surviving while they develop high quality multi-core Windows Phone 8 phones. Added security features should allow Microsoft to gain traction in the corporate and government markets where BlackBerry has traditionally been very strong. Additionally the Wallet feature shows that Windows Phone is launching features alongside Apple as opposed to constantly being behind them. This month we will see Google, Apple and Microsoft all launching new versions of their operating system and it looks like they are all at a point of maturity that gives no single platform a revolutionary advantage.
ded004 has no positions in the stocks mentioned above. The Motley Fool owns shares of Apple, Google, and Microsoft. Motley Fool newsletter services recommend Apple, Google, Microsoft, and Nokia. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.If you have questions about this post or the Fool’s blog network, click here for information.