We first met Windows Phone 8 way back in June, with Microsoft revealing a bunch of technical details about the operating system, including support for multi-core processors and microSD cards.
With the first handsets landing in a matter of days, we’re finally – finally – hearing more about the actual features of Windows Phone 8, thanks to the official launch thingy in San Francisco.
Microsoft will be hoping Windows Phone 8 ultimately propels them into double figure smartphone market share, and one of the features it hopes will aid in its quest is, er, Kid’s Corner.
“What the furg is Kid’s Corner?!” I hear you scream. It’s essentially a safe mode for kids, allowing parents to restrict app access, with email, calls and texts all disabled, too.
Why? Well, Microsoft says two-thirds of parents give their smartphones to their kids when they can’t be bothered dealing with them. Or words to that effect.
Rooms, meanwhile, introduces an invitation-only environment for groups, such as families and local sports teams, and allows them to share information including calendars, notes and pictures. Maybe a bit optimistic to think that entire groups will adopt Windows Phone 8, but a nice idea, nonetheless.
Skype, bought by Microsoft for $8.5 billion back in May, will finally be able to run in the background in Windows Phone 8 – something not possible in Windows Phone 7.5. Previously, calls would end if you left the app.
Skype in Windows Phone 8 can also run in sleep mode when the phone is locked, with incoming calls waking the app. Essentially, you're always reachable.
As for Internet Explorer 10, Microsoft reiterates claims that it’s the fastest browser on any mobile. Take that Safari, Chrome, Dolphin, Opera...
Other Windows Phone 8 features? It’s less reliant on Zune (it’s even compatible with iTunes using Microsoft’s desktop companion app); Windows Phone 8 devices can be accessed as external storage with drag and drop support; and there’s finally the addition of OTA (over the air) updates.
As we heard back in June, there’s also a Windows Phone 8 Wallet app with NFC (Near Field Communication), while Microsoft’s mate Nokia will provide Windows Phone 8's Maps.
The biggest cosmetic change for Windows Phone 8 (over Windows Phone 7.5) is the new home screen, with resizable Live Tiles.
In the app/gaming world, Microsoft promises that Windows Phone 8 will boast 46 of the top 50 apps from rival platforms, including games like Temple Run and the imminent Angry Birds Star Wars.
Windows Phone 8’s Data Sense (initially exclusive to Verizon in the States) automatically compresses webpages to save on data use, and will reportedly allow up to 45% more browsing on the same data package. There’s also a Data Sense Usage Overview screen, with a full breakdown of – yep, you guessed it – data use.
And that's Windows Phone 8 in a nutshell. We'll inevitably have more in the next few days as more is uncovered. Interestingly, there's nothing more on Windows Phone 7.8 at this stage. Oh dear.
What do you think? Are you ready to throw your Android/iOS/BlackBerry phone in the bin, or shrugging nonchalantly?