Last night in San Francisco, at the “Windows Phone Summit”, Microsoft surprised approximately zero people by lifting the lid on Apollo - or Windows Phone 8 as we’re now supposed to call it.
There’s tons of stuff to digest, so what better way to sum it up than by listing the eight (see what I did there?) most important Windows Phone 8 features.
Essentially, Windows Phone has been dragged, kicking and screaming, up to par with its rivals. For serious.
Behold, bad news first:
1. Not compatible with Mango handsets
That’s right, it’s been rumoured for a while, and unfortunately it was confirmed last night: the existing range of Mango handsets, including the likes of the Nokia Lumia 900, won’t be upgraded to Windows Phone 8.
They will, however, receive a delicious slice of something called Windows Phone 7.8, that welcomes a few of Windows Phone 8’s less demanding features. Included will be the new Start screen with support for three tile sizes.
Interestingly, Microsoft promises Windows Phone 7.8 will be rolled out directly to users, without the usual carrier nonsense. That ought to ease the pain a little.
2. Up to 64 cores
If you were thinking Windows Phone 8 might simply extend the hardware ceiling to accommodate dual-core, you’re in for a shock. Windows Phone 8 can support, in theory, up to 64 cores.
Of course, there won’t actually be any 64-core Windows Phone 8 handsets any time soon, but the support is there.
3. Increased resolution
Gone are the days of Windows Phone being restricted to a relatively modest resolution of 800 x 480. Windows Phone 8 will happily support up to 1280 x 720, or the less common 1280 x 768.
4. NFC/contactless payments
While Android has Google Wallet and iOS has Passbook, Microsoft last night introduced its own contactless payment type stuff for Windows Phone 8.
It’s described as “The Most Complete Wallet Experience”, but it’s not clear what it’s actually called. Windows Phone Wallet, maybe?
Interestingly, we’re told that the security side of things will reside on the SIM as opposed to the phone, and there’ll be support for credit and debit cards, as well as ‘Tap to Pay’.
5. Expandable storage
With Mango handsets largely weighing in at 16GB, Windows Phone users have been screaming out for microSD support, and – with Windows Phone 8 – their prayers have finally been answered.
6. Nokia Maps
Another Windows Phone 8 rumour that turned out to be entirely true. Yep, Nokia Maps will be baked right into Windows Phone 8, complete with offline map action, and turn-by-turn navigation. Good for Nokia, or one less reason to buy a Lumia?
7. Enterprise support
Microsoft promises enterprise-ready security with Windows Phone 8. Admins will be able to restrict apps, and – here’s the best bit – manage them remotely. “Hey, what happened to Angry Birds?!”
There’s also fancy encryption, yadda yadda yadda.
8. It’s cross-platform
When it boils down to it, Microsoft is essentially running the same operating system across all its next gen devices – desktops, laptops, smartphones and tablets. That means it’ll be significantly easier for developers to port content between devices. No arguments here.
Windows Phone 8 will land in autumn, right around Microsoft Surface time. Phew, that was a busy freakin' week for Microsoft.