Brace yourself, Windows Phone users, because everything’s going to change.
An internal Microsoft video that was supposedly leaked to a website reveals that the entire mobile operating system will be revamped later this year to better integrate it with the upcoming Windows 8. Many abilities will be added and some software will be junked, but if the report is true one thing’s for sure: Windows Phone 8 will be the biggest leap forward for the mobile OS to date.
PocketNow reports that Windows Phone 8, code-named Apollo and scheduled for after the next update (“Tango”) will greatly expand the hardware options available to Microsoft’s manufacturing partners. Right now Microsoft keeps tight guidelines on Windows Phone to avoid Android‘s “fragmentation” problem, but Windows Phone 8 will expand support to four different screen resolutions, multicore processors and removable microSD cards.
Another notable addition: support for near-field communication (NFC), the same wireless tech used for mobile payments. The leaked video describes Windows Phone’s “wallet experience” as being potentially carrier-branded and controlled, and it’ll work across multiple platforms, letting the phone share content with PCs and tablets.
More fundamentally, Windows Phone 8 will share many software components with its big brother, Windows 8. Developers will apparently be able to reuse most of their code when porting an app from desktop to mobile. The kernel, networking stacks, security and multimedia elements will all have some interchangeability.
Microsoft is planning a few tricks to make Windows Phone more data efficient. A new feature called DataSmart will prioritize Wi-Fi connections, tying into Bing Maps to find nearby hotspots and automatically joining carrier owned ones. Enhancements in the mobile version of Internet Explorer 10 aims to reduce website data consumption by up to 30%.
It also looks like the fruits of Microsoft’s acquisition of Skype are coming to bear. Windows Phone 8 will have deep Skype integration, the report says, so Skype calls will behave more closely to regular voice calls.
Enterprise customers will be interested in the security enhancements, namely native BitLocker encryption, which is said to match current 128-bit disk encryption on today’s Windows 7 machines.
Windows Phone users will soon say goodbye to the Zune name forever, though. The Zune desktop client that’s used to sync music and media is getting thrown out in favor of a new version of ActiveSync, the report says. The Xbox companion app, currently part of Windows Phone, will get a partner on the desktop. Microsoft’s cloud service, SkyDrive, will handle wireless syncing of media across devices.
All of this jibes quite closely with where Windows Phone is going, Microsoft’s overall strategy with its platform. Interestingly, the report says the video, hosted by Microsoft Windows Phone manager Joe Belfiore, was intended for employees at Nokia. That might indicate Nokia is getting a certain amount of special treatment among Microsoft’s hardware partners, though it’s not known if similar videos were made for the likes of HTCand Samsung.
Microsoft declined to comment on the report.
Do the rumored coming changes to Windows Phone make you more inclined to get one? Or is this too little, too late for Microsoft phones? Let us know in the comments.