Microsoft Announces Windows Phone 8

Today Microsoft finally took the wraps off Windows Phone 8 which is now scheduled to release sometime this fall, right around the time of Windows 8.

The timing isn’t coincidental by any means. Windows Phone 8 uses the same core as Windows 8 and Windows RT. That new core means developers can easily port apps written for Windows 8 and RT to Windows Phone 8. That doesn’t mean Windows Phone 7.5 apps aren’t guaranteed to work, however. Apps made to run on Mango or Tango will be compatible with Windows Phone 8, though apps for the original release of the platform probably won’t.

Thanks to the new core, Microsoft was able to bring a few features that we’ve been asking for in Windows Phone 8. When the OS releases this fall it will finally have support for dual-core processors, and it will eventually have support for up to 64 cores in a single phone, which is crazy.

Windows Phone 8 will also finally add support for more screen resolutions. Future Windows Phones can use 800×480, 1280×720 (720p), or 1280×768 resolutions. That means we might finally see Windows Phones with Retina Display-quality screens.

Those screens can take advantage of the new, more personalized home screens like the ones above.

Windows Phone 8 will also support NFC out of the box, which will be great for mobile payments.

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The specs that Microsoft will support for Windows Phone 8 are very similar to the specs in the U.S. versions of the HTC One X and Samsung Galaxy S III. Perhaps we’ll see similar devices with Windows Phone 8 later this year.

The company is also going with Apple’s theme of replacing the maps app in the platform’s next version. According to The Verge, Windows Phone 8 will feature Nokia Maps as the main maps app instead of the current Bing Maps. Nokia Maps will bring turn-by-turn navigation to Windows Phone 8, bringing it up to par with Android and iOS 6.

Microsoft is also taking advantage of its Skype acquisition in Windows Phone 8. The company is integrating VoIP into the platform, making it easy for apps like Skype to hook into dialer app on the platform. The integration makes it easy for Skype and other apps to place VoIP or video calls from the phone dialer.

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