Microsoft Corp. today debuted Windows Phone 8, the latest version of the company’s smartphone operating system. As part of the announcement, Microsoft revealed new features, including Kid’s Corner and Rooms, along with details and US-based pricing for a range of new smartphones from Nokia, Samsung and HTC, each with their own differentiated designs, colors and features. Windows Phone 8 devices will go on sale in November at AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon in the U.S., as well as at carriers and retailers elsewhere.
“We can’t wait for the world to meet Windows Phone 8, the most personal smartphone there is,” said Terry Myerson, corporate vice president of the Windows Phone Division at Microsoft. “Windows Phone 8 comes on a range of phones that are stunning, colorful and unique.”
Live Tiles are at the center of Windows Phone. People can arrange the Start screen however they want by pinning their favorite people, apps, music, games, photos and more. Three sizes of Live Tiles and 20 bright color choices mean each user can personalize their Start screen to be unique.
Windows Phone 8 comes with a range of new features, including Live Apps, bringing information right to the Start screen, such as flight information and news headlines. With Windows Phone 8, Live Apps such as Facebook can even deliver real-time information right to your lock screen with updated wallpaper.
Another new features is Kid’s Corner, a worry-free way to share the smartphone phone with your kids, so they can play games or run some apps without access to important areas of the phone. Parents can now hand over their phones to the kids without worrying about deleted photos, misdirected emails, unapproved purchases or accidental phone calls. After a simple setup, parents can activate a specialized place on the phone for kids to play — complete with their own customizable Start screens — where they can access only the apps, games, music and videos picked by parents.
The Windows Phone Store has 120,000 apps to choose from, with hundreds added every day and hits coming this holiday, such as “Angry Birds Star Wars,” “Cut the Rope Experiments,” “Disney’s Where’s My Water,” “LivingSocial,” “Temple Run,” “Urbanspoon” and many more.
Microsoft also announced that Pandora, the leading Internet radio service, is coming to Windows Phone in early 2013 with one year of ad-free music.
The Data Sense feature helps customers use their mobile data plans without worrying about going over data limits. Data sense helps conserve your data allowance by compressing web images, deferring data tasks to free Wi-Fi and automatically adjusting usage as you get closer to your plan limits. Data Sense also shows how much data is used per app. As you approach your limit, Data Sense notifies you so you can get the most out of your plan. Data Sense will roll out to select mobile operators this holiday and additional partners next year. Verizon will be the first to offer Data Sense in the U.S.
Windows Phone 8 Wallet includes payments via near-field communications (NFC). The Wallet can also store your debit, credit, loyalty and membership card information on your phone.
An updated always-on Skype app, can make and receive Skype calls just like a regular phone call. Simply tap a friend or family member’s contact card in the People Hub, or just pick up when the phone rings. Skype is always on and available so you can choose how to connect with people.
Leading up to today’s launch, Nokia, Samsung and HTC have announced an array of phones for Windows Phone 8, featuring large, vivid screens, new camera innovations, NFC capabilities and bold colors. Each phone offers unique features and comes in a variety of price points.
With a similar look and feel, the same technology core, and the same built-in SkyDrive cloud service, Windows Phone 8 is built to work seamlessly with Windows 8 PCs, Microsoft Surface devices and the Xbox 360 console. For example, now you can edit a document on the go with Windows Phone 8 and pick right up again on your PC when you get home. Or access your music including your albums, songs and playlists, wherever and whenever on Xbox Music.
Major mobile operators in the United States will start selling Windows Phone 8 in the coming weeks, including Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile.