Windows Phone 8 operating system officially launched by Microsoft
October 29, 2012 at 22:33 GMT | By Darlington Moyo
Microsoft has formally launched the Windows Phone 8 operating system. Announcing devices that had already been unveiled by Nokia, HTC and Samsung at their own individual press launches, Microsoft stressed that Windows Phone 8 integrated seamlessly with the new Windows 8 operating system and that it allowed users to easily access the things that were most important to them, such as contact details and information about family members.
Joe Belfiore, Microsoft's head of Windows Phone said the Windows Phone 8 devices were "the perfect companion for your Windows PC and your Xbox." He said that each Windows Phone could become "a unique reflection of who you are, like a fingerprint."
New features unveiled included:
Kid's Corner is designed to make it safer to lend their handsets to their children. Belfiore showed off Kid's Corner - a function designed for parents who give their handsets to their children to play with. It allows them to restrict access to a limited number of apps without giving access to email, phone call or text message functions. Microsoft said a survey had suggested about two-thirds of smartphone-owning parents in the US had used the handsets to occupy their children while out shopping, visiting friends or some other activity.
Another new feature is Rooms which allows users to create an invitation-only environment in which members share their calendars, notes, photos and other material. Microsoft suggested it might be used to help families, sports teams and other community groups stay "in sync". Rooms will act as miniature social networks, allowing users to share, for instance, family photographs easily and solely with family members, backed up by integration with Microsoft's cloud storage system SkyDrive and OneNote.
Powered by Live Apps designed for Windows Phone 8 like Facebook, the feature lets apps directly update your lock screen with new photos and information. User can choose to use images from Facebook, Bing, etc.
Windows Phone 8 addresses one of the major flaws with Windows Phone 7 which had not allowed the video chat program to run in the background. That had meant that users of iOS and Android phones had been able to receive calls while using other apps, but Windows Phone 7.5 devices had not. On Windows Phone 8 Skype runs in the background even if the app is closed and the phone locked. It uses a similar method introduced in the full Windows 8 system to reduce its battery use by effectively being "asleep" until an incoming notification of a call wakes up the program. Microsoft stressed the facility would also be available to other video chap apps including Tango and Qik so that its own program would not be given an unfair advantage.
Microsoft also outed Data Sense, a new app for Windows Phone 8 that helps user monitor their data usage. On top of tracking your usage app-by-app, it compresses every single web page you browse to keep data consumed to a minimum, and also sniffs out WiFi hotspots when they become available. The app features a Live Tile to give an ongoing saga of the megabytes you've consumed and will warn you near a pre-set limit.
Wallet and NFC
Microsoft is jumping into the mobile payment space with a new Wallet app. The wallet Hub combines three different functions: payments within Microsoft's app and content Store, direct payments via NFC, and local deals. Microsoft decided to tie its security system to the SIM card instead of the NFC element.
Microsoft also said that it would have 46 of the world's 50 most popular apps available at launch, including improved versions of Twitter and Facebook. "That's huge progress for us," said Joe Belfiore.
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