San Francisco — After recently launching its Windows 8 platform, Microsoft at an event in San Francisco on Monday, unfurled its Windows Phone 8, the new version of its smartphone operating system, after offering a brief sneak peek back in June to showcase some of the new platform enhancements, which now represents the software giant’s latest move to challenge the market leaders of Apple and Google.
Windows Phone 8 devices go on sale from November, revealed prices and release dates for the first wave of new hardware and Microsoft is betting that a smartphone designed with people in mind can connect with the masses.
Prior to Monday’s unveiling, numerous Windows Phone 8’s features has already been showcased–namely, the new smartphone software has a Start screen in the form of small, medium and large square Live Tiles, which can display real-time information such as updates on social networking sites.
Microsoft Corp CEO Steve Ballmer displays a Nokia Lumia 920 featuring Windows Phone 8 during an event in San Francisco, California, Oct 29, 2012. [Photo/Agencies]
“We wanted to build a phone that was personal for each of us,” said Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, who described Windows Phone 8 as “the smartphone that has been reinvented around you.”
Some of the nifty feature allows users to personalize the Start screen by pinning their favorite items such as application and photos, and choose from three sizes and 20 colors for the so-called “Live Tiles”.
“Microsoft is excited for the world to meet the new Windows Phone,” said Terry Myerson, corporate vice president of Microsoft’s Windows Phone Division. “We set out to create the most personal smartphone there is, focused on keeping you closer to the people and things that matter most,” he said. “It’s also the best phone for Windows, helping you stay connected across devices. And finally, of course, there’s the hardware. We have a killer lineup of new phones featuring big bright screens, awesome audio capabilities and great cameras from HTC, Nokia and Samsung.”
Fortunately, Windows Phone 8, which is distinguished by its newly expanded Start screen, maintains the distinctive design that first set it apart from iOS and Android. Other hardware features like support for NFC, multiple processing cores, and expandable memory will help bring Windows phones up to speed against the competition, along with in-app purchases, integrated Skype, and the shared Internet Explorer 10 code that Redmond also revealed months ago.
At a media gathering in San Francisco, the US state of California, Microsoft executives touted new users-friendly features including “Data Sense”, which helps users conserve their data allowance through ways such as compressing Web images.
“Our way is to put people at the center of the experience, not icons for apps,” Joe Belfiore, corporate vice-president of Windows Phone Program Management at Microsoft, said at the gathering.
Belfiore further said of the new camera and photo features in Windows Phone 8, “I love using my phone to capture memories… The Lumia 920 and Windows Phone 8X both take gorgeous photos and videos, even in low light”.
Overall, phones running Microsoft’s new operating system will be available this weekend in Europe and will continue to go on sale in the rest of the world from November. Besides, major mobile carriers in the United States including Verizon Wireless, AT&T and T-Mobile will start selling handsets running Windows Phone 8 made by Nokia, HTC and Samsung in the coming weeks, according to Microsoft.