Deep integration with Windows 8 and SkyDrive, NFC support, and variable screen sizes for mobile devices are among the wealth of new features coming to the next version of Windows Phone, including according to two online reports. Speculation about what the next version of Microsoft's mobile OS, dubbed Windows Phone 8 and codenamed Apollo by the company, has been rampant for months.
A purportedly leaked Microsoft video obtained by PocketNow, reveals more details about what Microsoft has in store for its next mobile revamp. PocketNow posted only a screenshot from the leaked video, so it's impossible to verify the blog's claim; however, much of PocketNow's report was later confirmed by Windows blogger Paul Thurrott who has sources inside the company.
It's not clear when the new version of Windows Phone is coming, but Thurrott claims the new OS will launch near the time of Windows 8's expected October release. When WP8 does launch, Microsoft reportedly expects the Windows Phone Marketplace to have 100,000 apps available. At the end of 2011, the Marketplace offered about 50,000 apps.
Here's a look at some highlights of what Microsoft is reportedly planning to bring to the next version of Windows Phone.
Similar to how Apple's iOS is based on Mac OS X, Windows Phone 8 is expected to use parts of the Windows 8 codebase including the kernel, networking capabilities, security models, and multimedia support. Windows Phone 7 is currently based on the Windows CE kernel. The kernel is the software layer that allows applications to communicate with device hardware.
Windows Phone 8 will also be getting multicore processors support, meaning dual- and perhaps quad-core devices will be possible. This has been expected for some time. Nokia in November started making plans for future dual-core Windows Phone devices, and Microsoft execs have also promised that dual-core Windows Phones are coming.
PocketNow says the new mobile OS will also be able to handle up to four different screen resolutions allowing for more variety of device sizes among Windows Phone devices.
Microsoft may also support removable microSD storage in the next version of Windows Phone. Currently, Windows Phone 7 devices must reformat SD cards into a proprietary format. The cards cannot be removed and essentially become an integrated part of the device's storage.
NFC to Pay on the Fly
As previously reported, Windows Phone 8 is expected to have Near-Field Communication support allowing for contactless payments similar to Google's recently announced Google Wallet. Microsoft's NFC support may also allow for quick data sharing between PCs, tablets and smartphones.
Microsoft's Windows 8 demonstrations have already shown how the company plans to bring together many of its services under the new desktop OS such as increased SkyDrive integration. This will apparently continue with WP8, which is also getting SkyDrive integration and cloud sync making your content available across all your devices.
Also planned is a new Skype client that PocketNow claims will be integrated into WP8, allowing Skype calls to operate similarly to standard phone calls. Thurrott, however, expects only a tweaked Skype client that is not integrated into the WP8 OS. Microsoft acquired Skype in May 2011.
Enterprise users will reportedly benefit from Exchange ActiveSync support, 128-bit BitLocker full-disk encryption, and a secure boot process.
If the reports are accurate, Windows Phone 8 sounds like it will be a welcome upgrade for Windows Phone fans. But it also sounds like Microsoft is mostly playing catchup to features and services already available on the iPhone and Google's Android OS.