Microsoft has promised that Windows 8 will offer the same look and feel across PCs and tablets. But that uniformity will extend to Windows Phones, according to a leaked company video made available to the PocketNow blog and confirmed by Supersite for Windows writer Paul Thurrott.
Windows Phone 8, codenamed "Apollo," will not be the next update of the Windows Phone platform. The next update is called "Tango", due to release in the coming months with support for smaller screens, physical keyboards and more languages. "Apollo" will release after Tango, reportedly around the time when the Windows 8 OS is made generally available in October.
WP8 will be based on the Windows 8 kernel and share integrated ecosystems so Windows Phone applications developed for Windows Phone 7.5 should be compatible with Windows 8, writes Thurrott, who has many sources within Microsoft's walls. This is good news for developers who can use the same code when building apps for the desktop and the phone.
Al Hilwa, a program director at IDC, says the move to make Windows a floating OS across devices is an important part of Microsoft's mission to create a seamless ecosystem.
"It appears that Windows Phone 8 will leverage important parts of Windows 8 while running the same application base," Hilwa wrote in an e-mail. "It remains to be seen how hard or easy it will be for developers to modify apps written for one OS for the other, but all indications are that Windows Phone 8 will bring many of the important new features in Windows 8 to the phone platform."
Some examples of these features, according to Hilwa, include application contracts that will allow apps to talk to each other on the phone and native development with C/C++ development, which is supported on Windows 8.
It certainly behooves Microsoft to have Windows 8 be a fluid OS that delivers a similar look, feel and experience across the phone, tablet and PC. It would help simplify Windows branding in an increasingly complicated hardware landscape.
Here, according to Thurrott's blog post, are some of the new features to expect on Windows Phone 8.
Data Smart. A feature that will to actively track users' data usage to avoid "bill shock." Data Smart can be extended by wireless carriers to integrate with their offered data plans.
App-to-App communication. Because Windows Phone 8 apps, like Windows 8 apps, are sandboxed from each other, this new system will provide a Windows 8 contracts-like app-to-app communications capabilities.
Internet Explorer 10 Mobile. Windows Phone 8 will continue to use a highly tuned version of IE that utilizes the latest web technologies.
Shared components with Windows 8. The kernel, multi-core processor support, sensor fusion, security model, network, and video and graphics technologies are all coming to Phone from Windows 8.
Companion experiences with Windows 8. Microsoft is offering a very similar user experience across phone (Windows Phone 8), PC (Windows 8), and TV (Xbox vNext). Pocketnow says there will be a new sync client, and not Zune PC software, though Thurrott can't confirm that part, and a set of common cloud services that will work across all three. This includes the ability to sync content (photos, music, movies) between the three screens, phone management from PC or web, shared content between each device, and Xbox LIVE games.
SkyDrive integration. Microsoft will make your content available on all of its platforms via SkyDrive.
Skype App. Still a separate but better app and not integrated into OS. Still optional.
NFC and Wallet. Windows Phone 8 will allow users to securely pay and share via NFC and manage an integrated Wallet experience.
Local Scout. Now with personal recommendations.
Camera improvements. New "lens apps" and a far more powerful camera experience.
Business features. Windows Phone 8 will include full-device, hardware-accelerated encryption with BitLocker and always-on Secure Boot capabilities, just like Windows 8. Also, it will support additional Exchange ActiveSync policies and System Center configuration settings and inventory capabilities. Businesses will be able to distribute phone apps privately as they can with Windows 8 apps.