Microsoft Unveils Windows Phone 8

Microsoft has been spilling the beans on its Windows Phone 8 OS at its Windows Phone Summit in San Francisco today. The OS will be released in the autumn, and will have a “shared core” with the Windows 8 desktop OS, meaning that the two will share the same kernel, multimedia and driver support. Windows Phone 8 will also support dual-core processors, which Microsoft says will mean faster performance, a greater choice in hardware, and a range of form factors and price points.

The new OS has also attracted the support of some big-name handset-makers, including Samsung, HTC and Huawei, in addition, of course, to Nokia. “HTC is committed to Windows Phone more than ever, and we are excited to be bringing new Windows Phone 8-enabled smartphones to customers later this year,” says HTC CEO, Peter Chou. “With the introduction of Windows Phone in 2010, Microsoft initiated a new powerful mobile ecosystem with a consumer experience that was both unique and user friendly.”

Windows Phone 8 is also NFC-friendly, with Microsoft’s Wallet app, unveiled tonight,  preloaded. The app will enable users to store debit and credit cards, plus loyalty cards and coupons, in one place, then use them to pay for goods using just the handset. It will also support in-app purchasing. The OS will also offer ‘Tap and Send’ functionality, enabling content to be shared in a tap between different Windows Phone 8 devices.

Perhaps not surprisingly, there’s no place for Google Maps in Windows Phone 8, which will use Nokia Maps technology instead. Finally Windows Phone 8 has a new start screen, where the user can set the tile size to one of three sizes – double-wide, regular, and small.