We would be lying if we didn’t admit that Windows Phone required a major overhaul by now. It was trailing behind iOS and Android in every aspect and was continuously losing market share. Seems like engineers back at Microsoft listened to their customers and came up with something that fixed most of the problems that plagued Windows Phone 7. WP7 always had the looks, but lacked the horsepower, and Microsoft did a great job at leaving what was already perfect, and improving upon the shortcomings.
Windows Phone 8 brings so many new features aboard that listing each and everyone here would be impossible. But a few important ones that needed to be addressed immediately deserve a quick mention.
WP8 is based on a totally different kernel than what WP7 was based on. The new NT kernel allows top of the line hardware to be supported by the OS and that means a lot of new features on the OS.
Support for Multi Core CPU
Most of us often complained about the lack of dual core or quad core processors on WP7 and how it made the OS outdated even an year back. Microsoft has addressed that problem and added multi core processor support to the OS. Not that WP7 wasn’t zippy or fast enough but these new power houses will ensure that users get a seamless experience on their phones. It will also allow phones with WP8 to run the latest games without worry.
Phew! Finally Windows phones will be able to support expandable storage cards that will allow handsets to add up to 64 GB of expandable memory. Good thing if you’re planning on a very long vacation and need to load up your phone with movies and stuff.
Live tiles and wallpaper
No WP8 handsets still don’t have a notification bar but if your wallpaper can update in real time and deliver all the information you need, you don’t really need a bar. Users will also be able to change the size of tiles hence making it easier to prioritize things.
Multi-select and Internet Explorer 10
Deleting photos on WP& handsets was not only a pain, but a time consuming process. You had to select each file individually to delete. That meant, deleting an album would not only waste a good hour or so, but also leave you with sore fingers. Microsoft has fixed this allowing users to select multiple files together so that you can delete or share them all at once.
Also the Internet Explorer has seen some major improvement. Though there’s not much difference in looks when compared to IE9 on Windows Phone 7, the performance has been improved by leaps and bounds. The ‘find on page’ feature which went missing with the Mango update has also been brought back. According to tests carried out by Engadget, the Sunspider score on IE10 even beats the iPhone 5’s score. Well that is certainly something to brag about.
You can finally wake your phone directly to the camera mode. The new improvements over WP7 are pinch to zoom, on-screen flash control, photo review and photo edits. Also WP8 includes a new feature called lenses, where you can use third party apps while the camera is running. So long Instagram.
Hub + Rooms
This is a social feature on WP8 where a group of people can have a hub to discuss and share things. You can chat, share pics and notes or even appointments. You can pin it to your start screen to get live notifications as well.
Windows Phone store
Windows Phone store finally allows in-app purchases and multiple payment methods including credit card, Paypal, Microsoft gift card or carrier billing.
NFC and Wallet
Microsoft has come up with its own wallet app in competition to Google Wallet and Apple’s Passbook. It will allow for in app purchases or NFC enabled mobile payments. You can also share videos, pictures and even IE10 links with other devices via NFC. Though not fully cross platform compatible, it’s still something. Also NFC will allow you to use NFC enabled speakers and earphones with your phone.
There’s a lot more to Windows Phone 8 that we couldn’t cover up here. Finally, Microsoft has a product that can compete head to head with Google’s Android or iOS6. This sure gives some ground to manufacturers like Nokia, who are heavily relying on the success of WP8. With Lumia 920, HTC 8X and Samsung Ativ hitting stores this holiday season, it’ll be interesting to see how users find the new ecosystem and whether Microsoft will be rewarded for all the hard work they’ve put into the OS.