Microsoft today debuted the long awaited Windows Phone 8, the latest version of the company's smartphone operating system. Windows Phone 8 offers a truly personal phone experience, connecting you to the people and things that matter most. As part of the announcement, Microsoft revealed new features, including Kid's Corner and Rooms, along with details and pricing for a range of beautiful new smartphones from Nokia, Samsung and HTC, each with their own differentiated designs, colors and features. Windows Phone 8 devices will go on sale in November at AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon in the U.S., as well as at carriers and retailers around the world.
"We can't wait for the world to meet Windows Phone 8, the most personal smartphone there is", said Terry Myerson, corporate vice president of the Windows Phone Division at Microsoft. "Windows Phone 8 comes on a range of phones that are stunning, colorful and unique."
Live Tiles are the heart and soul of Windows Phone, and no other phone has them. People can arrange the iconic Start screen however they want by pinning their favorite people, apps, music, games, photos and more. Three sizes of Live Tiles and 20 bright color choices including cobalt, crimson and lime mean you can personalize your Start screen to be unmistakably yours.
In addition to Live Tiles, Windows Phone 8 offers a range of new features to make your smartphone experience even more personal, including these:
- The only phone with Live Apps. Live Apps bring information right to the Start screen, such as the Groupon deal of the day, flight information and news headlines. With Windows Phone 8, Live Apps such as Facebook can even deliver real-time information right to your lock screen with updated wallpaper.
- Top apps. The Windows Phone Store has 120,000 apps to choose from, with hundreds added every day and hits coming this holiday, such as "Angry Birds Star Wars", "Cut the Rope Experiments", "Disney's Where's My Water", "LivingSocial", "Temple Run", "Urbanspoon" and many more. Today Microsoft announced that Pandora, the leading Internet radio service, is coming to Windows Phone in early 2013 with one year of ad-free music.
- Kid's Corner. Exclusive to Windows Phone 8, Kid's Corner is a worry-free way to share your phone with your kids, so they can play "Angry Birds" without texting your angry boss. Parents can now hand over their phones to the kids without worrying about deleted photos, misdirected emails, unapproved purchases or accidental phone calls. After a simple setup, parents can activate a specialized place on the phone for kids to play - complete with their own customizable Start screens - where they can access only the apps, games, music and videos picked by parents.
- Rooms. Sometimes you want to share and chat with one group, not your entire social network. Rooms allow you to create private groups of people who have Windows Phone 8 - like your family members best friends or fantasy football league - and easily connect with just them. Chat, share calendars, shopping lists or photos in an ongoing conversation where only those invited can join in. You can share some aspects of Rooms with friends and family on other smartphones as well.
- Data Sense. This new feature helps you surf more and do more - without worrying about going over your data limit. Data sense helps conserve your data allowance by compressing Web images, deferring data tasks to free Wi-Fi and automatically adjusting your usage as you get closer to your plan limits. Data Sense also shows how much data is used per app. As you approach your limit, Data Sense notifies you so you can get the most out of your plan. Data Sense will roll out to select mobile operators this holiday and additional partners next year. Verizon will be the first to offer Data Sense in the U.S.
- Wallet and near-field communications. Windows Phone 8 brings together the best of new wallet technologies, including payments via near-field communications (NFC). The Wallet can also store your debit, credit, loyalty and membership card information on your phone.
- Always-on, premium Skype experience. With the new Skype app, coming soon to Windows Phone 8, you can make and receive Skype calls just like a regular phone call. Simply tap a friend or family member's contact card in the People Hub, or just pick up when the phone rings. Skype is always on and available so you can choose how to connect with people.
Leading up to today's launch, Nokia, Samsung and HTC have announced an array of phones for Windows Phone 8, featuring large, vivid screens, new camera innovations, NFC capabilities, and bold colors such as red, yellow, blue, black and white. Each phone offers unique features and comes in a variety of price points.
- Nokia. The Nokia Lumia 920 offers state-of-the-art photography that fits in your pocket, and it is the world's only smartphone to include Optical Image Stabilization. The Nokia Lumia 822, 820 and 810 offer a ClearBlack display and removable back exchangeable shells in a range of vibrant colors. Both the Nokia Lumia 920 and 820 offer wireless charging.
- HTC. The Windows Phone 8X by HTC was designed with sleek lines and radiant colors to match Windows Phone's new Live Tiles. This phone also breaks new ground in optics with 1080p video recording, f2.0 aperture and a dedicated HTC ImageChip on the main 8-megapixel camera and an ultrawide-angle lens on the front camera that lets you fit up to four people in the frame for a premium Skype experience. The 8X and its smaller sibling, the 8S, both boast a killer music experience with Beats Audio and exclusive built-in amps that pair perfectly with Xbox Music.
- Samsung. The Samsung ATIV S brings the biggest screen to Windows Phone, with a bright 4.8-inch touch screen and large battery for extended battery life. Wrapped in brushed aluminum, the ATIV S balances high-end materials and technology with a hairline design and light weight. The ATIV Odyssey was announced today as the latest Windows Phone from Samsung with more details to come.
With a similar look and feel, the same technology core, and the same built-in SkyDrive cloud service, Windows Phone 8 is built to work seamlessly with Windows 8 PCs, Microsoft Surface devices and the Xbox 360 console. For example, now you can edit a document on the go with Windows Phone 8 and pick right up again on your PC when you get home. Or access your music including your albums, songs and playlists, wherever and whenever on Xbox Music. Create a playlist from your PC, walk out the door and cue up that same list from your phone. It's all possible with Windows.
Major mobile operators in the United States will start selling Windows Phone 8 in the coming weeks:
- Microsoft and Verizon Wireless have opened a new chapter in a long partnership. Verizon Wireless will carry the Windows Phone 8X by HTC for US$ 199.99 with a two-year contract, and the Nokia Lumia 822, exclusive to Verizon, for US$ 99.99 with a two-year contract. Both will be available by Thanksgiving. In addition the Samsung ATIV Odyssey, also exclusive to Verizon, will be available in December.
- AT&T will carry the Nokia Lumia 920, the Lumia 820 and the Windows Phone 8X by HTC, all going on sale in November. AT&T will have more to share on prices in the coming weeks.
- T-Mobile will carry the Windows Phone 8X by HTC starting at US$ 149.99 for the 16GB version and the Nokia Lumia 810 from US$ 99.99. T-Mobile is expecting customers to be able to purchase these Windows Phones on Nov. 14.
All 65 Microsoft Stores open this holiday will carry every phone available for sale in the U.S., and every color option will be available through its online store at http://www.microsoftstore.com.
Cheers ~ Arne