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  • irishtimes.com - Posted: June 21, 2012 @ 11:36 pm

    Introducing: Windows Phone 8

    Ciara O'Brien

    It’s been a big week for Microsoft.

    On Monday, it announced it is planning on selling its very own Microsoft branded tablet, the Surface, when it launches Windows 8 later this year.

    That in itself will be a big change for the company; it’s largely left the hardware side of things to partners for the phones and PC side of things before now. When it has dipped its toe into the water, it has been with varying levels of success; the Xbox has done very well for the brand, but at the other end of the scale, you have the Zune.

    So later this year, we’ll be getting two different types of tablets. One will run on mobile chips, like the iPad, and use a version of the software known as Windows RT. The more premium tablets will follow a few months later, using a more fully featured version of Windows 8.

    And then yesterday, at an event dedicated to Windows Phone, the tech giant unveiled its plans for Windows Phone 8.

    First up, it will share a core with Windows 8. So that means a common file system, and shared technology for networking, security, media and web browser. According to Microsoft, that means better performance, more features, and a while new world for app developers and hardware makers to play around with.

    It also means Windows Phone 8 will support some nice technology. For a start, we’ll see multicore processors in Windows Phone devices. It will also support new screen resolutions – 1280×768 and 1280×720 – which means better displays, and high definition.

    Nokia’s mapping is making an appearance, and Internet Expolorer 10 will also feature on the platform.

    One of the least flashy changes is also one of the most useful: the next gen of Windows Phone devices will be able to support removable MicroSD cards. So it will make it easier to move content between your phone and other devices, and it means you don’t run out of storage space for music and videos.

    NFC is also coming to Windows Phone 8, which means easier sharing with other NFC enabled devices, and paves the way for the digital Wallet feature. That allows you to pay for items, store cards, vouchers and coupons on your phone.

    The Start menu has been given an overhaul too.

    The bad news? Windows Phone 8 will only be available to new handsets. No upgrade for existing Windows Phone 7 users. All you’ll get is the new Start menu.