Microsoft sets date for Windows Phone 8 unveiling
San Francisco showcase on October 29
Microsoft has set the date for the unveiling of its Windows Phone 8 smartphone operating system: October 29, four days after the scheduled Windows 8 launch.
There are good reasons to link the two together. Microsoft is promising a shared code set between its desktop and smartphone operating systems, allowing developers to write crossover applications and giving IT managers control over smartphone encryption and device management.
Details on the event are sparse, but it's reasonable to assume that Microsoft will be showing off Nokia's finished Lumia handsets at the launch (which El Reg got its hands on last month), and there have been persistent rumors that Redmond might have its own handset on display – although Microsoft denies that's the case.
Developers are also a little in the dark. Microsoft has been very tight-lipped about the details of the new OS, and has made the software development kit for the platform available only to a select few developers with which it already has a relationship. This might be good for surprising people, but means there will be a paucity of apps at launch.
If Windows Phone 8 is going to be the success Microsoft hopes it will be, the company will need to have devices ready to go into shops close to the launch. The last quarter of the year is the biggie for mobile phone vendors, and if Microsoft is to have any hope of making an impression on the mobile market, it will need to have representative handsets available to the public either at launch or immediately after.
Existing Windows Phone 7 users are, however, out of luck with the new OS. Windows Phone 7 is based around Redmond's older CE platform (Dubbed WinCE for good reason), and Windows Phone 7 users won't be able to upgrade to use the code-sharing features, although Microsoft will release an upgrade to make Windows Phone 7 handsets look like Windows Phone 8 systems. ®
Grumpy old codgers
I'm not a Windows Phone fan, but I hope it does well. More choice is good for the consumer, and keeps producers on their toes.
First it was, Windows Phone 7 will be great, and it wasn't,
I got heavily downvoted for suggesting that WP7 should not be cut any slack because I suggested it was not a brand-new OS but, err, the 7th iteration.
Now it is a commonplace that it is just WinCE rebadged.
I got suckered into WM6 on a phone, that never worked and never got fixed. Ditto WM6.5 . Had I been fool enough to believe the hype over WP7 they would have done it to me again. There is no good reason to trust WP8.
Re: Grumpy old codgers
> with a UI many find repellent
It seems to me that the UI was designed to overcome issues that existed in the previous WM series given the limitations that were imposed by using a single tasking OS and a single core design.
Just as MS-DOS developers had to use TSRs to overcome the single tasking limitations of DOS to give some pseudo appearance of multi-tasking, WP7 had the equivalent of TSRs to give 'active tiles' and some illusion of background tasking. Tombstoning also gave the appearance of task switching and avoided any background app using the rather limited CPU time on the hardware dictated by MS.
Given these limitations, an active home screen was designed to be where most users would leave their phones so that they could keep up with twits, facebook friends and emails. Apps were to be transient things that interfered with the purpose of the phone. Microsoft considers that the OS _is_ the computer and that everything has to revolve around that.
With a small screen and limited functional requirements that is almost a useful viewpoint. The UI could have been done in other ways, such as is done by Android and iOS but that would require actual multi-tasking, and other ways of overcoming problems when one task uses too much CPU time (eg with multi-core CPUs).
The problem that MS has is they have almost no presence in mobile, and it has been falling. Even last quarter showed a reduction in market share. It's only mobile UI is that of WP7. It has to use that because it would take years to develop yet another. (it could revert to WM6.5 UI and relive the 90s). But the UI is designed around using full screen (on 480x800 what else would be useful), single-tasking (with TSR like 'active tiles'), and simple graphics with clean fonts (on 480x320 and 800x480 of course).
Translating this to desktops and even to tablets and laptops which run from 1200x800 to 1980x1080, and have multi-core CPUs, and beyond makes no sense to those used to multiple windows and widgets.
MS-DOS, TSRs, Windows 1 tiled windows, WP7 UI all made sense given the limitations where they were used. Now Microsoft has no option but to impose that on all Windows because they have no other for mobile and need to make all users 'familiar' with it so that they will think of it as normal.