Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Windows Phone Summit Highlights

 

As many of you already know, Microsoft just had their Windows Phone Summit in San Francisco. There was a lot of excitement and high expectations because of the promised sneak peek at the future of Windows Phone. If you haven’t already, you can watch the summit presentation on Channel 9.

If you want to get a sense of people’s reaction and the top highlights in the community after the announcements done today, just check out the Twitter Thread. It has been a busy and exciting week for Microsofties, especially after the new Surface announcement. 

The presentation was almost entirely focused on Windows Phone 8, the next version of the platform that should be launched along Windows 8. The biggest thing is as I suspected, a Shared Core between Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8, which effectively means that applications will be able to run seamlessly on any Windows 8 device, no matter if it is a phone, a tablet, or a full desktop PC. This is amazing news, because it will reduce the friction between the different experiences and will enable companies and developers to create just one application that will give users the same experience across devices. Of course, the user interface can be optimized for each screen and resolution, but functionality and implementation wise, it will be the same app.

The bad news is that Windows Phone 8 won’t be able to run in the current Windows Phone 7 hardware. This will be hard to swallow for companies selling Windows Phone 7 devices right now. On the other side, all Windows Phone 7 applications are supposed to be able to run on the new Windows Phone 8 OS and hardware, although it is not clear in the case of games, since everything is pointing to the death of XNA as a game development platform, which will be replaced by native code (C & C++) support. Although it might disappoint XNA developers, it will improve portability of games across platforms and we can expect game development companies to start porting their games from iOS and Android quite effortlessly. 

The hardware companies presented for the new Windows Phone 8 platform will be Nokia, Samsung, Huawei and HTC, all built on next-generation chips from Qualcomm. On the game development side, Havok will be one of the companies, along with Autodesk and a few others, bringing the whole suite of products and tools to Windows Phone 8. With this news, I really hope that Unity3D supports the new Windows Phone 8 platform soon!

As a short guide, Microsoft said the following:

  • Application Development: XAML + C#/VB
  • Game Development: Native Code – C/C++

There a lot to talk about and there are still a lot of questions, which hopefully, as we get closer to the launch date, they will be answered.

Here is my take on the Windows Phone 8 highlights:

  • Shared Core between Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8: apps work on both devices, native communication, build once.
  • Integrated Skype Video Chat and Voice chat: available to devs and third party app developers.
  • Native Code Support: C&C++. Expect all iPhone and Android games ported right away (example: less than a week to port an iPhone app to a WP app).
  • Native NFC Support: adios QRCodes. That’s the trend, all new WP8 hardware will support it.
  • NFC wireless sharing across devices.
  • Native Wallet Experience: support for phone payments, secured SIM, Third Party Apps. Orange as first partner.
  • Wallet Experience: Credit & Debit Cards, Loyalty Cards & Membership Cards, Access Saved Deals, Secure NFC Payments (Tap to Pay), Secured SIM, Third Party Scenarios - Apps and Services.
  • Multi-Core support – Dual Core chipsets support.
  • Shared Driver Model: manufacturers create one driver for all devices.
  • Graphics acceleration.
  • Windows Phone 8 and Windows 8 share exactly the same browser, IE10 (faster JS, better HTML5 support).
  • More screen resolution support: Increase screen resolutions: 800 x 480 - 15:9, 1280 x 768 - 15:9, 1280 x 720 - 16:9.
  • All new hardware supports MicroSD, which is interchangeable between PCs, Tablets and Phones – Storage scalability after purchase.
  • Direct3D Low Level APIs support – increased graphics, performance and portability.
  • Multi-user game experiences across devices over Wi-Fi – Peer-To-Peer communication which can be initiated by NFC taps.
  • Start Screen revamp: fully customizable tiles, colors and sizes.
  • Improved LOB deployment without Marketplace publishing.
  • Office and LOB apps native integration with the Company Hub/Windows Phone at Work experience.
  • Support for 50 languages and more than 180 countries.

There is also a short recap on the App Hub web site and Joe Belfiore published the announcement summary on the Windows Phone Blog.

There’s more coming for sure, and it will be interesting to see the evolution of the platform along with the reactions from companies, brands, press, developers and consumers. All in all, it looks promising for Microsoft and the Windows 8 ecosystem.

Cheers and thanks for stopping by!

3 comments:

  1. Thank you! I have been trying to figure out what was going on with C#. I am teaching myself C# right now as my first language, and after this morning's announcement I thought I might have to stop and learn C++.

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    1. Thanks for stopping by Cody. You are absolutely safe with C#. That is not going away at all. Even is Microsoft is embracing web technologies and allowing devs to use HTML/CSS/JS for Windows 8 app development, C# is by far still more elegant and efficient when developing on the Windows platform.

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