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Microsoft Unveils Windows Phone 8: Multi Core Device Compatibility, 720p screens, Lack of Support for Current Phones

This week started with the unveiling of the Microsoft Surface tablet and now goes on with the Windows Phone Summit event, that included the official showcasing of Windows Phone 8. On stage we saw Joe Belfiore, Microsoft Windows Phone manager giving us a rundown of the new features, that include many goodies.

For starters the new OS, also codenamed Apollo will support 720p resolutions and multicore devices. The platform arrives this fall and you should know that Windows Phone 7 and 7.5 devices won’t support WP8, but they’ll get a special WP7.8 update that will get at least some of the features of the new OS on older devices. So, WP 8 brings support for phones that will have 1280 x 768 pixel displays and finally we also get external memory via SD card storage. The platform will have a shared kernel with Windows 8 and Windows RT, so you should expect shared and ported apps from one platform to the other.

One thing that’s worth noticing is that Microsoft actually promised multicore support, not only dual core, so up to 64 cores, although that sounds like sci-fi talk. There’s also NFC available now and an e-wallet feature. The technology relies in this case on an enhanced SIM, not the phone’s hardware. Windows Phone 8 will integrate Nokia Maps not only on Nokia phones now, but also other models. Offline maps are included and turn by turn directions will be available, plus all the features of Nokia Drive.

Enterprise and security functions were not neglected, so WP8 devices will get encryption, secure boot and IT management. The Bitlocker Drive Encryption option will handle the security and the IT managers will be able to push apps to the phones without needing Marketplace. Office will be more prominent in this mobile platform, but that aspect wasn’t explained that much. Also in Apollo we get in app purchases and slight changes to the UI based on tiles. The tiles will be available in 3 sizes: small square, medium square and wide tile, that’s as big as two medium squares pushed together. Among the initial partners of Microsoft’s WP8 launch are Qualcomm, HTC, Nokia, Huawei and Samsung.

The first WP8 phones will arrive in 180 countries and be available in 50 different languages. Windows Phone 8 will come in the fall, once Windows 8 and Microsoft Surface also launch. So, what do you think about this unveiling? Small step or interesting changes?