Operating Systems

Microsoft Joins Windows and WinPho at the Core

Microsoft on Wednesday announced a plethora of new features for app developers in Windows Phone 8, its next mobile operating system.

Windows Phone 8 will share a core with Windows 8, meaning app devs can write one app and have it run across mobile devices as well as desktops supporting Windows 8.

WinPho 8 will also support popular gaming middleware such as Havok Vision Engine, Autodesk Scaleform and Audiokinetic Wwise. Further, WinPho 8 will support native DirectX-based game development.

“Windows Phone 8 creates more opportunities for developers to sell apps in a worldwide marketplace,” Microsoft representative Serina Hall told TechNewsWorld. Apps can be published in over 180 countries, and WinPho 8 will provide support for 50 languages.

“Somebody once said to me that Microsoft always gets it right the third time, and this seems to be the case,” Michael Morgan, a senior analyst at ABI Research, told TechNewsWorld.

Keeping Devs Happy

WinPho 8 and Windows 8 will share a common kernel, networking, file system and graphics support as well as DirectX and common drivers. Both will share the same Metro UX platform.

Microsoft has also added in-app purchasing to provide additional monetization options for apps, the company’s Hall said.

“I think the shared kernel is the biggest thing because Microsoft says it wants to be the third ecosystem,” ABI’s Morgan stated. “This third ecosystem can now be tied to your regular desktop and act as an extension of it.”

Developers “go where the customers are, and [the shared development platform between WinPho 8 and Windows 8] will increase the weight and importance of Windows,” Rob Enderle, principal analyst at the Enderle Group, told TechNewsWorld.

Games People Play

Havok gaming middleware is used in “Halo” and “Assassin’s Creed,” among other games. Havok technologies coming to WinPho 8 will include physics, animation, and pathfinding.

The addition of games is yet another lure for devs.

“Smartphones are the preferred hand-held gaming platform for a growing number of adults and children,” Enderle pointed out. “Buyers will chase compelling games.”

Games “tend to be the primary revenue generators in app ecosystems,” ABI’s Morgan said. “They also tend to come along with the larger-scale developer teams and top developers. That always looks good if you’re trying to pump up your ecosystem statistics.”

WinPho 8 will be optimized for multicore processors. Further, Microsoft has added support for higher screen resolutions — standard 720p, WXGA+ and WVGA.

Pay as You Go

WinPho 8 will also leverage near field communications (NFC) to offer a digital wallet. The WinPho 8 Wallet Hub will support credit and debit cards, loyalty and membership cards and access to saved deals. It will also support NFC’s “Tap to Pay” feature. These features are similar to those of the Passbook feature Apple introduced in iOS 6 recently.

The WinPho 8 Wallet Hub supports integration from third-party apps so they can dump cards and coupons into a user’s wallet. It also supports secure payments over NFC.

Features for Enterprise IT

WinPho 8 will support encryption and secure boot. It will let IT admins set up their own lines of business apps. Admins can use the same tools to manage WinPho 8 devices and Windows 8 PCs, and WinPho 8 will continue to be integrated with Microsoft Office.

Those enterprise features are becoming increasingly important as consumers continue to bring their own mobile devices to work. Managing these devices has become a major headache for enterprise IT.

Many Players Make Smartphones Work

Microsoft will partner with Nokia, Huawei, HTC and Samsung for WinPho 8.

“We’re in this for the long run, and we’re happy that Windows Phone has become a credible third ecosystem in the eyes of many of our mobile operator and OEM partners,” Microsoft’s Hall said. Huawei coming on board “opens up a lot of opportunity for us.”

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