New Delhi: In what is the world's largest software company's most aggressive push into the mobile operating system arena, Microsoft has launched the latest version of its smartphone operating system - Windows Phone 8 at an event in San Francisco on Monday. Previously announced Windows Phone 8 smartphones such as the Nokia Lumia 920, HTC Windows Phone 8X, Samsung Ativ S will go on sale globally from November.
Joe Belfiore, Microsoft vice president gave a demonstration of the new features in Windows Phone 8 before CEO Steve Ballmer joined in to announce the availability and deliver the closing remarks.
The USP of the new Windows Phone software is Live Tiles, which Microsoft says differentiates its products from its competitors - Google's Android and Apple's iOS. New features added in Windows Phone 8 include Live Apps that are updated with new content even on the lock screen. The new Kid's Corner feature allows parents to stop worrying when their kids play with their phone. Using Kid's Corner children can access only the apps, games, music and videos picked by their parents. Microsoft has also added a group feature to its People Hub.
Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer displays a Nokia Lumia 920 featuring Windows Phone 8 during an event in San Francisco.
To help users worry a little less about bandwidth usage, Microsoft has added Data Sense, that compresses Web pages to reduce data usage, looks for free WiFi hotspots and adjusts settings when the user approaches her data usage limit.
Skype, which Microsoft acquired in 2011, is now an integrated part of Windows Phone 8 and is always on for instant access. Microsoft stresses that even while Skype will continue to run on the phone's on, it will not drain the battery unlike other background applications. That Windows Phone 8 has SkyDrive cloud service built-in it will be able to sync with Windows 8 PCs, Microsoft Surface devices and the Xbox 360 console.
Microsoft says 46 of the top 50 apps available on Android and iOS will be available for Windows Phone 8 and the Windows Phone Store now has 120,000 apps.
Microsoft's Windows 8 operating system borrowed its look from Windows Phone, meaning Microsoft now has a unified look across PCs and phones - at least if people take to Windows 8. The company has also made it easy for developers to create software that runs on both systems with minor modifications.
Windows Phone 8 will face heavy competition from the iPhone and devices running Google's Android software. People who already have Windows phones won't be able to upgrade to the new version.
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