Details about Windows Phone 8 are bustin' out all over. And while those technical details are devastating for Windows Phone 7.5 "Tango" sales, there's a bigger picture.
Windows Phone 8 adopting the Windows NT kernel is the technical manifestation of a personnel shift I predicted back in December: The Windows Phone effort, in fact if not in name, is moving under Windows president Steve Sinofsky. In fact, it's been under Sinofsky's influence since before Ballmer kicked out Phone Division president Andy Lees three months ago.
I figure it's one more step in the beatification of Steve Sinofsky and a precursor to Sinofsky taking over for Ballmer.
The revelations by PocketNow, attributed to a video from Windows Phone Program Management director Joe Belfiore for the folks at Nokia, are eating into Tango sales. You can buy a Windows Phone 7.5-based Lumia 900 next month, but if you do you'll kick yourself when you see the goodies in Windows Phone 8 "Apollo," which will be released just a few months later. As it stands, Windows Phone 8 appears to be in the cards for the end of the year -- probably to be released more or less in sync with Windows 8 itself.
The inside skinny? Windows Phone 8 will get a brain transplant. It won't run on the aging Windows CE foundation; it'll be moved over to the same kernel that supports Windows 8. That's supposed to happen without impacting any apps -- all Windows Phone 7.5 apps should run under Windows Phone 8. The "user experience" in Windows 8 Metro should be very close to the UI in Windows Phone 8. The sensor support, networking, and security components of Windows 8 should carry over to Windows Phone 8, as well as improved integration with Exchange, BitLocker, and Secure Boot. Many of the tools that developers will use to build apps for Windows 8 will also work with Windows Phone 8.
Beyond that major surgery, there's a host of feature improvements: tracking cellular usage data, communication among apps, IE 10 support, a new sync component, NFC to make your credit cards obsolete, cloud services, sharing with Windows 8 devices, SkyDrive integration, a better camera -- the kind of feature improvements you'd expect in a one-point upgrade.
The PocketNow revelations were quickly confirmed by "Windows Phone Secrets" author and Microsoft confidante Paul Thurrot, who apparently knew about the plans all along.
According to GeekWire, Microsoft "flatly denied" that the Windows Phone group reports to Sinofsky. Yet Terry Myerson, the head of Windows Phone, is "just" a VP. Andy Lees's position as president hasn't been filled.
Back in December I said, "Don't be surprised if the Windows 8 desktop (for Intel hardware), Windows 8 Metro-style tablet interface (for Intel and ARM), and Windows Phone 8 'Apollo' based on a Windows 8-flavored MinWin (very nearly hardware-agnostic) all ship around fall next year."
That's exactly what appears to be happening.
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