Windows Phone 8, which Microsoft partially unveiled this week, is the company's third version of its mobile OS. And for some experienced Windows Phone developers, Microsoft got it all right.
"Windows Phone has been full of innovations since day one, but there was also a lot of catching up to do to reach parity with iOS, Android and Microsoft's previous mobile platform, Windows Mobile. The time for catching up is over," says Nick Landry, senior product manager with Infragistics, a Cranbury, N.J. vendor of user interface development tools, and Microsoft Most Valuable Professional (MVP) for eight years with Microsoft's mobile platforms.
[ Also on InfoWorld: Windows Phone 8 smartphones to run Qualcomm's Snapdragon S4 chip. | Learn how to secure and manage workers' smartphones, tablets, and more with InfoWorld's Mobile Device Management (MDM) Deep Dive Report. | Stay abreast of key Microsoft technologies in our Technology: Microsoft newsletter. ]
And for the first time, Windows Phone will have both the features and global reach to challenge Android and iOS. When it launches later this year, Windows Phone 8 will be available in more countries than iPhone is, according to Microsoft. Landry argues this will make Windows Phone a truly global alternative for both Android and iOS -- a "more secure and cohesive experience than Android" and, for many, a more affordable one than iOS.
For these code writers, Windows Phone 8 brings two broad benefits: new hardware options, and a more extensive software infrastructure that can support an array of sophisticated and highly integrated mobile applications.
On the hardware side, Windows Phone 8 adds two new screen resolutions (both high-definition), support for multi-core CPUs, removable MicroSD storage cards, and integrated Near-Field Communications (NFC) radio chips.
"The ability to take advantage of more powerful hardware in a phone form factor is pretty compelling," says Ginny Caughey, president of Carolina Software, a Wilmington N.C. vendor of waste management software. She, too, is a Microsoft Windows Phone Development MVP. To date, Windows Phone devices have used only a single-core Qualcomm processor, although to extremely good effect. Microsoft executives said this week that the next crop of Windows Phones, expected sometime this fall, will use the latest dual-core Qualcomm silicon.
"Android has been touting multicore phones for a while now, but they needed that just to provide a decent experience since the single-core Android phones were so sluggish and unresponsive," Landry says. "Looking at the ‘Smoked by Windows Phone' campaign, with single-core Windows Phones smoking dual-core devices in everyday tasks almost 100 percent of the time, [and] multicore Windows Phones means unparalleled power & speed."