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InfoQ Homepage News Microsoft Is Unifying Their PC, Tablet and Smartphone Operating Systems

Microsoft Is Unifying Their PC, Tablet and Smartphone Operating Systems

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Microsoft has announced a set of new features for the upcoming Windows Phone 8: same code base with Windows 8, multicore support, secure boot, device encryption, remote managing and others.

While Steven Sinofsky, President of the Windows Division at Microsoft, declared in early 2011 that there will be no crossover between Windows 8 and Windows Phone, later there were hints that Microsoft will unify their OSes into one that spans all consumer-oriented devices, having a separate breed for servers. Later, there were information leaks that the next Windows Phone will be based on WinRT rather than Windows CE, the old operating system for embedded devices. And the rumors were at least partially true.

Yesterday, during a Windows Phone Summit, Joe Belfiore, a Microsoft Corporate VP and Director of Windows Phone Program Management, announced some of the new features coming in Windows Phone 8. The first one: WP8 will share a common core with Windows 8 including the kernel, graphics, media, networking, file system, input, sensors, and others. He did not specify if this core will include the new Windows Runtime (WinRT), some considering that it will be added to a future version of Windows Phone, to WP9. With or without WinRT, WP8 will represent a major step towards the unification of the Windows operating system across devices, making it available to a large number of hardware solutions and applications.

Belfiore announced several other new features for WP8, keeping some to be disclosed later:

  • Multicore support – there will be dual-core support firstly but WP8 already runs on 4, 8, and it could run on 64 cores
  • Multiple screen resolutions - WVGA, WXGA, and 720p
  • MicroSD support
  • NFC – all WP8 devices will have this functionality
  • The default browser will be IE10

Besides a facelift applied to the home screen – now tiles can be resized and color-customized – WP8 will come with enterprise features, some of the most important being secure boot and device encryption based on a technology derived from BitLocker. WP8 will have management capabilities allowing administrators to install, configure, and remotely delete apps, or set password/PIN policies. Businesses will be able to install applications through a private hub which provides access to company-wide applications, links, information, alerts, etc. WP8 will offer speech and VOIP API, but it will not provide VPN. Instead the security solution will be SSL.

Microsoft intends to see WP8 devices available sometime this fall. Current WP7 devices won’t be upgraded to WP8, but to a in-between variant called WP 7.8 which has some of the new UI enhancements. Older devices, including Lumia 900, do not provide the necessary hardware to run WP8.

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