Windows Phone 8, I'm already ready!

Oh man. I’m pumped. I’m super pumped. Microsoft heald the Windows Phone Summit today and had a lot to say about Windows Phone 8. It’s the piece that ties at all together. One harmonious, Microsoft-based ecosystem. “One Microsoft Way,” as the street address of Microsoft headquarters states. And I’m one of the ten people on the planet who is all for it!

Android fans are rolling their eyes, saying it’s about time. iPhone users… well… they’re keeping quiet as upgrades to iOS are starting to lag behind the game that “big daddy M” is talking about. But when the announcement of Windows Phone 8 came today, I was at the edge of my seat. Microsoft proudly states that the software at the true core of the OS will be a shared core with Windows 8. In other words, it’s fairly straightforward that Windows RT and the Windows 8 Metro experience overtop of the Windows 8 Home and Pro desktop environments, is going to be all of the hard work that the Windows Phone team made come true. Taking the guts out of Windows CE and Windows Mobile, and turning it around to something that is this good was a lot of work, and I really hope the Windows Phone team is reaping the benefits!

Don’t take my word for it. During the very beginning of their presentation today, it was pointed out that Windows Phone 7 is really getting their biggest reward from their users. Somehow it’s still not selling, but the user reviews on Amazon rate seven of the top 9 phones on Amazon… as Windows Phone 7 devices. It wasn’t a joke, it wasn’t an exaggeration – I checked it out myself.

And what is Windows Phone 8 going to bring us? Better software – the same stuff you can get on the Windows 8 Metro store, you’ll be able to get on a Windows Phone 8. 90% of the code used on Windows Phone 7.5 can be ported to Windows Phone 8, there will be almost no effort needed to have all of the apps already in the Windows Phone 7 Marketplace will be able to make their way to Windows Phone 8. Windows Phone 8 is also going to introduce multi-core support (dual core right away, and more to come – and they’ve already tested it up to 64 cores!). Support for two new higher resolution (720p and WXGA) screens are going to help keep higher definitions coming along, while not causing massive fragmentation along the platform.

MicroSD sounds like it’s “about time” but it is still exciting to know that I’ll essentially be carrying a full-blown Windows device with a memory card in my pocket – it’s not just going to be pictures and ringtones, it is going to be just as useful as an external hard drive on your current laptop. Microsoft made a big deal of their support for NFC, something that sounds convenient when working with multiple devices, and the new “NFC Wallet” type of experience, but that’s not a huge deal for me. Not enough brick and mortar stores that I’ve been to support that. I guess everyone in Seattle and Silicon Valley must have a need for it, but not so much me.

There are a few other benefits that were described, and these really have nothing to do with the real end-user features that Windows 8 will be pushing, but the one they are quite proud of is the more customizable start screen (as seen in the screen capture at the top of the page). Microsoft has decided to take Windows Phone 7 and the Metro UI’s most powerful feature, and make it even more powerful. I can’t wait. This fall, I will have a Surface, I will have a Windows Phone 8, and I will be thrilled. If you want to know more about what to expect from Windows Phone 8, or see it in action, check out the presentation stream from Microsoft’s Channel 9.

E3 2012: NOT a let down

Was this a disappointing year for E3? Over the last several years, E3 has tried to return to its rightful place as reigning champion of video game conventions, and although PAX has stolen some of their thunder, E3 (the Electronic Entertainment Expo) has done a very good job of revitalizing what they began.

This year was lacking the big shock of new console announcements. It wasn’t just a rumor, it wasn’t “we have it on good authority” – it was a known commodity that Nintendo’s WiiU would be talked about, because it had already been announced. But rather than give us a ship date or price, rather than tease us with something we’ve been wanting for over a decade (Killer Instinct 3, anyone?), we got some cute mini-games and a sneak pack of a Wii U dressed in black. The Sony conference plugged a new God of War, talked at lenth about WonderBook, then rang the death knell for the PS Vita by not announcing a price cut. Microsoft impressed a few people with Halo 4’s story intensive trailer, and at least they didn’t announce a new product to compete with the 3DS or the PS Vita. Microsoft had the coolest “previously unannounced” (although leaked) item in the presentation, SmartGlass. SmartGlass is an enhanced offering of the Xbox Companion App for Windows Phone 7 and Windows 8.

So, no, it wasn’t amazing or jaw dropping… but, there are some exciting things happening in all three camps. I’m not a huge fan of Wonderbook, but the idea can be expanded upon and will find a niche – it may even encourage some people who dislike reading to get more interested in the written word, in the same way that e-books have ignited interest among young tech enthusiasts. No, it wasn’t the most exciting year for E3, but I’m confident that it wasn’t even in the top ten when it comes to “the worst.” I’m fairly pleased with what we’ve got to look forward to, and if you’re not, then I encourage you to go back and re-watch some of the pressers(Nintendo, Sony, Microsoft) and pick something out to enjoy – it’s not all bad news!