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10 Things To Know About Windows Phone 8 and Microsoft Surface

As Microsoft reveals plans for Windows Phone 8 and its new Surface tablet, here are 10 things you need to know about both of the new platforms.

Collaborate and Share

Windows Phone 8 is hailed as “the most advanced mobile OS Microsoft has ever made” and according to developers is based on the same technology powering the Windows 8 operating system for PCs.

They will share networking, security, media and web browser technologies and a common file system. This should make it far easier for sharing and collaborating between devices in the same way Apple’s iCloud has now revolutionised the way Macs and iOS devices work together.

It also means Microsoft is likely to ensure it releases apps that work across all its platforms, paving the way for better development and innovation.

Fast and Furious

With support for multi-core processors built-in from the start, Windows Phone 8 aims to be future-proof. It shouldn’t matter how fast and more powerful handsets continue to get, the software should be able to run as smooth as it does using a single processor despite any heavy demands on the system from more power hungry programs and apps.

Tap to Pay

Wireless payments will be at its heart. Google Wallet is already attempting to revolutionise mobile payment in America but in the UK, NFC wireless payment technology is yet to really take off. But Windows 8′s new Wallet can store debit and credit card details, tickets, coupons and other passes enabling you to simply tap and make them work.

It all sounds very similar to the Passbook app recently announced by Apple for its iOS 6 software. NFC will also be utilised to share photos, documents and other files simply by tapping two compatible phones together.

IE 10

Internet browsing is obviously central to Windows Phone 8 and this will see Internet Explorer 10 feature on the mobile handsets as well as PCs and tablets. Microsoft promise it will have enhanced security features while Nokia’s mapping functionality will be included and provide offline maps to work even when there’s no data connection.

More Apps and Games

With 100,000 apps and games now available to Windows Phone users from the Marketplace, Microsoft says it has now reached that level faster than Google and Android did. With Windows Phone 8, in-app purchases will be possible while internet calls can be answered and made as simply as making a normal traditional call.

New Start screen for all

There’s a new Start screen you can get without Windows Phone 8. With new themes and three different sizes of Live Tiles, the new Start screen will work on existing Windows Phone 7.5 handsets through an update that will come soon after Windows Phone 8 is released. It will be called Windows Phone 7.8. That’s because Windows Phone 8, unlike Apple’s iOS updates, will not be available to download by existing users.

To get it you’ll need to buy a new handset as it won’t run on existing hardware. And that’s the biggest problem for Microsoft, providing enough reasons for consumers to upgrade to another model of phone simply to get the Windows Phone 8 experience.

Windows 8 updates will then be available over-the-air with devices support continuing for at least 18 months from its launch. Devices will be available first from Nokia, Huawei, Samsung and HTC.

Surface crash goes viral

All computers crash, it’s inevitable eventually, but crashing at the moment you’re announcing it to the world is certainly unfortunate. When Microsoft President Steve Sinofsky gave a demo of the new Windows 8 Surface tablet last week, it locked up. The video of the breath-holding moment is now a massive hit on YouTube.

Two versions of Surface

Surface will be available in two device types. The RT unit is the closest to the iPad with a 10.6 inch screen and just 9.3mm thin. It has a slimmed down version of the Windows 8 operating system to make it run more smoothly on the move and is aimed at the consumer market more than the business one.

They will be catered for with the Surface for Windows 8 Pro which is around 40% heavier than the RT one and 13.5mm thick. But this device is far more like a mini computer and many are touting it as a full desktop replacement in a tablet.

Standing proud with support

With a built-in kickstand, the Surface device will stand on its own without the need for extra cases. It’s a clever idea and simply flips out from the back allowing you to sit back and watch movies or video content.

But the real innovation comes with the Touch Cover. A bit like the iPad Smart Cover, it features a keyboard. The cover attaches with magnets and uses pressure-sensitive technology to recognise keystrokes without needing to tap hard on the cover-based keys.

Google Nexus tablet to compete

Google looks set to announce its Android Nexus tablet tonight and it could leave Microsoft Surface in the shade already. Reportedly made by Asus, the homegrown tablet is aiming to hit the same audience as were keen on owning Google’s own Nexus Android smartphone.

But with so many other Android tabs out there from other manufacturers, Google could be making the same mistake as some experts fear Microsoft is making with Surface – and that’s fragmenting and confusing the market by competing against itself and unwittingly pushing customers towards Apple.

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