Microsoft is embarking on one of its most important periods during its lengthy history – this year, for the first time, they are going to release a new operating system for PC, phones, tablets and laptops – Windows 8 represents a first for Microsoft, they’re are looking to create an all encompassing software eco-system for all devices – for the first time the whole of Microsoft is looking to sing from the same digital hymn sheet.
Steve Ballmer, the flamboyant head of Microsoft, pledged to compete with arch rival Apple on every front. “We are trying to make absolutely clear we are not going to leave any space uncovered to Apple,” he told CRN.
The Microsoft CEO said he believes his company has advantages over the market in productivity, enterprise management and manageability. He said he doesn’t see any market where Microsoft will let Apple go uncontested.
“Not the consumer cloud. Not hardware-software innovation. We are not leaving any of that to Apple by itself,” Ballmer said. “Not going to happen. Not on our watch.”
In order to make good on Ballmer’s plans, Microsoft has to make some difficult decisions; getting rid of the Start menu on Windows 8, and seemingly starting again with Window Phone software.
If it work its will see Microsoft take on Apple with a set of software that will be universal across their family of devices; from Xbox to Windows Phone. But to do this they will have to make some tough decisions and first is to not upgrade all current Window Phone handsets to Window 8, but instead to fragment the software with Windows 7.8 – so what’s the difference?
Windows Phone 8 signals a second generation of phones using the Microsoft platform, but Microsoft won’t be upgrading older handset to the new software, so have taken the decision to give current customers a watered-down version Window 7.8.
Internet Explorer 10 is far faster when dealing with Java Script and HTMl5 – which in simple terms means it’s a lot faster. Especially on sites which rely a lot on embedded videos, gifs and online games. IE10 is also a lot safer with new anti-fishing measures. IE9 is, of course, no slouch but it’s disappointing that early adopters aren’t going to get it the new Internet Explorer 10.
When Microsoft bought Skype it raised a few eye-brows, not because Skype isn’t brilliant, but the price they paid – with Windows Phone 8 Skype is baked in from the ground up – so for WP 7.8 users you’ll still have to download the app, whereas Windows 8 users will get the service from out of the box.
Over The Air Updates
Software updates are a tricky thing to get right, on the WP7.8 you’ll only be notified of new software when the handset is plugged into a PC or Mac – with Windows 8, updates will be pushed directly to the phone so you can upgrade directly over Wi-Fi.
Voice commands are getting a major overhaul with Windows 8, but both software features voice control, it’s just thought it will be a lot better within WP8.
Cloud Storage and Sync
Cloud integration on WP7.8 allows you to synch Office OneNote and 365 only – on the other hand WP8 will allow you so synch and backup documents, videos, music – basically the entire handset via Microsoft’s SkyDrive service.
DataSmart is a new app that lets you keep up-to-date with how much data, sms, and call usage you are using – ideal for those of you who travel abroad – with WP8 you’ll get the app integrated, but with WP7.8 you will need to download it – it’s not a deal breaker, but another annoying trip to the app store.
One of the best addition to WP8 is Live Tiles, and, thankfully, it will make its way to WP7.8. The new Live Tiles can be customised with different sizes – effectively allowing you to make a mosaic of apps.
NFC won’t make the jump to older handsets for obvious reasons: it’s a hardware upgrade. Windows Phone 8 will include a digital wallet feature which will allow you to make payments and bookings using your phone.
Are you a Windows Phone users? How do you feel about not getting Window 8? Do you think Microsoft has done enough to soften the blow for important early adopters? Let us know below.