01 Feb 2012

There are many rumors floating around regarding Windows Phone 8 code-named "Apollo" due out in the fourth quarter.  Some are speculating that the new mobile OS will abandon the Windows CE kernel (Windows Embedded Compact) in favor of the core NT kernel as with Windows 8.  None of those speculations can be proven thus far.  Interesting speculation, because if it were true, then there could potentially be one App Store for both platforms, similar to Apple, but on to what we do know.   **Update**:  It was recently revealed that there is some truth to these statements, that Windows 8 phone will share some of the same code base and kernel as Windows 8 for desktops.

What is certain is that ultimately Microsoft wants an overall union of software from platform to platform.  This dates back to last July when the president of Microsoft's Windows Division made this proclamation that ultimately there would be a single ecosystem for PC's,phones and tablets.  It was later stated by NVIDIA CEO Jen-Hsun Huang, that he expected Windows 8 to eventually run Windows Phones apps.  The major goal of "Apollo" will be to allow phone manufacturers to create higher-end devices to compete with others like the Samsung Galaxy S3 with more powerful dual-core and higher processors.

Windows Phone 8 will run Windows Phone 7 apps

Many rumor mills out there had it stated that Windows 7 Phone apps would probably be incompatible with Windows Phone "Apollo" 8 apps.  But Brandon Watson a Microsoft representative stated that Microsoft was pretty clear that apps of today would work in Windows Phone 8 during the Mix11 keynote.  The keynote can be found here.  Next, its time to Tango...

Lets "Tango"

Microsoft has been slated to release "Tango" prior to the major release of "Apollo" early this year.  "Tango" would have a minor update similar to that of the "NoDO" update with the addition of copy and paste and other tweaks last year.  Current Windows Phone users are at version 7.5, while "Tango" is rumored to be considered 7.6.  

The biggest change for the "Tango" will be with an increase in language support for development.  It will support 120 languages, compared to 35 with the existing "Mango".  This was confirmed at a developer event in India according to several sources.  iOS by comparison, supports 34 languages and Android 55.  As had been widely rumored, C++ would be coming for native coding, though its not clear if it will be in "Tango" or "Apollo".  Current Windows Phone 7 apps make use of Silverlight, basically .NET. 

WinRT / Silverlight

Since Windows 8 desktop apps would make use of WinRT (essentially C# and XAML), it makes sense that developers would "want" their apps to work on Windows Phone as well.  Likewise if Windows Phone 8 is to support Windows Phone 7 Silverlight apps then there needs to be a plan to support WinRT C++ native apps as well and given the above statement that C++ support is coming in either "Tango" or "Apollo" it isn't that crazy of an idea.   However, its impossible for Microsoft to please both consumers and developers all at the same time.

Nokia Lumia 900 for $99?

The "Tango" release has been largely targeted on new devices sold in emerging markets due to its low overhead and lower cost.  Another possible big move by Microsoft and AT&T is the pending launch of the Nokia Lumia 900 this March at the low price of $99 (on a two year contract), which makes sense that it may occur given the specs on "Tango".  Microsoft has traditionally made these types of low cost moves to help boost their position in the past to the masses.  If this turns out to be the case with the Lumia, then Microsoft may stand to gain some ground.  The Lumia 900 has a 4.3-inch AMOLED clear black display, giving great clarity to Windows Phones apps.  It has a single-core 1.4 GHz processor, an eight-megapixel camera with flash and a front-facing camera as well.  Early performance hands on testing showed that the operating system was very snappy and responsive.

Analysts have already released estimates that Nokia's other Lumia phones have sold (not shipped mind you) at least one million units since November of 2011.  (A sale here is also when a carrier buys a phone).  If the statistics were purely consumer sales, then this would be a very good performance indicator.   Nokia has also been rumored to be working on NFC (near field communication) and wireless charging for Windows Phone as well.   

Hopefully all things related to the pending Windows Phone updates and major releases will be come clear soon, as there is the forthcoming Mobile World Congress in Barcelona February 27th through March 1st, 2012.

Sources:  Venturebeat, Wikipedia, Neowin, Engadget

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