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Leaked Windows Phone 8 SDK brings app surprises

We can expected Windows 8 to leave out Silverlight, but where's the JavaScript?

The full Windows Phone 8 SDK has been leaked online, and while Microsoft has disclosed a considerable amount of information on the next version of its smartphone OS, there were a few surprises to be had.

The SDK comes with a version of Visual Studio Express for Windows Phone. It only installs on a 64-bit version of Windows 8 and only on real hardware. That's because it comes with its own hypervisor to run a WP8 hardware emulator.

We already know about the major features of Windows Phone 8. Microsoft is finally abandoning the Windows CE kernel and using the same kernel as in its desktop OS, which will make porting apps much quicker. It will come with BitLocker and device encryption, support enterprise management through Exchange ActiveSync management, and it comes with Internet Explorer 10 that's on par with the desktop version, as well as Skype/VoIP integration.

Now, it's long been suspected that Silverlight is dead in the water, but there are a few interesting turns programmers have found in the SDK. For starters, it appears that the API is very much like the full WinRT API, but it has no JavaScript support. There is also no support for creating and working with Silverlight/XNA style.

This is a bit surprising because I and most developers were under the impression that Microsoft would support the migration of Silverlight apps to HTML5 and JavaScript, but there isn't even support for JavaScript to access the phone's services. The best you can hope for is using the JavaScript support in IE10.

At this point, it seems all you can do is develop native code in C++ or managed code in Visual Basic or Visual C#. You can create Silverlight and XNA apps using SDK but these will only run on Windows Phone 7.1, which is rather odd that the Windows 8 SDK would only support older phones.

A Hungarian site, WP7.hu, dissected the SDK and found that the new OS will backup apps, settings and SMS messages in the cloud to prevent disaster, and that SD card support will let WP8 owners move photos from internal storage to the removable kind, which was missing in WP7.

Meanwhile, the gang over at The Verge found that the Music/Video and Xbox hubs are getting upgrades to support the new Xbox Music venture and Microsoft's new SmartGlass visual theme. They also discovered that Maps will find nearby Wi-Fi hotspots.

Finally, WPCentral.com uncovered some interesting Bluetooth advancements in WP8. The OS will offer peer-to-peer file sharing for apps that want to talk to each other, both app-to-app in the same phone or by sharing links or photos with another phone.

All in all, Windows Phone 8 continues to impress, and I really hope it gains some market share. And I say that as an owner of a Lumia 900 paperweight. The darn thing just died on me recently. Oh well, I'll get a replacement soon enough.

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