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Windows Phone 8 seen cementing developer loyalty to Microsoft

Developers cite new hardware options, more APIs and device services

By , Network World
June 22, 2012 09:50 AM ET

Network World - Windows Phone 8, which Microsoft partially unveiled this week, is the company’s third version of its mobile OS. And for some experienced Windows Phone developers, Microsoft got it all right.

(PICTURES: Microsoft’s Surface tablet)

“Windows Phone has been full of innovations since day one, but there was also a lot of catching up to do to reach parity with iOS, Android and Microsoft’s previous mobile platform, Windows Mobile. The time for catching up is over,” says Nick Landry, senior product manager with Infragistics, a Cranbury, N.J. vendor of user interface development tools, and Microsoft Most Valuable Professional (MVP) for eight years with Microsoft’s mobile platforms.

And for the first time, Windows Phone will have both the features and global reach to challenge Android and iOS. When it launches later this year, Windows Phone 8 will be available in more countries than iPhone is, according to Microsoft. Landry argues this will make Windows Phone a truly global alternative for both Android and iOS – a “more secure and cohesive experience than Android” and, for many, a more affordable one than iOS.

For these code writers, Windows Phone 8 brings two broad benefits: new hardware options, and a more extensive software infrastructure that can support an array of sophisticated and highly integrated mobile applications.

On the hardware side, Windows Phone 8 adds two new screen resolutions (both high-definition), support for multi-core CPUs, removable MicroSD storage cards, and integrated Near-Field Communications (NFC) radio chips.

“The ability to take advantage of more powerful hardware in a phone form factor is pretty compelling,” says Ginny Caughey, president of Carolina Software, a Wilmington N.C. vendor of waste management software. She, too, is a Microsoft Windows Phone Development MVP. To date, Windows Phone devices have used only a single-core Qualcomm processor, although to extremely good effect. Microsoft executives said this week that the next crop of Windows Phones, expected sometime this fall, will use the latest dual-core Qualcomm silicon.

“Android has been touting multi-core phones for a while now, but they needed that just to provide a decent experience since the single-core Android phones were so sluggish and unresponsive,” Landry says. “Looking at the ‘Smoked by Windows Phone’ campaign, with single-core Windows Phones smoking dual-core devices in everyday tasks almost 100% of the time, [and] multi-core Windows Phones means unparalleled power & speed.”

(“Smoked by Windows Phone” is a clever marketing campaign where Microsoft employees at the company’s retail stores or trade shows such as Consumer Electronics Show or Mobile World Congress challenge users of other phone brands to compete against a Windows Phone handset in a variety of common smartphone tasks.)

Landry, who’s one of the developers who have been working with Microsoft on features for the Windows Phone 8 SDK, thinks the storage card support will have big implications.

“I’ve been very vocal about the fact that 16-Gbyte devices was not enough for power users or heavy media consumers,” he says. “Storage cards…make it affordable for users to buy a lower-end device, and allow them to add storage as their needs grow.” By contrast, he says, Apple “forces you to dish-out $300 for a 32-Gbyte iPhone even when subsidized, but a lot of buyers don’t yet know if they’ll even need it.”

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