Pixel Envy

Written by Nick Heer.

Windows Phone 8

Two events in the same week: that’s how Microsoft does it. There’s a lot to unpack with this one. First off, Windows Phone 8 is getting a new core:

The biggest change in Windows Phone 8 is Microsoft’s transition to the NT kernel and related operating system elements — defined as the Windows Core. Steve Ballmer and company have been hinting at the change for months, but Microsoft is detailing this fully today. Windows Phone 8 will share the same kernel, file system, media foundation, device drivers, and parts of the security model from Windows 8.

This could be interesting, but the use of the same security as Windows is sure to raise eyebrows. I think it’s a misstep, but if it helps the platform expand, it’s probably in Microsoft’s best interests. Also, using the same core allows developers to more easily port apps.

Windows Phone 8 is (finally!) getting support for different displays, too:

Windows Phone 8 will support three resolutions in total: WVGA, WXGA, and 720p. Discussing the various leaks about Windows Phone 8, Microsoft’s Greg Sullivan confirmed to us that the company did have another resolution under consideration.

This will address a common complaint of the larger Windows Phone devices: since the screen is larger but it’s required to retain the pixel count of the smaller devices, the resolution was terrible. This is a big improvement.

There’s also an updated home screen, with a greater variation in the kinds and sizes of tiles that it will accept. Max Rudberg has an interesting idea on how this new home screen could gain a wallpaper feature.

Lots to unpack here. Windows Phone 8 looks like a huge improvement in most areas. But if you own a Windows Phone 7 device, you’re going to be sorely disappointed because upgrades won’t be offered:

Describing some of the latest hardware changes in Windows Phone 8, […] Sullivan explained that “the nature of the investment [in Windows Phone 8] is primarily in areas that are not exploitable by existing hardware.” […]

Instead, Microsoft plans to bring a new Start Screen interface to existing devices through a Windows Phone 7.8 software update.

That must be disappointing for the tens of Windows Phone users.