Microsoft has announced the new features of its upcoming Windows 8 smartphone operating system, including a more customisable home screen.
Windows Phone 8 will feature redesigned Live Tiles, a new Maps application, new "amazing" games and a shared "core" with the desktop version of Windows.
But current users of Windows Phone 7 were disappointed to learn that they will not be in line for a full upgrade to the new OS.
After the success of its 'Surface' tablet announcement earlier this week, Microsoft took to the stage in San Francisco for the unveiling.
Th biggest changes will come to the Windows Phone home screen, which will now feature customisable Live Tiles which can be large, medium or small, and can display more kinds of information.
"No other smartphone has this," said Joe Belfiore, corporate vice president of the Windows Phone program.
Other new features in Windows Phone 7 include:
- Background calling over Skype and other voice and video calling apps
- New screen resolutions including 720p
- Support for Micro SD cards
- New built-in Maps by Nokia, including turn-by-turn navigation
- Malware warnings built in to the OS
- Support for multi-core processors
- NFC payments and 'Wallet' app for loyalty cards
- Internet Explorer 10 for mobile
- New devices by Nokia, Huawei, Samsung and HTC
But Microsoft said that aside from the new features, the key to Windows Phone 8 will be that it shares its "core" with the full version of Windows 8.
Originally Windows Phone was built around Windows CE, but Belfiore said that the OS would now run off the same basic drivers and code as the desktop operating system, which will allow developers to code apps more easily to the device.
The phone OS will also run Internet Explorer 10, as will the new desktop version, with improved performance across the board.
But current users of Windows Phone 7 were disappointed to learn that they will be leave out of the new upgrade.
Instead current users will get a 7.8 upgrade which will include the new home screen, but few of the other core features.
According to Engadget one frustrated user sent an email to Nokia CEO Stephen Elop to complain about the lack of an upgrade path - and received a reply from the CEO, whose company makes Windows phones.
The email said:
I just watched the Windows Phone 8 announcement and learned that the Lumia will not be upgradeable to WP8, it will more or less get a skin with the new live tiles and a few other features... at the end of the day unless one of you responds and convinces me to stay with Microsoft Windows Phone, Nokia Lumia or Att wireless I will just wash my hands of all three companies and move over to Verizon.
But Elop replied promptly, according to Engadget, saying:
We have a lot of exciting capabilities coming as part of a pattern of updates for the existing Lumia products. This includes some of the most significant visual elements of WP8 - for example, the new start screen. As we have always been, Nokia is committed to delivering a long term experience to any purchasers of our products.
Take a look at the slideshow (below) to see how tweeters reacted to Microsoft's preview of Windows Phone 8.