Windows Phone 8 Launch

After a week of work overload and ending up getting sick on top of it, I finally had a chance to watch the video stream of Monday’s Windows Phone 8 announcement – Thank you TWiT specials for hosting a stream I could watch after the fact.  I got to see Joe Belfiore  present via the stream, and I have to say he did a great job of presenting a very compelling vision of what Windows Phone 8 is all about.

(Hope that TWiT doesn’t mind that I grabbed my screen shots from the – they get all the credit for that – and I highly recommend you go watch them for the full feed).

The slogan that he used throughout the  presentation was “We didn’t make one Phone for all of us,  we made one for EACH of us.”  I thought that was a great way to differentiate the Windows Phone 8 experience from what Apple and Android are doing with their phones.

Let me start with my reaction to the lock screen – a great feature of Windows Phone 8 is that the tiles can show realtime information from your social feeds, like Twitter, Facebook, etc. ; however, the demo showed some of this personal data on the lock screen.  I hope this is VERY optional, as it could be a security issue for anyone who has ever lost their phone.

Joe did a great job of talking to the Apps that will ship with Windows Phone 8, he made multiple references to 46 of the current top 50 apps would be available for the platform.  That is a great statement, and I believe will allow the average consumer to feel confident that they can get good (or at least popular) apps for the device at launch. The larger question will be how many app developers will develop apps for the platform organically.  Nokia, Samsung, and HTC all were announced as having Windows Phone 8 devices at launch, which means that there will be a huge push for adoption, and hopefully allow for enough traction for developers to get new customers.

I did like that they announced a year of free Pandora when it comes out, however I was surprised that it was NOT available at launch.  It will be made available “early” in 2013.  I am wondering what is causing this delay?  Pandora is already available as a webbased app, and on most platforms (heck, my BluRay player from Samsung has a Pandora app on it).

A few interesting capabilities that should encourage uptake were DataSense, (when the carrier is enabled – and currently they only mentioned Verizon), will allow the phone to optimize your data usage thru compression, automatic adjustment of bandwidth consumption, and smart WiFi locating.  I would like to understand as a developer how to take advantage of this, and what the implications may be for my app. (Perhaps this is the delay of Pandora?).  Kids Corner was another feature that was gone thru in detail, where you can build a customized start screen for your kids.  I was amazed to see Joe bring kids on stage to demo (always risky… but was great to see it happen).  The funny part was that since he didn’t lock his device, the little girl by-passed the kids corner.

The other aspects that deserve mention is the integration with SkyDrive, Microsoft does seem to have the cloud done right.  Would be interesting to see if DropBox, Box, and other services are available on the device when they come out.  If you are like me, you have multiple different cloud based services that you use.

Overall this was a great presentation, and if you believe analysts, Microsoft may be able to make a major push with Windows Phone 8, providing both Android and Apple with a much needed additional competitor.  I just hope that they have not waited too long.