Windows Phone, Windows 8.x updates show Microsoft confident in platform

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Windows Phone

Forget any suggestions of retrenchments and screw anyone who thinks forking to Android would be a good idea. That seems to be the message coming from Microsoft, following the announcement of a series of updates to Windows Phone and Windows 8.x.

At Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, the company underlined how much Windows Phone in particular has grown over the past year, before explaining how the Windows platform will evolve over the coming months.

On the hardware side, said Microsoft’s Joe Belfiore, the Redmond-based tech giant will be adding support for Qualcomm Snapdragon 200 and 400 series chipsets, with options that support all major cellular technologies, including LTE (TDD/FDD), HSPA+, EVDO and TD-SCMA. It says it will also support soft keys and dual SIM where its partners want it for their devices.

The real benefit of these additions, it says, is that many hardware vendors will be able to use the same hardware for both Android and Windows Phone devices.

It also launched the Windows Hardware Partner Portal which it claims will give its hardware partners direct access to the tools and content needed to “build and market their Windows Phone devices efficiently and cost-effectively”.

Additionally, it looks like there will be a load more people building Windows Phone devices. The company says it’s now working with nine new Windows Phone partners, including: Foxconn, Gionee, JSR, Karbonn, Lava (Xolo), Lenovo,LG, Longcheer and ZTE.

Building on Windows 8

Despite a frosty reception to Windows 8, Microsoft still reckons it can make a proper go of the OS designed to bridge the gap between touch and hardware input.

“We are committed to making Windows the best place for our partners to build great devices. Today that means different screen sizes, input methods, connectivity needs, and usage scenarios,” writes Belfiore.

“Above all, we want that experience to feel natural for our customers. We want it to be familiar and tailored to the device. We want your stuff to be there no matter where you are, ready for whatever you need, and we want it to run beautifully on hardware made by partners around the world”.

While Microsoft didn’t really unveil any tangible updates for Windows 8, it did promise that it would enable its partners to build lower cost hardware, make improvements to the user interface that will “naturally bridge touch and desktop”, and enhanced support for enterprise customers via “a few tweaks”, particularly including features that greatly improve IE8 compatibility in Internet Explorer 11.

All of the above suggests that Windows Phone and Windows 8 will pull increasingly close together, as has always been Microsoft’s intent. The space it finds itself in — trying attract new users in emerging markets while retaining the enterprise customers that are the company’s bread and butter — means that getting the experience right on the various screen sizes becomes vitally important.

It makes sense therefore that this is something that it’ll be pushing heavily in the coming months.

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