Microsoft has showcased Windows Phone 8, the new mobile operating system that will become available to consumers this week, Digital Spy said.
At a launch event in the US – featuring an appearance from actress Jessica Alba – Microsoft trumpeted the phone software that it hopes will compete with Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android.
A range of new smartphones running Windows Phone 8 are to go on sale on Friday (November 2), including models by Nokia, Samsung and HTC.
Existing Windows Phone customers will not be able to upgrade to the new operating system, but will instead get access to a Windows Phone 7.8 version, offering some but not all of the features. Microsoft has not yet indicated a launch date for this.
As with previous Windows Phone generations, the unique selling point is ‘live tiles’: icons that can be placed on the homescreen, and then will update in real-time with new information.
The latest software allows users to adjust the size of these icons, such as reducing them down to thumbnails, or enlarging them so that they stretch across the whole screen.
Users can arrange the ‘Start’ screen as they choose by ‘pinning’ their favourite apps, music, games and people to the homepage. Themes on the OS can also be tailored across 20 different colours, including cobalt and crimson.
Microsoft has engineered the Windows Phone 8 lock screen so that it can be integrated with Live Apps. For example, Facebook can be linked to the software so that it displays information such as status updates while the phone is locked.
The biggest issue facing Windows Phone in the past has always been apps, as this is where the software is the poor relation to iOS and Android.
Microsoft says that it now has 120,000 apps in the Windows Phone store, a fraction of its competitors’ libraries, but the company has signed up 46 of the 50 most popular apps for Windows Phone 8.
New apps coming to the platform include Angry Birds Star Wars, Cut the Rope Experiments, Disney’s Where’s My Water, LivingSocial, Temple Run, Urbanspoon and Pandora, the internet radio service which Microsoft will offer in early 2013 to customers for an entire year with ad-free music.