This post is basically a rant. TLDR:
AWESOME: WP8 is awesome! Native code support, multicore processors, simply awesome!
LAME: Current WP7 devices just got screwed. No clear date on release data, no clear information on development model for the new OS.
Well, it’s a bit late for a blog post, but I just got the time to write about it, so here it goes, the Windows Phone 8 announcement thoughts. Few days ago, on the 20th (or 21st here where I live), Microsoft finally unveiled the game plan for Windows Phone with Windows Phone 8. I myself followed the announcement live in the middle of night here, and well, overall, I have mixed feelings about it.
Let’s start with the awesome and exciting stuff. Windows Phone 8 is going to be AWESOME. Really. To be honest I didn’t think Windows Phone 7 is a full fledged phone OS. I love it, but to be honest, it has too many flaws that would make me wouldn’t even consider it as my main phone OS if it weren’t for it being so beautiful. From the lack of basic phone features such as USSD support to native code support, it even has some really stupid flaw such as the inability to separate music volume control from alert volume. Windows Phone 8 is a break that would allows Windows Phone to actually compete with iOS and Android on an even level. One thing that excite me the most is that it will allow developers to run native C and C++ codes on it, this will open up Windows Phone 8 to some really awesome apps that can’t exist on WIndows Phone 7 because of its restrictions, from the many popular game engines such as Unity and UDK, and it also allows developers to actually develop its own DirectX based games. This is one BIG plus.
Other awesome stuffs includes multicore-support, Nokia maps integration, NFC support, and SD-card support. These are mostly end-user features that is pretty awesome as well, but it would also allows developers to take advantage of these capabilities for more variety of applications.
Now, lets move on to the bad thing. One really really BAD thing IMO, the current Windows Phone 7 devices will not be able to receive upgrades to Windows Phone 8. In other words, the new applications that take advantage of the new Windows Phone 8 native code support will not be able to run on the current devices. Needless to say, I immediately canceled my plan to buy a Lumia, and I believe I am not the only one to do this, nobody would spend money to actually buy a phone that is essentially dead. Yes, they just killed Windows Phone 7 and the existing devices running it. This really bummed me. It makes me feels like being cheated on, they made people to develop for it, and then they just killed the platform. Yes, the current Windows Phone 7 applications will still run on the next Windows Phone 8, but with the next version of Windows Phone 8 being built on a completely different architecture, I don’t think it is possible to just run the application like that. Actually, this change doesn’t really matter from a developer’s perspective, but developers are developing for the users, and with Windows Phone 7 itself is a reboot from the Windows Mobile, its hard for me to feel I am not wasting my time developing for Windows Phone 8 which is another reboot from Windows Phone 8. To make things worse, there is not words on the development tools on Windows Phone 8 yet. One of the things that Microsoft emphasized was that the Windows Phone 8 will share a lot of code with Windows 8, but it seems like its not that simple. The blog post here sums it up pretty nicely. With a lot of things being so unclear here, I doubt people will feel like developing for Windows Phone 8 for now.
The consolation that they offer to the current Windows Phone device owners are the intermediate Windows Phone 7.8 update that says will bring new features from the Windows Phone 8. But with the lack of native code support, I don’t think that will make much change anyway. The only thing they promise in the Windows Phone 7.8 update is the new homescreen, which allows for new size and colors for the live tiles, which I personally think sucks anyway. It makes the homescreen too messy for my taste.
Other new features that I am not too sure about it the new screen resolutions support. Windows Phone 8 will support two new screen resolutions, 1280x768 and 1280x720, which is cool, except that why do they have to make it in a different aspect ratio?? WHY??. Another thing is, in-app purchase support. Cool, except that even the Windows Phone marketplace is not even available where I live yet. So, its meaningless to me.