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Microsoft Offers First Look at Windows Phone 8

Microsoft gave the tech world something to talk about earlier this week with the unveiling of its first own-brand tablets. Not out until later this year, Microsoft has set quite an interested stage for the launch of Windows 8. However, not content with one successful sneak peek, Redmond scheduled another for today. Also related to its plans for mobile, Microsoft this afternoon gave us a taste of what we can expect from Windows Phone 8.

Windows Phone 8, also known as Apollo, is due out later this year, around the same time as Microsoft's desktop OS, Windows 8. Probably the biggest news to come out of today's event is that Windows Phone 8 will share a kernel, file system, media foundation, device drivers, and parts of the security model of Windows 8.

This means support for multi-core processors, displays up to 1280x768, external SD storage. This brings us quite nicely to the second biggest revelation, which is that current Windows Phone users will not be getting Windows Phone 8. That's right, if you already have a Windows Phone device, it's not going to be compatible with the newest version of the mobile operating system. Microsoft is planning to take care of current users with an update called Windows Phone 7.8. This will bring some of Windows Phone 8's features to Windows Phone 7 users, but they won't ever get the latest version of the mobile OS in full.

Understandably, this doesn't do much to reassure those considering making the jump to Windows Phone 8 once it becomes available. However, Microsoft has said that all future hardware will be given 18 months of support, so you can rest easy knowing that your handset is good for at least a year and a half of OTA software updates.

As far as features are concerned, Windows Phone 8 users can expect NFC support in Microsoft's Wallet payments application, as well as the ability to use NFC to transfer other data from one phone to another. There's also Internet Explorer 10, in-app purchases, Nokia Maps, and improved enterprise features (including device management for administrators, Office apps, support for BitLocker encryption, and secure boot mode). Stay tuned for more on Windows Phone 8 throughout the day!

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