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Meet Windows Phone 8

livetilesToday at 1pm EST we got to see Belfiore gush about Windows Phone 8. After a pit stop, nuking a couple of pieces of leftover pizza from last night, and grabbing a giant glass of punch-flavored Kool-aid, I was ready to drink the virtual Kool-aid.

I’m going to start with a run down of the hour-and-six minutes, which you can watch here. Then I’ll give you the “raw data dump” of my thoughts as I watched.

Joe Belfiore came out first. After pumping up the crowd a bit (not a difficult feat), a lot of what he said was personal: “We put people at the center of the experience.” “…your smartphone experience…” “Reinvented around you.” It was a LOT of “you”s.
So to the meat. First up, “Live Apps.” These will be apps that will integrate into Wallet, into other hubs, onto the lock screen. For example, if you want to keep track of your team on game day, throw up ESPN onto your lock screen and you’ll be able to see the score by only turning your phone on – not even unlocking it. You’ll be able to tag your Facebook photos to your lock screen, giving you an ever-changing lock screen. You can even get your FB notification on the lock screen, or notifications from other apps of your choosing. Joe referred to “moments of delight” as he would see FB photos that were 4 years old that he may have forgotten, and reminded him of good times.
Skype. We’ve all speculated on what would happen with Skype. Okay, it’s integrated (no-brainer). It will also be “always on,” but it will not run the code in the background, therefore it will not drain your battery. That’s a slick trick. I can’t wait to actually See, Experience that.
Belfiore claimed that in short order, Windows Phone 8 will have 46 of the 50 most popular apps “from other platforms.” Unfortunately for Ramon, Instagram doesn’t seem to be one of those. From the Windows Blog, here are some of the apps and games coming this holiday: Temple Run, Jetpack Joyride, Angry Birds Star Wars, Angry Birds Space (the original Angry Birds is already available), Draw Something, Words with Friends, Urban Spoon (will integrate audio search), Fairway Solitaire, Asphalt 7:Heat, Living Social, Cut the Rope, Where’s My Water, Where’s My Perry, PayPal, and Chase Bank. He specifically mentioned the Unity game engine when he mentioned Temple Run, so more games using that engine will appear, I’m sure. And, of course, as we already knew, the Xbox games will switch seamlessly between your Windows Phone 8 device, your Windows 8 PC, and your Xbox.
The big one that hit me from left field was PANDORA! Yes, we’re FINALLY getting a Pandora app! It will come out “early” in 2013, and thanks to Microsoft, it will be AD-FREE for all of 2013! Hallelujah! That was a surprise, and a nice one.
The next nice nugget (frankly, a few months late) was that the SDK will be publicly available tomorrow. So just check out the 2012 Build Conference.
Data Sense. Okay, this is an integrated data consumption control center. Do you hear that, AT&T? I don’t have to be reliant on your crappy myAT&T app JUST to look at my data usage. Data Sense is going to do other things, too, that maybe will interest the general user. You can pull up a map that will show you nearby WiFi hotspots. If you get too close to your limit, it will begin to adjust the way the phone operates to keep you under your cap. It will also show you what apps are using data. That will be nice to know. Oh, Verizon’s getting it first. Congratulations.
kidscornerKid’s Corner. Okay, I’m half in on this one. If you turn this on (if you don’t have little grabby hands, just turn it off and you will never see it), you can SIDE SWIPE at the lock screen, and have an area that your kids can use the apps that YOU PLACE in there (no more accidental tweets, texts, or emails…). Now, yes, they can up swipe and still get into “your stuff,” but MS is hoping (and so am I) that you can train them to only side swipe. Yeah, Belfiore’s daughter kept up swiping, so we can see how well that might work. Yes, he brought out the kids.
Next, he brought out Jessica Alba. She’s evidently an actress? Yeah, I don’t watch TV a lot nowadays. So the gist here was: it’s easy, it’s fun, people like to see her phone (they’ve been letting her use one for a little while), and it was easy to migrate her iTunes library.
familyroomRooms. In the People Hub, you can now create “rooms” to share calendars, photos, location, and conversations (the Family room is there to start you off). I can see this as being useful with my husband, but not so much with others at the moment. You can also do so limited sharing with non-WP8 devices. Belfiore’s example was to include his sister-in-law (iPhone) in the Family Room, and showed how she can share the calendar. That could be useful.
His last points were about WP8/W8/Xbox integration, the Lenses in the camera interface, and Xbox Music. Nothing new or exciting to me.

Ballmer came out next. He started out with “We didn’t want to build just a single phone for all of us.” Hmm. I wonder who he was just bitch-slapping there. He also stressed the ecosystem, saying that if you’re going to be using Windows 8 in the next year, there’s “no better phone” for you. I’ve been saying for some time, we’re into ecosystem wars. If they can hook you early, they can reel you in.
Then he pulled out the hardware. The Nokia 920 (“Nokia is exclusively focused” in WP; mentioned the display, the camera, and wireless charging), the Samsung ATIV S (“flat-out gorgeous”, huge screen, thin and light), and the HTC 8X (“a remarkable phone”, HTC took design ideas from the Metro, er, Modern design, Beats audio, built-in amp, wide-angle front camera). But there was nothing new here.
Europe gets ALL phones this weekend, you lucky dogs. In the US, the phones are coming to AT&T, Verizon, and T-Mobile. If you’re on Sprint, you’re out of luck.
Verizon will get the HTC 8X and the Lumia 822 by Thanksgiving. @WindowsPhone tweeted afterwards that the 822 will be $99.99 (probably contract price). In December, they will exclusively get the ATIV Odyssey.
T-Mobile will get the Lumia 810 and the HTC 8X by November 11.
AT&T will exclusively have the Lumia 920, and will also have the Lumia 820 and 8X in November.
Windows Stores will have EVERY phone available in the US, and you can get all colors online. The stores will also be there to show how the Xbox, WP, and W8 PCs will mesh together.
Ballmer stated that “between Windows 8, Surface, and Windows Phone 8 you won’t be able to turn on a TV or open a magazine without seeing an Microsoft ad.” I certainly HOPE so, but I’ll believe it when I see it. Except for the Xbox, Microsoft and the OEMs and the mobile carriers have done a CRAPTASTIC job of advertising.
Microsoft, hardware partners, carriers, OEMs are “all in.” Uh-huh. Again, I’m not holding my breath, but I am crossing my fingers.

All three (Belfiore, Alba, and Ballmer) were on stage for the close of the sale, with Ballmer saying that Windows Phone 8 is “a genuine reflection of who were are. As parents, as professionals, and as people.” Back to the personal sale.

And there it is. Now feel free to read my live impressions.


all phones

Announcement: Starting in a few moments. TURN YOUR PHONES OFF, PEOPLE.

We’re starting! First, Belfiore as an advertisement!

Belfiore speaks
“Take your Windows Phones out!”
What’s he wearing on his head in that picture – underwear?
Shout out to the Giants, apologies to Tigers, hope the east coasters are safe (and watching, naturally)
Nokia, HTC,Samsung, Qalcomm thanks.
apps: store at 120K (applause)
doubling language support, increasing country app availability to 191
user experience: standardized by Apple, copied by Android – static icons
MS “put people at the center of the experience. Not icons for apps, not focus on speeds and feeds” instead of apps
“It’s not just having a lot of apps to choose from, it’s being able to choose apps that light up and improve your smartphone experience so that what you get really means more to you.”
“Reinvented around you”
“We thing WP is unlike any other smartphone on the market”
“The perfect companion for your Windows PC & Xbox”
New Live Tiles
idea is that you can find the things – the people – you care about. Posts, photos, tweets. Helps you keep in touch with what they’re doing
your phone is a unique reflection of who YOU are
felt had to reinvent the app experience
“Live Apps” – more integrated and convenient than ever”
integrate into Wallet, other hubs, the new lock screen
dynamically change photos, other info
integrating FB photos, even into the lock screen!
“Moments of delight” when Belfiore saw older FB photos pop upon screen
FB notifications on the lock screen
your choice of app
FB, new Twitter: notifications, live tile
Skype: integrates “naturally” : “Always On” : doesn’t run the code & drain battery, though
PayPal, Words w/Friends, Chase,
will have 46 of the 50 most popular apps from “other phones” coughcough
Temple Run, (Unity engine), Urban Spoon (using speech), Angry Birds Star Wars, Where’s My Water
All going btw phone, PC, Xbox
1 year of free music w/NO ADS!

SDK on the 30th
Data Sense – built into the platform
surf more, use less data
using compression to use less data. Will find WiFi hotspots close by, will use those near you. As you reach your monthly limit, it will adjust how it connects.
Gives you data usage total, and for ALL APPS – No more dealing with the carrier’s interface crappy app

Expect 45% more web browsing on the same plan
Verizon gets it first
“The smartphone that keeps you closer to the people who matter most”
“Daddy, can I play on your phone?” Yeah, I don’t let mine. Please tell me there’s a child lock function…

Kid’s Corner:
separate place on your phone for stuff you pick for them that you control and protects your stuff
Okay – Cute kid time
hahahaha Just called daddy “mommy”
Okay, so side swipe from the lock screen instead of up – BUT the kid can up-swipe, so you need to make sure they swipe correctly.
OMG my Son is going to want to play on it more. I’m not so sure that’s a great idea… It’s MINE, damn it

Jessica Alba on stage, after introducing “her phone”
Likes the Kid’s Corner
loves about 8: right on the screen, it’s an extension of her, and she can see what’s important to her. “It feels very personal”
Loves the camera
The switch from iPhone to WP was easy. Took Belfiore 1 minute.
What happens when she shows it? Ppl are obsessed w/screen size. Tiles are customized.
The Honest Company – her parent resource – starting an app which will be more than shopping, but parent resources as well. I’ll have to check it out

People hub
“Rooms” – gather sets of ppl in one place away from the crowd
Close friends, family
Family room installed out of the box
see live tiles that show what they’re doing. Chat, calendar, notes. All shared. This HAS to use cloud.
ahha! People who DON’T have WP can join rooms and get partial services. Ex: his sister-in-law has an iPhone. Showed sharing calendar appointments
Last item:
“users aren’t using phones in isolation”
This must be w8/wp8/xbox integration
yup: docs, photos, music move effortlessly (SkyDrive!) between all those
SkyDrive not just for photos and video
Fully integrates & synchs office docs
think of phone & tablet as extensions of your office (Hell no. I’m not paid to work out of the office)
OneNote: press & hold Windows button, say “Note” and it takes a OneNote dictation
photos experience
camera! “lenses” modify in the photo viewfinder
can upload directly to SkyDrive
remember, SkyDrive starts at 7G, can add more. Control over content. Photos stay as long as you want, and you can organize however you want.

Xbox music
Again, across all 3 platforms
When you manage your music through Xbox music on your PC, it duplicates on your phone (again, it’s a cloud-based service)
Belfiore’s done

Cue Ballmer’s phone

Exciting few days – lots of enthusiasm about W8, Surface
Lines at MS stores “heartening”
“Bringing phones into the Windows family with WP8”
“we didn’t want to build just a single phone for all of us.” CATFIGHT
Making the case for ecosystem. If you’re going to be using W8, there’s “no better phone” for you
MS account is key to accessing your SkyDrive, photos, Xbox games
“Killer hardware” Fruit fans will disagree, but meh
Showing them off now

Nokia 920 “Exclusively focused” on WP
display, camera (optical image stabilization), wireless charging
nothing new here

Samsung ATIV S
“flat-out gorgeous”
huge screen, thin, light

“a remarkable phone”
designers saw the live tiles & rebuilt from the ground up
with similar design, colors
Beats Audio, built-in amp
wide-angle lens on the front, great for Skyping w/family

All phones available in Europe this weekend, through out world in Nov
US: Verion, TMo, AT&T. Sorry Sprint
Verizon: 8X, Lumia 822 by Thanksgiving – @WindowsPhone on Twitter says 822 is $99.99
Exclusive ATIV Odyssey in December

810, 8X by 11/14

920 exclusive, 820, 8X in November

MS holiday stores will have EVERY phone (available in US) and all colors available online

Stores will show how to mesh all these devices together

Btw w8, surface, & wp8 you won’t be able to turn on a TV or open a magazine w/o seeing a MS ad (Yeah, I’ll believe it when I see it. You’ve done a crappy job so far)

“hardware partners are all in” (Jaguars using that this year – getting tired of that phrase this year)
devs “all in”

MS “certainly all in”

PC, phone, tablet have “same iconic feel”. Stressing integration again

The “Windows 8 Experience” when “paired with Windows Phones”

“WP is the best phone for Windows” “Most personal smartphone available”

“A genuine reflection of who we are. As parents, as professionals, and as people”


Sad that my budget sucks.

And it was just tweeted attendees get phones. I KNEW that was going to happen. So jealous now.