Microsoft Corp. (MSFT: Quote) Wednesday unveiled a new version of its operating system for smartphones - "Windows Phone 8," as it strives to catch up with Apple Inc.'s (AAPL) iPhone and Google Inc.'s (GOOG) Android devices.
At a developers event in San Francisco, Microsoft revealed its Windows Phone 8 software, indicating it to be on the lines of Windows 8 operating system for PCs and tablets. This would allow developers to create apps for both platforms, and end users can get to choose more applications and flip between devices.
Windows Phone 8 will support multi-core processors, Micro SD cards and will have Internet Explorer 10.0 built in. It will include Skype integration, and also feature a mapping technology from Nokia. Another salient feature will be a wallet application similar to Google's and will help to store credit cards, coupons, and credit and debit card information.
Windows Phone 8 is expected to be installed on smartphones that go on sale this fall, although the software giant did not provide the exact date of launch. Initial hardware partners will include Nokia, Samsung, HTC and Huawei, all of which have used Windows Phone 7 version on their phones.
Microsoft said current devices that run on Windows Phone 7.5 will not be able to upgrade to Windows Phone 8, and such users will be offered an update that will exclude many features of the new version.
Microsoft's announcement of its new smartphone operating system comes just two days after unveiling its tablet, Surface, aimed at rivaling Apple's iPad. It also comes about two years after its tryst with Windows Phone without much success.
According to research firm Gartner Inc., Microsoft last quarter market share for smartphones was 2 percent, way behind Google's Android with 56 percent and Apple's iPhone with 23 percent market shares. Windows Phones also feature fewer apps at about 100,000, compared to half a million for both Apple and Google devices.
Microsoft's tablet foray, along with the announcement of its new smartphone software, further heats up the tech sector-rivalry that has decimated one-time titans such as Blackberry-maker Research in Motion (RIMM, RIM.TO) and Nokia Corp. (NOK), which crumbled amidst onslaught from iPhone and Android devices.
MSFT closed Wednesday at $30.93, up $0.23 or 0.75%, on a volume of over 36 million shares on the Nasdaq. In after hours, the stock gained 0.19%.
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by RTT Staff Writer
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