Yesterday, Microsoft finally took the wraps off Windows Phone 8, unveiling a whole host of new features — but the company didn't quite have the time to give us all the details, instead focusing on eight major features of the updated OS. There's a lot more new under the hood, though, and Microsoft insider Paul Thurrott has many of the details in his in-depth look at Windows Phone 8.
For starters, Thurrott outlined new "Data Smart" features (which we saw in a leak a few weeks ago) to help users manage their data consumption. For starters, Data Smart will contain a number of ways for users to keep better track of their data consumption, including a constant meter of how much data has been used and how much remains during a billing cycle; it also breaks down cellular vs. Wi-Fi data consumption. Microsoft has also included some features in Internet Explorer 10 for mobile that reduce data usage — it uses a cloud-based proxy service to limit data usage and compress web traffic. Thurrott says it'll work much like the Amazon Silk browser on the Kindle Fire. There's also a new Local Scout feature that helps users find nearby Wi-Fi hotspots — and there's also an option to have your phone automatically switch from cellular to carrier-provided Wi-Fi networks when available, provided the carrier enables this feature.
Microsoft's also working on some "cross-screen shared experiences" between Windows 8 PCs, Windows Phone 8 devices, Windows RT tablets, and the Xbox 360 — not surprising, given the shared core between Microsoft's desktop and phone operating systems. The big news here is that users will be able to manage their Windows phone from a PC using a new desktop syncing app, or you can log in over the web. You'll easily be able to share content from your PC or tablet to your phone over your home network.
Thurrott also shared some details on new integration between Windows Phone 8 and Microsoft's SkyDrive service. The biggest change here is that users will be able to sync music and movies and access them from the related Xbox Music and Xbox Movies apps. SkyDrive will also be able to access the storage of a Windows Phone 8 device and easily grab content from the device (like photos and videos shot on the phone).
We're still some months off from the Windows Phone 8 launch, so we'll surely hear more about what Microsoft has packed into its revamped OS in the coming months — but the combination of these changes and Microsoft's announcements yesterday certainly paint a picture of a more user-friendly and better-connected piece of software.