WP8 won't run on current Windows Phone, a problem for Nokia

While Windows Phone 8 is seen as a big improvement, it will kill sales of current phones, analysts say

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Windows Phone only has 3% of the global smartphone market and faces an uphill climb against Android and iOS, but Hilwa called the WP8 features "mostly good news" partly because of the multicore capabilities coming from WP8's sharing of the Windows 8 kernel.

Jack Gold, an analyst at J.Gold Associates, said WP8's compatibility across desktops, tablets and phones, and across the apps associated with them, is the OS's biggest advantage.

However, Gold warned, "WP8 success is not guaranteed. Nokia has not been able to get a compelling device into the market that has taken share from iOS or Android. Lumia is a nice device but has not sold all that well. So it will be a battle for Microsoft and the ecosystem."

Hilwa said the user interface is "evolving in a more positive direction by offering the kind of flexibility suggested by the Metro design." Microsoft said users can add many more live tiles to the start screen than is now possible, but Hilwa said adding more multi-tasking in that way could slow down smooth navigation.

Hilwa owns a Windows Phone and called it a "terrific UI and extremely fluid, and I hope with the more heavy-duty multitasking possible in WP8, this fluidity is preserved."

Microsoft spent a large portion of its WP8 presentation on its NFC and mobile wallet capability. Saadi said the impact of those features "is very interesting, but I doubt this will have any impact on buyers' behavior in Europe or North America."

Google Wallet was launched in beta with a single Nexus S smartphone from Sprint in the U.S. last September, and its impact on mobile buying has been minimal. Google includes what is known as the "secure element" in the hardware of its phones, although Microsoft said it will put that security in a mini-SIM card that can be transferred from phone-to-phone. Orange, a wireless carrier in France, will be the first to offer the SIM card. Microsoft will work with the ISIS consortium of three U.S. carriers on NFC, but will not have phones on that service until 2013.

While NFC and mobile wallet will slowly attract attention, Saadi said mobile app developers will likely be interested in building payment and coupon apps for the platform, especially if they can transfer native code used in such apps for Android and iOS easily to WP8.

Matt Hamblen covers mobile and wireless, smartphones and other handhelds, and wireless networking for Computerworld. Follow Matt on Twitter at @matthamblen or subscribe to Matt's RSS feed. His email address is mhamblen@computerworld.com.

See more by Matt Hamblen on Computerworld.com.

Copyright © 2012 IDG Communications, Inc.

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