We've been speaking to Microsoft about how Windows Phone 8.1 isn't just big news for phones; it's big news for every Microsoft device. Read on for the full story...
“Windows Phone 8.1 is our latest mobile operating system and it’s coming to the entire Lumia range,” says Microsoft’s James Guion. “So any Lumia device that has WP8 will be upgradeable. That’s phones all the way back to the Lumia 920 and 820.” But more importantly, WP 8.1 comes out of the box on the brand new Nokia Lumia 930, which is now available at Vodafone UK.
Nokia Lumia 930 available now!
The next iteration of Microsoft’s mobile operating system is here, and it’s being ushered in by a brand new flagship device: the beautiful Nokia Lumia 930…
Click here for all the details…
We’ve been talking to James to find out what’s new in Microsoft’s mobile operating system, and why big changes behind the scenes means big news for people with multiple Microsoft machines.
Reaching across screens
While Windows Phone 8.1 brings a huge range of new features, one of the big stories that James is keen to tell is about how the experience you get across all your Windows devices is getting closer and closer with each software iteration.
“When we went from Windows Phone 7 to 8 there was a big change in terms of the core parts of the software,” he tells us, “and that change made the phone, tablet and PC common in terms of background architecture.
“With Windows Phone 8.1 we’re able to give the best experience across screens…”
“That means that with Windows Phone 8.1 we’re able to give the best experience across screens. So if you’re using things like OneDrive, Skype, Xbox and Office, you’ll get the best experience because all of these services are built by Microsoft.
“OneDrive, for instance, is built into the OS for doing things like backing up your photos. And what’s cool there is that if you take a picture it’ll save to OneDrive automatically on your phone, and it’ll appear on OneDrive on your PC, Mac or tablet.”
Building better apps
James explains that it’s all part of a shifting focus at Microsoft, and that bringing all these services together is now paramount:
“There’s a lot more integration happening now. The strategy for Microsoft is mobile and cloud first. That’s about you being able to access information that’s relevant to you wherever you are and whatever you’re doing. Cortana is one of those elements, OneDrive is another.”
Thankfully, that new focus will be a big help to developers – the people who make Windows Phone apps.
“There was a conference earlier in the year called Build,” James explains. “With that, we announced that with Windows 8.1 on the desktop we now have common code sharing across phone, tablet, PC and Xbox.
“So a developer can do about 80-90% of the work with common code, and their app will work on the phone, tablet, laptop and Xbox. They just have to do a bit of work on top of that with the UI, but most of the work is made easier. Massive strides have been made to improve that experience for developers, so we’ll start to see more and more apps that work across all those screens.”
“Our Marketplaces for apps will still be two separate stores, but there’s now more commonality in the way you can purchase apps. Developers can now allow you to pay once for an app on your laptop, and then download the same app on your phone for free, for example. The two stores are coming closer together all the time.”
We asked James why this kind of commonality is so important, and he suggests it’s simply because of the way our habits are changing:
“We know that people are increasingly using different devices in different places…”
“We know that people are increasingly using different devices in different places. They might have a tablet at home, a PC at work and a phone in their pocket, so having a good experience across them takes away all the pain points and faffing around.
“I really like that with photos you can take a load over the weekend and when you get home they’re all on your xbox and tablet automatically, for instance. Gone are the days of connecting cables and manually copying. The Microsoft ‘across screens’ approach means it’s all just getting easier.”