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Wednesday, June 20, 2012, 10:53 am PT (01:53 pm ET)

Microsoft Windows Phone 8 launches this fall with e-wallet support

Microsoft on Wednesday took the wraps off of Windows Phone 8, set to launch this fall alongside Windows 8 for PCs and the new Surface tablet, featuring e-wallet support with NFC chips, as well as support for high-definition screens.

Windows Phone 8 was unveiled at Microsoft's Windows Phone Developer Summit, where the company announced that the platform will support multi-core CPUs and high-definition screen resolutions. The new Windows Phone 8 will also borrow much of its code base from Windows 8, which will allow developers to create applications that can be run on phones, tablets and desktops all running Microsoft's operating systems.

Windows Phone 8 also features Internet Explorer 10, which Microsoft said has four-times faster JavaScript performance than its predecessor, Windows Phone 7.5, and also twice the feature support for HTML5. Microsoft says that Internet Explorer 10 for Windows Phone 8 gets a better SunSpider score when testing Web browsing than the iPhone 4S running Apple's first beta of iOS 6.

The operating system will also support near-field communications chips with a native wallet application that will store credit and debit cards, as well as loyalty and membership cards. Microsoft Vice President Joe Belfiore also demonstrated onstage on Wednesday how the new NFC functionality in Windows Phone 8 will allow handsets to scan NFC-enabled advertisements or business cards.

Microsoft is also focusing on enterprise users with Windows Phone 8, offering encryption, secure boot, and IT device management. And turn-by-turn navigation will also be built in to the operating system with Nokia map technology.

Windows Phone 8


Starting with Windows Phone 8, developers will also be able to offer in-application purchases. That means upgrades and other content can be purchase with an integrated tool part of the operating system.

Microsoft is also enhancing its speech support with the latest version of Windows Phone. But in one onstage demonstration, the Audible application was asked to play "Game of Thrones," but the phone mistakenly tried to search for "St. Louis, Missouri." After the technical hiccup, Microsoft showed how speech recognition could be used by third-party developers for functions like searching, and playback and pausing of content.

Windows Phone 8


Devices currently running Windows Phone 7.5 will not be able to upgrade to the new Windows Phone 8. Instead, Microsoft announced on Wednesday that some of the new features, such as an updated Start screen, will be brought to legacy devices with the Windows Phone 7.8 update.

The unveiling of Windows Phone 8 comes only a few days after Microsoft held a heavily hyped, high-profile event in Hollywood to unveil Surface, its new touchscreen tablet that will compete with Apple's iPad when it hits the market this fall. Surface will be built by Microsoft itself, and will come in two forms: an ARM-based model running the Windows RT operating system, and a "pro" model featuring an Intel processor and running the full Windows 8 operating system.