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Windows Phone 8 FAQ: What you need to know

Windows Phone 8 release date, features and apps

Microsoft has announced Windows Phone 8, its next generation operating system for smartphones.

The software giant announced Windows Phone 8 yesterday, only days after its Surface RT and Surface Pro tablets. Windows Phone 8 will go up against Apple's iOS and Google's Android in the fierce smartphone market. See also Windows 8 release date and features UK.

Microsoft Windows Phone 8

Here's what we know so far about Windows Phone 8 and we will update you with any new information as and when we can. Please post your comments and questions below. See also: Windows Phone 8 launch: as it happens.

What is Windows Phone 8?

Windows Phone 8 is the next generation of Microsoft's smartphone operating system (OS). The firm calls it the most advanced mobile OS it has ever made. Visit Windows Phone 8 release date and specs.

When will Windows Phone 8 launch?

Microsoft hasn't announced a specific launch date for Windows Phone 8, saying only that it will arrive on new smartphones later this year. We expect it will launch with, or around the time of, Windows 8.

What new features does Windows Phone 8 bring?

New Start screen

The new Start screen for Windows Phone 8 utilises more of the screen. It has three different sizes of Live Tiles and new colours to choose from. At the smallest size four tiles can fit width ways on the screen. At the largest size the text message tile, for example, will display the text as well as the number of unread messages.

Microsoft Windows Phone 8 Start screen

Multi-core processor support

So far Windows Phone devices have only had single-core processors. Windows Phone 8 adds support for multi-core processors.

Higher resolutions

Windows Phone 8 ups the game when it comes to screen resolutions. It supports 1280 x 768 and 1280 x 720 displays.

Storage

Microsoft has added support for removable microSD cards. This means you can transfer and store extra photos, music, videos and files.

NFC sharing

Windows Phone 8 will features near-field communications (NFC) sharing meaning photos, documents and other files can be, well, shared between phones by tapping them together.

Internet Explorer 10

Windows Phone 8 will come pre-loaded with Internet Explorer 10 web browser. Microsoft claims it is faster and more secure, with features like the 'SmartScreen Filter' which blocks dangerous websites and malware.

Wallet

The simply named feature is a digital, er, wallet for Windows Phone 8 phones. It stores debit and credit card details as well as things like vouchers and boarding passes. It will also be able to pay for things with a tap of your phone at compatible checkout counters.

Maps

Nokia's mapping software will come pre-loaded on all Windows Phone 8 devices. The software will provide detailed maps, turn-by-turn directions and also store maps offline.

Apps and games

Microsoft said: "Basing Windows Phone 8 on the Windows core will unleash a new wave of amazing apps and especially games."

What will Windows Phone 8 share with Windows 8?

The two operating systems will share common networking, security, media and web browser technology and a common file system.

Who will make Windows Phone 8 smartphones?

Microsoft has confirmed that the first lot of Windows Phone 8 device will come from Nokia, Huawei, Samsung and HTC. All of them will use 'next-generation' processors from Qualcomm.

Will I get upgraded to Windows Phone 8?

No, Windows Phone 8 will only be available on new handsets. Existing users will be upgraded to Windows Phone 7.8.

For more information see: Windows Phone 7.8 FAQ: What you need to know.

Why won't I get Windows Phone 8?

Microsoft's calls Windows Phone 8 a 'generation shift' in technology and said it won't run on existing hardware."

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