Microsoft touts new Windows Phone 8 features ahead of launch

Windows Phone

Microsoft has officially unveiled its Windows Phone 8 operating system, with the firm debuting unique features that will appeal to business users.

Joe Belfiore, manager of the Windows Phone division took the stage claiming that Windows Phone 8 is the most unique OS on the market.

"Apple added a fifth row of icons [with the iPhone 5] - we wanted to come out with a different point of view. Our way is to put people at the centre."

"Windows Phone is unlike any other on the market - it's the most personal OS and is the perfect companion for Windows PCs and tablets."

The mobile operating system builds on the WP7 platform. Live Tiles, for example, are much more customisable - the size can be changed - giving each handset a more personal feel.

Microsoft has revamped key apps such as Facebook, Skype and OneNote specifically for WP8.

Users can configure the device to display photos from Facebook on the lock screen. Skype is "always on", but doesn't drain battery life. Meanwhile, OneNote is able to take voice activated notes and can sync them with other Windows machines using SkyDrive.

Redmond also confirmed that popular apps such as Temple Run, Urban Spoon, Angry Birds Star Wars and Pandora will be making an appearance. The latter with provide one year of free music, ad-free for US users.

Other unique features include the ability to monitor data allowance using the Data Sense app and to enable a child friendly sandbox - known as Kid's Corner.

Data Sense allows users to "surf the web more and use less data as you do," claimed Belfiore.

"[The app] learns about how system and apps use data... It compresses every web page... [and] finds nearby hotspots."

As you get close to your monthly limit Data Sense will adjust so you don't go over your plan.

Belfiore claimed that Data Sense will allow users to carry out 45 per cent more web browsing when used on the same data plan against any other competing devices.

The app will launch in 2013, and is expected to be made available to Verison customers first.

Meanwhile, the Kid's Corner feature will enable parents to create a secure sandbox for their children. This protects sensitive information such as emails or texts from being accidentally deleted.

Parents can choose what content they want children to access such as games, music and videos.

Belfiore demonstrated this with his three kids on stage. Kid's Corner is turned on from the Settings menu. Once the phone is locked, the phone can be handed to a child and they simply have to swipe sideways to get access Kid's Corner.

Windows Phone will launch starting in November - with flagship devices including the Nokia Lumia 920 (exclusive to EE) and HTC 8X.

Khidr Suleman is the Technical Editor at IT Pro, a role he has fulfilled since March 2012. He is responsible for the reviews section on the site  - so get in touch if you have a product you think might be of interest to the business world. He also covers the hardware and operating systems beats. Prior to joining IT Pro, Khidr worked as a reporter at Incisive Media. He studied law at the University of Reading and completed a Postgraduate Diploma in Magazine Journalism and Online Writing at PMA Training.