Hot on the heels of the Windows Surface announcement, today we had the Windows Phone Summit “sneak peek” at the next generation of Windows Phone. I must admit it looks very nice. Windows 8 phones will be based on the same operating system technology that powers Windows 8. They will be able to sport multiple processors and share driver technology with their bigger brother. They will be able to use Near Field Communication to exchange data with other devices, including Microsoft Surface. Programmers will be able to write games (and other programs) which will be compiled into fast running binary code that executes directly on the processor, with graphics powered by DirectX. There will be support for more screen resolutions. You will be able to upgrade the storage using an SD card. Operating system updates will be sent directly to the phone. And the Start Menu is going to get a bit bigger.
One piece of less good news, for me at any rate. Existing phones will not be upgraded. My lovely Lumia 900 will always be a Windows 7 phone. I can live with that though. When Nissan bring out a new version of the Cube I’m not expecting them to provide a way for me to upgrade my car for free. And actually I love my Cube just the way it is. A new version of Windows Phone 7, version 7.8 (where do they get these numbers from?) will bring some of the UI enhancements to existing devices, which will be nice.
It looks like all my XNA and Silverlight skills will still serve me on the new platform as well as the old one and I can still continue to make a fortune via sales of Cheese Lander on the new device…
All things considered it looks like the phone is on a very good trajectory.
Just to clarify, the way I understand it, you can continue to create XNA games for Windows Phone 7 and Windows Phone 8 using the existing toolchain. If you publish the games in the Marketplace they will be available to Windows 7 and Windows 8 phone users. If you want to use any of the new-fangled options, such as directly compiled C++, then you are just targeting the Windows 8 phones and you will have to use the new SDK (as yet unreleased) to do this.
I'm very sad that XNA does not seem to have a future in the brave new Metro world. It is a perfect platform for quick game creation and is great for teaching. I'm hoping that Microsoft aren't going to leave a great big gap in their developer offerings that could be all to easily plugged by frameworks like Playstation Suite for Vita, amongst other non-Microsoft things.