Microsoft delivers Windows Phone 7.8 SDK update
Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) released its Windows Phone SDK update for Windows Phone 7.8, which is designed to bridge the software gap between its legacy Windows Phone 7.5 and the recent Windows Phone 8.
Windows Phone 7.8 includes a new start screen featuring resizable Live Tiles enabling more efficient access to apps, photos and contacts, expanded themes and accent colors, new lockscreen capabilities, integration of VoIP and video chat, and Wallet Hub, which supports Near Field Communications-enabled m-commerce services. The optional Windows Phone 7.8 SDK update includes emulators that depict how overhauled apps run on 512 MB and 256 MB devices: "Your app's primary tile can have a customized small tile, support wide tiles and also take advantage of the Flip tile template," explained Windows Phone Developer Experience Product Manager Cliff Simpkins. "Secondary tiles can be enabled to take advantage of all three of the new tile templates (Flip, Iconic, and Cycle)."
Simpkins adds that the SDK update does not alter existing Windows Phone OS 7.1 emulator images, enabling developers to design and debug apps on phones running the standard Windows Phone 7.5 image. In addition, Windows Phone 7.8 includes no new APIs.
"Any Windows Phone apps that you build using the Windows Phone SDK (with this update installed) still target and run on Windows Phone 7.5. This update simply makes it easier to test how your apps appear on devices running Windows Phone 7.8," Simpkins notes. "After you install the Windows Phone SDK update and fire up your app in one of the new Windows Phone 7.8 emulators, you'll immediately be greeted by the familiar minimalistic UI experience (all you have is Internet Explorer on the start screen) and Windows Phone 7 device skin. And after pinning your app to the start screen, you'll also notice that 7.8 now provides the option to make your app's tile smaller. By default, the OS simply shows a smaller version of your standard app tile. To customize the appearance of your small tile, you'll need to do some additional work."
Microsoft first announced Windows Phone 7.8 in June 2011. Because features and applications optimized for Windows Phone 8 smartphones are not backwards-compatible with devices running Windows Phone 7.5, WP 7.8 was built to bring WP 8-like experiences to older handsets; Microsoft and its manufacturing partners also will release new, low-cost Windows Phone 7.8 devices targeting consumers in emerging markets.
Microsoft still has not formally announced when it will release Windows Phone 7.8 to consumers but promised the update will arrive sometime during the first quarter of 2013. A recent post to the Windows Phone Colombia Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) page indicates Windows Phone 7.8 will begin rolling out to some markets on Jan. 31.
Microsoft's Windows Phone 7.8 on hold until Q1, consumers lash out
Microsoft readying Windows Phone 8 Apollo Plus update
Microsoft's Ballmer acknowledges 'big challenge' for Windows Phone 8 launch
Microsoft revamps app search with rebranded Windows Phone Store
Microsoft scraps Windows Phone Marketplace for rebranded app storefront
Report: Microsoft struggling to keep Windows Phone 8 release on schedule