Windows Phone 8 will inherit some of the features found in the tablet and desktop vesions of the OS. For instance, its new start screen will let users resize app tiles to make them stand out.
Expect the new mobile OS to support multicore processors, NFC with a mobile payments wallet, three screen resolutions (800x480, 1280x768, and 1280x720) microSD card slots, Internet Explorer 10 (complete with anti-phising technology). Nokia's mapping technology will also be built-in to Windows Phone 8. In addition, the update also allows internet call software based on VoIP and video chat technologies to run in the background.
The OS'camera software will also let users take panoramic photos and includes a new self-timer so they can take self-portraits without having to use the front-facing camera. A new feature called Smart Group Shot, which takes a burst of pictures and uses an algorithm to combine the photos into a composite that has the best qualities of all the pictures taken.
The OS also has a Wallet hub that works much like Apple's Passbook in iOS 6 in that it contains data about users' credit and debit cards, as well as coupons, frequent flyer information, and loyalty cards.
Xbox Music service will let users you sync their media files from a PC to the phone.
Windows Phone 8 is enterprise-ready and gives IT administrators all sorts of ways to better manage employee devices. IT departments will be able to manage apps and phones remotely, with tools similar to ones they now employ for Windows PCs.
To help keep everything from documents to passwords safe, Windows Phone 8 includes built-in technology to encrypt the entire device, including the operating system and data files.
The OS will also support the United Extensible Firmware Interface (UEFI) secure boot protocol and features improved app "sandboxing," so the phone is better protected from malware with multiple layers of security.
Companies will be also able to create their own Windows Phone 8 Hub for custom employee apps and other critical business info.
On Monday, carriers are expected to announce pricing, availability, and pre-order details for the first round of Windows Phone 8 devices.
The Nokia Lumia 920 will be exclusive to AT&T. It comes with a 4.5-inch curved glass display with 1280-pixel-by-768-pixel resolution, a 1.5GHz dual-core Snapdragon S4 processor, 1GB of RAM, 32GB of storage, built-in wireless charging, and NFC support. It also comes with a PureView camera with "floating-lens" technology for image stabilization.
The Nokia Lumia 820 is a mid-range phone with 4.3-inch, 800-pixel-by-480-pixel resolution display, a 1.5GHz dual-core Snapdragon S4 processor, 1GB of RAM, an 8-megapixel camera with Carl Zeiss optics, a VGA front-facing camera, 8GB of storage, and a microSD card slot.
HTC's Windows Phone 8X has a 4.3-inch, 720p display, a 1.5GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 processor, 1 GB of RAM and 16 GB of internal storage and NFC. For the phone's 8-megapixel, f/2.0 aperture rear-facing camera, HTC is bringing along the ImageSense sensor found in the company's high-end Android handsets. The 2.1-megapixel front-facing camera supports 1080p video chat and an 88-degree wide-angle lens that can get four people in the frame at once.
The HTC Windows Phone 8S is a mid-range device with a 4-inch, 800-by-480 resolution display. Other specs include a 1GHz dual-core processor Snapdragon S4 processor, 512MB of RAM, 4GB of storage, a MicroSD card slot and a 5-megapixel rear-facing camera and a front-facing camera.
AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile will all sell the Windows Phone 8X and 8S but you can already pre-order the AT&T version at Best Buy for $99 on contract.
T-Mobile will get an exclusive Windows Phone 8 handset from Nokia, the mid-range Lumia 810. It has a 4.3-inch, 800-pixel-by-480-pixel resolution display, an 8-megapixel rear camera, and a 1.2-megapixel front-facing camera. The Lumia 810 will include wireless charging as well as 8GB of storage that can be expanded through a microSD card.
Verizon is also expected to offer the Nokia Lumia 822 for $100 with a two-year contract, as well as the HTC 8X for $200, also on contract.
Another Windows 8 smartphone is the Samsung ATIV S, which has a 4.8-inch Super AMOLED display. The device is 8.7mm thick with NFC integrated, runs on a 1.5GHz dual-core processor and has HSPA 42 connectivity.