Microsoft’s plan for Windows Phone 8–which appears to be moving in step with its overall Windows 8 launch strategy–has been leaked, and the company is planning to take some big steps forward in terms of overall performance, mobile payments, and voice calling.
PocketNow got its hands on a video featuring Microsoft’s Joe Belfiore, corporate vice president and director for Windows Phone program management, which was apparently intended only for its good friends at Nokia (NYSE: NOK). (Whoops.) The video was not posted, but PocketNow summarized some of the major improvements planned for Windows Phone 8, and here’s a sampling:
» Core experience: Windows Phone 8 will support multicore processors, something that its major competitors have already embraced. Nokia’s Lumia 910 was well-received at CES last month but one major knock is its reliance on less-powerful processors than Apple (NSDQ: AAPL) or Android partners can use in their phones.
» Mobile payments: Microsoft (NSDQ: MSFT) will become the latest major mobile player to embrace NFC technology as a mobile-payments solution for Windows Phone 8 makers. PocketNow said Belfiore emphasized that Microsoft would let carriers brand the payments system themselves (something that Google (NSDQ: GOOG) has resisted) and that Microsoft’s mobile-payments system would also work on PCs. Nokia hinted this feature was coming earlier in the week.
» Skype me: According to the report, Microsoft will do what many had expected following its purchase of Skype and incorporate that VoIP (voice over Internet Protocol) application into Windows Phone 8. It will be very interesting to see how carriers react to that feature: it could increase the amount of mobile data used by the phone, but at the expense of regular voice calls. Updated: Paul Thurott at Supersite for Windows appears to have been briefed in more detail on Windows Phone 8, and said that while Skype will remain a separate app, it will have been improved.
» No reinvention needed: Developers should be able to write apps for both Windows 8 PCs and Windows Phone 8 devices with a minimum of extra work, Belfiore reportedly said in the video.
Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8 aren’t expected until the second half of 2012, so a lot could change between now and then. But it’s clear that Microsoft is moving to address some of the competitive concerns against iOS and Android.