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A smarter call

If you can hear above the hullaballoo surrounding the Windows 8 launch, you’d know that Windows Phone 8 (WP8) is finally here. But what does this mean to you, especially if you’re considering a smartphone purchase in the next couple of months? Here’s my take on the top 8 things you need to know about Microsoft’s big revamp of the Windows Phone platform for smartphones.

User interface: The tiled user interface that was a breath of fresh air with Windows Phone 7/7.5 still remains in Windows Phone 8, only you can now change the size of each tile to suit your own information consumption style — a larger size say if you want to see the full details of your calendar for the day, or smaller if you don’t want something like Maps or the dialler to take up a full slot on the screen.

New lockscreen: The lockscreen just got a whole lot more useful with WP8, with the ability to have dynamic lockscreen backgrounds and app notifications that are pushed directly to the lockscreen. Lockscreen widgets — the ability to see details on new SMSs or calendar previews — are handy too.

Kid’s corner: This one feature alone may seal the deal for parents out there — the ability to have a Start screen dedicated to your kids, customised with their apps/ games. So that they don’t end up replying to your office email or sending tweets on your behalf!

Better hardware support: If you want the latest hardware specs under the hood of your smartphone, Windows Phone 8 will not disappoint, with support for multi-core chipsets, display resolutions up to 1280 x 768 pixels, and finally…support for memory card expansion, something that was missing in WP7.

Poor hardware availability: Pity all that great hardware support isn’t translating into a slew of smartphone choices at launch. The flagship device — the HTC 8X — is an excellent piece of kit to show off the new OS, but is plagued by availability issues right now, and there aren’t too many options beyond that at the moment. Nokia’s much awaited Lumia 920 is still waiting in the wings for an India launch date.

Rooms: It’s easy to get confused with the Groups feature, but Rooms give you more capabilities to communicate with an invite-only bunch of people, such as sharing your calendars, notes and photos. Perfect for sharing shopping lists or to-dos for connected family or close work buddies — the only caveat is that they should all be running Windows Phone 8.

Average multitasking: WP8 lets you quickly send apps into the background in what can be best described as a “paused” state, and supports apps that require a data connection, say Skype or a location-aware app, when they’re working in the background. It’s still not real multitasking a la Android and has some rough edges, especially with apps that are not updated for WP8.

Apps: This one’s a toughie. While the app support for WP8 is undoubtedly increasing, folks spoiled for choice on Android and iOS should wait till all their must-have apps are on board. It’s just not there…yet.

IE10: Here’s a bonus — IE10 is maturing into an excellent mobile browser. It scores high on performance benchmarks, and acts very much like IE on Windows 8, which means better website support and accurate (and quick) rendering.

One-stop solution

Gone are the days when the single computing device one had in the house was the PC, and many of you may have a smart phone and a tablet to boot. Is there a single security solution to protect them all? Appears there is, in Symantec’s all-in-one solution, Norton 360 Multi-Device. What this allows you is, with one single licence, a full year of protection to any combination of 3 (or 5) Macs, PCs, Android smartphones and Android tablets.

In terms of covering bases for protection, you get the regular Antivirus, Safe Web (for safer browsing), firewall and antispam/anti-phishing tools. In addition, you get a bunch of maintenance utilities, such as a Windows registry cleaner, online storage to backup your data, and alerts when programs consume a high percentage of CPU resources. Plus, there’s theft protection — remote lock and remote wipe capabilities — for Android tablets and smartphones as well. A one-stop solution to technology piece of mind if I ever saw one!

Rating: 9/10
Price: Rs 3,499 (3 devices), Rs 4,999 (5 devices)
URL: http://bit.ly/ScMaWQ