Windows Phone 8 detailed: dual cores, Skype Integration and NFC are a go

If you thought Mango was the bee's knees, just wait till you get a hold of Apollo. No, seriously, keep waiting 'cause we have no idea when that will happen. While we still can't say when Windows Phone 8 will be making its way to a handset near you, we do have quite a few new details about the mobile OS courtesy of the folks over at PocketNow. The site managed to snag a copy of a video starring Windows Phone manager Joe Belfiore talking about what's coming in the next major revision. Those of you concerned with Microsoft's inability to go toe to toe with Apple and Google on specs can breathe a bit easier as new screen resolutions (four in total) and dual-core CPUs will be supported, while those clamoring for more storage will be happy to hear that microSD support has returned -- this time in an official capacity. Rounding out the new hardware features will be NFC support, including the Beam-like ability to share content by tapping, though, it'll have the advantage of being able to share with Windows 8 based tablets and laptops as well. And, speaking of Windows 8, its similarly numbered, phone-centric sibling won't just share a UI, it'll have many of the core components, including large chunks of the kernel, networking stack and security features -- which should make porting apps from the desktop to the handset a relatively simple affair.

Amazingly enough, the list of improvements doesn't end there. If you've been wondering when Microsoft was going to put its Skype acquisition to good use, wonder no more. A Windows Phone app for the VoIP service will debut alongside Apollo and will feature deep integration with the OS, including the ability to place calls the same as you would standard voice calls. A new live tile and app called DataSmart will make it easier for users to manage their data usage and ensure they don't end up eating insane overage fees. To milk every last bit out of that data plan Windows Phone will favor WiFi over a cellular connection and can be programmed to automatically connect to carrier-owned hotspots when they're in range. And, if that weren't enough, Microsoft plans to use proxy servers to compress web pages before feeding them to the mobile version of Internet Explorer 10, not unlike Opera Mini. Those of you who doubted that Windows Phone could actually keep pace with Android and iOS, now might be a good time to reevaluate your position. Hit up the source link for a few more details.

Update: If you want to get all of the details in a nice easy to glance list head after the break for a convenient bullet point presentation.

  • Support for dual cores

  • Support for four different resolutions, though no specifics were given

  • NFC support added, including payment and content sharing with WP8 and Windows 8 machines

  • Carrier control and branding of "wallet" element is possible via SIM or phone hardware

  • MicroSD support added for expandable storage

  • Transitions to core components from desktop, including kernel, network stack, security components and media support

  • Simplified porting of desktop apps to mobile

  • Zune desktop integration scrapped in favor of new, unnamed syncing app

  • Deeper Skydrive integration, including ability to sync data such as music collections

  • Xbox Companion app will get Windows 8 partner client

  • Native code support, simplified porting from Android and iOS

  • App-to-app communication and integration

  • Skype client with deep OS hooks that will make it almost identical to placing standard voice calls

  • Camera app now supports "lenses" which allow third parties to skin and add features to camera interface

  • DataSmart tracks and reports usage via app and live tile

  • Gives preferential treatment to WiFi, can automatically connect to carrier-owned hotspots

  • Proxy server will compress websites in Internet Explorer 10 up to 30 percent

  • Native Bitlocker encryption

  • Support for proprietary, custom built apps to be deployed behind company firewalls