Though Microsoft isn’t going whole-hog on the announcements today, they’re giving a bit of a preview of what’s to come this spring. In addition to letting users know that Facebook Messenger is coming to Windows Phone over the next few weeks, Joe Belfiore, overseer of the platform at Microsoft, announced that new hardware partners are coming aboard.
LG and Lenovo are two of the nine new hardware partners announced for 2014; the rest, Foxconn, Gionee, JSR, Karbonn, Lava (Xolo), Longcheer and ZTE, are not well known in North America, but are “leading brands in China, India and Taiwan.” LG was an original partner, responsible for one of my favourite Windows Phone 7 devices, the Optimus 7, but did not release a WP8 device when it was announced in 2012.
Windows Phone 8 will also be scaled for lower-power Qualcomm chipsets, including the Snapdragon 200 and 400, which support LTE but don’t cost as much to distribute. The platform is also going to be updated to support on-screen buttons (soft keys, in Microsoft’s nomenclature) and dual-SIM. The former feature means that OEMs will be able to use existing Android hardware designs and transplant Windows Phone onto them, something that will not only speed up lead time to market, but manufacturing costs and support.
Windows Phone 8.1 is coming ‘this spring’, likely at Microsoft’s BUILD developer conference in San Francisco.