Windows 8 Could Offer Calling Ability

Could Windows 8 succeed Windows Phone?

That’s the question on my mind, after a few blogs leaked screenshots of what seems to be a calling capability baked into Windows 8. Certainly it’s an idea that’s been floated around before.

The blog istartedsomething snapped a few of those screenshots of a Windows 8 phone feature during Microsoft’s BUILD conference (which ran from Sept. 13-16). The next-generation operating system will reportedly arrive sometime in 2012.

Those screenshots included a “Missed Calls” tile on Windows 8’s user interface, as well as the option to “call mobile” for an individual contact in the “People” app. The blog WinRumors also offered some video footage of the latter.

For some time, rumors have circulated that Microsoft will follow its upcoming Windows Phone “Mango” release with a build codenamed “Apollo.” This “Windows Phone 8” will arrive sometime in 2012, at least according to sources like this Slashgear posting. Take with all the requisite grains of salt.

Microsoft has revealed quite a bit about Windows 8, but less about the ecosystem it plans to build around the next-generation operating system. It will run on both tablets and traditional PCs, courtesy of a touch-centric interface (centered on colorful tiles) paired with a traditional desktop, with easy switching between the two depending on the situation.

The tablet-ready interface embraces the “Metro” aesthetic pioneered by Microsoft’s Zune and Windows Phone software, drawing away from the “Aero” design used in Windows Vista and Windows 7. When it flips to desktop mode, Windows 8 offers a “look” that, at least at this early stage, seems chunkier and more blockish than Aero.

That desktop mode aside, Windows 8 does bear a startling similarity to Windows Phone, not the least because of those big colorful tiles linked to applications. Microsoft would almost certainly need to make significant compromises to squeeze a variant of Windows 8 onto a smartphone’s smaller form-factor, though, which makes me question the benefits of trying to extend the operating system’s hardware footprint in that direction.

Then again, iOS and Mac OS X will probably merge in some way in the future; so why not do something similar with Windows Phone and Windows 8, especially since everything’s drifting toward mobility anyway?

I’m sure questions just like these are keeping Microsoft executives awake long into the night.

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