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Microsoft shows off new key Windows Phone 8 features

Updated Oct 29th, 2012 1:51PM EDT
Microsoft Windows Phone 8

Microsoft (MSFT) on Monday officially took the wraps off its Windows Phone 8 mobile operating system. Joe Belfiore, Microsoft’s Windows Phone Program manager, said that the new OS was a response to what he called the lack of evolution in the mobile operating system market and said that “our way was to put people” at the center of the OS rather than icons. Belfiore said that the main focus was to make smartphones more personal with features such as “Live Tiles” that lets users put their friends on their homescreens to deliver constant updates on their Facebook (FB) and Twitter feeds.

Another personalized feature is Windows Phone 8’s new lock screen that constantly delivers new content that users are interested in, such as friends’ Facebook photos, sports scores and more depending on which mobile apps they choose as their lock screen favorites. Another key feature is the new Skype app for Windows Phone 8 that is always on and is able to receive calls at any time.

Windows Phone 8 also has a new feature called Data Sense designed to help users manage their monthly data plans. Data Sense compresses every web page that users visit, thus saving users data. Data Sense also adjusts the way Windows Phone 8 devices behave when they get close to their monthly limit, thus ensuring that they won’t unknowingly go over their monthly limits. Microsoft says that Data Sense can deliver 45% more web browsing to users with the same amount of data as rival devices.

Microsoft has also enhanced its “People Hub” feature to let users create “rooms” full of users to exclusively share content with one another. So for instance, if you have a room just for your family, you can share pictures, to-do lists, calendars and other content exclusively with your spouse and children.

Finally, Microsoft showed off Windows Phone 8’s SkyDrive integration that lets users sync up Office documents and photos across all Windows devices, whether it’s smartphone, a PC or a tablet. SkyDrive gives users 7GB of free cloud storage space to start.

Prior to joining BGR as News Editor, Brad Reed spent five years covering the wireless industry for Network World. His first smartphone was a BlackBerry but he has since become a loyal Android user.