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Is Windows Phone 8 the secret to greater Windows success?

Jared Newman | Nov. 2, 2012
Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8 have more than just a numeral in common. Take one look at the two operating systems, and you can tell that Microsoft wants to unify Windows Phone devices, Windows 8 tablets and PCs, and its Xbox game console.

Windows Phone 8 can upload photos and video automatically to SkyDrive at full resolution. Although automatic uploads aren't new to SkyDrive on Windows Phone 8, the option was previously buried in a settings menu and didn't allow for uploads of videos or full-resolution photos.

In Windows Phone 8, we'll make that far more seamless, so that you'll just see a ton more people doing it, because it's a more natural experience, says Dharmesh Mehta, Microsoft's senior director of SkyDrive.

Those photos and videos then become available instantly in Windows 8 for use in any Windows 8 Store app. So, for instance, if you want to edit a photo you took on your phone, the file chooser allows you to select photos from SkyDrive, right alongside local storage. Of course, the SkyDrive desktop app will also be available for Windows 8, so you can sync photos for offline use and view them in File Explorer.

SkyDrive plays a helpful role in Microsoft's Office applications as well. When users save their documents to SkyDrive, the files automatically appear in Windows Phone 8's Office app under a list of recent documents, and Outlook users see any documents they've received by email.

In OneNote, which gets its own app in Windows Phone 8, notes automatically sync to SkyDrive so that they're up-to-date on all your other devices.

Of course, Office isn't just a Windows productit's available for Mac, and rumors of mobile iOS and Android versions persistbut it's already built into Windows Phone 8 and Windows RT tablets, so it's tied to Microsoft's platforms more than any others. The Windows Phone 8 version of Office is a surprisingly competent tool for quickly reviewing documents, adding annotation, and even making light edits in Word and Excel. We'll provide a deeper look at its features and touch-navigation behaviors in a future article.

Music, video, and the Xbox equation

Music and video have traditionally been a weak point for Microsoft, but the company is looking to change that as it buries the Zune for good and combines all of its entertainment under the Xbox brand.

Xbox Music combines on-demand subscription streaming (similar to Spotify) and a store for à la carte music downloads. Also in the works, but not yet available, is a scan-and-match service (akin to iTunes Match) that will allow users to stream music they already own.

The idea is to create a seamless experience across Windows Phone 8, Windows 8, and the Xbox 360 by automatically syncing music collections and playlists. Although the service won't be exclusive to Microsoft's platforms foreverapps for Android, iOS, and the Web are on the wayWindows 8 users do have one big perk: They can stream unlimited music for six months at no charge. (After that, they'll be limited to 10 hours per month.)


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