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Microsoft Launches Windows Phone 8

Microsoft will be webcasting its launch event from San Francisco at 10 a.m. PDT / 1 p.m. EDT. You can tune into the stream, if you're Silverlight powered, right here.

If you're not able to view the live stream wherever you may be, keep refreshing this page for our live updates and commentary. Also check out Twitter updates from the event by @JaneMcEntegart.

  • Joe Belfiore takes the stage and asks those who have a Windows Phone to hold up their phones. We don't see many, but Joe seems pleased.
  • He asks the crowd about the Giants sweep. Some tepid excitement.
  • Today will be all about Windows Phone 8, which shares the same software foundation as Windows 8.
  • Nokia, HTC and Samsung will be the hardware launch partners. Qualcomm is the SoC of choice.
  • WP8 will support 50 language.
  • Now 191 countries will be able to access apps.
  • Microsoft says that smartphone experience hasn't changed much in the last 5 years. Pokes at Apple for simply just adding a new row of icons in iPhone 5.
  • "People are the focus of our design" says Belfiore. Believes you can make better relationships with WP8.
  • "Reinvent the smartphone around YOU" and then rolls an ad that pushes the message that WP8 is for anyone
  • "It's the most personal smartphone operating system yet."
  • The idea of Live Tiles upgraded in WP8.
  • A new lock screen that's powered by live apps. MS believes that the lock screen should pack more information on it, given the number of times we check our phones just on the lock screen for notifications and times. We think they're right.
  • An example of lock screen customization: linking it to Facebook to display a different photo each time from your albums.
  • New Live Tile supporting apps include Twitter, and a new version of SKYPE! Finally this Microsoft property gets showcased on WP8.
  • "We've built Skype so it integrates naturally into the phone experience... it's always on, so it can receive a call and message at any time... without draining your battery" -- applause.
  • MS claims to have 46 out of the top 50 apps on other platforms to be on WP8. "Huge progress for us."
  • Temple Run is coming to WP8, thanks to the Unity Engine on the platform.
  • Urban Spoon will be able to use the voice input.
  • Pandora for Windows Phone 8 -- With ONE YEAR of ad-free music.
  • WP8 will have control features for data plans, called Data Sense.
  • Data Sense compresses web pages, just like Amazon's Silk or Opera Turbo/Mini or BlackBerry.
  • Data Sense will know where Wi-Fi hotspots are.
  • Data Sense will be able to automatically adjust its data demands according to your data cap and quota.
  • 45% more web browsing with Data Sense.
  • Data Sense was worked with mobile operators. Apparently you need a supported carrier, so the first one is Verizon.
  • WP8 will have some kind of kid's mode, called Kid's Corner. Basically this seems like a special "walled garden" mode on your phone where they can play on it without access to send texts or otherwise get you in trouble with the real world.
  • "A worry free way for your kids to play"
  • Belfiore's kids are on stage to demo Kid's Corner. Could be one of the most adorable stage presentations in the history of phone launches.
  • This could be a big winner with parents who have kids that love to use their smartphones.
  • Jessica Alba takes the stage! She loves Kid's Corner. What a mom.
  • "It's a very clutch feature," says Alba. She said she doesn't have to worry about her kids going into her email or her social network.
  • Alba shares the story about her kid sending a tweet to her 4 million followers.
  • Belfiore asks Alba how it was switching from an iPhone to a Windows Phone. She said that she was mostly concerned about her music in iTunes, but switching it all over only took about 5 minutes.
  • Alba shares about her new Honest company, made for parents, and it will have a Windows Phone app! An interesting partnership.
  • "This is like the best tech crowd I have ever been in front of!" - Jessica Alba. Such enthusiasm... and she's gone!
  • Next new feature: Rooms. It's like a private shared area for groups, for examples families to share photos, shopping lists, etc.
  • It works best with Windows Phone, of course, but will also work on other phones. Demonstrated on an iPhone - not as pretty, but definitely a good choice by Microsoft to allow it be an open feature.
  • Now showing off document syncing on SkyDrive for the virtual office.
  • Now moving onto the Camera and Photo apps. SkyDrive will sync it all to your device.
  • SkyDrive starts at 7GB free, with options for more.
  • Now for the Music, which integrates Xbox Music. Those who use Windows 8 will feel right at home on WP8.
  • This fall, there will be sync connection software for all phones so anyone running music from another service, such as iTunes, will be seamlessly able to use Windows Phone 8.
  • That's it for Belfiore. And... now we have STEVE BALLMER! He's excited as ALWAYS.
  • He says that overall demand for Windows 8 higher than it was with Windows 7. Interesting.
  • Ballmer is summarizing what Belfiore showed about pinning on start screen and live tiles.
  • He stresses how well Windows Phone 8 will integrate with Windows 8, saying that there is no better phone for a Windows user.
  • Ballmer says that Windows Phone 8 is set apart with killer hardware, showing off the Lumia 920 and its superb camera.

Stay tuned for more as we go hands-on with the hardware!

Marcus Yam
Marcus Yam served as Tom's Hardware News Director during 2008-2014. He entered tech media in the late 90s and fondly remembers the days when an overclocked Celeron 300A and Voodoo2 SLI comprised a gaming rig with the ultimate street cred.