Windows Phone 8: An interview with Greg Sullivan (part two)
We have a chat with Windows Phone's senior product manager, Greg Sullivan, about Windows Phone 8
We recently interviewed Greg Sullivan, senior product manager of Windows Phone to talk about all that's going on at Microsoft.
In part one of our interview, we talked about the sales and general reception of Windows Phone plus some of the anticipated features of Windows Phone 8.
Now it's time to talk about the other services up Microsoft's sleeve, including Xbox SmartGlass on Android and iOS, details on the 'Shared Core' and whether we will see a Microsoft Windows Phone.
Let's talk SmartGlass. One of the examples was using a Windows Phone as a control for Internet Explorer on the Xbox - will it be a setting you enable ‘on' or will it be an app?
It's an app.
Will it replace the Xbox Companion or will Companion be something you can have on Android and iOS and on Xbox you get the full SmartGlass shebang?
I don't know what the Xbox team has said about the continuation of Companion as a separate app after SmartGlass. There may be the need for it to be incorporated somehow, I'm not really sure.
But what I do know is that the Xbox team has said SmartGlass itself will continue to be cross-platform. The notion that team Xbox, as a kind of service provider of content to other corners of the platform, won't require you to have a Windows Phone in order to enable that scenario remains the same.
My guess is that somehow it will be a little better on a Windows Phone. (he laughs). But with a lot of iPhones out there, a lot of iPads, we're taking the same approach again.
As a bit of a gamer, we're interested to know, what are the limitations of the Shared Core? You've got DirectX, you've got the Havok physics engine - where is the line drawn between an Xbox game, which in theory could run on a Windows Phone, and a mobile one? At what point do you say, ‘Windows Phone can't run Xbox Live Arcade games,' for instance?
The platform is limited really only by developer imagination, especially at a point where we expose native code for developers and provide the software development kits (SDK), essentially the same Core and the same hardware that you can exploit on a PC. We're really only limited by what the imagination of developers.
Now that said, there are differences in the form factors and differences in the I/O, in the control mechanisms, in the sensors. In some ways you will actually be able to do more with mobile gaming because of the accelerometer, gyro, GPS, compass, camera, microphone - stuff you don't have in your game console. But, by the same token, you don't have the same controls, even though you can kind of emulate that. I think it will be interesting to see what that really folds out.
I was in Boston the other day experiencing LTE 15MBps broadband download speed - that's faster than my home broadband connection so I have essentially the same CPU and GPU architecture that I have on my tablet and my laptop.
And as I have the same graphics APIs exposed via DirectX and Direct3D, and I have a network with that bandwidth and latencies we're seeing (not in the UK, just yet), it starts to open up some really interesting possibilities for the fact Windows Phone is connected to the Xbox Live network beyond this kind of this asynchronous, turn-based thing and to a new level of ripeness, both in graphics but also in interaction.
We're not just trying to replicate the console experience on a phone but have a device appropriate experience. That's how we think this will map out because you don't want to try and replicate the phone experience on the console or vice-versa because you'll miss something. There's things the Lumia 900 can't do and vice-versa.
There was a real-time map that updated as the show moved around the fictional world. Is this something developers can easily build in? In theory could a developer make a game for Windows Phone 8 that works on Xbox Live Arcade and Windows 8?
You don't have binary compatibility across those so there will be some differences between each primarily because of the presentation level, the user-interface changes and the uniqueness of each platform. The same APIs are not exposed on each platform and the presentation layer is different enough. But at a fundamental level the direct 3D APIs that are exposed on the phone, on Windows RT and the XNA runtime that we support, and still utilise, is the same.