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Windows Phone 8 gets dual-core phones, 720p screens, microSD

Windows Phone 8 will appear this autumn in dual-core phones with high-definition screens and memory cards.

Microsoft has unveiled Windows Phone 8, the next generation of its mobile phone software. Windows Phone 8 shares its core code with Windows 8, and will appear this autumn in dual-core phones with high-definition screens and memory cards.

That means Windows Phone software and Windows 8 software on computers and tablets will share common DNA, including the kernel, networking, multimedia and driver support. Developers can therefore make apps that easily work on both computers and phones -- which will be a massive boost for the Windows Phone App Marketplace, currently the Achilles heel of the format.

In today's announcement in the US, Microsoft focused on the platform without going into too much depth on new features. But new hardware options have been revealed, including improved NFC, dual-core processors, and 720p screens.

The software will now support screens at 800x480 and 1,280x768 pixels in 15:9, as well as 1,280x720 pixels in 16:9.

Another first is the arrival of microSD cards, the first time you can add more memory to your Windows Phone.

On the software side, Microsoft says the new version of Internet Explorer 10 will render websites the same way in Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8. Microsoft also claims that IE10 on a phone outperforms even the multi-core Samsung Galaxy S3, HTC One X and Apple iPhone 4S -- but we'll test those claims when we know more about the new phones.

Windows Phone 8 is expected to arrive in autumn, which is when we'll see phones with the new hardware features including dual-core chips, HD screens and memory cards.

What do you think about Windows Phone 8? Tell me your thoughts in the comments or on our Facebook page.