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Journalists often mention that Windows Phone 8 runs the NT kernel. What is the significance of the switch to the NT kernel for end-users (i.e. better performance, more hardware supported, etc.) and application developers?

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The significance for end users isn't that high. It's not something that is visible for end users. it does however tell the story of WP8 that it's foundation is completely different from WP7. The shell showing the user interface however stayed the same for the end users so they still see a comparable user interface (apart from the changed that are made to wp8 with the new start screen etc).

For developers it's a completely different story. Where on WP7 you were building silverlight apps. you're now building apps in C# And Xaml (almost the same code, different name) but the API's to communicate with the operating system are totally different. these API's are also party shared with Windows 8 so you can share large parts of code between Windows 8 store apps and Windows Phone apps.

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does this mean that developers will now take side with WP 8 and stop making apps for 7.5. If this might be the case, then there is no point on holding my lumia 710 –  Pankaj Upadhyay Oct 31 '12 at 18:28
    
@pankajupadhyay I would say in the long term, yes, but over the short term, probably not. As a Windows Phone app developer, if possible I target WP7.5; sometimes even WP7. The next major update to one of my apps will likely be WP8 only. –  Nate Mar 26 '13 at 14:53

For both categories this could mean the ability to update to Windows Phone 9 keeping the same phone.

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downvoters : recommend improvements / tell why you consider this wrong. –  Andrei Rinea Mar 28 '13 at 11:34
    
After all the whole reason for not updating Windows Phone 7.x devices to Windows Phone 8 wasn't this?! windowsphone.stackexchange.com/q/743/1206 states clearly this. –  Andrei Rinea Mar 28 '13 at 11:36

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