Today was the official coming out party for Windows Phone 8.  Below is a summary of the launch event.  There is a lot here to stay with me.

Meet Windows Phone 8

They started with a commercial staring Joe Belfiore show how his Windows Phone 8 was personal too him which highlights something I think Microsoft has done well over the last couple of event: spotlight how Windows Phone is a different experience from other smartphones.  Joe actually called iPhone and Android “tired old metaphors" and explained that the idea around Windows Phone was to “reinvent the smartphone around you” as “the most personal smartphone operating system”.  The is the message that they need to drive home in their adds.

The only real technical aspect we found out was that they have optimized the operating system around the dual core Qualcomm Snapdragon chip set.  It seems like all of the other hardware goodies had already been announced.  The remainder of the event was centered around new features of the OS and app announcements.

So what are we getting?  The integrated features included lock screen live tile, Data Sense, Rooms and Kids corner.  There wasn’t a lot of information about it, but Joe also talked about apps not just having live tiles, but being live apps that could integrate with wallet and the hub.

The lock screen will now be able to be personalized with live tile data or even a photo slide show.  This gives the lock screen an even better ability to give you the information you want to know before you even unlock the phone.

The Kids Corner allows you as a parent to setup an area on your phone that you kids can go into an use it without disturbing your apps.  They can play games or use apps that you have designated and will only see those apps.  It even has a special lock screen gesture just for the kids corner.

Rooms allow you to organize your phone around the groups of people in your life.  You get a shared calendar, a room wall as well as shared notes beyond just being able to send messages to a group.  You can also invite people not on the Windows Phone platform to access an online version of the room.

Data Sense is a new feature that gives you better control and understanding of your data plan usage.  You can see which applications are using data and it can automatically adjust they way your phone behaves as you get close to your data limit.

Add to these features the fact that the entire Windows ecosystem is integrated with SkyDrive and you have an available anywhere experience that is unequaled by any other platform.  Your document, photos and music are available on your Windows Phone, Window 8 device and Xbox.  SkyDrive also doesn’t limit how long you can keep files like the competing cloud platforms and give more free storage.

It was interesting the way they made the launch event more personal.  First Joe brought out his own kids to demo the Kids Corner.  They followed this up by bringing out Jessica Alba to discuss her experience on the Windows Phone 8.  They need to keep putting a face on the product instead of just showing features as a cold list.

Then we get to apps.  We knew that the new Skype was coming, but we found out that it was created in such a way that it can receive calls without running consistently in the background which would eat up battery.  This announcement was follow by the coming Facebook app that is optimized for Windows Phone 8.  As a matter of fact they indicated that just after launch the marketplace would have 46 out of the top 50 apps used by all smartphone platforms.  In a rational world this tide with over 120,000 apps currently in the marketplace there should be no more argument about the Windows Phone ecosystem.

For those of us who develop for Windows Phone and weren’t on the early adoption program will finally get access to the SDK tomorrow after an announcement at Build (more waiting).  Perhaps we will get a few new features then.

In the end I wouldn’t say there were any huge surprises, but I am really excited about getting my hands on the devices next month and starting to develop.  Stay tuned.