As Microsoft gets set to officially launch Windows Phone 8, we're happy to unveil some site updates of our own on Windows Phone Central.

More updates are coming soon to our forums, store and already-awesome app, but if you're reading this on the full desktop site you're now witnessing the new look and feel of WPCentral.com. We've upgraded to the latest version of VISOR, our Mobile Nations content management system, and we've given the site a fresh look. We've even mixed in a little inspiration from the Metro UI.

As you click around and use the site you'll notice a multitude of changes, both functional and visual. Some of the bigger changes to make note of are as follows:

  • Bigger, Cleaner, Faster - We've widened out the site and narrowed down the side bar, giving more room for article content. We've minimized the number of image files requested on page load, helping to keep load times fast. 
  • Homepage Headlines View - Regular readers of the site now have more control over how they view content. By default stories are presented in the traditional blog format with a photo and teaser, but tapping the headline icon now allows you to see a long list of article headlines. When you see a headline that catches your attention, you can easily expand it with a click. If you haven't been to the site for a few days, this is the fastest way to catch up on what you may have missed.
  • Latest Forum Community Discussions - Tapping the Latest Discussions button on the homepage (to the right of Latest Stories) will pull in the most recent posts made in the forums. This is a great feature you'll want to put to use!
  • Comments / User Pages - When viewing comments to articles, we're now pulling in member avatars. You can also click on a member's name to pull up a profile page that lists their most recent article comments and forum posts. We have a lot more functionality on the roadmap for comments (rate comments up and down, subscribe to comments, etc.), so stay tuned for that. 

We'll be making tweaks and fixing bugs as the dust from the upgrade settles. If you come across anything out of whack, please report it on our WPCentral Site Upgrade forum thread.  

** App Users Take Note:  If you're using the WPCentral app and encounter any errors, be sure to logout and log back in to ensure proper functionality. After launch we had to make some tweaks to get comments working via the app again, but that process has been completed successfully. **

As for what's next, the answer is LOTS.

On the visual side of things, we have a new logo in the works for the site. We kept the site logo mainly unchanged for this update to ensure some continuity. Our next app update will feature a new site logo that we're liking the look of. So expect to see some changes there. We're also working on the ability for users to customize their own theme for the site. So if you're not in love with the color scheme we have going on now, don't panic, we're working towards giving you the ability to change it.

While we've temporarily updated the look of the forums to match the new look of the site, we also have a major forums update coming soon. If you visit the forums on our sister Mobile Nations sites (Android Central, CrackBerry, iMore), you'll get a sense of what's in store here. It's a vastly improved forum experience. 

And with WPCentral now on the latest version of VISOR, you'll see more features come to the site more quickly. Next up we'll be rolling out Mobile Nations Passport, which will allow for single account management throughout all Mobile Nations sites (login with Microsoft, Facebook, Twitter and Google Accounts supported too). We won't give away all the secrets right here, but let's just say the best Windows Phone site out there is going to continue to get better and better.

Enjoy the new site!