The Lumia 1020 makes stunning photos a priority
First, Microsoft had to tweak Windows Phone 8 architecture to let the Lumia 1020's camera software processes two images, Windows Phone SVP Joe Belfiore said in an interview Microsoft posted online: one that captures a terrific amount of visual detail, and the condensed 5-megapixel version that's actually small enough to upload and e-mail.
In addition, Microsoft also had to code Windows Phone 8's photo viewer to improve its zoom capability in order to handle the far greater information stored within the larger resolution Lumia 1020 shots.
These changes also equipped Nokia's own camera apps, which include the controls to manually change exposure settings as well as extra features like HDR and panorama modes.
Now, did it really take a year and a half to change up the Windows Phone 8 architecture enough to get the 41-megapixel experience of Nokia's 808 PureView Symbian phone transferred over to a Lumia device.
On the Microsoft side, Windows Phone 7, the OS at the time Nokia became a mostly-Windows Phone shop, just didn't have the chops to handle image processing at high levels, and despite knowing about Nokia's 41-megapixel aspirations from the get go, it apparently took some work for Windows Phone 8 OS to gain that capability, too.
On Nokia's side, I suspect they had to tame that huge bulge created by the camera module in the original phone, which undoubtedly took engineering work to pull off, before they could get enough carrier interest to sign on for the device.
For even more details about the Lumia 1020's camera and build, catch CNET's Nokia Lumia 1020 hands-on impressions here.
Article updated at 11:41am PT.