The first smartphones to run Windows Phone 8 are full of innovative features and will be out in time for the US Thanksgiving holiday, but whether or not Microsoft's bold gamble pays off is yet to be seen.
Microsoft officially unveiled its two official Windows smartphones from Nokia and HTC plus a third from Samsung at its Windows Phone 8 launch event this week as well as a host of never-before-seen features that it hopes will pull people away from their iPhones and Android devices and towards Microsoft.
But as well-designed and attractive as Nokia's Lumia 920 handset is, it and the other Windows Phone manufacturers have a long way to go before they hit Apple's and Samsung's sales of 56.3 million and 26.9 million phones respectively in Q 3 of 2012 alone. The latest data from ABI shows that Nokia only shipped 6.3 million smartphones in the same period.
However, it's also worth remembering that in 2007, when Apple launched the iPhone, it had never before sold a single handset and, until July 2012, when it was surpassed by Samsung, Nokia was still the world's leading mobile phone handset producer.
And the Windows Phone 8 operating system has a lot going for it. Especially in terms of genuinely useful features, user interface and even apps.
Windows Phone 8's interface is built around tiles that can be customized to display information relating to apps or notifications so that users can customize their phone's background to display Facebook notifications, tweets, the weather or even random images from photo albums. It means all of the information users deem important can be seen at a glance, without launching an app or even unlocking the screen.
A special setting that restricts access to certain apps and contacts so that users' children can play with a handset without deleting anything or accidentally accessing inappropriate content.
Unlike Android and Apple phones that require apps for data management, the Windows phones have data usage software built in to help keep owners stay under their data allowances and understand exactly how much data each app demands.
The one enduring criticism has been of the lack of decent apps available for either Windows 8 or Windows RT, Microsoft's tablet operating system. But with apps for Facebook, Twitter and Skype already available plus Pandora from 2013, many of the most popular apps that Android and iOS users already enjoy will be there for Windows users when the handsets become available in time for Thanksgiving.
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