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There’s no escaping the fact that Windows Phone hasn’t had a great first year - in terms of sales, at least.

The OS remains a niche concern, even if the Nokia Lumia 800 has had a fairly decent start since it landed earlier this month.

Nokia Lumia 800

So Microsoft has decided to think laterally and has come up with a smart way to convince users of rival systems that switching is the way forward: it’s revealed a website that lets Android and iOS users try Windows Phone on their devices.

The premise is simple: go to aka.ms/wpdemo using an iPhone or Android handset and you can flick through Live Tiles, see how information on your contacts appears automatically and go through the Calendar and Outlook apps.

As a concept, this is about as creative and brazen as Microsoft has got in its attempts to win over the doubters, and shows a level of marketing savvy that it would never have shown before Windows Phone launched.

Microsoft is clearly aware that handsets using its OS are not doing the business they should be in phone shops up and down the country.

So in taking the operating system to users of the two largest smartphone systems going, it’s cutting out the middle man and giving itself a fighting chance of snagging punters who may be unhappy with their current experience.

windows demo android

So, can it work? That’s the big question and is one that only be answered when we know just how well the Big M has done in getting this site out into the public domain.

The challenge it faces is getting this neat, promotable idea beyond the tech press and into the mainstream consciousness. If it can do that, then you can be sure that it’ll pick up some new users.

But it needs help. Nokia needs to get right behind this idea and tell iOS and Android fans all about it. There needs to be a wider campaign to show how this works and perhaps even a better web address so it’s even easier to navigate to.

Windows Phone definitely deserves to get a bigger audience. It’s brilliantly realised and arguably the most user friendly thing that the chaps at Redmond have ever produced.

Fingers crossed this promo can work and we can have an even feistier battle in the smartphone space in 2012.

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