Microsoft has officially lifted the lid on its latest mobile operating system, Windows Phone 8, at a press call in San Francisco.
The Redmond-based giant revealed an array of new features targeting both mainstream and business users, such as an “always on” integration of Skype that doesn’t drain battery life and voice-activated note-taking on OneNote which can be synced with other Windows devices via SkyDrive.
Other standout additions include improved customisability of Live tiles, which can now be resized and made more personal, Data Sense, which conserves data usage to let you "surf the web more and use less data as you do” and a feature called “Kid’s Corner” which creates a sandbox for children to safely use a Windows Phone device.
The lock screen has been enhanced too and can now display live sports scores, news, photos and other content.
Joe Belfiore, manager of the Windows Phone division, hailed Windows Phone as the most personal smartphone operating system on the market, while taking a subtle swipe at Apple’s iOS.
"Apple added a fifth row of icons [with iOS 6 on the iPhone 5]. We wanted to come out with a different point of view. Our way is to put people at the centre.
"Windows Phone is unlike any other on the market - it's the most personal OS and is the perfect companion for Windows PCs and tablets."
Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer said: "People all over the world are about to fall in love with Windows Phone.
"It has killer hardware and is the most personal smartphone available."
Ballmer criticised Apple’s one-handset-per-year approach with the iPhone, stating: "We have a different perspective on what a smartphone should be ... and didn't want just a single phone for all of us but wanted to build a phone that could be personal for each of us."
Microsoft claimed Windows Phone 8 will soon be home to 46 of the 50 most-used smartphone apps on any platform. New and popular apps such as Temple Run, Angry Birds Star Wars, Urban Spoon and Pandora (US only) will also be landing on the OS from early 2013.
Windows Phone 8 will launch in Europe in two weeks’ time on the Nokia Lumia 920, the HTC Windows Phone 8X and the Samsung ATIV S, followed by more handsets in the mid and entry-level range.