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Windows Phone 8 is a cut above, but will it make the grade?

Windows Phone 8 is a cut above, but will it make the grade?

There’s no other way of cutting it. Microsoft is desperately lagging behind Google and Apple in the smartphone stakes.

With a paltry 3.5 per cent market share in the three months from April to June 2012 according to IDC, compared to 68.1 per cent for Android and 16.9 per cent for iOS, Windows Phone is at a crossroads.

Windows Phone 8 generic banner

Two years on from its initial arrival, when critical praise was not enough to ensure mass take-up of devices using the original iteration of the OS, the Big M is betting the farm on the new version, Windows Phone 8.

Its launch earlier this week now means almost all the key players on the smartphone scene have got exciting new handsets ready to roll.

The iPhone 5 has led the way, while the new Nexus 4 looks set to prove that Android’s deserved reputation for innovation and bleeding-edge specs is still intact.

So what about Microsoft-backed phones such as the Nokia Lumia 920 and HTC 8X? Well, it’s pretty clear that their operating system is certainly unique and actually far more interesting and forward-looking than their rivals.

Nokia Lumia 920 leaked

Android and iOS have developed over time, but offer similar variations on a theme.

Meanwhile, Microsoft has been keen to play up the Live Tiles functionality of Windows Phone 8 and its excellent personalisation skills.

The delivery of information specific to users directly to their home screen is sleek, smart and some way beyond iOS’s rather staid and dated look.

Add in far smarter social media integration, a maps app that won’t leave you in the wrong place at the wrong time and handsets that are beautifully crafted and look every bit as good as their competitors, and surely Windows Phone 8 is a winner?

Sadly for Microsoft, and the health of the smartphone business, that doesn’t appear to be the case.

Its status as a high-end product, with only a few budget handsets using the OS appearing (the new Nokia Lumia 510 is currently stuck on the old-school Windows Phone 7.5), means there’s a long way to go.

nokia lumia 510 official

Nokia is pushing hard, understandably, but the decision to release its new flagship Lumia 920 as an EE exclusive on these shores is baffling and means it won’t be able to duke it out properly with Android or iOS.

With the similar Windows 8 desktop solution also now available, Microsoft could gain some much-needed recognition and ramp up its smartphone business.

But while its phones are sold under dubious exclusive deals and its app selection, while improving, is still miles off Android and iOS, it’s surely in for a struggle.

Windows Phone 8 is a stunner, but it’s hard to escape the feeling that it’s come far too late in the day.

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