Microsoft has launched Windows Phone 8, its latest operating system (OS) for smartphones.
Microsoft intends Windows Phone 8 to take market share away from the likes of Apple and Google's Android, which currently dominate the smartphone market.
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Leading smartphone hardware manufacturers – including Nokia, HTC and Samsung – have showcased smartphone devices in recent weeks which will run the Windows Phone 8 OS.
The OS mimics Windows 8 for PCs which Microsoft launched last week. Windows Phone 8 OS features a touch tile interface which shows live information from the Internet.
Microsoft claims Internet Explorer 10 is seven times faster than its predecessor on Windows Phone 7.5.
Users have the option to invite other users to sync information from their smartphones, such as calendars and photographs, using an application called Rooms.
An additional feature of the OS, Kids Corner, allows users to block access to specific areas of their phone when lending to another person. This function could be used when giving your phone to a child to play with, who will then not be able to access restricted areas of your device.
"The OS is very competitive now in terms of features and usability. On top it looks different which is not a bad thing, as consumers generally want to be different," said Carolina Milanesi from Gartner.
Microsoft has experienced difficulty encouraging developers to produce apps for Windows Phone in the past. However Microsoft hopes Windows Phone 8 OS will attract developers and compete with Android's Google Play and Apple's App Store.
Gartner predicts worldwide sales of Windows smartphones will increase from 17,389 in 2012 to 207,092 in 2016. Android sales will increase from 429,728 to 1,080,082, with Apple increasing from 142,842 to 266,348 across the same period.