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Windows Phone 8 days away from UK launch

Microsoft plots new challenge to Android and Apple's market dominance

Microsoft has begun its global launch of the Windows Phone 8 operating system in a renewed bid to bolster the market share of its smartphone devices.

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New Windows Phone-powered devices from companies such as Nokia, HTC and Samsung are days away from release in the UK and will roll out internationally throughout November.

The operating system launch is part of a wider Microsoft plan to unite all its devices within the same service framework. The company is making strides to share services across tablets, smartphones, desktop PCs and Xboxes.

But within the mobile sector the company has not fared well. Microsoft has just a three per cent share of the smartphone market - far behind Apple iOS and Google Android.

Windows Phone 7 did not allow for native app development either - meaning that games companies had to use tools Microsoft owned - resulting in a conspicuous lack of games and no support from third-party games engines.

Its successor, however, has opened the gate to companies that want to develop games in programming languages they are more familiar with and dependent on.

Windows Phone 8 falls in line with Microsoft's Metro design aesthetic - a block-based interface implemented on the Windows 8 and Xbox operating systems. The company is ensuring that porting between these devices - whenever desirable - will be as straightforward as possible.

Pricing comes at a premium. In the US, comms vendor Verizon Wireless will carry the Windows Phone 8X by HTC for $199.99 with a two-year contract. Verizon also has the Nokia Lumia 822 available for $99.99 with a two-year contract. The Samsung ATIV Odyssey will be available in December.

AT&T will carry the Nokia Lumia 920, the Lumia 820 and the Windows Phone 8X by HTC, all going on sale in November. T-Mobile will carry the Windows Phone 8X by HTC starting at $149.99 for the 16GB version and the Nokia Lumia 810 from $99.99.

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