Microsoft on Wednesday took the wraps off of Windows Phone 8, set to launch this fall alongside Windows 8 for PCs and the new Surface tablet, featuring e-wallet support with NFC chips, as well as support for high-definition screens.
Riding a wave of momentum generated by the Surface tablet unveiling on Monday, Microsoft will be outlining plans for Windows Phone 8 on Wednesday as part of the company's push to take on Apple and Google in the mobile market.
Market analysts at IDC estimate that the share of handsets running Microsoft's Windows Phone will grow to take nearly 20 percent of the market by 2016 at the expense of Apple's iOS and Google's Android.
Apple continues to gain share in the worldwide smartphone market, as the latest data shows the iOS mobile operating system accounted for nearly a quarter of all smartphones shipped in the first quarter of 2012.
Apple's Online Store was down on Tuesday night and the company took the opportunity to roll out a new "We'll be back" sign. Also, Nokia is now offering a $100 credit on its $99 Lumia 900 flagship smartphone after a software bug affecting data connections was discovered.
The battle for smartphone operating system supremacy is quickly becoming a two-horse race, as the latest data from comScore shows that only Apple and Google were able to grow their market share in the U.S. through January.
Apple was not only the largest seller of smartphones worldwide in 2011, taking 19 percent of all sales, but also overtook LG to become the No. 3 largest global mobile phone vendor, according to Gartner.
Microsoft's upcoming Windows Phone 8, expected in the second half of the year, will seek to address its "perceived inability to compete" with Apple's iPhone and Google's Android according to a report detailing its planned enhancements.
The launch of the iPhone 4S last October had an "enormous impact" on the U.S. smartphone landscape, boosting Apple's share among new buyers by almost 20 percent and putting it neck-and-neck with Android in December.
Microsoft's head of software design for Windows Phone has admitted that the company completely redesigned its mobile operating system platform as a response to Apple's iPhone and the "sea change" it created in the industry.