After the recent excitement over the completion of the Windows 8 operating system, Microsoft should have the smartphone version done in the next few weeks, with Nokia expected to announce new devices for a coordinated launch later in the year.
High Hopes for Number Eight
While all the recent Windows 8 focus has been on desktops and tablets (with that version announced as complete and RTM last week), don't forget that one of the major aims of the new OS is to help Microsoft get back into the smartphone race. Windows Phone 7 and its partnership with Nokia may have got it back on the starting blocks, but it will take a stellar effort to push future products up there among the like of Samsung and Apple.
We got an early glimpse of the OS back at a Microsoft mobile summit in June. And the company is now racing to the finish line and should have the new smartphone OS complete for September, with Nokia likely to show off new handsets at an official unveiling for Nokia World (3-5 September). A public launch should happen before the end of the year, but what exactly will Nokia show?
The Finnish company is likely to keep the distinctive and well-reviewed stylings of the current Lumia range, while the internals and hardware will likely see a significant boost. Although, as we've seen with recent Apple and Samsung releases, the focus is increasingly on distinctive or extra software features.
Roadmap Congestion Ahead
Whenever it launches, Windows Phone 8 devices will land in a hectic marketplace. Apple's iPhone 5 is supposed to appear in September, Samsung has promised a major launch during that month and we have the likes of a new Kindle Fire tablet, and possible Amazon smartphone on the way too in the stampede toward the holiday season.
Microsoft will hope the Windows Phone marketplace, packing some 100,000+ apps now will attract users, while Skype integration and other Microsoft business features might win it kudos and sales among enterprises.
Hopefully, Windows Phone 8 will see a similar broad range of models to cater for all users, to compete with Android's huge dominance across global sales. With billions more users likely to upgrade to smartphones in the coming years, the race is very much on.