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First tablets, now Windows Phone 8: Microsoft tears through big week of big reveals

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(Read caption) Joe Belfiore, corporate vice president of Microsoft, introduces the Windows Phone 8 mobile operating system in San Francisco this week.

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At an event in San Francisco Wednesday afternoon, Microsoft reps took the wraps off Windows Phone 8, the latest edition of its mobile operating system. According to Microsoft, Windows Phone 8 will hit handsets – including hardware made by HTC and Samsung – sometime this fall, just in time for the holiday shopping rush. Microsoft, of course, has a long slog ahead if it hopes to catch Apple and Google

According to stats released earlier this month by IDC (hat tip to BGR), the Microsoft Windows mobile OS currently accounts for about five percent of the global smartphone market – well behind Apple's 20 percent and Android's whopping 61 percent. But Microsoft is betting that Windows Phone 8, which shares code with the desktop and tablet versions of the forthcoming Windows 8 OS, could propel the company to the top of the heap. 

The San Francisco event was only a preview, so expect Microsoft to unveil more information on Windows Phone 8 in coming weeks. In the meantime, here's what we know: The OS will allow users to customize the home screen with various tile shapes and colors, according to the BBC. (The working term is "live tiles," Mashable notes.) And Windows Phone 8 will be equipped with Nokia's Navteq turn-by-turn navigation – a major plus for regular travelers.


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