Windows Phone 8 a Worthy Competitor vs. Apple and Android

Maybe it was inevitable that Windows Phone 8 devices would land in the back of the chorus line.
Windows 8 and the hoopla around it have hogged the spotlight in recent weeks. Now the departure of Windows president Steven Sinofsky from Microsoft is front and center.

But I do hope Windows Phones get something closer to star treatment. There's a lot to cheer in these latest devices. And despite its understudy status compared with Apple's iPhone and the many Google Android smartphones, the Windows Phone mobile operating system comes across as fresh.

To belabor the obvious, Microsoft faces steep challenges.

The biggest reason to stick with iPhone or Android has to do with the wealth of apps available for those devices. Microsoft and its partners now offer about 120,000 apps in the Windows Store. But that's still a fraction of the 700,000-plus apps that Apple through iOS and Google through Android have.

The venerable music app Pandora, for example, will only be coming to Windows next year. (It will be ad-free for the first year.)

Still, Microsoft is making steady strides with its app ecosystem. And many of the ones I tried -- including apps for ESPN, Pacman, The Weather Channel and USA TODAY -- look and behave splendidly in the Windows Phone environment.

I've been testing the latest software on two of the Windows 8 phones that will reach U.S. customers soon. There's the Windows Phone 8X by HTC, which will cost $100 to $200 with a two-year contract from AT&T, T-Mobile or Verizon Wireless, depending on color, capacities and carrier. And there's the Nokia Lumia 920, which AT&T will carry for $100, again with a two-year contract.

SOURCE: Edward C. Baig
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