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Microsoft banking on Windows 8 to boost Windows Phone

The tiles-based user interface of Microsoft's new Windows Phone 8 platform will help strike a chord with consumers who are familiar with the new PC-based Windows 8 operating system, the company said today.

Speaking today at the official Australian launch of the new Windows Phone 8 mobile operating system in Sydney, Microsoft said the impressive market share it holds in the PC area will ultimately make Windows Phone 8 devices more appealing to consumers.

"Windows is still the most used operating system on PCs, said Megan Howard, Microsoft Australia's marketing manager for Windows Phone. "We believe that market share that we hold in the PC area will help us impact peoples purchasing decision in store when they're making a decision about what phone they're buying."

Howard admitted Microsoft's PC market share hasn't helped sell Windows Phone devices in the past but stressed the similar tiles-based interface across Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8 makes a better connection between the device categories.

The Nokia Lumia 920, shown with optional wireless charging accessory.

"No, it hasn't [helped] in the past, but I think what you've seen with Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8 is a better connection of the ecosystem and a more compelling reason to actually make sure that you look to maximise the way that you use that ecosystem," explained Howard.

"So things like Xbox Music, things like SkyDrive, the fact that it now look and feels the same. So you can learn it once and use it across all your screens whether that be Xbox, on your slate or PC or whether it be on your phone."

Among the new features of Windows Phone 8 include a 'Kid's Corner' function where only pre-selected apps can be accessed, the expansion of the People Hub with a new 'Rooms' feature that shares lists, calendars and photos, along with a data sense app that monitors your data usage.

The data sense app needs to be activated by Australian carriers, though Microsoft says the process is currently under discussion.

"Yes we are talking to carriers, it's done on a carrier by carrier basis and we'll have more news to announce in the coming weeks on data sense," said Howard. "But it [data sense] is a feature that we will ultimately look to bring to market."

The Samsung ATIV S Windows Phone.

While the Windows Phone 8 platform was officially unveiled today, it isn't available immediately in Australia. Hardware partners Nokia, HTC and Samsung will release Windows 8 based smartphones later this month and in early December.

Nokia will launch its flagship Lumia 920 ($829) through Telstra and the cheaper, smaller Lumia 820 ($649) through Optus and Vodafone later this month.

The HTC Windows Phone 8X through Telstra and Vodafone and the Windows Phone 8S through Telstra and Optus, along with the Samsung ATIV S ($799) through Optus, will launch sometime before the end of the year.

Carrier pricing and specific availability details of these new Windows Phone 8 devices weren't announced at the event.

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